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Subject: A Happy Holiday Was Had By All rss

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Chuck Uherske
United States
Rockville
Maryland
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Just returned from a brief Thanksgiving trip to the soon-to-be-in-laws. I'm the only true inveterate gamer in the bunch, but I'm pleased to find that I have begun to generate the "What games did you bring, Chuck?" excited greeting rather than the "Uh-oh, here's the guy who always wants to play those annoying games. . . " reaction.

Games we played:

Streetsoccer -- played with my nephew-to-be as Thanksgiving dinner was making its way to the table. A modest pleasure, nothing special.

Daytona 500 -- played with my honey's brother, niece and nephew right after Streetsoccer. Big hit, nephew in particular really liked it. Who can blame them? Love the game, easy to learn, fun as can be.

I'm the Boss -- played with 5 (got out for a 6-person game but my beloved's sister checked out upon hearing part of the rules.) Played with fiancee, her brother, her nephew, and her sister's boyfriend. Bro took to it very well, as I knew he would. Nephew really got into it also, and the new boyfriend also played very well and seemed to enjoy himself (finished second.) I really love the game.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. My nephew-to-be taught me the game the next eve, a game we'd previously given to him as a gift (with the kind help of BGGers in selecting it.) Predictably, I got smashed on my maiden run, but came back and won on my second. Enjoyed it modestly, there may be more to the game than I realize. Hera and Zeus made more of an impression on me on first play.

Traumfabrik -- played with future father-in-law, my fiancee, her brother, and brother's wife. Big hit, father-in-law in particular really liked it. Brother was also eager to play again (we didn't get the chance.) My honey liked it more than I'm the Boss. Produced exactly the excited reaction I count on; truly great game.

Wise and Otherwise -- my fiancee had been lobbying for this, but I wasn't really in the mood for this type of game. But when we played it -- with my fiancee, her father, her brother, her brother's wife, and her sister -- the game showed itself to be one of the very best I own. Even if you're not in the mood for this type of game, it's just too great a game not to enjoy.

Games we didn't get to play: Mamma Mia, Stage Two.

A very successful gaming weekend.

My one regret is that I didn't bring a game that my cute little seven-year-old niece-to-be could play with us. Would love to hear suggestions (she's very bright, very sweet, and loves games already.) Had I anticipated her interest, I would have planned for it, and I felt bad disappointing her ( I was ready to include the 11-year-old nephew, not the 7-year-old niece, and would like to remedy that next time.) Open to nominations for good games for her!

Bottom line: Wise and Otherwise, Daytona 500, and Traumfabrik each made the biggest impressions; Daytona 500 on the kids, Traumfabrik on the gamers, and Wise and Otherwise on the general audience.
 
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Thi Nguyen
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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Play LOTR: The confrontation more.

At play 1, Hera and Zeus seemed much more fun.

At play 5, Hera and Zeus starts to seem automatic. Exciting, but strategically automatic. LOTR starts showing patterns of play.

At play 10, I sold Hera and Zeus. This was about the play with LOTR where my LOTR partner and I started becoming semi-telepathic.

At play 15 is about when I'd say I start really getting seriously the strategic wideness of LOTR/

The *individual* piecse, the interlocking powers, and the strange combination of total freedom in setup and very constrained motion makes for all sorts of neat strategic combos, outguessings, and sudden telepathic insights about where the opponents' goddamn orcs/gimli is, etc.

Once we really started to get into it ( say around play 9), I think the next 20 plays of LOTR: The Confrontation happened in one day.

Our difference in opinion here, Chucky, may be the old geometric vs. mathematical interest divide we have. But I suspect it's not. There's some strange property it has, something that emerges from the diamond-shaped playing area and the particular powers, of very almost precisely set combinations, with a bit of room for creativity.
 
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Nate Sandall
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Portland
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Hehe it was funny. I was greeted with a "what games did you bring?" as well. Unfortunately I was in a hurry to get to breakfast on Thursday and didn't have any with me. Fortunately I live close and stopped and picked up a few on my way to get Grandma.

