Ask Not What the CBBS Game Night Can Do For You
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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On May 29, 2009 - the 92nd birthday of the 35th President of the United States of America - sixteen loyal Americans, Germans, Vulcans, Elves, and/or Sleestaks convened in the official CBBS Gaming Basement for another contentious edition of the CBBS Game Night. The conventioneers included Tim, Kirsten, Brian, Alan, Aaron, Nyck, Sandy, first-time delegate Rose, Jonathan, Nate, Bianca, Jim, Eric, Roseann, Scott, and Andy.

Note: BGG now allows you to subscribe to a geeklist, which will notify you when new content is added; I think this might help us keep some discussions related to these Session Reports going, so I would encourage everybody to subscribe to each of these reports from now on. This is currently in beta, so you have to activate it by going to http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geekaccount/edit/layout and clicking the "Use BETA subscription system?" checkbox. Then you should see the subscribe option at the bottom of the main geeklist header. You can also subscribe to, for example, the CBBS Guild Page and the Previous Session Reports list, as well.

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1. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1229]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:30pm
End time: 6:40pm


We straggled in to traditional straggle inner SET. The players were variable, as many joined in and left as others wandered in. No record was kept of the number of SETs earned, so I shall award the victory to myself. Because that's how I roll, baby.
 
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2. Board Game: Hamsterrolle [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:1183]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:40pm
End time: 6:50pm


As a large number of respondees indicated they would be arriving late, it was thought best to begin with a few lighter and quicker games. With eight people available at 6:40pm, we broke into two tables of classic four-person dexterity games. On Table Three was Hamsterrolle, played by Kirsten, Brian, Alan, and Aaron.


It appears that Kirsten has claimed victory, but investigations continue.
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3. Board Game: Loopin' Louie [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:688]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:40pm
End time: 6:50pm


Meanwhile, on Table Two, Tim, Nyck, Sandy, and Rose engaged in a fierce battle of Loopin' Louie. Unfortunately, it is hard to simultaneously play and photograph this game, and the professional photographer we hire for these events was stuck in traffic, so no pictorial evidence of this mighty struggle exists. Suffice it to say that it was sublime, salubrious, stupefying, and scandalous.

We attempted to play the Full Tournament version, where if you win one round, you give up one chicken for the next round. You win the game if you win a round in which you started with but a single chicken, but you get all three chickens back if you ever lose a round. Word on the street is that it should take about thirty minutes to crown a victor in such a manner, but as several more stragglers soon arrived we cut the game short. Sandy was the only one to win a round starting with fewer than three chickens, and thus she was declared the ultimate winner.
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4. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:629]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:03pm
End time: 7:33pm


It was now decided, in a process totally not random or anything, to begin three games each with a different expected length, which would allow us the maximum chance of accommodating any more latecomers. Thus, Can't Stop was played on Table Two by Alan, Jonathan, Nate, and Jim.


Alan was proclaimed champion throughout the land.
 
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5. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:267]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start Time: 19:05
End Time: 21:00


For the longish game of the first reconfig, Nyck agreed to run Kingsburg for Sandy, Rose, Bianca, and Kirsten on Table Three.


Rose won with a mighty 31 points, while Nyck was close behind with 29. Bianca decided to place third with a worthy score of 28, while Kirsten eschewed more points and better position with her 22 points. Sandy was eaten by goblins, zombies and/or dragons and settled for 12 points.
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6. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:719]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:10pm
End time: 8:10pm


And for the mid-length game of the reconfig, Tim wanted to play his newly acquired Dice Town, forcing Eric, Roseann, Brian, and Aaron to join him at Table One.


In the early rounds Roseann kept rolling four of a kind and gathered a bunch of cards - but that is a double-edged sword, as that made her the prime target for the saloon girls. Aaron made a similar run in the middle game, sweeping the property cards more than once. But Brian's General Store card that let him steal cards twice robbed Aaron of some key points at the end - allowing Tim, with four aces on the first roll of the final round, to sneak in for a 33 point victory. Brian was second with 28, while Aaron slipped to third with 27, Eric scored 23, and Roseann settled for 15.

