I come to bury the CBBS Game Night, not to praise it
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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On the Ides of June, a mere eight gamers assembled for the purpose of participating in a regular Game Night, marking the third worst attendance in the history of the CBBS. Could this be the end of Game Night? Might 61 Game Nights be the natural limit of any such endeavor, lest one anger the gods? The world will have to wait to resolve these questions; Tim, Nyck, Scott, Jim, Kirsten, Michael, Lynette, and Andy could only provide more immediate answers on this night.


July 13, 2009
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1. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:9043]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:30pm
End time: 6:52pm


With a smaller crowd expected, we extended the usual straggle-in period a bit, in order to achieve a quorum. Twenty-two minutes of Krypto may seem like a lot, but time playing Krypto is never wasted, and anyone who says otherwise is an ass, a fool, and a prating coxcomb. Those who do not match that description included, on this occasion, Tim, Scott, Jim, Kirsten, Michael, and Nyck.

Today's bonus Krypto puzzle is:

13 9 19 24 10 => 16

Spoiler (click to reveal)
My solution, which I was rather proud of, was:
(24*10)/(19+9-13) = 16

As always, the Krypto solver finds even bolder solutions:

(19*13)-(24*10)+9 = 16
((24+19)+(13*9))/10 = 16
((19*9)+13-24)/10 = 16
(24+19)+9*(10-13) = 16
19+(10-(24+13))/9 = 16

This is my favorite kind of Kryptograph, as it requires either large multiplication or complicated division, or both, to solve. That, my friends, is some serious arithmetic.


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2. Board Game: Frank's Zoo [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1208]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: 7:50pm


We decided another super-filler was needed to bridge the gap until the last of us were due to arrive. Our recent explorations of climbing games like Lectio and Gang of Four led Tim to think of Frank's Zoo, an older Eurogame of this type and one Tim had not played in many years. The zookeepers were Tim, Nyck, Scott, Kirsten, Jim, and Michael.


We played without the partnership rules, are there are endgame issues with those, plus it was one more rule to splain and Tim is incredibly lazy. As always, the elephants were the key to how each round evolved; for example, in one round Tim gambled by playing two lions on a single lion (with a hedgehog in the stack), hoping the that last remaining elephant would not be paired with the last remaining mosquito, making the two lions unbeatable. Alas, Kirsten had both the elephant and the mosquito, and reaped the rewards.

With six people there is a lot of luck in how the cards are distributed; if you lack high pairs, you probably will have trouble getting any lion or hedgehog points. In fact, that's what happened to Tim in each of the four rounds, and the four lost hedgehog points overshadowed a couple early exits to land him in last place with 11 points. Michael did not exit early very often and finished out of the running with twelve points. Scott had an excellent first and third round, but a disastrous -1 in round two crippled him and he ended with 13 points. Nyck alternated good and bad rounds, finishing with 14 points. Jim had several rounds with many lion and hedgehog points, and his fifteen points after round three looked to put him in the lead. But his zero point final round allowed Kirsten to sneak past for the win, as her steady four points per round with five on the end gave her 17 points.
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3. Board Game: Catan Geographies: Germany [Average Rating:6.90 Overall Rank:2162]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:55pm
End time: ~9:30pm


With Lynette finally amongst us, we broke into two tables; on Table Two, Kirsten was itchin to get her spectacular new copy of Catan Geographies: Germany played, and thus it was so. She was joined by Michael and Lynette.


Across the land of Germany, Michael was declared Der Grosse Weiner with twelve schnitzels. Kirsten had to settle for eleven frikadellans, while Lynette achieved a mere ten lederhosen.
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4. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1274]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:00pm
End time: 8:48pm


Meanwhile, on Table One, Tim, Nyck, Scott, and Jim were getting their tetris on with Reiner Knizia's new gaming sensation, FITS.


Actually, it is better if one does not think of this as a boardgame version of tetris, as certain tetris instincts will get you into trouble in FITS. Building a long tube on one side of the display can get you a lot of tetris points, but is a good way to really screw up your FITS tableau, and because the horizontal rows don't vanish you can't get out of trouble by building a layer or two above your bottom working row.

The later rounds are rather fun, although getting the pairs of symbols in round four can be more trouble than they are worth (as two extra rows is worth only one less than both symbols together).

