The CBBS Game Night Comes A-Wassailing
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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The last day of 2009 marked the return of two important CBBS traditions: the official CBBS New Year's Eve Game Night, and the semi-annual Eastern Washington Game Night Ice Storm.



Despite the roughly three inches of solid ice covering the roads, an impressive nineteen gamers showed up to ring in the new year and pad last year's Five and Dime lists. This horde included, at various times, Tim, Nolann, Rich and Z (down from Seattle), Alan, Scott, Counterclockwise Scott, Countercounterclockwise Scott (just kidding), Claire, Andy, Sandy, newcomer Matt, Mary, Vince (apparently hours away from being legal), Nyck, Nathanial, newcomer Clint, prodigal gamer Lyra, Eric, and Roseann.


December 31, 2009
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1. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:573] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:25pm
End time: 6:47pm


We began, for no good reason, with a straggle-in game of Ricochet Robots. A full game of this takes slightly longer than our other regular stragglers; but it is also somewhat more accessible to new players, because of the "catch up" rule (if two players see the same solution, the one with the fewest current chips gets to do it).


We don't usually note the score in this kind of game, but we will alter that tradition temporarily because Tim won, solving four puzzles. Alan and Scott both get credit for three chips, while Zontziry and Rich each scored twice. Nolann, Counterclockwise Scott, and Andy each found a single solution. (It should be noted that several of these players wandered in after we started - but if they want the big scores perhaps they should consider getting here on time.)
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2. Board Game: Tulipmania 1637 [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:3524]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: The collapse of the tulip market was so traumatic it caused the lack of proper temporal accounting procedures.


We lept right into our first, four-table configuration, with the cohort of Richard, Zontziry, Scott, Nolann, and Counterclockwise Scott playing Tulipmania 1637 on Table Two.


Z once again provides extensive details of this game. She notes, somewhat redundantly, that she scored big with blue tulips by collecting blue cards in order to sell blue tulips. Even without having played the game, one must admit that does make sense.

Scott, however, seemed to be able to sell all his tulips for a good price, earning 16,475 Dutch Zorknids and the victory. Counterclockwise Scott and Rich both seemed to suffer a crash at the end and fell short, with 15,625 and 12,150, respectively. Zontziry and Nolann both scored 12,675 to round out the field.

Obviously, this image speaks for itself:

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3. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1248]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:15pm
End time: 8:45pm


Meanwhile, Tim splained Alea Iacta Est, a game he had owned for approximately three hours, to Alan, Sandy, and Matt on Table Three.


There have been a slew of dice games to come out recently, but there are a lot of interesting things one can do in such games, and Alea Iacta Est provides many of those things. Also, if you lose you can always blame bad luck, even if it is sometimes hard to point out exactly which rolls were the bad ones.

At any rate, it was a close game. Alan had frequented the Tempulum often and had many points in the Fortuna chips, while Tim had a lot of patricians and therefore several full provinces, while Matt had many extra provinces that he was trying to get occupied by the end of the game. In the end Matt prevailed over Alan by a single point, 44 to 43, with a couple of rounds where he earned multiple provinces the difference. Tim couldn't get provinces that matched his extra patricians to come up at the Castrum, and fell to third with 39 points. Sandy rounded out the scoring with 30 points.

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4. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:185] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: The orbital period of Small World is too minuscule to allow accurate measurement of time.


Andy required Table One for the (ironically) large gaming footprint of Small World, which he ran for Nyck, Vince, and Mary.


We can conclude only that the game was played to some kind of resolution, as only the final scores are recorded on the scoresheet. Almost-birthday-boy Vince reigned supreme with 108 planetoids, while his mother Mary came in second with 90 asteroids. Nyck came in third, earning 81 small moons, while Andy was too busy splaining to properly plan his strategy and fell to fourth with 76 who-villes.
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5. Board Game: Pack & Stack [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1617]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:05pm
End time: 7:45pm


Eric and Roseann could only stay a short time, and thus latched on to Zack und Pack as a good game to play in such a situation. They were joined in the lounge by Nathanial, Clint, Claire, and Lyra.


It appears that Nathanial and Clint jointly performed the civic duty of falling to zero points and causing the game to end, which allowed Claire to win with 42 points. Lyra, Roseann, and Eric followed with 33, 31, and 26 points, respectively, so it was a close game.

Eric notes that he then attempted to play a few rounds of Bongo!, but was voted off the island in the midst of the game explanation.
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6. Board Game: Prism [Average Rating:5.85 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:55pm
End time: 8:14pm


When Eric and Roseann took off, the other three tables were still in the midst of their games; thus, the remaining Loungers decided to play Prism, to the delight of Andy, who created it.


