Lisa and Brian - Vail 2008 - We're even geekier than last time!
Brian M
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Thornton
Colorado
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Ok, maybe we can't really get any geekier, but we sure played a lot more games! (Last trip) Every few years Lisa's family nicely lets us use their timeshare condo in Vail, Colorado. Vail is a gorgeous town in the mountains, and while its meant as a ski resort there's no shortage of summer activities with lots of mountain trails and wilderness. But for us, a relaxing vacation wouldn't be complete without playing a lot of games.

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1. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
Brian M
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We had tough choices packing games. A whole week ahead and only two tubs full! Ahh! How could we pick so few? Jen and Anthony, who would be joining us for the a few days, had requested a few games, so that used a good chunk of space.

Then, horror or horrors - we realized that with our luggage and bikes, we really couldn't fit in two tubs! So, Arkham Horror got cut (2 boxes for 1 game - too much space). A few things got really squeezed in. And we were off.

We arrived long enough before check in to spend some time wandering through Vail village. Which has nice shops. But somewhat expensive shops.

Just because you've been telling your girlfriend she'd look cute with a 'cowgirl' hat, and just because one of the first shops you see has 'cowgirl' in the name, and just because they've got great hats, some of which look really cute on her, doesn't mean either of you will want to spend the $250 for a Stetson hat. Ouch.

On Saturday after 4 PM the gondola up to the top of Vail Peak is free, so after checking in we rode up - passing over a den of foxes on the way! Hiking along Lower Fireweed trail was a little odd - we'd go from a slightly-too warm for comfort sunny patch into some shade where we'd walk through a patch of snow!

After coming back down, we had dinner at La Bottega, an absolutely delicious Italian restaraunt. It also looked like it had a good selection of seafood and a variety of wines - which neither of us appreciate, admittedly.

After biking back to the condo, Lisa clobbered me at a game of RftG of which I remember no other details.

(What, you actually wanted GAMES in this list?)
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2. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:621]
Brian M
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And then for a nice, soothing, relaxing game of Can't Stop. Why soothing and relaxing? Because those all plastic pieces work just fine resting on the edge of the hot tub as you soak!
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3. Board Game: Rum & Pirates [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1926]
Brian M
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Two friends were coming up to join us on Sunday. They kept worrying that we should be able to go out and do things and not sit around waiting for them. After a packed busy week and a lot of hiking and biking the night before, sitting around and relaxing sounded just fine to us!

Another swim and hot tub with a game of Can't Stop, then we eagerly rushed pirates around at Rum & Pirates - we'd bought that the week before just to have a new game to bring with us. This time I managed to win, with (IIRC) a lot of complete maps. (Should I tease Lisa about, in a previous play, her managing to get two romantic rendezvous tiles and meet them both - in a single turn?)
 
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4. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:745]
Brian M
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And then a quick game of what might be our favorite 2 player filler. I failed to put together any good combos.
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5. Board Game: Amun-Re [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:260]
Brian M
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When Jen and Anthony came up we first went out to look around Vail Village more (and buy some stray souvenirs).

We drove into the Vail Village parking lot - and it was blocked off and full. What the? So we drove down to Lionshead and found parking there. (Vail Village and Lionshead are two small sets of stores/ski lifts etc that really don't have all that clear cut a breaking point, and that are small enough you can easily walk from the end of one to the end of the other).

Then we walked down to Vail Village - they were having a street market that day, with stalls selling everything from roasted nuts to large brass sculptures.

Then they decided they would like to go rafting while they were here. Lisa and I remembered there being a rafting place in Lionshead, so we walked back there - and discovered they weren't there this year.

Then they decided that after the walking, some ice cream would really hit the spot, so we walked back to Vail Village - and discovered that Sam's deli, which has really good homemade ice cream, was closed for remodeling.

I now have a better appreciation of how the Settlers robber feels. "Go block that 6!", "No, go mess up her wood space", "I don't think so! Back to the 6!"

When we finally got back, we were ready for a good meaty game, and taught Amun-Re to J&A. This was a hard fought game, with stiff competition for having the most pyramids in a region and some huge bidding for provinces. There's a balancing act in the first era - put too much effort into money, and you won't have scored enough points even if you can score big in the second era. Put too much effort into points, and you won't be able to afford to score well in the slightly more valuable second era. I managed to pull of a win this time.
 
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6. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Brian M
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Colorado
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And finally a game of Pandemic to finish off the evening. We played with 5 epidemics and won.
 
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7. Board Game: Oasis [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1245]
Brian M
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We played a game of Oasis before heading out. Anthony had a hard time getting the 1st player marker, and Jen managed to win - due in no small part to a HUGE camel herd with lots of multipliers. She actually got all her camels into play.

Then it was off to go rafting! We (well, actually mostly Jen...ok, all Jen. The rest of us just sat around looking lazy) had checked around the night before and found one rafting place that was about half the price of the others and seemed to cover the same stretch of the Eagle river.

