Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for March, 2007

The Awfullest Samurai

Posted by sodaklady on March 25, 2007

It started one dark, cold winter’s night.  Well, it was night here in South Dakota anyway.  Richard (Fawkes), Gerald (Linnaeus) and I had just finished a game of Through the Desert online in which Gerald had won by a pretty good margin – 81-69-68.  Richard emailed us asking what we wanted to play next and suggested Samurai.

I replied, “I suppose that’s as good as anything to get my butt kicked in.  I’m not kidding; I suck at Samurai.  Go for it, tho.  I can take it.”  An honest answer, since I had never won a game that I can recall, mixed with the cheerful, accommodating personality I choose to display to the outside world.

Richard wrote back succinctly, “Bet I’m awfuller than you at Samurai.”

Now I’m not normally drawn to gambling; it just isn’t in my nature…but this had “sure thing” written all over it.  The problem now was to determine the wager since it’s hard to collect when your opponent is half way around the world from you.  Our only connection is through the internet…ahh, a thought!  The loser of the bet, the one who won the game, would write a blog post.  Brilliant!

When I sent my proposal to my adversaries, it was approved without hesitation, Gerald claiming he could be “plenty awfuller” and Richard steadfastly  declaring he was “worse awfuller” than both of us.

The three of us, old online friends, often trash talk during a game but this time it was a bit unusual:

R:  I am so much awfuller than the two of you.

Me: No, I am the mostest awfuller.  My samurai warriors have dull swords.

G: Bah! My warriors are too poor to afford swords.  They get by with itty-bitty sticks they find on the ground.

R:  At least you have warriors.  I’m stuck with American Idol rejects in Halloween costumes.

L:   Oh, did I say warriors? My mistake, I took my lead from the wonderous Ms. Weisbeck and her glorious corps. I should have said flea-bitten handful of starving hobos who follow me around, hoping to curry enough favour to get a few of my week-old bread crumbs.

Me:  Oh, what a load of imaginative horse turds! Suck it up and admit I’m worser than both of you!

Later in the game, with imminent superiority at stake:

Me:  I don’t want to spoil your dreams of inferiority, Richard, but your samurais are looking pretty good.

R: Hey, even Taylor Hicks can sound good once in every hundred songs. This is far from over, my clearly superior rival!

Me:    How dare you have the temerity to name me *superior*! ‘Tis a LIE, I say.

In the end, with the last rice paddy laid waste, Richard had the only majority and I had the least amount of pieces taken.

R:  Ok, you two obviously left that move open on purpose. I call shenanigans, and demand a rematch!

A second game to determine the awfullest Samurai player was begun with the distinctive title of “Shenanigans in Japan” and subtitled, “Where Gerald and Mary conspire to lose.”  Guess who set up the game?

In the second game, we all played equally well (or badly, as the case may be) because it couldn’t have been closer.  Every piece was taken from the board, every player had a majority.  The winner with 10 pieces total was….are you sure you want to know?  It’s anticlimactic to say the least.  Alright, then.  It was a tie between Richard and myself with Gerald right on our tails with 9 total pieces.

It was then decided to play the worst 2 out of 3.

Of course, you may surmise that since I’m writing this, I was the eventual winner.  You could be wrong, though, and I’m writing this just because it was a fun thing to write about…but then you would be wrong.  I did win.  In fact, I stomped the opposing warriors; puny, ill-equipped cowards that they are.  Gerald and I each had a majority but I had 9 total pieces, Gerald had 6 and Richard 7.

In defense of my awfulness, I have only to say, “Gerald gave me the game!  No fair! I demand a fair rematch!”

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Posted in Humor, Session reports | 1 Comment »

Flowers and Combat Commander

Posted by sodaklady on March 20, 2007

25th-anniversary.JPGToday is our 25th Anniversary and although Richard has to work until 8:00 tonight, he had flowers sent to me and we started the day with our first scenario of Combat Commander.

We had played through the sample game on Sunday but this still left us far from fluent in the game. We played scenario 1 with me as the Germans and Richard taking the Russians. Richard had a very bad shuffle as the first half of his deck was full of Rout cards (7 of the 9) and only 2 Moves, whereas I had a lot of Fire cards. I managed to get to the building in the center of the map first and holed up there with a group firepower of 10 and smacked him every chance I got, and I had some wonderfully high dice rolls each time (20-21 three of the times I fired). We didn’t finish the scenario since Richard had to get ready for work but by the time we quit, I had killed off one of his squads and a Leader and he had managed to eliminate one of my squads with the help of a Sniper.

It was a good learning game since we sorted out a couple of rules and solidified our understanding of the game a little. Richard was not turned off by his misfortune and enjoyed the way the game plays (“I definitely want to try this again.”) so I’m looking forward to more skirmishes. Actually, I think he liked this game more than most of the Euros we’ve played, which is fine by me; given enough time to play it, I think I’d prefer it, too.

Posted in New Game, Session reports | 4 Comments »

Learning a Game

Posted by sodaklady on March 17, 2007

When my kids were in high school, they took a test to determine how they learn.  There are three main ways: visual, auditory and kinesthetic, although Wikipedia also includes reading/writing.  This information is then used to suggest appropriate occupations for the future wage-earner.  This was a new idea to me ten or so years ago and I thought it was pretty interesting; I still do or it wouldn’t be stored in my memory! A couple of good sites for more information are The Learning Curve and Learning Styles.