Well we only played one game on Thanksgiving. I had gotten a copy of Time's Up a couple years back but hadn't played it and figured that it might be good to try with the group we had which turned out to be 10 people. The game started out kinda slow and of course I got some of the rules wrong (like I always do!) but as the game progressed everybody got more and more into it. By round three we were all laughing so hard and being so full of food we were in pain. Great game!

Later in the evening when things were quieting down my siter in law was telling me how much she and my brother loved Yinsh and Lost Cities that I got them for their birthdays.(Yes!) She also told me my brother wanted Risk 2210 for Christmas and asked for recommendations where to shop. (WooHoo!) Not sure if my brother is a gamer yet, but my sister in law is shaping up to be one!

I'm hoping my copy of Traumfabrik arrives before Christmas! I think it's a game the rest of my family can get into as they are reluctant gamers sometimes. Since my brother and his wife won't be down for Christmas some games would definitely be a harder sell than others. My sister's boyfriend seems quite enthusiastic about the games I bring so it should be fun!
 
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Gerald McDaniel
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Lakewood
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For the 7-year-old, try these card games that my (almost) 7-year-old grandson loves to play:

Zirkus Flohcati
Vampire
Frank's Zoo
David & Goliath

He's also into Risk (!) and LotR (not the confrontation), and we're thinking about HeroScape for him now.
 
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Brett Myers
United States
Madison
WI
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I am also the game guy
I finally took the plunge and brought a big bag o' games with me to the annual 3-4 day Thanksgiving bash with my girlfriend's family. They're a big Euchre family, and there seems to always be at least one table of 6 hand bid Euchre going at all times.

In the past, I've stuck to silly stuff like Guillotine or Munchkin and they've been popular. Her independant film maker cousin Shawn even brought Chez Geek Block Party (which is better than Munchkin, IMO) this year, which is a step in the right direction.

Anyway, I taught a bunch of new (to them, at least) games, of the German variety. We played 4 games of Carcassonne with and without most of the expansions, which was very well received. Ticket to Ride and Dicke Luft in der Gruft both hit the table twice and were hits. There were several games of Coloretto and Money! which were also popular, though Coloretto was a little more intuitive for most. We played Liar's Dice, which attracted a couple of the parent-types (hey, I think I know that game!) and I managed to squeeze in a few two-player games, including LotR:The Confrontation, and Adam and Eva (which made Emily's head hurt).

All in all an awesome holiday, and I'm pretty confident I've got some converts. I even have a request for a list of games to buy, from Aunt Cathy who has played Acquire with her family on the East Coast for many years (any suggestions, Chuck? - she liked TtR quite a bit)
 
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Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Brett,

If she is an Acquire buff, she may be carrying the Chuckles Weakness-for-Sackson gene. In that case she might be overjoyed to discover Sleuth, possibly a good buy now that it's been reprinted.

And if she likes both Acquire and Ticket to Ride, she might well like Samarkand, which I think is similar to TtR in somem ways but actually a better game. But that's just my personal opinion -- most here on BGG seem to disagree.

I am finding that Traumfabrik excites newbies as much as it does me, per above.
 
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Brett Myers
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Ah, Sleuth!
I'm really looking forward to bringing Traukfabrik for the next family gathering. It is definitely one of my favorites and I think it will go over well. I want to ease them into more complex game concepts, like valuation in auction games and the subtleties of indirect player interaction.

The East Coast folks are coordinating Christmas this year in order to boost the game cabinet! For recommendations, I want to stick with readily available and reasonably priced games - is Samarkand still in print? I know they play Acquire (closed holdings) religiously, and have since the boys were little; the boys are now grown and have kids of their own.

Ticket to Ride will be on the list. I was thinking about working the Sid Sackson angle, myself. I'm the Boss came to mind, but the men in that family tend to be…hot tempered. I think I'm the Boss might be a bad idea. Sleuth might work, though.

