It’s been quite a while since Mike was able to find time to drop over for a few games so I was very happy to get an email on Monday letting me know that he could come over on Wednesday.
The Memoir ’44 Air Pack has been sitting on my shelf for three months, burning a whole into my brain whenever I’d think of playing a game. Unfortunately, my husband had been working himself to exhaustion for that same amount of time. Finally, I could get a chance to try it! I had just finished setting up the Sainte-Mere-Eglise scenario (I’ve played this one several times so am comfortable with it, and who doesn’t love dropping the paratroopers at the beginning?) and was just going through the rules for the Air Pack again when Mike showed up about 11:30.
Mike took the Germans and I the Americans. My initial air drop was a success with all four men landing on a clear hex. This turned out to be an omen of my good fortune throughout the rest of the game. Mike brought his plane into the action on his second turn and two or three turns later I managed to shoot it down during his air check. That’ll teach him to leave it too close to my men! My plane entered the battle a little later than Mike’s and through good hand management (or is that lucky card draws?) and also lucky air checks, managed to keep it in the air the whole game. It strafed Mike’s left flank repeatedly and with the help of my infantry took out two units. I finally won the battle 4-1. We both liked this addition to Memoir and I would have happily played again but other games were calling to us.
Mike had brought over Red Dragon Inn, one of his newest acquisitions, and even though there were just 2 of us, I wanted to see how it played. Truthfully, this is not my kind of game. I hate having to continually read all my cards, trying to remember what I have and when it’s useful, and to make matters worse, having Mike always have a counter to whichever card I finally am able to play. I know it would get better with more plays and familiarity with the cards but it really doesn’t do it for me and I don’t think I’d voluntarily play it again. But I’m glad to have played it and can put it out of my mind in the future when I see it mentioned somewhere.
Next up was one of my games that Mike had wanted to try, Mr. Jack. I’ve played this a couple of times online and once with my husband, Richard, but we still needed to read the rules to make sure I didn’t miss any little thing. We played twice, switching sides, and I managed to lose both games. As the Inspector, I had narrowed the suspects down a little but Mike managed to maneuver two of them to spaces from which they could both escape. I could only block one of them and I chose…poorly. Mr. Jack escaped. As Mr. Jack (Miss Stealthy), I think I tried too hard not to be obvious with my movement into darkness and a quick slinking out of the district and in the end made errors. In other words, she was caught! Hey, I never claimed to be a brilliant gamer, just one who enjoys the ride.
Return of the Heroes returned to my house. This is one I had traded to Mike who enjoys it much more than I or my family. The first time we had played, we got the rules wrong and pretty much broke the game but this time Mike had all the rules down and it was much better. Somehow in these rpg-style games, I always feel like I’m playing catch up. The bad guys I find to fight usually have more strength than I or fight in my least powerful area, while Mike is hacking and slashing his way to super powers. This time was no different although I did finish my quest and could have headed towards the big boss with a fair amount of confidence. Unfortunately, Mike got there first. He killed a guard with an amazingly lucky roll, needing snake eyes and getting it. He then moved to the big boss and had absolutely no trouble smiting the evil one; five strikes, five hits. I sat on the sidelines, again, and cheered on my comrade. As I said, the fun is in the ride and I always enjoy my games with Mike.
Mike suggested Glory to Rome next since he’d heard a lot about it and I had told him it was very good. A few minutes of explanation and the decision to play the beginner’s game (without the building privileges) and we were ready. We’d played for about 10 minutes when I started to feel that this wasn’t going well. The basic game with 2 players is a bit dull and I was worried that Mike would wonder what the hell I was talking about, liking this game. But Mike is an experienced gamer and could see through the basic game to the clever concepts and the many possibilities in the building powers. He “got” it and was very enthused by the game play, especially being able to draw cards and still use the abilities of his clients. The game ended with me building on the last foundation a turn before Mike could complete another building. Mike had the most prestige points from buildings but I had been sneaking materials into my vault and came away with 3 bonus chips to Mike’s one, giving me the win by about 3 points.
Cori came home from her long day of work and school and we talked her into joining us for a game of Thebes. This also had been sitting on my shelf, unplayed, for a month or more. Mike read the rules aloud as we set up the board. We all took a couple of turns, grabbing cards and paying with the time it took to travel to the specified city. Then came the turn when Cori was last on the score track and sitting in Berlin. There were 2 cards for Berlin and she started to pick them up for free. “This is what seems wrong,” Mike said. The fact that she could sit there taking multiple cards for free if they continued to come up in the city she was in. So he checked and re-checked the rules and could find nothing that mentioned the little number in the corner of the cards, sure they had to be an additional price for taking the card. Maybe it’s in fine print or buried in the rules in some unlikely spot. I mean, this is a basic, need-to-know rule not some off-the-wall, this-hardly-ever-comes-up rule. And we were all a little tired and a bit antsy since we told Cori this would only take 45 minutes or so and then she could go do the homework she needed to do. In any case, we headed for the Geek to see if we could find an answer. The wonderful, all-knowing Geek once again came to the rescue. Yes, it seems that that number in the corner is added to the number of city movements you have to make. Ahhh, well that makes a big difference! And we started over.
This is a good game, one you can play with your family and have lots of fun…if you can work your way through the rules. I had tried to read them several times before I got the game and gave up, thinking it must be easier once you have the game in front of you. It is but not by much. The game itself is not hard or complicated once you know how to play but the rules…
We had a great time visiting dig sites and watching as others pulled tokens from the bag, or trying to intuit one of the three remaining artifacts in a bag full of “dirt”. We paid a little attention to the weeks we used up but didn’t obsess over it, and none of us were diversified in our dig tokens, each missing a color in our collection towards the end of the game. This made things difficult since you have to have three different colors to show at a big exhibition,thus the need to take a chance on finding one or two artifacts remaining in a bag full of rubble. It really is a fun game and I don’t think Cori minded giving up her homework time because she won, beating me by 3 points and Mike by 5. She jumped out of her chair, arms in the air like Rocky Balboa and yelled, “Yes! I won!” (She’s so quiet and shy, I just don’t know what to do with her. J )
It was a great game day and I hope that my husband and I can find time to play more Memoir with the air pack now that I’ve dipped my toes in it. It makes it even more fun than it was originally. And more Glory to Rome—with the building powers!