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Subject: July 4 weekend: games and play structure rss

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Scott Russell
United States
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This format seems easier to keep a record of games played than a Geeklist and/or updating the "I played this game on" buttons. Paragraphs that discuss games will mention that game in the first sentence (fragment).

This long weekend (as with many) I had the opportunity to play some games. A friend, Alan, from Milwaukee came over to visit Clarkston on Friday for the weekend. He makes this trip 4-5 times a year for gaming and/or working on projects.

Friday afternoon, we didn't get any gaming in. We dug four post holes (42" deep), ate a quick dinner of sloppy joes that Lisa (my lovely young wife)had made up and shrimp salad made by Alan, and went to Home Depot with Lisa for 4X4's, concrete, joist brackets, rock climbing fixtures and fasteners for the play structure as well as new outside lights and a non-motorized push mower for future projects. Fighting mosquitos, we filled the holes to 30" deep with said concrete. We were tired enough after this (~10:30), that we decided to wait a day to start playing.

Saturday, Darrell was coming (from mid-Michigan) around noon, so we used the morning to get the four posts in concrete, square to each other and vertical, then we knocked off for games.

First out of the box was Age of Steam. We played the original map and Darrell edged out Alan, primarily because on several runs I used Darrell's track to generate 3 or 4 income for me and 1 for him. Alan had the west, Darrell had the east and I was "trapped" between them. During the game, I cooked up some Italians on the grill that went well, so we were ready to launch into...

Stephenson's Rocket. I've always liked this game, but find most people have an insufficient appreciation for it. This was a close game. I had majority stations and tied for first in stock in an isolated large (10-12) railroad in the south. Darrell had majority in a middle of the map track that, if merged, would give him majority in both in "my" line. We were both pretty low on commodity chips. Alan had a small northern line that I was trying desperately to merge into Darrell's line before it could merge into mine. I finally succeeded, but Alan's commodities and half control of the mid map conglomerate put him ahead by a few dollars.

We took a break for Mexican lasagna provided by Alan. This is an interesting blend of ingredients including tortillas to replace the noodles and a sour cream sauce replacing the tomato sauce. I wouldn't give up regular lasagna in place of this, but it was a nice change.

Then we pulled out Carcassone (with first two expansions) and got my daughter, Zandra (10) roped in, much to our eventual chagrin. I stayed fairly close to her and we lapped the field, but she won.

Darrell had brought a 10-pack sampler of imported beer. We tried many of these and since he was driving home, I usually drank 3/4 of the bottles and he drank 1/4 of it (separate glasses). Not sure how much effect this had on results of the games. :-) But, in any case, Darrell took off for home and Zandra, Alan and I broke open....

Doge. This was still in the shrink, so we skimmed the rules and played almost randomly for a few turns before the strategy of the game started to become clear. We all had seven palaces in sufficient areas by the end, but Zandra again won with more houses than Alan or me. This is an interesting little game that I want to try again soon. Maybe we should stop inviting her to play.... laugh We again called it a night fairly early and turned in.

The next day, we got the beams for the upper deck mounted parallel to each other and level before departing for Lisa's sister for a family gettogether. Good food, good company, but not rabid gamers. We played some nerf football pitch and catch outside for a while, ate, watched Blazing Saddles, then got some gaming in.

We started with some six player Jungle Speed with Vince (nephew, 20), Ashley (his step-sister, mid-teens), Hanson (son, 6), Zandra, Alan and me around a table. I had brought a backpack full of games, but not many were for 6-players. We played several rounds of this and then a couple games of ....

Mama Mia. Hanson had decided to watch, so we were down to five players. I've always found this game impossible to teach, so we did a quick demo then launched into the games. Not surprisingly, I won the first one (no one else had played recently). However, Ashley and Alan tied in the second well ahead of me. We watched the fireworks from the sidewalk and then went home.

Monday, Darrell was returning and Tom, from Saginaw was coming to play. So Alan and I got the joists on the beams, ready for endcaps. When Tom and Darrell got there in the early afternoon, we pulled out Age of Steam for my first four player game of this title. We used the standard map again and it quickly devolved into Tom, in the west, and Alan in the east vying for first while Darrell and I, in the middle were significantly behind.
We tried the Atlantis variation of Settlers, but only lost one tile before Alan clinched with 10 VP including longest road. Wheat was only coming out on 2,3,10 and 11, so it was the limiting factor for most of the game. No ritter cards were played, but I bought two on my last turn.

Then we played a quick game of Puerto Rico in which Tom narrowly defeated Darrell and Alan while I brought up the rear. They were in the 40's while I had 29 VP. (Never start with a factory strategy and fail to get factory....)

After some pizza we launched into a "tainted" game of Union Pacific. When we were sure that we should have hit a payout, we discovered that the "top" 24 cards that had been correctly prepared, hadn't been placed on top of the stack. At that point, we shuffled all of the remaining cards and shortly thereafter, drew two consecutive payout cards. So it was only tainted because I didn't win. I was leading after the third payout, but Tom tied me in Red and knocked me out of second in two smaller ones to win.

After Tom and Darrell went home, Alan and I played the traditional Merchant of Venus, in which I convincingly got my first win of the weekend finishing with a freighter with jump start delivering three or four goods four times.

Not as much gaming as most "game weekends," but substantial progress was made on the play structure. I just hope Alan hasn't been scared off!

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Joe Andrews
United States
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I enjoyed reading your 4th of July weekend journal here, especially since you're from the Detroit area. I've been looking here for people in the area who play games I enjoy. I've created a group of four guys from work who play once a month, but I'm the only "game owner" of the group. I've been surprised to not find any real established groups outside of Ann Arbor or East Lansing. You going to Michicon next weekend?
I hauled my 9 year old twins to my cousins' house in Sturgis 4th of July weekend (Friday) for a quick 24 hours of games. We played (in order) Metro, RA, Traumfabrik, Championship Stock Car Racing, Transamerica, Fast Food Franchise, Battle Cry, Daytona 500, and Union Pacific. Awesome couple of days.
Better news happened when I returned home: my shipment of ZooSim, Scream Machine, Goldland, and Age of Napoleon arrived...along with my eBay purchases of Careers and Survive!'s your journal, not mine :-) Glad to see another gamer nearby. -- Joe
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