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Subject: Gaming in Wayne (finally) rss

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Scott Russell
United States
Clarkston
Michigan
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Thursday game night was cancelled due to the host's son's soccer schedule, so I'd not played any ftf games for a while. Saturday we had a busy morning schedule already with archery for the family, a study session at high school and to top it off, a plumbing job sprang up Friday night.

If only interested in games, skip to section marked below.

So we got up, Lisa dropped off our high schooler and the rest of us fit the archery stuff into the Cavalier and we met Lisa at the range. After archery, Z was going to shoot in a youth league and H decided that he wanted to try it. I went to pick up Q at HS and convinced her to give the league a shot (we need a groan emoticon), so we grabbed her bow also. Then I set off for the Hardware store to rent a snake.

(Squeamish folks may want to jump to the next paragraph)
Friday, the toilet decided not to flush at a fairly critical time. I plunged for literally a half hour and had increased the flow to a trickle (and forced all non-water components past the blockage, so there was only clear water showing. At this point, my triceps hurt, my palm (let's say the plunger handle could be larger) hurt and the splashage necessitated mopping the area. So Saturday, I rented a snake, hoping that I wouldn't wind up removing the toilet. The snake worked like a charm. The toilet flows and whatever the blockage was, is in the sewer system now. My stack of reading material seems intact, so I am not too concerned with what it was.

So back to the hardware store to return the snake and stop by to check on archery. H has decided that he will shoot the league, Q decided not and Z almost doubled her score from last week. Z is also considering joining JOAD. Some friend's are looking at archery as a scholarship opportunity and I'll not discourage ideas along those lines. We'll see today if Z decides to go to JOAD.

We arrived home and Lisa could see I was a bit antsy and asked if I wanted to play games with my buddies. Well, Paul had called and asked about Saturday afternoon, but I'd had to defer an answer. So when Lisa said her agenda consisted of laundry, the Red Wings game and the Packers game and I was free to head out if I wanted, I called Paul back. It turned out he'd gone to ROFUM, was out for an early dinner and wasn't sure if he could play that evening or not. Thwarted! Not to be deterred, I called up John and he checked and discovered he was free. (Beautiful thing about marriage, your social engagements [gaming doesn't count, only couples things] are all created and tracked without any effort. ) So the rodent cages were cleaned, H declined to come and I set off for John's with my newly packed Bag o' Games.

We'd just gotten through the rules to 1960 when Paul called and said he was willing and interested. He'd not been to John's, but it's only ten minutes away. Unfortunately, his dinner plans had been about forty five minutes north of his house. If I'd had John over, he'd have been at my house. But he started south and called a few other potential gamers. He had misunderstood and thought we were going to meet at his house, but took directions and I called Robert to let him know about his new destination. When I called him and told him that it was ten minutes farther than Paul's, he almost balked, but I convinced him that it was only eight minutes further if he hit he lights, he set out, too.

GAMING STARTS HERE
1960
So John and I were off to recreate or change 1960 election results. John got Nixon and I was the Boy wonder (it's scary now that there have been presidents younger than me while in office. ) This game played differently than any of my other (still single digit) games. John played the Connecticut Returns card and we spent a lot of time fighting over Connecticut with support checks until John finally established media presence and I gave up the fight except for an occasional event card. Paul arrived on T4 and Robert got there on T5, but told us to continue while they watched Timeline (I saw enough that I want to see this movie). The debated were weird. Going into them, I think we were still about even. Lazy Shave (allowing me to see his card instead of simultaneous selection) and Havard Brain Trust (giving me a +1 for each issue) were in effect. Nixon got economy for two, Kennedy got Civil Rights for three and then Nixon got Defense with a single card (his first play of the debate) for four. After the debates, I thnk Nixon had a slight edge with most of the big states, but fewer overall. Up until this point Kennedy had won a preponderance of the issues, with endorsements in all but east which was endorsing Nixon. I think the start player split 3/2 and there weren't major cards played on the issue track. Unfortunately for Nixon, he played the last two turns with no momentum which I think really hurt. Kennedy Ken-aired his way around shoring up support and barely taking California. Then the key draw of the game, Kennedy won the init. The Campaign strategy cards threw North Carolina to Nixon and made Michigan neutral (with Kennedy endorsement in Midwest). Then Kennedy drew with Late Returns to push Illinois to 6 cubes, but more importantly emptying the bag. So the Connecticut redraws for California didn't take place nor the three draws anywhere for Nixon.