Anyway, Tim outpaced the field in the first couple rounds, and no one was able to catch him despite his lackluster fourth round as he finished with 31 points. Scott made up a lot of ground in round four, and nipped Jim for second place, 26 to 24. Nyck had to rely on a decent third round to get to seven points.
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5. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:719]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:55pm
End time: 9:45pm


Andy had finally managed to fulfill his anniversary obligations and was free to join us (one hopes), if a little later than usual. Thus, with Catan Geographies: Germany still in progress, a quickish five-player game was desired for Table One. Dice Town fit the bill exactly; the townsfolk were Tim, Nyck, Scott, Andy, and Jim.


In this game we discovered the value of Doc Badluck; in almost every case it's better to get eight bucks or four nuggets, or barbwire off some key properties, than to actually get the thing you won. The exception is probably a good haul of property cards, but you have to make sure that you aren't the only one with cards, or else the saloon girls will pick you apart. But it's pretty hard to play for Doc Badluck; many times you will accidentally win the General Store or Bank because nobody else rolled any tens or jacks, or whatever. It seems something like two pair may give you the best shot, if they both are in ranks other players are going for.

In this game Nyck ended up with a truly prodigious set of property cards, most of them stolen over the course of four or five rounds from Tim - who had stolen them all earlier, leaving nobody else for Nyck to pick on when he rolled Queens. Thus, Nyck's 39 points easily beat Andy's second place total of 29 - despite Andy's theft of the eight-point horse from Tim on the last round. All that thievery took its toll, and Tim finished third with 20 points. Jim, who had lots of nuggets but few property cards, ended in fourth with 18 points, while most of Scott's big early scores went to pay the saloon girls, and he could only wrassle up 13 points at the end of the game.
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6. Board Game: The Princes of Florence [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:119]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 21:50
End time: 23:40


With all eight gamers assembled, it was time to begin the Wolfgang Kramer portion of the evening. Lynette decided to run The Princes of Florence on Table Three, as it may have slightly better dimensions than Table Two for holding all the various player and game boards required. She was joined by Kirsten, Andy, and Michael.


The most florid prince was Michael, who earned 64 prestige points. Lynette finished in second place, with 60 honor points, while Kirsten had to make due with third and 44 points of renown. Andy, who had trouble figuring out the two-for-one tradeoff between work value and scoring, finished in last place with 35 humility points.

I kid Andy, of course, because he is not the only one to get messed up by that; the rules specifically use the rather bulky terms "work value" and "prestige points", because even though they are both "points" of some sort they are not the same thing. But it's always hard to splain (and harder to understand, I think) this kind of niggling detail when one has never played before.
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7. Board Game: Blox [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2889]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:00pm
End time: 10:50pm


Meanwhile, Table One was filled with the dulcet tones of heavy plastic Blox clacking together, as Tim splained this rather new Kramer game for Scott, Jim, and Nyck.


Blox certainly looks nice, and feels like a Kramer game, although apparently he's given up on trying to match the mechanics to theme. There was some discussion afterwards about the extent to which it is dominated by card luck or not. Certainly the cards you draw matter a great deal, but I think the ability to attack other players with three (or more cards) of the same color is a very important mechanism. If you end up with a variety of colors in your hand, that will be a real help in building and destroying buildings; thus, making a concentration of colors useful means almost every set of cards will have some potential value, although of course the state of the board might still screw you up.

At first Blox seems about keeping up with your opponents and not falling behind, as in the first few rounds it is pretty easy to build and destroy - and everybody focused on doing just that. But the later rounds take a certain amount of planning to do anything with the buildings, and often you had to make a choice to try for a medium score soon or a bigger score later. In this game we all ended with very close scores, made in different ways, which suggests that different strategies are possible. Nyck attacked more than anybody, which demonstrated the value of doing so to the rest of us; meanwhile Jim and Tim were the only ones who were able to build a five-point building - Tim just needed one card to be a different color on the last turn or he would have completed a second fiver and won easily. As it was, Tim and Jim tied with 36 points, but Jim had 7 to 5 edge in blox and won on the tiebreak. Scott scored 35 and Nyck finished with 34.

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8. Board Game: Marrakech [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1236]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:50pm
End time: 11:35pm


Despite both being Kramer games, Blox and The Princes of Florence do not share a common game length, and thus another relatively quick four-player game was soon needed on Table One. Luckily, Marrakech precisely matches that description, and thus Tim, Jim, Nyck, and Scott were soon playing.

