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Subject: A Round of Torture Followed by a Round of Carcassone rss

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Nairb Attobas
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First, some historical information that will help prepare you for the coming session report.

Ticket to Ride:Europe was the first designer game I ever purchased. Here's why: My friends and I had been getting together on most weekends for gaming action, and we were growing weary of our standard fare: Monopoly (whoever gets the orange or red monopoly will win), Risk:Godstorm (whoever goes last will win), LOTR Risk (only four players with the first "uncomplete" edition), and a spattering of party games (Taboo, Balderdash, etc). We needed new blood, so I went out to the store to purchase Age of Steam. They didn't have it. I walked out with TTR:E instead.

I know I heard some of you inwardly cringe as you read that, but I've since determined that TTR:E was the right purchase at the time, and that I'm not even sure that Age of Steam is a game that my friends and I would enjoy anyway. TTR:E is probably one of the best game purchases I've ever made in that it gets lots of table time, it's quick and fun, and everybody that plays it really loves it.

As it so happens, my parents fall into that latter category. I brought TTR:E over to their house once when I visited for their last Fourth of July picnic. My mom was instantly enamored with it, and we played no less than 5 games while I was there for the weekend. My mother even instigated three games in a row, which lasted well past 1am. She's a complete fiend for the game, to the point where she even purchased a copy for herself.

Anyway, since my parents loved TTR:E so much, my father suggested that I could buy them an "interesting game" for them as a Christmas gift. I determined that another "gateway game" would be best, something that would scale well from 2 - 6 players without a difficult rule set so that they could play on their own without me. I determined that Carcassone (along with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion) filled this niche very well, so that's what I bought.

Fast forward to Christmas eve... my family is exchanging gifts so that my niece and nephews can plow into their gifts in the morning without being held up by "The Old Folks." I give my mom the Carcassone package. I give my father the package containing "Inns and Cathedrals."

My mother tears off the wrapping paper and stares at it as one might stare at a hamster reading VCR instructions in Portuguese.

My father tears off the wrapping paper from his package and stares at it as one might stare at a Portuguese VCR reading a hamster.

Slightly disturbed by this reaction, I say, "It's a game."

My mother responds, "Oh, that's what I thought."

Indeed.

My dad finally interjects, "I told him he could get us a new game if he wanted."

My mother: "Oh. Neat."

Indeed.

"It's pretty easy to learn, I think you guys will like it," I tell them.

"That's great," my dad says, "We'll have to play it later."

"Nod, I wanted to show you guys how to play before I left so you could play it at home alone without me," I said. (I didn't actually say "nod." Force of habit from instant messenger. Sorry.)

"Great, great. We'll have to do that."

Time passes. Gifts are finally finished being opened. It's now getting kind of late; probably around 9:30 or 10:00.

"What should we do now?" somebody asks.

Everybody stares straight ahead, afraid to answer, for fear of being viciously ridiculed by their peers for voicing their obviously insipid idea.

"We could play a game," my father says. "We could play that new one we got." He eyeballs the Carcassone box next to him on the couch.

"There's also this Christmas trivia game that I have," my sister responds. (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/9706)

"Oh." My father looks back at the Carcassone box, longingly. "We could do both! We'll play Christmas trivia first, and than this new one!"

Damn, damn, damn. From this point on, I knew things were going to be bad.

You see, I had been suckered into playing "Christmas Trivia" two years ago, and it wasn't exactly an experience I cared to repeat. (And this was even before I became a "gaming snob.") For the uninitiated, "Christmas Trivia" is effectively a Trivial Pursuit expansion that some joker mass-produced in his basement. I don't know how my sister found it, or where she bought it, although I don't rule out that it may have simply congealed into existence in her basement one day from the dark, whirling gases emanating around in the aether. Regardless, we were now stuck playing it.

I trudge to the table and take my chair as the board and pieces are taken out of the Trivial Pursuit box. Thinking quickly, I start offering up suggestions on ways we can "improve" the Christmas Trivia gaming experience:

"How do you guys feel about playing teams, with pie teleportation?"

Blank stares.

I give a hopeful smile.

More blank stares.

"What's pie teleportation?" my mother asks.

"So we don't have to roll the dice, and we can simply see who can answer all the questions first. It'll help speed up the game," I say.

Odd looks are sent my way, and then they finish setting up the board.

"Who wants to be what color...?"

I hang my head, as my ideas are ignored.

"Can we at least do teams?" I plead.

Pause.

"Okay. I guess we can do that."

Oh, thank God. Since there's six of us, there's three teams. I figure that'll help kick things along.

The game begins...

Dice roll = 1.

Question = "Which [lame Christmas Carole] contains [insert inane and obscure lyrics here]?"

Answer = "Uh.... err.... um.... [a minute passes, as my sister/brother-in-law try to answer, and I die a little bit inside]... I don't know."

Result = "Incorrect. The proper answer was [some standard song that everyone only knows the first stanza to]."

Peanut Gallery = "Awwwwwww.... that was a hard one."

Me = Metaphorically smashing my head against the wall, while I keep an eye on the clock.

Lather, rinse, repeat for over an hour and a half.

At long last, my composure barely held in check, I answer the last question of Christmas Trivia for the final piece of pie, so that the game can end. We finally put it away and pull out the Carcassone boxes.

It is now between 11:30 and midnite.

As we're getting things together, my brother-in-law determines that it's past his bedtime, so he goes off to sleep. Fine, whatever.

My father, looking sort of groggy and a little grey, goes to get a soda for a burst of caffeine.

My sister magically disappears to some random corner of the house to take care of some mysterious something-or-other for about 10 minutes.

My mother stares at my girlfriend and I intently as we start punching pieces out. I also glance over the rules so that I have them down straight before I start explaining the game. Since it's late, I explain slowly using tiles on the table as examples of how to score.