This brings me to the subject of learning new game rules.  Like many of you, I’m generally the rules reader and explainer, a weighty responsibility which I’m still working to improve.  What I’ve discovered is that the best way for me to retain rules, unless the game is very simple, is to write down the salient points in an order that is logical to my mind.  This is especially helpful in reminding me of all the rules since I am in the habit of forgetting something until it comes up and then interrupting play with, “Oh, yeah, you can also….”  Very annoying to the new players and something that I am often teased about when I’m teaching a new game.

So with all that said, why did I think that a simple twice-reading of the rules to something as complex as Combat Commander: Europe would suffice?!  I still had only a rudimentary understanding of the game in the vein of “You play an Orders and then we can both play Actions after each one, then I play an Orders and we can both play Actions after each one.”  Right, that sums it up!  I had no idea of where to start to teach this to my husband.  Oh, I could get him to read the rules himself…*stops to laugh*.  That’s only happened once and it was after we’d played a couple of games of Command & Colors: Ancients.

I finally sat down with pen and paper yesterday to go through the rules once more, writing down the main points that I need to explain to get the game going and all of the finer rules that are often forgotten (or so says experienced players in a thread on the geek).  Between this list and the start-up sample game in the back of the scenario booklet, I think I’m finally ready to teach this game to my husband.

This re-writing of the rules isn’t something I’ve ever heard about before and I wonder if I’m the only one.  Does everyone else just open the rules and start explaining, even for a complex set of rules?  Do you play the game several times solo until everything comes easily and naturally?  Do you just start playing with a basic explanation, referring to the rules constantly?

Posted in Game-related Thoughts, New Game | 3 Comments »

Twenty-fifth Anniversary is Paper, Right?

Posted by sodaklady on March 12, 2007

When I first read about Combat Commander, I was very enthusiastic about it but then I read the rules to Tide of Iron and started drooling right away. I pre-ordered Tide of Iron and Combat Commander slowly slipped from my mind.

But then I got a geekmail from a friend who asked if I’d tried Combat Commander yet and, unfortunately, continued on to tell me what a fun game it is! Why did he do that to me? That renewed my interest in the game so I re-read the rules, read reviews and a very nice session report and started thinking I should have this game, too! But how many war games do I need? Will getting two new ones so close together make my brain explode trying to keep the rules straight? Will my husband ever play these games with me often enough to become comfortable with any of them? Errrgggh!

I generally keep Richard up on what I’m ordering or thinking of ordering so when I mentioned one night that I was thinking about getting “this other war game”, he said, “Order it. It’ll be your 25th anniversary present. I have something I want to get, too.”

“Something for a motorcycle?” I asked, knowing with 90% certainty that it was.

“Yeah.”

So this morning I ordered CC. This is the way it is with us, though it might seem strange to some. We’ve been married long enough and buy most things that we want when we want them so when it comes time for a special gift, it’s often a mutually-agreed upon item. One year it was a pool table! We like to spoil each other and surprise each other, but it gets harder as the years go by and the amount of “stuff” we own increases.

Isn’t the 26th anniversary “vacuum cleaners”?

Posted in Game-related Thoughts, New Game | 1 Comment »

Game Drought Broken

Posted by sodaklady on March 3, 2007

It’s been two weeks since I’ve played a game. Horrible, ain’t it? Between working, tv, my love affair with my Wii, and being just plain worn out, we haven’t been in the mood to play a game but tonight Richard came home early and said, “So are you ready to play a game?” After a moment’s pause for my brain to assimilate those words coming out of my husband’s mouth, I said, “Sure.”

The one I’ve been drooling to play again is Taluva so that’s what I pulled off the kitchen shelf without hesitation. I had a plan I wanted to try–build a settlement with a temple, smash a hut or two to break off the temple from the huts, then build a second temple with the already-built huts. Well, somewhere the plan fell into the sea. I’m still not sure if it was the placement of the tiles, the interference of my opponent or a lapse in judgment but it just didn’t come together that way and I started to worry about my position. In the end, Richard needed to place a single hut to win when my turn came around. I needed to get rid of six huts to win. I could expand into the sand which would use only 5 but the luck was with me and I drew a tile with sand on it and placed it on the table. A very close game which we sat staring at for a couple of minutes before picking it up. I don’t know what Richard was thinking about but I was pondering the use of the towers. With only two players, how would the board have to be built for you to concentrate on tower placement without helping your opponent in the same goal. Interesting game which I think was well-thought out.

Next was another tile-laying game which we haven’t played in a long time, Fjords. It’s a quick, light game but fun for both of us. The map-building bothers some people since you can be forced to place a piece that will only help your opponent, or continually draw tiles that do not have a legal place to play. I see it differently; if the piece only helps your opponent’s position, then you should have held back your last farmhouse for such an opening. The pieces that do not play are also part of the strategy of the game since they can affect who gets to start the second half of the game–the acquisition of farm land.

Anyway, we played the game as recommended–three games with the scores totaled together. The first game played very smoothly with tiles fitting in with jaw-dropping ease. I think we only set aside one tile which was placed on the next turn. I won that one 16-13. The second game was a trial as far as fitting pieces into the map since we drew a lot of water-and-rock mixed tiles right from the start. Our farmhouses were in desperate need of some land around them for half of the game but towards the end, Richard managed to extend one of his areas nicely after I’d already placed all of my houses. He took the second game by a hair–16-15. The third game was an average game, a few tiles set aside but generally fitting where we wanted them. Unfortunately, Richard had made better choices of where to place his farms and I knew from looking at it that I was in trouble. He rolled over me 17-12. The final score was close though, 46-43.

I was ready for another game but Richard had a headache. That’s o.k. The drought was broken and I enjoyed my walk in the rain.

Posted in Game-related Thoughts, Session reports | 3 Comments »