This is an interesting game with more choices than it first appears. Initially the best hand was always won with four of a kind, and if there are a lot of die-rolling rounds that will usually be the case. But once we discovered the rule that allows everybody else just one more roll after anybody has a set hand, things got a little more interesting. If, for example, you get a straight in your first roll, that might just stand up if you keep it, as everybody else will probably have a pair or three-of-a-kind at best. And even with five players, a lot of the buildings can be won with a single die, so that straight may pay off in more ways than one. Conversely, sometimes it's better to just try and get as many nines or jacks as possible, and not worry about winning the property cards.

It might be a little long for what it is, but its hard to complain too much about a lighter dice game that still offers some chances for strategy. The only major complaint I had was that it only came with 42 bills, which is not enough to give five players 8 each while keeping 3 in the bank. Hmmph.
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7. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:900]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:35pm
End time: Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?


The mixed-length game-selection "strategy" paid off when Andy arrived late and was therefore able to jump into the post-Can't Stop selection of TransAmerica. He was joined by the existing Table Two cohort of Alan, Jonathan, Nate, and Jimmy the Bone.

After an undetermined period of time, of which some may have been used for playing this game, Jim apparently finished in first place, followed in order by Nate, Andy, Alan, and Jonathan.
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8. Board Game: Big Points [Average Rating:6.47 Overall Rank:2526]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:20pm
End time: 8:32pm


With the tables now out-of-sync, it was time for Tim to bring out a couple of Easy Play selections on Table One. The first choice was Big Points, and the players continued to be Tim, Eric, Roseann, Brian, and Aaron.

Almost everyone followed the strategy of trying to grab the white or black disks early, which seems like a reasonable thing to do when you can't tell what the other colors will be worth yet. Aaron was aced out of the whites, however, and instead concentrated on pushing the green pawn forward while simultaneously grabbing green disks. This strategy paid off when he was able to bring green home first, scoring 16 points in greens and six others for a 22 point victory. Tim, Eric, and Brian all ended up with mostly the same selection, and tied for second with 20 points, while Roseann was one red disk behind and ended with 19.

I defy anyone reading this to find something bad to say about a game that offers interesting decisions and strategic play for five players - and lasts just twelve minutes.
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9. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3313]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:35pm
End time: 8:47pm (two games)


With some time still available before the reconfig, Tim ran a couple quick games of Finito!. As only four people can play (although you could easily do more with more sets), Eric and Roseann played as a team, while Brian, Tim, and Aaron were left to fend for themselves.

This game could not be simpler - roll a die, place a tile on that number, try to get your tiles in order. And yet, it offers a real gaming experience, with fun decisions and a sense that you want to play again right after it's over. Which is, in fact, what we did - Brian won the first game, while Tim won the second.
 
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10. Board Game: Crazy Kick [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:3325]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:45pm
End time: 9:00pm (two games)


At some point Andy had disappeared into the Lounge to assemble some top secret contraption that he wished to share with the rest of the CBBS. When he emerged, he presented a custom copy of Crazy Kick, from Artscow.com - with the names of CBBS regulars as the players on the cards! Of course, we had no choice but to play it immediately, as the Kingsburg game on Table Three still had a few minutes left.


This game is always a blast to play, with yelling and slapping cards and what not, but it's even more fun when the names you are yelling are those of CBBS members. At one point Bianca was delighted to discover she had scored a goal, even though, technically, she was still playing Kingsburg at the time.

Two games were played, with the Black Bozos of Andy, Aaron, Brian and Nate defeating the Red Devils of Tim, Eric, Roseann, and Alan five goals to two. Aaron and Brian were then traded for Roseann and Alan, and the newly reconfigured Red Rums crushed the Black Buffoons five goals to N (where N < 5)
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11. Board Game: Marrakech [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1234]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:10pm
End time: 9:40pm


It was time for a reconfig, so Tim took this opportunity to bring out yet another new acquisition, Marrakech. He was joined by Jim, Bianca, and Nate.