It was a good hot sunny day, which made the icy river feel really nice. Some of had hesitations about wearing wet suits, but I think the overall comfort level was just right. The rivers are running very high this year, and we had a fast moving, exciting ride. At the start of the trip, the guide asked for one person who would have to ride in the middle of the boat and not paddle, since there were too many people for everyone to paddle (nine people total, plus the guide). One woman volunteered; after getting partyway out, she commented that the middle of the boat was good since she didn't really want to get wet. The guide explained that, in fact, her job was to protect him from splashes!

We hit a lot of really fast moving rapids, and during the slow stretches had nice scenery to enjoy. The final rapids of the river was called Roller Dam, and was 4 large drops with huge waves that practically enveloped the raft. The guide had already explained that all the other raft companies (the twice as expensive ones, which we saw launching from the same place as us) were pulling out before that, as two of them had flipped a few boats going through this year. So we not only payed half the price, we got a much more exciting ride! (We did not, however, get issued helmets, which the other rafts had...but for an extra $45, I think we could buy some if we'd been really picky about it).

So, we highly recommend Colorado River guides if you happen to be rafting in that area!
 
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8. Board Game: Mammoth Hunters [Average Rating:6.14 Overall Rank:3142]
Brian M
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Following rafting, we stopped for lunch at the Alpen Rose. One of our favorite restaraunts in Vail, they offer a delicious lunch menu with a variety of German food. Yum!

We were pretty worn out from the rafting, and spent the rest of the day relaxing and playing games.

First up was Mammoth Hunters. This game got very vicious, with lots of fighting back and forth over the mammoths. Lisa wound up leading for the first three turns, which drew lots and lots of hostility, and Anthony lept into the lead in the last turn with 5 of his people in a region with 2 mammoths.
 
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9. Board Game: Fairy Tale [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:745]
Brian M
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Did I mention that this is one of our favorite 2P fillers? Its also a favorite partnership game. This was a nice one to play since we all knew it. We play that when you play a dark card you MAY trade a card with your partner, instead of being forced to.

Anthony and I managed to win this time.
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10. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:533] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Brian M
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I was eager to play Last Night on Earth as good late night game. Once again, we played guys vs. gals. They had the valiant heroes trying to escape in the truck, while he had the undead hordes.

This was a very action packed game, but it was tough going for us zombies. The board included the gas station, so the heroes were able to use the first can of gas they got to blow up all the zombies that had swarmed on the truck to guard it. We were able to then ring the truck with zombies and kill two heroes. (Slight problem here - in Escape in the Truck, I think a new hero starting out ON the truck is a bit too nice to the heroes. In the future I think we'll make them start on a random building). However, they managed to get Amanda to the truck, and got Sam on it as a new hero - one of the few heroes that could hold out against the horde!

We battered Sam quite a bit, but one of the heroes managed to find a nasty Heroic card to let him roll an extra die and kill zombies, which thinned the horde down enough that Amanda could easily hide from the rest while she filled up the truck and away they went. I thought this was a fun session, but my ally was a bit miffed about them being able to escape after setting fire to the truck, and about how Amanda could hide from zombies while gassing it up. Ah well.
 
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11. Board Game: Escalation! [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:6433]
Brian M
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After another relaxing game of Can't Stop in the hot tub (which I did exceedingly well at and won handily - all my bad dice luck for my zombies countered out here), we were stuck with a few minutes while Jen washed her hair or something, thus - Escalation! Anthony won.
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12. Board Game: Rage [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2674]
Brian M
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And finally a game of Rage to finish off the night. Except it wasn't so much a 'game' as it was Lisa giving a demonstration of how to always make your bid while the rest of us fought for second place.
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13. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
Brian M
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Before Jen and Anthony left on Tuesday, we got in the last game they had requested to try - Goa. Lots of tricky action management! We had a lot more plantations being auctioned than usual - I feel like usually we lean towards valuing the 'special' tiles more, but new players bring new perspectives. I do think that the flag was getting undervalued a bit. I won this one; I think most of the point difference was due to my being the only player to stock up on some cards near the end of the game.
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14. Board Game: Cosmic Wimpout [Average Rating:5.95 Overall Rank:4504]
Brian M
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It was a cloudy day, so Lisa and I decided to get in a nice hike when we wouldn't be face searing heat. We biked into Lionshead and went on the Berry Picker path. This is a trail that winds up the mountain between Lionshead and Vail. Last time we took it, it was extremely hot and very buggy. This time, the shade and wind made the walk much more pleasant. Its a very scenic path, lots of good views down the mountain. (Of course, just about ANYTHING up there is scenic). We didn't see any wildlife, but enjoyed the streams and woods nonetheless. We took a break after the really steep part of the hike up and played a quick game of Cosmic Wimpout, at which the dice really liked me.
 
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15. Board Game: California [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:2457]
Brian M
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We then spent more time exploring the towns. We wanted something light for dinner, and settled on Blu's; a little cafe style place (I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds like this) which has outdoor dining overlooking the river. The menu looked really good, but the food was a bit of a disappointment. Not bad, just unexciting.

