Gaming in a Winter Wonderland (with the CBBS)
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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On Saturday, December 19, 2009 the CBBS's third annual Winter Solstice Gaming Soiree and White Elephant Gift Exchange Hootenany was successfully held with minimal loss of life and limb. As the rain had washed away most of the snow, CBBS Central was more like a Winter Drearyland, yet seventeen gamers found the wherewithal to participate to some extent or another anyway. The festivates included Tim, Andy, first time attendee Cindy, Scott, Mary, Krista, Rose, Counterclockwise Scott, Jim, Sandy, Kirsten, Nathaniel, Alan, Nyck, Lynette, Roseann, Eric


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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: 6:35pm
End time: 6:45pm


At 6:25pm, not one gamer had yet made their way into the official CBBS Gaming Basement; by 6:35pm, approximately fourteen gamers had shown up. Nevertheless, there were others expected, and thus a round of straggle-inners were obviously going to be needed. The first such game was SET, although no participants (and, obviously, no score) were recorded.
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2. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:9046]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:45pm
End time: 6:55pm


It has become something of a tradition to follow SET with Krypto during the initial straggle-in period. (Perhaps it is more a matter of lack of imagination than actual tradition, but whatever.)

In the same way, it has become a tradition to inflict the hardest Krypto hand we deal upon our devoted readership. In that spirit, we offer this:

8 17 16 19 6 => 11

Spoiler (click to reveal)
17-(19-16)*(8-6) = 11
(16+(19*8))/6-17 = 11
((19+16)-17)/6+8 = 11
(19+17)*6/8-16 = 11
(19 - 17)*(6 - 8/16) = 11
(16-8)+6/(19-17) = 11
(17-8)+6/(19-16) = 11

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3. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:719]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: 8:10pm


We could wait no longer to begin the plenary session of Game Night, and with fourteen gamers in hand we began with three hopefully-not-too-long games. Following these parameters, Andy chose Dice Town to run on Table One for Scott, Mary, Cindy, and Krista.


Despite being the splainer, Andy had a miserable game, ending with no money and no gold and a mere 19 points. Scott and Mary tied for the penultimate position with 21, while Krista earned second place with 24. But it was Cindy's strategy of getting all the gold in the world that led to her victorious 29 point score.
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4. Board Game: Lectio [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:2291]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: 7:55pm


Tim was under the impression that he was about to run Witch's Brew on Table Two when suddenly Kirsten decided instead that she would be running Lectio for Rose, Counterclockwise Scott, Jim, and Sandy. Tim thus slunk off to play at Table Three instead.


The assembled gamers played five rounds, and explicitly note in the final report that nothing interesting whatsoever happened during this game. We can thus only report that Rose was victorious with 162 points. The battle for second was close, but only Counterclockwise Scott was able to break even for the game, earning 149 points, while Jim ended down one at 148 and Sandy down a couple at 147. Kirsten, perhaps earning some karmic payback for bigfooting the gaming configuration, finished last with 139 points.
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5. Board Game: Ruse & Bruise [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1967]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:05pm
End time: 7:47pm


On the aforementioned Table Three, the remnants of Nyck, Nathaniel, Alan, and Tim played Ruse & Bruise.


This is actually a much more interesting game with four than with six. With a full set of players, all the target cards will be in play - and six of them will be distributed each turn, so it becomes a lot easier to get a full set. That, in turn, means that if you do not get a full set, you probably have no chance of winning, and often the last half of the game is meaningless for half the players.

In this game, however, only two corn cards came out all game, and in the end none of the players had a full set. With scores lower, it would only take one big round to vault a backmarker into contention, and thus the game was a lot more interesting. Nyck had taken some early five pointers and looked to be in the lead, but on the last turn he was frozen out of all four scoring cards, while Tim won seven points in red hats to clip him, 26 to 25. Nathaniel ended with 13 and Alan, who was aced out early, managed just 7 points - so it is still possible to get hosed, even with four players.
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6. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:15pm
End time: The End of Days


As expected, our final three players showed up shortly after our three tables were underway; as penance, they were sentenced to the VIP Lounge to play Pandemic, with the Pandemic: On the Brink expansion. The erstwhile worldsavers were Eric (the Troubleshooter), Roseann (the Field Operative), and Lynette (the Generalist), and they used 5 epidemics plus the mutation challenge.