Bianca was unlucky throughout and kept landing on other people's carpets; Nate managed the first big continuous carpet layout, while Tim ended up spreading many of his carpets around in an attempt to keep them uncovered through the end of the game. But in the end, Jim's large section in the corner gained him a couple big paydays from Bianca, earning him 49 points and the victory. Tim finished just behind with 47 points, while Nate had 43, and Bianca could never get anyone to land on her carpets and ended with 24.

There's obviously a lot of luck in this game with the die, and not so many die rolls that you can expect them to even out. But there are some interesting possible different strategies (like concentration vs. diffusion, as described above), and even some chances to take risks or play it safe. And the carpet fragments are just cool.
 
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12. Board Game: Pirate's Cove [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1031]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:15pm
End time: 10:15pm


An odd combination of inaccurate player accounting and vile subterfuge found Andy on Table One with just two other players for a game of Pirate's Cove. It appears that the only way Andy can make it to the big table is with a small number of players; clearly, table assignment protocols must be more strictly enforced in the future, or we run the risk of complete pandemonium.


Brian appeared to be playing two games to Andy and Alan's one, as his score of 44 doubloons almost beat the combined score of Andy's 23 peg legs and Alan's 22 eyepatches.
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13. Board Game: Puerto Rico [Average Rating:8.06 Overall Rank:16]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:15pm
End time: Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin
Into the future...


Nyck, showing the proper respect for table capacity to assignment ratios, ran his three player game of Puerto Rico on the more appropriate venue of Table Two.


Nyck earned the title of Mayor with his 61 victory points, while Aaron did a Craftsman-like job of accumulating 45. Jonathan, alas, must be satisfied with Prospecting his 34 points.
 
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14. Board Game: Dog [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2402]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:30pm
End time: 10:30pm


With Marrakech over much more quickly than the games on Tables One and Two, Tim found yet another opportunity to bring out a new Schmidt Spiele acquisition, the gaming sensation that is Dog. He was joined by the Table Three cohort of Jim, Bianca, and Nate.


Dog looks like a clone of Sorry!, and is indeed quite similar. However, there are several differences which make it a surprisingly interesting game. You play in partnerships and swap a card with your partner at the start of each hand of cards; and if you get all your pieces home you then can move your partner's pieces with your cards. There is also the blocking feature of your start space - nobody (including your partner or yourself) can pass a piece on its start space. The 4s and 7s are more flexible and powerful in Dog. Finally, instead of drawing and playing one card, you have a hand of cards to choose from - but if you ever cannot play, you must discard the rest of your cards and skip your turns until the next hand is dealt.

These changes don't seem like much, but they do make Dog an engaging game that can be enjoyed by adults non-ironically.

In this game, Tim used the switch and the backward 4 to get two pieces home early, but then had to skip a couple rounds when he couldn't get a start card. Fortunately, his partner Bianca picked up the slack, stumbling only once with a logjam at her home. Fortunately, Tim was able to pass a 1/11 card, which let her move her pieces home first. Meanwhile, Nate was making almost as much progress, but Jim had been captured a few times and was in trouble. The key point came when a Tim and Bianca won a series of swaps, which put Tim's last piece near home with a new hand about to be dealt. There was little Nate and Jim could do as Bianca drew a three to send Tim home for the victory.
 
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15. Board Game: Sorry! Sliders [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1495]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:30pm
End time: 9:45pm


Speaking of Sorry!, Eric and Roseann retired to the Lounge for a quiet war of all against all using Sorry! Sliders as proxy. After what was, I'm sure, a brutal and destructive conflagration, Roseann emerged as the winner.
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16. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:371]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 2230
End time: 11:07pm


With Puerto Rico still going strong, but Tables One and Three available, we found ourselves with seven gamers to satisfy. In a phenomenal display of hubris, it was determined that a seven person game of Bohnanza was just the ticket. Obviously, Table One would be the site of this exercise; the players were Tim, Nate, Bianca, Andy, Alan, Scott, and Jim.