On the walk back to Lionshead to get our bikes, we decided to pop into a place called Le Creperie to see what they had. What they had, as it turned out, was a variety of interesting flavors of really good gelato. Yummmmm!

Back at the condo, Lisa out interior-decorated me at a game of California.
 
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16. Board Game: Factory Fun [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:868]
Brian M
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We decided to have a lazy day Wednesday and mostly relax and play games, starting with a light game of Factory Fun, which Lisa won.
 
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17. Board Game: Phoenicia [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1544]
Brian M
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Then for something meatier! A game of Phoenicia. Then another, as Lisa wanted a rematch after the first game.

This is a neat, moderate-heavy economic game, but it seems to suffer from some runaway leader issues; once someone gets a good income rolling, it can be very hard to stop them from getting everything they want. Its also a little annoying that the game ends too quickly to ever get any real benefit out of the big end game buildings. Still, a solid game.
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18. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1362]
Brian M
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Then Lisa beat me at a quick game of Circus Flohcati.
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19. Board Game: Im Auftrag des Königs [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:5514]
Brian M
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This is a fun little game, but it tends to get overlooked - I think because its so small! I tried something different, and stocked up enough to do two quests and dispense knowledge before going out, which let me win in one quick swoop. It was very close though.
 
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20. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
Brian M
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On our way back from the pool, we discovered the condo's recreation room includes a ping pong table. So, we got some paddles and proceeded to demonstrate our complete lack of ping pong playing ability. However, my complete lack of skill is much greater than Lisa's, and she beat me four games in a row.

We did manage to get a really good back and forth round going at the exact moment other people walked into the room - apparently spectators made us want to do better!
 
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21. Board Game: Halo ActionClix [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:8143]
Brian M
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I'd really been looking forward to going out to eat at the Swiss Chalet restaurant, which offers some delicious sounding fondues. So we biked out for our fancy dinner out.

Sadly, this was a disappointment. The cheese fondue was good but unexceptional, and the Raclette (sp?) failed to thrill either. It was all ok, but for the high price tag, unworthwhile. The Melting Pot restaurants around here offer a far tastier, and less expensive, fondue experience.

The plan was to then do some bike riding. The first ride we wanted to do was a long road the goes from Lionshead to Vail through a really fancy neighborhood in the low mountain area. We've walked the route before, and its really neat to see all the big, elaborate, fancy, really pricey houses.

However, partway up the first hill, my bike EXPLODED! Well, maybe not the whole bike, but the gear guide part did, throwing the chain off as I shifted and getting stuck in the spokes of the rear wheel.

We (mostly Lisa) managed to pull that out to where I could coast, if not pedal, and I was stuck walking the bike up the steep hill, then coasting down parts, to get to Lionshead and drop it off at a bike store that had already closed for the day. This finished off the bike riding plans for the day and had me in rather a gloomy mood.

When we finally made it back, I was hoping a good shoot-em up would cheer me up. However, Halo didn't really seem to fit the bill. We forget to bring the normal color-coded dial rings we use on Clix figures, and it was a real pain to tell which side figures were on. The slightly dim lighting made looking at the numbers on the dials even more of a pain than usual, and overall I decided I'm just not happy with Halo. The base Clix system just has too many flaws.
 
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22. Board Game: League of Six [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1188]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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Finally finishing the day off (after a nice hot tub soak to try to get out the stresses of exploding bikes) with a game of League of Six. I still can't seem to manage the bouncing economy of this game, and wound up losing solidly.
 
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23. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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To stop myself from pacing around too much waiting to be able to call the bike shop, I focused my attention on one of our latest favorites, and led my cave meeples to a win.

As soon as the store was open, I called and Lisa zipped over on her bike to unlock it from the rack.

They got back to us with an estimate very quickly (as we were soaking in the hot tub, and I was managing yet another win of Can't Stop - the dice were really liking me!) and luckily it was inexpensive and quick.

For the record, its apparently a very bad idea to downshift while pedaling hard uphill.
 
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24. Board Game: Runebound (Second Edition) [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:691]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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I figured Runebound would nicely fill the time until the bike was done. After piling on some houserules, including mostly simultaneous turns, this takes about an hour and a half for the two of us. Still lacks something as a fantasy adventure game goes. Lisa got a Teleport Rune which was really helping her out (and my earlier luck was reversed with some disastrously unlucky early encounters). She was able to defeat Margath the turn before I could - I needed to stop and recover from an earlier fight.
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25. Board Game: Last Night on Earth: Growing Hunger [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.65 Unranked]
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
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The bike still wasn't done, so I wanted to try something quick. While Lisa had been gone earlier, I'd tried a solo play of the Growing Hunger scenario 'Alone in the Dark', designer for 1 zombie vs. 1 hero. I did very, very badly as the hero and wanted another try - this time with a real opponent. We played two games at once, setting up two boards and each controlling a hero on one and the zombie on the other. The zombies won them both! A tough challenge for the poor lone hero!

Then the bike was done, and it was time to head off, recover it, and enjoy some outdoor time.
 
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