"Here's how to score roads." I show them.

"Here's how to score cloisters." I show them.

"Here's how to score cities." I show them.

I look at my father, whose eyes close and who then hits his head on the table. He props his head back up and looks around wildly.

"You okay over there...?" I ask.

"Yeah, yeah... fine, fine," he responds.

"Here's how to score farmers--" I start thinking about how to explain it, and decide to give up. We'll play with farmers next time.

We pull out the River pieces, and get them set up on the table. My sister's table cloth is making this difficult because it doesn't want to lie flat at all. As a result, tiles are laying all akimbo at bizarre angles. The entire rest of the game is like this as well. Balancing meeples on the proper spot on the tile becomes something of an art form.

The game gets started and goes something like this...

I play a tile, scoring some points.

My girlfriend plays a tile, scoring some points.

My dad is holding a tile in his hand, making odd sounds. We poke him. He looks around, dazed, and places his tile, adding to either his huge city or his cloister, failing to score points.

My mom plays a tile, scoring some points.

My sister plays a tile, adding to her huge cities and cloister, also failing to score points.

This process continues until the grousing starts.

MOM: Son, you have *way* more points than anyone else! We don't stand a chance.

DAD: Well, he's good at these kinds of games, and-- *eyes glaze over and head slumps*

SIS: I'm terrible at this game! This is hard!

ME: *sigh*

DAD: ...zzzz...zzzz....zzzz....braaaaaaaaaains...zzz....

Round and round we go... Tiles get placed. Meeples get scored. Complaints are muttered. My dad makes creepy sounds deep in his throat.

Final tiles finally go on the board, and the game ends. All the partial points are added up.

Final tally:
Sis = 1st place
Dad = 2nd place
Girlfriend = 3rd place
Me = 4th place
Mom = 5th place
(The difference between first place and last place is only like 5 points total.)

All of a sudden...

MOM: Hey, that was closer than I thought it would be!

SIS: This is neat! I did better than I thought!

MOM: We'll have to play this again when we visit you next month.

ME: See, I thought you guys would like it. Next time, we'll play with all the rules. Hopefully you guys will be less tired next time.

DAD: ...game....fun...zzzz....braaaaaains....

We clean up all the tiles, and put everything back in the box. Everybody goes to bed, except for my father, who shambles outside in the backyard to chase squirrels around, muttering something about brains as he went.

I level an evil glare at Christmas Trivia on the way to my bed.

I swear I heard it laughing at me...

The next morning, my girlfriend and I headed out to her mom's house to visit her family for Christmas day. My father apparently never came home after he went outside the night before. Decidedly strange behavior. Generally, he comes home eventually after he's spent a night chasing squirrels around.

Odd.

Regardless, as we drive in the car, I notice that there's an inordinate amount of people tottering along the street with their arms extended in front of them, (some without shoes or full clothing on), staring blankly at whatever happened to be nearby.

Odder.

"Since when did my sister's neighborhood become the ghetto?" I ask, as I notice all the houses nearby with shattered windows and broken doors. "I don't remember it being like this when we got here."

Anyway, we swerved around all the maniacs stumbling around the road, and had a very nice Christmas at my girlfriend's mom's house. They gave me this totally sweet shotgun with a note reading "Aim for the head."

Not sure if it'll get any use, but it's pretty cool.
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Gene Ksenzakovic
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Great report. I am stuck at work and needed a few laughs.
 
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Melissa
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What a great report
 
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Bo Chaba
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hehe

We had a games night once where we invited our parents over to play some games. My wife's mother brought over a game she "thought we'd all like to play". The finer details have been surgically burned from my cerebellum but it involved no scoring, no winning and was more like a psychology test than a game. Excrutiating.
 
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Matthew Harper
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Yeah, great report! Love the surrealism.

Btw, did anyone find a cure for your father?
 
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Nick West
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Could what we have here be described as a ZOM-(Carcas)SONNE-COM?

 
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Nairb Attobas
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mjharper wrote:
Btw, did anyone find a cure for your father?


Unfortunately, he eventually reappeared from chasing squirrels, and I deemed it necessary to use my newly-gained Christmas present.

zombie

Glad you guys like the report.
 
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Hunga Dunga
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I'd like to see a boardgame about chasing squirrels.
 
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david funch
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There is one. It's called "squirrel chaser: zombie trivia"
 
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Jarrod Shultz
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Quote:
My mother tears off the wrapping paper and stares at it as one might stare at a hamster reading VCR instructions in Portuguese.

My father tears off the wrapping paper from his package and stares at it as one might stare at a Portuguese VCR reading a hamster.


I laughed so hard when I read this. I can just imagine my parents having the same exact reaction. Great session report.

By the way, didn't you read the Disclaimer on the Christmas Trivia game?

DISCLAIMER: In some instances this game has been known to cause - drowziness, short temper, glazed eyes, inability to concentrate, explosive diarrhea, constipation, projectile vomiting, blurred vision, crossed eyes, loss of motor functions, loss of balance, loss of bladder control, inability to tell the truth, loss of vision, loss of hearing, excessive eating, inabiliy to eat, Herpes, syphilis, thirst for blood, hunger for brains, the urge to chase small woodland creatures, the urge to mate with cows, and in some very rare instances it may actually cause fun. Please note that the probability of fun is very low. In fact, the chances of this game causing instant death are higher than the chances of having fun. So please use at your discretion.
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Bob Xyzp
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Awesome report. Funny, and a real sense of tension as your gaming time runs out and your father battles with his zombie conversion. Perfect dramedy. I can imagine your frustration! Well done.

Although I wonder, what's so hard about explaining farm scoring? "This is how you score farms: you don't get points for the farm tiles, but if they're next to finished cities you get points for that."
 
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