Geeks of the Week Meet: A New Friendship
Ben Lott
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Mason
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A couple months ago I received word from my successor as Geek of the Week, that he would be visiting a woman he met online here in the Lansing area. It wasn't even 24 hours before we had decided we were definitely getting together for some gaming if he was coming that close to my home.

So finally yesterday was the day when Blott and Grimwold met face-to-face. Andy came over yesterday around noon with Mary (Rikki and I had used a vacation day to have more gaming time.) It was a real blast meeting a BGG friend on a face-to-face level.

So here is the tale of what happened when

Ben Lott
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Andy
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got together for gaming...
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1. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1488]
Ben Lott
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Immediately I pulled out Sorry! Sliders because Andy had expressed some interest in it already. We played all 4 different boards, and Andy agreed with DKahnt's assessment that the game is much more fun than it has any rite to be. I think I won once, Rikki won twice, and Mary won the other game, but I'm not sure. This is one of those games that is all about the fun of playing so winning is really secondary to the game experience.

Any details that I miss, I'm sure Andy can fill you in on when he gets home. He journaled all the plays and therefore knows final scores and winners and losers.
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2. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1433]
Ben Lott
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Andy was kind enough to bring a few games with him, and we still weren't hungry for lunch, so he broke out Pick Picknic. Everyone but Andy was new to the game so it was a lot of fun figuring out the strategy. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and Andy came out victorious. Rikki still holds that in a late round 4-vs-5 card bargain with Andy she should have opted to fight for the corn and could have won the game.

Definitely a game I might consider purchasing at some point, although not a game I thought of as a must-own.
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3. Board Game: Let's Do Lunch! [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:12501]
Ben Lott
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That's when we broke for lunch and drove over to a local restaurant that serves a nice variety of food. We all had a good time talking a little more and the food was quite good. Afterwards I took Andy over into a small store that is connected to the restaurant that has a very small selection of games. They had nothing ground-breaking or earth-shattering so we headed back to our apartment.
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4. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:319]
Ben Lott
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Michigan
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At some point during lunch Rikki brought up the subject of Shadows over Camelot (her favorite game,) and so Andy suggested it when we returned from lunch. We played without the possibility of a traitor since Mary had never played before, and we lost. It was shockingly close, despite the fact that both Andy and Rikki's characters died because of Morgan taking their last life points. Mary and I almost had the Grail quest won (which would have meant victory, but the last dragon card came out making that a lost cause. We just couldn't overcome the fact that the Mists of Avalon struck as one of the first 3 black cards in the deck. (Oh yeah, and my stupid attempt to defeat the black knight with 1s & 2s.)
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5. Board Game: Cranium Whoonu [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:4920]
Ben Lott
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Next Rikki ran to grab Cranium Whoonu. This is her "must-play" game whenever we are sitting down with new people. It works great to get to know the likes and dislikes of the other players (for instance Andy really doesn't care for cats, and Mary enjoys peanut butter.) Surprisingly, Mary had already played this game, and Andy had not. I can't remember the winners of the 2 games, but this is a game where winning and losing is really secondary to having fun and learning about each other.
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6. Board Game: The Hanging Gardens [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:1183]
Ben Lott
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At that point I was really ready to try out The Hanging Gardens (another game that Andy brought.) It was definitely our favorite of the new games Andy showed us. Rikki completely dominated in the final scoring as she got the full 25 points for the blue walls and the full bonus for the tiger tiles and the tiger trainer/keeper/whatever-he-is. I had a real blast with that game, and it is on my must have list already.
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7. Board Game: Euchre [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1290]
Ben Lott
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Mason
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We had a lot of discussion at lunch about Euchre being such a local favorite (because Mary, being from Michigan, had grown up playing it too.) So Andy decided he was ready to try out the game for himself. We just remained partners with the person we were seated across from, so Mary and I took on Rikki and Andy. It was a really close game. Mary and I had 9 points and Rikki and Andy had 8 points going into the last hand. That is when I tried calling trump on the Jack of hearts and a King & 9 of diamonds. Long story short...Rikki and Andy set us and won the game.
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8. Board Game: Double or Nothing [Average Rating:5.67 Overall Rank:8121]
Ben Lott
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had sent me a couple games to give to Andy while he was here, and one of them was Double or Nothing. I already owned the game, so I figured I'd show Andy how the game worked (it's a fun little press-your-luck game.) Despite the fact that Rikki broke the board, it was still a lot of fun. I had one really good round going double or nothing and ended up creating an insurmountable lead. The other players came close, but no one was able to match my score.
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9. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:698]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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As we packed up Double or Nothing I mentioned to Rikki that it was designed by the same guy who designed my favorite game. When Rikki said "He designed Lord of the Rings?" Mary mentioned that she likes anything that is Lord of the Rings themed. So Rikki said "Alright, I suppose we can play it."

