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Subject: Friday Game Night: Camels and Hurricanes rss

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Ava Jarvis
United States
Bainbridge Island
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Today was a busy, busy day at work, so it was quite pleasant to be able to settle down with friends for a few games. Usually I would game on Saturday, but this weekend is scheduled for cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

The "Azalea Blossums", a very small gaming group consisting of me, a friend, and her younger daughter (plus the older daughter occaisonally joins in), played some games I'd brought over (starting at around 10pm, after dinner/dishes). They're not "gamers" in the sense that a lot of people on the 'Geek are gamers but I have been introducing them to games. They love Carcasonne: Hunters and Gatherers, and Odin's Ravens, and my copy of Ticket to Ride will probably just live over there for a while where it sees good use! I've also played China Moon with them, and they were impressed by a game with no luck that was still fun.

Ah, warm fuzzy gaming feelings.

Tonight I decided to try a Knizia abstract on them: Through the Desert. The camels were adorable, and so were the palm trees, and the rules were easy to explain and easy for them to grasp. Maybe women are just better at this game for some reason, as this game ended up being very close. Tia (the daughter) definitely grasped the idea of territory and longest chain of camels. Rozella did as well, and she and I ended up slugging it out Go-style, attacking each other's territories. I tended to cut people off from the oases, though obviously not enough , and that was the only reason I managed to tie with Tia at 73 points. Rozella won at 77 points and was very pleased.

All in all, while I enjoyed the game very much (I would rate it an 8) and they also enjoyed it, it was a little dry for them, probably more like a 6. I think my friend Mattox, a Go fanatic who has more time to concentrate on that game than me, would probably like it.

Tia at this point left to play the Sims, I believe, and Rozella read through the rules for Coloretto. Tia didn't want to play the game, so we couldn't. Fortunately I'd brought along Category 5 (6 Nimmt! rethemed). Rozella read through the rules, and I pointed out some of the little gotchas, and off we went. Category 5 was a much more intense game, and we played five rounds of it. I believe we collectively had more fun than Through the Desert; the tension is just more obvious. Especially when the board starts getting cluttered with lots and lots and lots of flags. In the end, Rozella had over 70 points, and I had merely 53. I think Category 5 is also a 7 to an 8 for me, and probably also for Rozella. Tia came back in to see what all the fuss was about, but by then it was too late, ha. That'll teach her to wander off.

I wonder why Category 5 didn't seem as dry as Through the Desert? Apart from the names, of course.

I left both Coloretto and Category 5 at their place so that when they have guests this weekend, they might be able to play a game or three. Or ten. The games are easy enough to teach, easy enough to grasp, and quick enough that you want to play them again.

I brought along Yinsh, in case it was just Rozella and me again, but probably I shouldn't try *two* abstracts in one go (although Category 5 seems like it should also be categorized as an abstract?). Maybe Yinsh next time, in the meanwhile it'll look good on my coffee table.

Well, once E&T leaves my coffeee table anyways. (I'm learning E&T. War of the Ring occupies my dining table right now. From time to time I come back, look at the board, play some moves, and wander off again. When I was learning Through the Desert, though, I was quite hooked, Go freak that I am, and it stayed on my coffee table long after I'd learned the game.)

Hmmm, the ratings of the other games I've played with the Azalea Blossums (and possibly their own ratings, considering how many times they've played each game by themselves (!)):

Carcasonne: Hunters & Gatherers
The honey moon is wearing off for me, unfortunately, but this was the first game I taught them (Tia and Quiera, the older daughter). They loved it, and my playing aids came in handy, although I should print them larger than just half a sheet. I've played once with Tia and Rozella, and they both loved it. I gather that Carcasonne: H&G is a 9 or even 10 for them, while the whole series is more of a 7 going down to a 6 for me.

I should try The Castle with Rozella some time, or maybe bring out the original Carcasonne and some of its expansions, probably Inns and Cathedrals before I try Traders and Builders.

Ticket to Ride
I've played this with all except the eldest, and apparently they've all played it when I've not been there. It's been a hit. I like the game well enough, though it's probably more of a 7 for me, while it's more of an 8 to 9 for them.

O Zoo le Mio
Cute game! Tia kicked collective ass at this game. I always thought I would hate blind bidding games until I tried this one, and found it very good. Tia probably thinks this is an 8, Rozella and I a 7 or 8. We need to play it more.

Odin's Ravens
I left this game there as a gaming "seed". It worked. Rozella and Tia played this game and lost count of the number of times they've played it, although I think they've played it enough to want something else. At its height, it was likely a 9 or 10, now it's probably more of an 7 until absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Played on the beach with Rozella and Chris (her husband). She liked it a lot more than I thought she would; likely a 9 or 10 in her opinion! More of a 7 for me, and I'm not sure Tia would like it that much at all, but I could be surprised. Zendo is a rather elegant game.

China Moon
A lot of fun with Rozella and Tia; their first non-party game that had no luck in it (or, at least, very very very little luck). Probably a 7 for all of us. The fact that I have a sizeable collection probably means that this little game won't see that much action, however---or any other "thoroughly 7" game.

I liked this game in college, but even then I never loved it. Of the people in the group, no one except Quiera really enjoyed the game. She would rate it a 9 or 10, no doubt; unfortunately, the rest of us think it more a 2! I gave my copy to Quiera. It wasn't so much the theme, I don't think, that Quiera liked; it was more the absolute chaos. She's not at all an RPGer.

My next try when we have a more dedicated game night will likely be Lord of the Rings, which I think they would like---sometimes a non-competitive game would strike the right chord, I think. We'll probably get entirely creamed by Sauron, but that's part of the fun, or at least I hope it will be.

Otherwise, I might try Trias and Keythedral. In a year, maybe E&T---the fact that Through the Desert is a 6 for them doesn't make me confident that E&T is right for them, not right now. Maybe Traumfabrik, for the theme---although I would need a more "recent" version of the game. Maybe even Samurai, which while dry has the intenseness and quickness that you find with Category 5 or Coloretto. Perhaps Modern Art? Or Kupferkessel Ko, when I'm alone with Tia, mayhaps---it's a sweet memory game.

Mystick has intrigued Rozella, so I must bring it over some time when we can play through a tutorial and try some games. I might also try Blue Moon.

Games that I already know not to try with them:

- Ninja Burger, which I think I will put up for sale or something. I think SJ games are not us.

- Any fiddly dungeon-related game of a certain kind. Dungeoneer, while I like it, would be too fiddly for them, and Runebound they wouldn't like for the same reason.

However, whenever I can get my hands on Candamir, I think they *would* like that. And I think they would also like Ruecker der Helden---I'm not sure why. Perhaps because there's some quality in the last two that the first two don't have, which I've yet to define.

I have so many games, at least they'll have variety, if not necessarily consistency.
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