A large portion of the scoresheet is devoted to explaining why Eric kept calling Lynette "LeAnn". Apparently, that's the name of his sister-in-law (Roseann's sister), and also Eric was severely medicated at the time. Further investigation into this phenomenon will occur as warranted.

At any rate, when Tim checked in on the progress in the lounge twenty minutes from the end, Eric confidently told him that they were well on their way to victory. Sadly, the remaining turns of the game were not kind - while they had cured all but the Red Death at game's end, and Eric had five red cards in hand at a research station, he had no further actions in which to effect the cure, and the deck ran out before he could get another turn. So, once again, our incompetence has destroyed the world.

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7. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3313]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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Start time: 7:50pm
End time: 7:56pm


Table Three finished first, and it was promised that the other tables would be done soon, and so we played a quick game of Finito!, as exactly this situation was what that game was created for. After six minutes full of intense strategic gaming action, Tim finally got his track in order and declared victory.
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8. Board Game: Pit [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1366]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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Start time: 8:00pm
End time: 8:07pm


Alas, whilst Table Two did finish shortly, those on Table One and in the lounge took somewhat longer than expected to build a town and doom the planet, respectively. Thus, we found ourselves with another ten gaming minutes to fill for about as many gamers; a logical game to play in such a situation is Pit. We could only convince Jim, Counterclockwise Scott, Alan, Nyck and Tim to join in, but Pit works perfectly fine with five.

It should be noted, however, that it does not work quite so well on Table Three, as it is hard to pick up the cards one trades quickly. At least that is Tim's excuse for why Jim won two hands and Counterclockwise Scott won one.
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9. Board Game: Jamaica [Average Rating:7.09 Overall Rank:404]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:45pm
End time: Nobody keeps track of time in the Carribean


After a slow-starting but eventually spirited White Elephant Gift exchange (during which Tim got but then lost a coveted copy of Mhing), we once again broke out into three tables. On Table Three, Eric agreed to run Jamaica for Lynette, Roseann, Krista, and Scott.


The scoresheet for this game is nigh-inscrutable, but your long suffering correspondent will do his best to decipher the various scrawlings. It appears that Scott achieved victory with 32 pimpin' pirate hats, as his tricked out boat kept winning battles with, um, something. Krista came in second with 19 parrots on her shoulder, while Lynette earned 17 eyepatches. Eric had lots of treasure and kept trying to pass off cursed treasure to the others but no one fell for it, and he earned a mere 10 peg legs. Roseann came in last and was forced to walk the plank four times.
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10. Board Game: On the Underground [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:960]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:50pm
End time: 10:00pm


After the smash success of On the Underground last time, the people demanded a followup session on this Game Night. Tim ran the game for Mary, Counterclockwise Scott, Alan, and Jim.


In this game we discovered that, while it appears that the map is balanced, the passenger may actually travel a lot more often to the west than to the east - there are more national rail connections and terminals in the east, which the passenger never goes to. At any rate, that was out theory for why Mary's purple and pink lines (in the west) always seemed to be traveled on much more than other central or western lines. It does mean that there are more track building points available in the east, and central lines can get you tourist and possibly loop points, so there are advantages to building in all three areas. But if you are the only one building in the west, you can pick up a lot passenger points.

Mary was the player who did just that, and in the end was able to win with 38 points. Tim was the only one to complete a loop (for five points) and had several tourist connections, but it wasn't enough and he had to settle for second place and 36 points. Counterclockwise Scott earned 33 points, Jim came from far behind in the last few turns to finish with 32, and Alan rounded out the field with 28.
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11. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:267]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 9:00pm
End time: 10:15pm


Meanwhile, Nyck chose to run Kingsburg for Sandy, Rose, and Nathanial on Table Two.