I was like a kid at Christmas. I ran into the game room and grabbed the game and started setting everything up before she could change her mind. Soon we were off on our quest. We started with Sauron on the 12 since Andy and I were fairly experienced, but Mary was brand new to the game.

Sadly, Rikki had a friend's jewelry party that she had to leave for as we were entering Shelob's lair. But rather than lose Frodo from the quest, we played her hand open-faced and continued with all 4 characters.

When we entered Mordor we were able to get the ring into Andy's hands which was perfect since he was the furthest back on the corruption line and he had Sam as his character. Soon hobbits were dropping like flies. Frodo dropped due to an event. Then Mary was forced to succumb to another event. I played the Faramir card which advanced us past both of the die rolls, but was killed by those rolls. But Sam continued on and was able to toss the ring into Mount Doom and ended the game one space away from Sauron.

I told Andy afterwards that I was recently contemplating taking this game off the #1 spot in my list of favorite games. I just don't get to play it much and I often opt for other games when the opportunity is presented. But that game last night convinced me that Lord of the Rings is going nowhere. I still adore this game and had a total blast playing.
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10. Board Game: It's Alive! [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2613]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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The final game that Andy brought with him was It's Alive!. I had been looking at this game for awhile, and so I asked him how it would work with 3 players. "I actually prefer it with 3" was his response. So he taught Mary and I how to play. I really enjoyed the mechanisms involved. The tight little once-around auctions combined with the options on each turn is really cool.

I attempted to rush the end-game in order to catch the others off-guard and I was able to complete my creation first. Unfortunately, Mary had built a very solid creation and was only missing one component, plus she had a boat-load of cash remaining. Andy had been plagued by villagers right from the get-go, so he ran most of the game short on cash. He tried to earn some cash one round by selling a head at a decent price, but neither Mary or I needed it so he ended up eating the cost. So Mary claimed victory and I was only second-place despite my wonderful complete creation.
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11. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:412]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Andy mentioned after It's Alive that he likes that game because it shows you the relative value of the items, and therefore makes auctioning much easier. I asked if he had played Vegas Showdown because I really like how it handles auctions, and he said he had not.

So I pulled this game out next. By the time I had explained the rules, Rikki called to say she would be back soon. We opted to eat a late dinner and wait for Rikki to show up (since I think this game works better with more players.) As usual Vegas Showdown was a real hit.

Andy did an amazing job of creating a revenue stream. I teased him because each turn he seemed to be asking for more and more income, and I was remaining somewhat stagnant with mine. Andy became the slot king building a massive amount of gambling spots. Rikki had managed quite a few good placements to get the diamond bonuses. Mary and I were very diverse in our building styles.

By the end of the game Andy had managed to fill his entire sheet, but he came in seven points behind me. I did really well creating fame points during the game, but my end-game scoring was limited. Rikki and Mary managed to tie with 1 point more than I had. We had never seen a game this close, and weren't even aware of the tie-breaking rules. Upon further inspection in the rules Rikki won by 7 or 8 dollars in cash.
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12. Board Game: End of the Line [Average Rating:5.85 Unranked]
Ben Lott
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So that was all for our game day. I had so much fun meeting, talking, and gaming with Andy and Mary. Mary receives extra kudos from me for being sort of a non-gamer (and feeling a little sick) and yet hanging in there as we tried out so many new games.

I hope that Andy visits again some time, because we really seem to get along quite well, and I can see his gaming taste lining up nicely with mine. (I wish I could game with you every week, Andy.) It was really a treat to do this. So the next time a gamer's in town, whether from 5 miles away or 5000, I'd love to try and work out some gaming time with you too. Cheers!
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13. Board Game: Sushizock im Gockelwok [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1675]
Ben Lott
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P.S.

Just had to mention the graciousness of our guests. Andy came in with a lovely little plant that Rikki greatly appreciated, and a copy of Sushizock im Gockelwok for us. This was more than I could have ever imagined. Totally unnecessary, but totally appreciated.

Thanks again, Andy!! I can't wait to play this game.
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