The scoresheet notes that Clint won while Clair, Nathanial, and Lyra did not. It also offers Lyra's sage analysis that "You can't block the block!"
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7. Board Game: Castle Panic [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:809]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:50pm
End time: 9:50pm


When Rich and Z left for about an hour, it gave us the opportunity for a rare five table reconfig. The first table to get underway was Table Two, where Andy ran the newly acquired Castle Panic for Sandy, Vince, and Scott.


Andy drew the Barbarian three times, and he had played before, so when the game ended with 4 towers and one wall left, he had gathered an unbeatable 19 monster points. Sandy came in second with 14, while Vincent scored 10 and Scott but four.

This is actually a very simple game, but the first few times you play it you are likely to err on the side of caution and cooperate too much. With experience, it should be a very cutthroat game, as everyone tries to improve their own score; the castle should therefore usually be teetering on the verge of collapse, as players cooperate only when absolutely necessary - no more and no less.
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8. Board Game: Save Doctor Lucky [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:4928]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:53pm
End time: 10:05pm


Alan wanted to run Save Doctor Lucky, and found two willing participants in Nolann and Claire on Table Three.


Sadly, it appears that Dr. Lucky will live to see another day, as Alan was victorious.
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9. Board Game: Chrononauts [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1946] [Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:57pm
End time: 9:39pm


Nyck then joined Lyra, Nathanial, and Clint in the lounge for a rousing game of Chrononauts.


Despite changing time so that his parents never met, Clint was able cause the European economy to boom in 1918, implement D-Day in 1944, and ban guns in 1999 for the victory.
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10. Board Game: Marrakech [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:1234]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:00pm
End time: 9:45pm


Tim finally asserted the right of ownership to occupy Table One for a rousing game of Marrakech, which needed one more play to make his nickel for the year. He was joined by Matt, Counterclockwise Scott, and Mary.


This is not an extremely deep game, and if you are unlucky with the die rolls you are not going to win. But there are opportunities to make good plays that aren't always obvious, and there are even choices about whether to play for long-term carpet coverage or to try and force short-term conundrums on your left-hand opponent. You might think it's a good idea to build a giant, contiguous section of carpet, and there are times when that will pay off big. But such an area will usually be avoided at all costs by your opponents, while they will take extra pains to cover and break up your carpet. If, instead, you build lots of smaller areas, they will likely be the lesser evil often and thus may pay off more.

In this game Tim got one huge payoff when he was able to force one opponent to choose between risking his 9-space carpet or another player's 11-space carpet; that was to provide the margin in his 55 dirham victory. Mary and Counterclockwise Scott also finished in the black, with 47 and 40 dirhams, respectively. Matt funded all our carpet shops and finished with but 20 dirhams.
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11. Board Game: Bananagrams [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:1547] [Average Rating:6.35 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:00pm
End time: 9:30pm


Rich and Z had to leave the Official CBBS Gaming Basement for an hour or so to see off Rich's brother-in-law, who is leaving for a one-year deployment to Iraq. Thus, they played their next game, Bananagrams, at the new venue of Table Thirteen Twenty-Three Twenty-Five*, at Rich's parent's house. The other players were Shayla, Susan, and the nephews Mason and Cannon.


It appears that Mason and Cannon assisted random players during the game, while Shayla, knowing Rich well, kept questioning the words he used. In the end Rich and Z each won a round.

*Tim will grant a one-month free pass to Table One to anyone who can identify the location of all (non-commercial) tables used at CBBS events (or find one that he has missed).
Offer void at discretion of offerer
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12. Board Game: Bongo! [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:4376]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:50pm
End time: 10:05pm


Tim needed two plays of Bongo! to make it a dime for the year; when Save Doctor Lucky ran a few minutes longer than the others, it was a perfect opportunity to get one of them on the board. With Bongo!-phile Zontziry expected back later, getting both plays in would be a shoe-in.


Tim, Mary, Scott, Counterclockwise Scott had played before, but Matt and Vince had not. Both experienced the usual disbelief upon explanation, but Vince in particular proved to be something of a Bongo! savant; perhaps younger brains can adapt better to the various logical contortions required from Bongo!.
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13. Board Game: Tobago [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:389]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:08:13pm
End time: 11:20ish


With Rich and Z back in from the cold, we proceeded to the next reconfig. It was Rich's turn to run a game on Table One, and he chose relatively new acquisition Tobago. He was joined by Matt, Scott, and Claire.