Nate and Bianca, at least, had not played before, and it's possible some of the others were also new players. Any game of Bohnanza typically drags a bit with new players, as the mechanisms are a little difficult to get right and the open-ended trading rounds will always take a while, especially with seven players. But in a rather remarkable achievement, we managed to play a full game in less than forty minutes. Everybody was able to either make trades or identify the inability to make trades very quickly, and the wonky mechanisms (especially playing your first card) tripped up nobody.

Furthermore, the game was very close; Andy and Nate tied with 9 points, while Tim and Scott earned 8, Jim had 7, Bianca 6, and Alan 5. Obviously it's only possible to make one or two big scores in a game this size, which may also help keep the game time in check. Nevertheless, all these players must be congratulated on playing this game exactly as it should be played; I am now eager to get a few more many-player games of this under my belt.
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17. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:20pm
End time: 12:15am


The next reconfig was upon us, and with nine serious gamers left, it was time for a couple of meatier offerings to complement the hors d'oeuvres that had been played all night. (That's not completely fair, of course, as Puerto Rico, Kingsburg, and even Bohnanza are not exactly fluff. But we did seem to play a lot of lighter games this evening.) Thus, Tim, Nate, Bianca, Jim, and Alan sat down at Table One to play the classic Ra.


The first epoch saw Tim acquire several pharoahs while Nate built up a long string of niles. Jim invested heavily in monuments, while Bianca and Alan engaged in mixed strategies. Someone (not Tim) even managed the rare feat (especially in a five player game) of scoring five points for multiple Civilizations. The abundant early civ tiles would make the later epochs more challenging; Jim lost the full seven points in epoch two, and while Alan challenged Tim for the lead in pharoahs Tim was able to solidify his lead and score the five points in all three epochs. The end of the second epoch saw Nate alone with one Ra tile to go, and he pushed his luck to an insane but successful degree, earning six tiles and picking up several more points in niles and monuments.

In the third epoch Tim saw his chance to get a civ and a fourth similar monument early, and then got out by acquiring the important 14 sun tile, which would eventually earn him the 5 point sun bonus. The round was not half over, but he had 28 points in hand for the epoch, and just had to pray for the Ra tiles to fall early and often. The first few Ras obliged, but the last two or three took an agonizing amount of time to show up, allowing Nate to build up his niles and monuments and find that elusive civ. By the time the dust cleared, Nate's brave (and/or foolhardy) run at the end of the second epoch proved to be the difference, as he nipped Tim by two points, 48 to 46. (That, incidentally, is a really high score for a five player game, which probably has something to do with how evenly the civ and flood tiles come out, and maybe with the timing of the monuments.) Alan came in third with a respectable 38, while Bianca earned an almost equally respectable 35 points. Jim never recovered from his second epoch disaster and finished with 13 points.
 
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18. Board Game: Santiago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:526]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 2330
End time: 12:10am


Meanwhile, Andy ran his new favorite game Santiago for Aaron, Scott, and Nyck, in his right and appropriate place at Table Two.


From the picture, it looks like two crops (beans and potatoes) were balked for most of the game, which seems a little unusual and cutthroat; in most of the game I've played there are one or two really big crops, but the others still mostly manage fields of five or six tiles, at least. As one might expect, this large separation in crop values led to an equally large spread in final scores, with Scott's 122 escudos easily outpacing Andy's 97, Nyck's 95, and Aaron's 79.
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19. Board Game: Fluxx [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:6667]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: Draw 0
End time: Play all


At this point, we lost five of our gamers to ennui and exhaustion, and it looked like this Game Night was on the verge of ending at the shockingly early hour of 12:30am. Fortunately, four brave souls were willing to endure, for the honor of the CBBS if for nothing else. This is how Scott, Nyck, Andy, and eventually Tim found themselves playing Fluxx.