As a result, even with Lousiana, Alabama and Mississippi withholding their votes, Kennedy won the election. With the eight denied draws, Nixon almost certainly would have taken Michigan and probably taken California. Close fun game, but I am a bit distressed that my only wins are over players to whom I just taught the game, I have not won a game at Wargameroom, yet.

El Capitan
John and I insisted that Paul and Robert pick the next one since they waited so patiently (another beauty of 1960 is that the whole game was less than an hour and a half so they "only" had to wait a half hour). Paul demurred, so Robert finally got his El Capitan to the table for a multi-player game. Once we went through the rules, we were off. John used very efficient routes, in fact he only took one loan all game to trigger the first scoring. At this point after the loans were paid off, John had 50-something and the rest of us were in the teens. A good chunk for John was because he was in one more city than the rest of us. I ended the first phase at the bank, so I tried the loan strategy and spent three turns collecting routes and three 10 loans [12 payoff] which are much cheaper interest than the larger 16 loans [20 payoff] but take more turns. I think this approach may have merit, if it is well executed. My "experiment" didn't qualify as well executed. laugh John also triggered the second and third scoring round. We did discover after the second that a couple of us had been shorted turns because the round is supposed to finish when a scoring round is triggered. So before the third round, the affected players got some extra turns. Those moved me from fourth into a less distant fourth, but did move Robert into second place. On the last rounds, we did deliberately target John's position as at least a secondary priority, but it wasn't enough. John wound up at 250, Paul and Robert were in the 180's and 190's and I had 150-something.

I want to play this one again, but think it will settle in at a solid six or seven. The artwork, while pretty and in period, actually detracts from the functionality of the cards to a certain extent. The upper quarter of the cards have the destination city or the two connected cities in a pretty but hard to read script. Then roughly half the card is a (non-functional)picture and on the bottom is a schematic view of the city or cities location in a 3 X 3 grid display. I'd prefer to see the grid super-imposed over the pictures instead of confined to a small area on the card under the picture or possibly marked on the edges of the cards around the rest of the fluff. If I acquire a copy of this, I may mark the edges. The script with the names of the connected cities is also a bit hard to read from across the table. The overall travel system is clever and it makes me want to dig out Tycoon and see if the graphics are clearer. The climbing (then falling) values of the cities with the (semi)cooperative need to build up the cities is intriguing. I also look forward to the three new ports of call in the advanced version with their special abilities.

Key Harvest
Paul had to work on Sunday, so took his leave after John told us about his bikeride across the midwest. He really should write a book of his exploits someday. After some hemming and hawing, we decided on Key Harvest. I'd been wanting to try this for a while and so had Robert, John is a very agreeable gamer, so we pulled it out and waded through the rules. We built our fields merrily along, John was the only one to take a large harvest action, netting eight commodities (which could have been ten without the countermix limitations). It seemed like the game-pacing events came out pretty quickly. Towards the end John realized that he didn't have a large secondary territory and his monster one wasn't effectively splittable, but he managed to create a size two secondary field. (Each player's largest contiguous field scores one point per hex, while the second largest scores two each.) On his last turn, he could have purchases a key tile that would have denied me placement of a four worker, but he played a worker himself instead. So we wound up tied and I won the tie breaker with thirteen tiles (split six/seven) to his twelve (split ten/two).

I am looking forward to exploring this game further and will probably review it sometime (soon, I hope). The mix of semi auction mechanic for gaining fields and fixed tile (field) placement (like Acquire) with the flexibility gained by worker placement really appeals to me based on one game.

Race for the Galaxy

Joy (John's wife) had been causing wonderful smells come from the kitchen and treated us all to taco soup which is way better than it sounds! It's a very good chili variant. This is on top of providing drinks and snacks non-stop all evening.
I then cajoled a reluctant Robert into giving Race for the Galaxy another try. Let's just say, I think he's still not a convert, but John enjoyed it.

We couldn't talk Robert into another game, so I bailed too after looking at some of John's new transmission ideas.

Another fun evening of gaming!

 
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