Alas, we must wait for one of the others to provide details, as we only have the final scores. Rich scored 36! coral reefs, while Claire did admirably in acquiring 32! banana plantations. Matt came in third, earning 28! cricket pitches, while Scott was sentenced to spend 22! days in neighboring Trinidad.
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14. Board Game: Hoity Toity [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1206]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:10pm
End time: 11:30pm


Andy would do the heavy lifting in this reconfig, running the largest game (five players) of Hoity Toity on Table Three for Nolann, Vince, Sandy, and Alan.


The scoresheet notes that Nolann once went to the Auction House with no money and both his thieves in jail, which prompted the comment that while it is important to know where everybody else's thieves are, it is equally important to known where your own thieves are. Nevertheless, the error was not fatal, as Nolann came in first, followed by Sandy, Andy, Alan, and Vince.
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15. Board Game: Blox [Average Rating:6.56 Overall Rank:2889]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:30pm
End time: 11:00pm


Finally, on Table Two Tim brought out Blox, which he had wanted to get to the table again for a while. He was joined by Counterclockwise Scott, Mary, and Zontziry.


This game has an interesting mix of positional play and card set collection; because you need cards of the right color to move, destroy towers, or build towers, the key is to try and maintain enough flexibility so that you can do something productive no matter what color you draw.

To demonstrate what happens when you don't manage to do this, Tim spent most of the game not having the colors he needed to do anything useful with the blox. He was able to cash his hand of five grays early by punting off one of Z's pawns, but his late hand of five reds - with no red blox on board and not enough blox in hand to build - was a killer, and he finished in third place with 27 points. Counterclockwise Scott and Z both built large hands of blox at key moments, thumping down five-pointers and knocking down four-pointers at the end. CCWS initiated the final round by knocking down the penultimate four-pointer, but Z was able to find a three-point punting play in her last turn, and when the dust settled they had tied at 31 points. CCWS, however, had six blox in hand to Z's 4, so he won the tiebreak. Mary rounded out the field with 19 points.
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16. Board Game: Bongo! [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:4376]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:00pm
End time: 11:15pm


As expected (and, perhaps, designed), Blox was over before the other two tables, which provided a perfect opportunity to get in Tim's tenth playing of Bongo! this year. The other Bongo!-villians were Mary, Counterclockwise Scott, and, of course, Zontziry.


Tim twice managed to get to five chips, needing but a single one to win the game, when a faulty call of "nothing" sent him back to zero. The issue is that Tim usually doesn't get to call "nothing" at all, as in larger games most true nothings are found by someone else; it's a good strategy to call "nothing" a lot when you don't have any chips yet, as "nothing" comes up in something like 43% of all rolls (most of them, however, when the target number is 3). Also, you may not have noticed, but Tim is often not very smart.

At any rate, despite these setbacks, Tim's Bongo!-fu was strong this night, and he eventually gained back six chips for the win.
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17. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1226]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:15pm
End time: 11:30pm


The other tables were still fifteen minutes away, so to forestall any awkward conversation or other socializing, we brought out SET. Once again the puzzlers were Tim, Counterclockwise Scott, Mary, and Zontziry.


All four players get credit for finding at least one SET; there were some latecomers as one of the other tables finished, but none of them were able to beat out the original four to find a SET before the deck was finished. So, nyeah.
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18. Board Game: Sindbad [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:7634]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:30pm
End time: 1:20pm


At this point, nobody was going to leave before midnight on New Year's Eve, so we still had thirteen gamers for the final reconfig. On Table Two Tim brought out an older game that has gotten a lot of recent play on Game Nights, although not by Tim himself - Sindbad. He was joined by Sandy, Matt, and Claire.


This may seem like a simple roll-and-mover, but it's really more about set collection and economics, with some risk assessment thrown in. Newcomers tend to play a little cautious, salting away most of their first big payday in Basra, but it is probably a better idea to keep most of that money out to buy cheap diamonds or amber and sell them back for big profits the next time you come in.

Tim lost a turn on his first move when he fell ill and was cared for by topless native women; he got a lot of mileage out of that story for most of the rest of the game, but it caused him to fall behind the others. Thus, when he finally acquired three fours and killed a dragon, he brought out his entire $300K for his next trip around the Arabian sea. When he drew a third green 5 card, he saw a risky plan - he could play his six to move onto the Cyclops and kill it with his three fives. He would be out of cards and four spaces from Souan - with all three pirates still looming on the three spaces past that city. But in Souan he could get $800K worth of diamonds - if he could find a green card higher than four, or roll a four or higher coming out of Souan, he could bypass the pirates and be on his way to Basra with a winning total of 1 million miskhals worth of diamonds and Cyclops heads. Even if he had to fight the pirates, a roll of 3 or higher would keep him solvent.