Carcassonne, as well (though I know you're not a fan) - I explained it as an investment game which really helped. I'd never thought of it as investments before, but it really works. You're investing meeples, of course, and the return is points. Roads are low risk short term investments, with no diminishing return at game end, so they have the lowest rate of return; they're easily completed and even if you don't complete them by the end of the game, they're worth the same. Cities are medium risk mid term investments, which are more difficult to complete and have a dimished return at game end if they're not completed, so they have a better rate of return than roads. Farmers are high risk long term investments. They may not pay off at all, but if they do, it's a very high rate of return. Cloisters are low risk long term investments. They always pay off eventually, but the return isn't always worth the investment, unless you think you can complete them quickly. Anyway, I'm digressing.


 
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Chuck Uherske
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Rockville
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Brett, maybe I'll have to try that. It can't possibly make me feel any worse about Carcassonne!

Thi --

Good thoughts on LOTR; The confrontation. If it took you to play 15 to appreciate it, perhaps there's hope for me (and I'm sure it would take me longer.)

Understand, I bought the game based on a guess of my nephew's tastes rather than my own. He's of the "variable player powers" generation and I just tend to find that kind of thing irritating. "No, wait, the orc kills the first thing it attacks, unless it's Frodo, in which case Sam can still substitute," etc. Little details like the good player being able to use the river or the tunnel through the mine never really came up in our game -- they just seemed like unnecessarily complicating details. I found myself reacting to the various powers the way I react to the various buildings in PR -- too much to look up, too much to remember, etc.

Also, our games were pretty one-sided. I was playing my nephew; first he was the dark side, and he smoked me as the rookie. Then I was playing the dark side and was having a tough time of it when I suddenly got lucky and killed Frodo. That was only partially satisfying because I didn't really know what I was doing. Overall, he won.

Then we played a repeat game -- this time I as the dark side nailed him a little more easily, and then when I was the good side, I'd figured out his tendencies enough so that I actually eliminated all of his pieces as I played the good side, with several of mine left over.

I dunno, I think my beef with special powers games is that I prefer to use deduction and calculation rather than empirical experience to guide my moves. It seems to me in games like this that there is a big advantage to the guy who has played it over and over and is just used to what the various pieces can do. It seems to reward having a lot of time to kill rather than actually thinking originally about a game. Maybe that's an unfair perception, but that's how variable player powers games feel to me.

Does that make sense? I kind of like games to feel more like I'm taking a raw aptitude test of some kind, figuring it out anew, using the same raw instincts that my opponents are required to rely upon. I don't like walking into a landscape and feeling that it's a big advantage to have walked through the landscape several times before and to know where all the secrets are kept. But that's how I often feel with variable player powers games. KnowhuttImean, Vern?

Still, I rated it a 6, not too bad.
 
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Chuck Uherske
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Just upgraded to a 7. I'm unwilling to get too down on LOTR: The Confrontation because at least I didn't feel like I was helpless or at the mercy of pure luck.

Involuntarily ruminated on why Hera and Zeus made the better first impression on me of the two games, despite it also being a special powers game.

I think it's because H&Z has a lot of cards that are pure number cards -- cards with no special powers other than their attacking/defending strength. In principle, I think this type of game appeals to me more: both sides simply matching their ability to get their numbers cards in the best spots for competitive advantage. But it also seems clear to me that such a game wouldn't work very well: you need to have a few varied plays available to shake things up. You need at least one of the lower-numbered cards to be able to overcome the highest-numbered cards (Pythia over Poseidon.) You also don't want the game to completely come down to where the high numbered card happens to be, so you need some column-changing cards, too (Dionysus.) And so forth. Soon, merely considering such "necessary" complications, you've got most of the special powers in the game -- they generally seem to be required to preserve the tactical opportunities of the game play.

On first plays, the special powers in LOTR: The Confrontation didn't strike me as being a "necessary" component of the game design, but a voluntary choice that could easily have been avoided. I can admire how tough it was to create an asymmetric challenge that is nevertheless balanced, but it's not my first choice of a way to go. Maybe I'll eventually get to the point where the myriad special powers are something that adds richness rather than just complicating the play.
 
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