There is no question that this game relies on luck; if Assam's die is not kind, you will lose handily. But there are lots of ways to try and manage your luck; once the board fills up it's an interesting exercise trying to influence the player on your left to choose a path that might pay you off. Sometimes that involves deliberately making a smaller connecting carpet segment than possible, because really big sections will be avoided at all costs, while smaller ones might be risked. Big sections will also be covered more quickly, so an out-of-the way segment of carpet will have a better chance of remaining uncovered to the end.

Tim had been paid off handsomely for most of the game when his luck ran out and he landed on Jim's giant carpet swath. The big payment did not give the game to Jim, as he had been bleeding dirhams all game; instead, Scott managed to sneak by for the win with 48 dirhams. Tim had to settle for second with his 41 dirhams, while Jim and Nyck tied with 38 dirhams. Also, Tim just likes saying "dirhams".
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9. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3321]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:40pm
End time: 11:45pm


By this point, The Princes of Florence was finally over, but there still was the final scoring and putting the game away to do, which allowed just enough time for Scott, Nyck, Jim, and Tim to play a complete game of Finito!. Seriously, this may be the best game ever just because it takes no time to play. Scott was the first to achieve order, while the rest of us must wallow in chaos forevermore.
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10. Board Game: Excape [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:2254]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:50pm
End time: 12:20am


Michael and Kirsten turned into pumpkins, which allowed Tim to bring out his new six-player game of Excape. Kirsten almost was willing to stay for this game, but as she would have made seven and thus prevented us from playing, she resolved the conundrum by leaving after all. Nyck, Lynette, Scott, Andy, Jim, and Tim did not leave.

...although Tim might have wished to, even though it was his house, as his early 5 score was slowly devoured by his next ten die rolls, each of which contained at least one X. Half of them were the first rolls of a round and thus could be rerolled, but when every reroll also has an X one must bow one's head to fate and accept last place, with a mere two points.

Lynette was not as pathetic as Tim, and even competed for the lead at one point, but faded down the stretch and ended with 9 points.

Scott also was in the lead early, but could not muster some key sixes or sevens when needed, and finished with 12 points.

For a while it looked like Nyck would run away with it, but he stagnated at 15 points as his dice kept getting swept from the board by later players. Meanwhile, Andy used some key doubles to inch past for 17 points and second place.

But Jim used a maximum seventy-six whilst on the 16 space to earn the final five points; everybody else had to roll until they crapped out trying to unseat him, but (as foreshadowed) they were ultimately unsuccessful.
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11. Board Game: Dog [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2399]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:25am
End time: 1:45am


As we were casting around the official CBBS gaming basement, hunting for a good late-nite game for six players, Lynette wanted to know what Dog was. There is no armor against fate, and thus partners Tim and Scott, Andy and Nyck, and Lynette and Jim were soon Dogging themselves and each other with abandon.


To answer Lynette's question, Dog is basically partnership Sorry!, with hands of cards and a few rather important differences in card play.

Tim and Scott used superior skill and analytical prowess to quickly get all of Tim's pieces home; Andy rather valiantly kept swapping Scott's final man around the board, but in the end Tim and Scott were able to counter successfully and bring him home for the win. Nyck had all of his men home and Andy was fairly close on his, so we shall award that team second place. Lynette and Jim also played.
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12. Board Game: The Bucket King [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2169]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 2:00am
End time: 2:25am


Lynette had long since gourdified, but Tim, Nyck, Scott, Andy, and Jim were undaunted by the hour and willing to fight one last fight to be named The Bucket King. A detailed analysis of the game play could only result in jealousy and hard feelings, and thus Tim will modestly claim victory by dint of his awe-inspiring bucket management skills; he had 10 buckets left when Andy and Nyck lost their last buckets; Scott and Jim each had 6 buckets left at the end.
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13. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:3722] [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:71]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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Without a doubt, the hit of the evening were the "clodhoppers", which appear to be some kind of graham clusters dipped in vanilla icing. Those were consumed early and often by the attending gamers, as were the salt and vinegar and Tuscon Three Cheese kettle chips, the swedish fish, the jalapeno cheese and pumpernickel pretzel sammiches, the Bold and Spicy Gardettos, and even the mixed nuts, a few of which usually survive Game Night. In fact, the only snack food to last the night were the M&Ms; I suspect the outcry would by loud and extended if M&Ms were not provided in future Game Nights, however.
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