He got a green card on his way to Souan, but it was just a two; when leaving Souan, he rolled a 1, and when fighting the pirates, he rolled another 1. So all that treasure went directly to the Pirate's Cave, and Tim was destitute. He ended the game with 0 (zero) miskhals and two jugs of amber for his trouble.

A similar disaster struck Claire when she lost something like forty elephant tusks to thieves just a couple spaces from Basra; she ended with 325K miskhals, 20 pearls and two diamonds. Sandy had 228K miskhals and 4 tusks in hand when Matt arrived in Basrra with 1124K miskhals of equity (which he built by using the "slow and careful" approach derided above) to win the game.
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19. Board Game: Dungeon Lords [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:182]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:30pm
End time: 2:40am


Andy, given the opportunity and three willing partners, abandoned all sense and initiated a late-night game of Dungeon Lords. We all warned them that they were in for a long haul, but, as it turned out, Andy, Scott, Alan, and Nolann didn't care.


One would hope that a three hour game would provide a wealth of interesting gaming detail for our perusal. Instead, we have just the final scores: Scott was the Master Dungeon Lord, shaming all his colleagues with a 38 point score. Alan came in second with 29 points, which certainly sounds like a lot, but who knows. Nolann managed a mere 11 points, while Andy was more like a Dungeon Knave with his ignominious 9 point "dungeon", if you can even call it that.
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20. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:101]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:38pm
End time: 1:00am exactly


For some reason Rich was allowed to keep Table One for Cosmic Encounter. He played the Void, while Mary had the Reserve, Counterclockwise Scott played the Macron, Zontziry was the Mite, and Vincent became the Zombies.


This is apparently a rather defensive set of cards, which is why the game lasted almost an hour and a half. Z and CCWS negotiated early to get a colony each, and in the end that edge was enough for them to share the victory. Rich complains that he never had an attack card higher than a 6 in his hand - a likely story.


We must also note that Vince turned twelve at the stroke of midnight. The CBBS enforces a strict policy prohibiting children under the age of 12 at regular Game Nights - which means Vince was not yet of age when the evening began. As is well known, the start of Game Night is the official line of demarcation between days (or years, for Five and Dime purposes). Thus, we should invalidate all his results and strike him from the official CBBS record for the evening. We are far too lazy to go back and do that, though, so instead we shall simply voice our disapproval of this flagrant violation of protocol.

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21. Board Game: Finito! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:3317]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1am
End time: I had jello today (five games)


Game Night could not end until Dungeon Lords was finished, and thus the rest of us had plenty of time to pad our Five and Dime lists. It is in this spirit that five game of Finito! were played by various subsets of the remaining gamers.


Sadly, only Rich and Z would win (three times each, including, apparently, one joint victory), although Tim would have done so on the last game if Rich hadn't refused to roll an 11 through 14 for five straight rolls. Matt and Counterclockwise Scott also partook of this gaming fiesta.
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22. Board Game: Shadow Hunters [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:725]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1:40am
End time: 2:15am


Tim needed one more play of Shadow Hunters to grant it Nickel status; as it is a good late night game and we had six gamers available, it was a relatively natural choice, anyway.


Before we can detail the events of this game, we must discuss CBBS Secretary Zontziry's debate on the scoresheet as to whether a game that starts after midnight on New Year's Eve should be counted as occuring in 2009 or 2010. According to established precendent, and as noted in the previous item of this Session report, all games played during a Game Night are considered to have occurred on the day of the start of that Game Night. Otherwise, we run into trouble deciding which year a game that straddles midnight should fall in; we also have historical issues, as our early session reports did not note start or end times of the games played. Also, it's Tim's house, so he gets to set the rules.

Anyway, Tim was delighted to find he was the Werewolf, as the active Shadows tend to be the funnest to play. He was looking for a good opportunity to reveal and counterattack, when suddenly Counterclockwise Scott revealed as Franklin and blasted the as-yet-unrevealed Tim with his special power - obnoxiously (from Tim's perspective) rolling a 6 on his d6. He then moved to the Weird Woods and hit Tim for another two points. CCWS had earlier used a hermit card to deduce that Rich was a Shadow, and when Tim rather obviously avoided attacking Rich after his own Hermit card, the implication that they were teammates was clear.

