Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for August, 2007

Game Day: August 28th

Posted by sodaklady on August 28, 2007

There hasn’t been a lot happening at my house in the way of board games lately, besides waiting for 1960: The Making of The President to be released.  Fortunately, Mike called this afternoon to see if I was busy so we got in a few 2-player games and a 4-player game of a non-Euro game to be disclosed later.  That’ll keep you on the edge of your seats, won’t it?

 We started with Torres, which I’ve played a lot online but not often face-to-face.   In my online games, I’ve done pretty well so I think I went into it feeling just the slightest bit cocky and, of course, lost.  It was less than a 10-point difference but I made mistakes that I never would have made playing online and then figuratively kicked myself after it was too late. 

 Next up was Tsuro, which I’ve only played with 2 players and like for a quick, fun game.  Mike lost the first game when he put himself in a corner and was unlucky in his next draw.  I lost the second game the same way, taking the risk that didn’t pan out.  This required a tie-breaking game which became quite confrontational as Mike and I danced our pieces together and apart repeatedly.  In the end, I was forced from the dance floor but we had such fun it didn’t matter.

 Then we decided on another game that hasn’t been played in a very long time, Carolus Magnus.  By now, my brain had finally decided to join me in my endeavor to win a game and I made some very good moves, winning by 4 towers.  I think this was the first Colovini game I bought and it still captivates me whenever I play.  Maybe it’s the interesting way you have to balance your influence in your court with the influence in the provinces, maybe it’s the choice of which tile to play to decide first player and move the Emperor, or maybe I just like seeing my little provinces joined up until I have this monster island.  😉

 Mike chose Castle as our next game, another oldie that’s gathered dust for a long time.  This isn’t a bad game but not one that I feel compelled to play.  It has a lot of characters, each with their own ability or requirement to play, so it benefits the players to be familiar with them.  Of course, after so long on the shelf, neither of us had that benefit.  Mike won while I still had 2 cards to get rid of.  The luck of the deal can be an issue for some people but the game is quick and light and I think knowing the cards would even out that luck to some degree.

 Mike chose the next game, too.  This has become one of his favorites when we get together:  Ra.  I don’t like bidding/auction games generally, but this is an amazing game and works so well even with two that I never get tired of it.  Today, Mike finally won—by ONE point!  Oh, if I’d only managed to get a Flood tile in the last round!!

 While Richard went after pizza, Mike and I played a quick game of Fjords, which he’d never played before.  I snuck out a win by one point.

 About the time Richard arrived home with the pizza, Cori got home from work and Mike and I managed to talk her into joining the three of us for The Farming Game.  This is a roll and move game that was one of our Christmas games many years ago when the kids were both young.  The idea is that you’re a weekend farmer trying to earn enough ($250,000) to take up farming full time.  Three sides of the board has spaces where you can harvest your hay, wheat, corn, fruit and cattle by rolling a die and checking it on a chart.  You get cards that allow you to buy more of each of those commodities or a tractor or a harvester.  Each time you harvest a crop (or cattle), you also draw a card that shows your expenses.  Along the way, there are disasters and unexpected good fortune.  The game moves very quickly once you’ve been around the board a couple of times and know the spaces, and it allows you to build up your farm pretty much as you like.

It was a rowdy bunch that sat down to till the soil, trash talking, laughing, and complaining.  It was quite a contest for a while as we all vied for the right to say we had the worst luck.  I still say that it was me since the IRS garnished my income which means that for the whole year (once around the board), I couldn’t earn anything when I harvested but I still had to draw an expense card and pay my dues.  In the end, the game was called because Mike had to leave but we counted up our assets and debts, declaring Cori the winner by roughly $6000.

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Psycho Cat & Houdini Mouse

Posted by sodaklady on August 16, 2007

My story starts with Bess, our psychotic cat.  She’s funny and cute but full of neuroses.   If you look in the dictionary under “scaredy cat”, her picture is there.

 on-the-bar2.jpg

She likes attention but she doesn’t like to be held.  She gets the creepy-crawlies and flies around the room, only to stop somewhere with her skin dancing across her back as she tries to lick it away.  She runs for cover whenever the dog barks.  And she doesn’t like to be outside like the other cats unless it’s dark.  Here’s where the tale begins.

 When she first started going outside at night, she decided it would be fun to bring her new-found friends in the house to play with her.  We have a pet door so this caused her no difficulty since she didn’t have to get past a bouncer at the door.  Her first friends were night-crawlers, those lovely fat worms that fishermen prize.  It’s only by sheer luck that no one accidentally stepped on one that she’d left lying helpless on the kitchen floor.

 She’s also brought home moths and large, black beetles as houseguests but they were shown the door–just as soon as we could catch them.  That was excitement enough for us humans but she had to step it up a notch by bringing in her newest friends, mice.  Yes, most people have cats to rid their homes of mice; I get a cat that brings them in. Even that would have been bearable if she hadn’t lost a couple that turned out to be smarter and faster than she is.  Our Corgi, Tucker, snatched one away from her one night while I stood around wondering what the hell to hit it with or catch it in.  He also helped us hunt one down that managed to get into a closet.  A closet!!  Take a look at most people’s closets and you can imagine what fun that was.

  This brings me to Houdini mouse.  This one somehow managed to get into a kitchen cabinet, the corner one with the brilliant design whereby the floor of it does not reach the next cabinet.  What a wonderful home, he thinks.  Safe and secure with easy access to the rest of the cabinets via the underground.

 Right!  It’s time to get a mousetrap.  After all, we humans should be able to out-maneuver a mouse; tactics and strategy, man.  But I refuse to use one of the old-fashioned, smash their little necks and leave gore all over the place traps.  I wanted a humane, catch and release trap.  And here you have it.  A teeter-totter trap.  Put some peanut butter (recommended, though I don’t know why.  Do mice routinely go hunting for peanut butter in the wild?) in the very back, the mouse goes in, over-balances the trap, and the door falls down.  Brilliant, no?

 A Better Mousetrap?

 But Houdini mouse has eaten the peanut butter twice without being caught!  Is he a light-weight who doesn’t over-balance the trap?  Does he have an exceptionally long tongue?  Is he huge and his behind is still in the door when it falls down?  Does he have a lock-pick under his tongue?  Maybe–tell me it ain’t so–he has an accomplice!  Anyway, he’s still safe and cozy in his under-cabinet home and we’ve moved on to mousetrap design number 2.  This one is larger with a hallway and a single room.  The hallway is a teeter-totter which the mouse has to walk up to get to the peanut butter (again with the peanut butter), it teeters over to let him in the room and then totters back to lock him in.  We’ll see who’s smarter now, Mr. Mouse.  (Please let it be the designer of this trap.)

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