Sadly, we know nothing of the events of this game, other than that Nyck scored 26 crowns, Rose earned 23 tiaras, Nathanial garnered 21 mitres, and Sandy made do with 16 jester hats.
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12. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3313]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
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Start time: 10:10pm
End time: 10:17pm


Once again, some subset of the assembled gamers found themselves with a spare seven minutes to fit in a game of Finito!. Alan, Mary, Tim, and Counterclockwise Scott played, while Jim observed, rolled the die, and heckled.

Jim's die rolling skills were sorely lacking, as he only rolled very high numbers; Counterclockwise Scott drew most of his high numbers early, and managed to get 8-12, in order, in the last five spots on his board, before we even had all the tiles out. Needless to say, it was just a matter of a few rolls before he had his board in order for the victory.
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13. Board Game: Shadows over Camelot [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:322]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:30pm
End time: 12:40am


At this point a shameful number gamers turned into pumpkins, leaving only seven truly serious individuals to continue this Game Night. We discussed doing a 4-3 split, but, as it had been a long time since we had played Shadows over Camelot, we decided to do that instead. Andy returned from prancing around in his lime-green elf suit just before we started, and thus the eight silly English kaniggets of Scott, Counterclockwise Scott, Mary, Tim, Lynette, Jim, Alan, and Andy began their quest.


We played with the Shadows over Camelot: Merlin's Company, which makes things significantly harder and provides the possibility of two vile traitors. We began innocently enough - the first few draws of the travel deck were bad ones, but we all had enough cards in hand to at least make it to our quests. Soon Mary had defeated the Black Knight and we later captured Excalibur - but despite throwing many Knights at the Grail, we seemingly drew nothing but Despair cards during the Progression of Evil. We began setting out siege engines to avoid drawing cards in hopes that we could regain the upper hand, but that's always dangerous, and when evil elf Andy falsely accused Tim of being a traitor, the good guys were on the ropes. We needed to win a quest to get rid of a critical Witch card (I think), but could not quite muster the firepower to vanquish the Picts one last time before the Saxons overran Camelot, exceeding both the limit on black swords and siege engines. Thus, the Knights actually lost twice.
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14. Board Game: Pit [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1366]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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Start time: 12:45am
End time: 1:30am


When the six remaining gamers agreed to play one more "quick" game, Tim deviously brought out Pit again; while that game technically fits that description (at least if you play each hand as it's own game), it is actually the potato chip of the gaming kingdom, as you always feel like you can play just one more hand. Lynette, Andy, Alan, Scott, and Mary were the other suckers respected futures traders.


As alluded to above, we do not really keep score when playing Pit. We do, however, award a dignified check mark to whoever goes out in one hand. Forty-five minutes and much yelling, cursing, and complaining about whoever held on to the frickin' soybeans later, Tim, Andy, and Alan had each earned three check marks, Scott and Mary had earned two, and Lynette had gathered a single such mark (even though Tim technically had gone out first that hand.)
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15. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:3729] [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:71]
Tim Shippert
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Richland
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One of the great things about gaming in December is all the seasonal snacks that are available. From the mint M&Ms to the Ghirardellis holiday assortment of chocolate squares to the Candy Cane Roca to the blue Star-of-David-shaped Hanukkah sugar cookies to the gingerbread cookies someone brought, it is truly a season of wonder. The Fruit Delights did beat the Roca family to extirpation this time around, and the Salt and Pepper and Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle chips were surprisingly eaten somewhat sparingly. But the Swedish Fish (not holiday colored, as Tim didn't want to risk a new brand) were consumed with gusto, and the two flavors of Goldfish were similarly eaten to the expected one-half mark. Santa even provided a healthy batch of fresh sugar-snap peas, which were met with either enthusiasm or ennui.

As always, many other snacks were brought by the assembled gamers, and sometimes they are eaten fully before this reporter can even register their existence. Thus, the lack of mention in the snack report should not be taken as an indication that these contributions were not appreciated, but instead of the reverse.

The potable report will remain stable, as fewer holiday drinks are available to the calorie conscious, and thus the usual assortment of -ades, -scas, and -ters were the order of the day. However, we did have a few hot tea drinkers as well, as is likely to happen when the weather turns cold.
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