Matt's turn followed CCWS, and he took the rather unorthodox move of hitting Tim again with the Weird Woods, despite the fact that he was Daniel and in doing so he would kill Tim regardless of who he was. With only two Shadows in a six-player game, one can make an argument that killing a wounded Shadow helps Daniel's alternative win condition, but it is still odd for Daniel to finish off someone else as the first death in the game. Anyway, that meant that Tim suffered ten points of damage in two turns - all without suffering an "attack", and thus he was unable to even counterattack once. What a sad day for lycanthropes everywhere.

Fortunately for the Shadows, Rich was the Vampire (as opposed to the much-weaker Unknown), and he soon finished off CCW Scott with his combination of Handgun, Cursed Sword, and Chainsaw. Claire was the other Hunter - but she was the very weak Emi, no match for a tricked out Vampire, and she soon fell to give the victory to the Shadows.

Zontziry was Bob, which we usually don't play with as we normally have seven or eight players. Bob is very hard to win with unless the game goes very long and lots of equipment cards come out; we probably had just five pieces of equipment total amongst us at the end of the game.
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23. Board Game: Risk Express [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:2797]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 2:20am
End time: We were long past caring what time it was


Risk Express was another game that was one play away from being a dime for Rich and a nickel for Tim, and thus was a natural choice for more late night gaming. Matt and Zontziry completed the foursome.


Zontziry writes that few new games get played on New Year's Eve, as we scramble to get the fifth or tenth play of older games in. That's not completely accurate, as of course many new acquisitions were played on this Game Night, but it is an interesting point - the Five and Dime list has become almost quantum mechanical in nature, as attempting to measure it alters the games we choose to play in the first place. If we played a game five times in a year but nobody counted, would it still be a nickel? Hmm.

Nevertheless, if there is one night a year when it is natural to look to what was rather than what will be, it is New Year's Eve, so it is probably appropriate to revisit favorite games on this occasion.


Rich quickly acquired South America, while Matt took a few turns to conquer North America. Tim, meanwhile, grabbed all of Asia in his first four turns, but was unable to conquer Australia to put the game away. Zontziry banged her head on Europe for a couple turns before focusing on the more-attainable Africa. When Matt also managed to grab the hardest region in the game, Western Europe, his 12 points would be enough for the victory. Tim had just the 10 from Asia, Zontziry had eight points from Africa and Eastern Europe, and Rich gathered a total of seven points from South American and Australia.
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24. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:9042]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: Very, very late
End time: 2:58am


Pursuant to the discussion in the previous item of this report, we had to fit in one more session of Krypto for somebody's five-and-dime or another. It certainly wasn't Tim, who needs at least two coins to count up the number of times he has played Krypto this year, but whatever.

Our extry-special year end bonus Krypto puzzle is brought to you in graphic form. (Click on the picture for some hints.)


Solutions:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
(8-5)*(23-11)-24 = 12
(23+5-24)*(11-8) = 12
(24+23-11)/(8-5) = 12
((8+5)*23-11)/24 = 12

I'm ashamed no one got that last one. Didn't we all memorize our mult-23 tables in grade school?
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25. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:3718] [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:71]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Perhaps the year will come when the CBBS Game Night is no more, when the lights of the Official Gaming Basement are dimmed, and gamers throughout the Columbia Basin shall struggle to find someone to game with, and shall no longer feast with abandon every fortnight. But this was not that year.

...especially with regards to the feasting. These are wondrous times indeed, when one can eat Kettle Chips (Sea Salt and Vinegar and Sweet Onion), Dark Chocolate Peanut and Almond M&Ms, two kinds of Triscuits (Cracked Pepper and Garlic), swedish fish, Almond Roca AND Fruit Delights (by Applets and Cotlets), some seasonal Tangerine fruit gels, some Gardettos snack mix, and even some fresh sugar snap peas - all in the same venue in which we play games.

But that was not all, as many snacks were brought by the assembled guests, as well. Z baked some delectable cinnamon rolls, someone brought some Newman-Os and tortilla chips, and we even had a package of M&Ms left over.

Drinkwise, we suffered a minor setback when the entire two-gallon reservoir of water was consumed, and while Tim promised to go refill it, he shamefully never did. Nevertheless, the overflowing recycling bin is proof that the various light -ades and two flavors of Fresca (regular and black cherry) were appreciated by all - or, at least, some - of the gamers.

May we all continue to snack - and to game - as well in the years to come.
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