To tell you the truth, post-midnight is probably the only time it makes sense to play this game; it actually can be interesting and even kind of strategic. But whether that happens or not is completely random - if the right cards come up (generally low hand limits and high plays), it turns into something less skillful than even Sorry!, as you just draw and play the cards and see who wins. I jumped in in the middle, so I don't know if Scott acquired his five keepers by guile or by fortune, but after a few rounds of drawing and playing the right goal came up and he claimed the victory.
 
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20. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1367]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:30am
End time: 12:50am


There are some games that might have well been designed for late night; Circus Flohcati is one of these, and as Scott and Andy both had wanted to play this game, it was a pretty much mandatory choice. Tim and Nyck completed the foursome.

It was a close game throughout; Scott and Tim drew a number of early sevens, but the draw cards redistributed them somewhat, and the 6s and 5s more than made up for whatever septohomogeny still existed. Everyone had a couple trios except Tim, who pushed at the end of the game to find the green card he needed for a gala, but, alas, it was not meant to be. Nyck had played an extra trio and scored 67, but Scott's high cards more than made up the difference, netting him 69 points and the victory. Andy and Tim ended with 59 and 55, respectively, but if either could have found the gala card at the end they would have been in contention.
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21. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3313]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:50am
End time: 1:00am


At this point Scott tried to leave, but was forcibly restrained so that one last four-player game of Finito! could be played. After twelve rounds all four players had boards that were pretty much the exact opposite of ordered; nevertheless, after a few more rolls Nyck and Tim were able to simultaneously bring structure to chaos and share the victory.
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22. Board Game: IGOR: The Monster Making Game [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:8775]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1:10am
End time: 1:30am


Tim was not ready yet to call it quits, and Andy will always play until he is physically prevented from doing so. And, as Andy was Nyck's ride, we had a viable gaming threesome for a quick playing of IGOR: The Monster Making Game.

Tim followed the unfortunate strategy of never rolling a screw whenever there was a monster that required screws; this had the effect of setting up Nyck (who followed Tim in turn order) for some easy high-value monsters. But despite a slow start Andy kept plugging away; and while Nyck was usually able to safely take some easy monsters on his turns, when Andy had a couple big rounds at the end it was going to be a close finish. And, in fact, it could not have been closer, as Andy and Nyck tied with 21 points worth of vile constructs. Tim was also there, barely, and managed to avoid the shutout with 13 points.
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23. Board Game: Flix Mix [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:4334]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1:30am
End time: At the end of all things


You may have thought that would be the end of this Game Night, but you would have been mistaken. Tim, Andy, and Nyck had one more game in them, and that game was Flix Mix. It is too bad that Tim's late night camera-fu is not strong, as the final tableau for each round is usually quite striking.

At any rate, while Andy and Nyck may have played before, or not, they were unable to keep up with the Flix Mix juggernaut that was Tim, who won each of the three rounds and made no illegal placements, for a winning total of zero points. Nyck beat Andy in two out of the three rounds, but Andy's excellent two-point second round proved to be the difference, as he captured second place with 17 points, while Nyck had to settle for third with 21 points.
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24. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:3729] [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:71]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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The snacks were many and varied on this Game Night, as on most Game Nights. The Salt and Pepper Baked Kettle Chips were not big favorites, as they were disappointingly un-peppery; and of course the Cheezits were only half-consumed, as usual. I would have thought the pistachios would have been more popular, but they were rather subdued in flavor and texture - I shall get a different brand next time.


However, the Swedish Fish were consumed with abandon, as were the Almond Roca and the vanilla cereal crunchy things I got from the bulk section of the Winco. The M&Ms, of course, are perennial favorites, and someone brought some caramel Bugles which can only be described as completely evil. Jonathan brought some cupcakes which I unfortunately did not have a chance to try but were generally well-recieved, as were the "Maple Leaf Creme Cookies" brought by somebody else. All in all, let it not be said that the CBBS were poorly fed on this night.

We continue to burn through the available supplies of Minutemaid Light Lemonade and Light Cherry Limeade, as well as most of the 2-gallon jug of water. It is clear that the members of the CBBS are getting their daily recommended allowances of carbohydrates from the foodstuffs, and do not require any more from their potables.
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