Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for May, 2008

Baby Steps

Posted by sodaklady on May 19, 2008

Jack, Tage and his girlfriend, Alicia, came over again on Sunday but not to play Last Night on Earth this time; the boys and Cori wanted to play a CCG called Legend of the Five Rings. It takes a while to play and they rarely get the time to finish a game so they’d decided to make the time. Alicia and I weren’t interested in learning to play so I thought…yeah, you know what I thought!

It was a lovely evening so we all went outside, the CCGers taking the larger patio table, and Alica and I on the porch at the smaller, cafe-style table. I brought out Fjords since it’s very easy to teach and grasp, and it doesn’t take a lot of space to play. About 5 minutes later, I said, “it feels like it’s going to rain.” I turned in my chair to look up the valley and sure enough, dark clouds were moving our way. Not two minutes later, the wind hit us and sent everyone scurrying like ants from a kicked anthill, picking up games, glasses, chair cushions, shutting car and house windows, and generally battening down the hatches.

Back in the kitchen, the card players set up on the ends and one side of the table; Alicia and I on the other side starting Fjords again in the middle of the table. She did very well, showing patience in her farm placement and thought in her tile placement, with an occasional word of help from Tage on her left–ah, he were watching in his spare moments. In the end, I won by 3 points. Not bad for a beginner but I had the feeling it didn’t really grab her so put it away to try something else.

“Something else” was Ingenious. This is a great abstract since it doesn’t make your brain hurt to play; it just feels like fun. Through the first half of the game, I did the score counting, showing how it’s done but after that Alicia did her own scoring. Again, the boys on either end of the table would make a comment once in a while, showing that they were watching what we were doing. I think I only blocked her once, mainly to show that it could be done. I won by 3 points. Now, I had told her how the end scoring was calculated (Your lowest number is your score) and continued during the game to say things like, “you need to find some orange,” so she was aware of her position. The boys, watching from the sidelines, must have missed this and Cori’s summation in the middle of the game when one of them asked was not helpful: “The highest low score wins.” So when they saw the end game score result, they finally got it. “Oh, I see now. That’s actually very clever,” Jack said, sounding impressed.

Alicia wanted to play again. What better assurance that she liked it could you ask for? The second game was very close. We tied for lowest score so had to compare our second lowest, and Alicia won by 2 points. She was ready to start a third game but, unfortunately, I was tired and my eyes hurt so begged off. But it was a pleasant experience to see someone discover a new game and enjoy it. Maybe the next time they come over, they’ll allwant to give it a try–before attacking zombies, anyway.

How long before I can get these CCG players to try Glory to Rome? It can’t be that big of a sidestep, can it?


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Return of the Zombies

Posted by sodaklady on May 4, 2008

Yesterday Cori’s friends, Taje (sp?) and Jack, visited again to play Last Night on Earth. Jack arrived first so we set up a 3-player game using one of the two scenarios I got from the Flying Frog website, “All Hallows Eve.”

In this scenario, you are trying to find the Zombie Master who is one of the 6 Townsfolk tokens that are spread out around the board. When you enter a building with a Townsfolk, you enter the same square with them, roll a die to see if you can interrogate them, and turn over the numbered chit underneath the Townsfolk token. If he’s the Zombie Master, you have to defeat him to recover the Book of the Dead and then set it on fire with any item marked with a Fire symbol.

We spread out and started searching buildings and interrogating Townsfolk. One of them gave me a lot of trouble since the die rolls wouldn’t let me talk to him and I was finally run out of the building by zombies. A bit of luck got Taje a Fire item early in the game when he was allowed to search the deck of cards for any Search Item. We narrowed the field down to 2 suspects, each in a corner of the board, each with zombies hanging out in their buildings, and the sun was going down. With a 50/50 chance, we concentrated on the building with the least zombie interference which happened to be the one that I had trouble with earlier. Luck was with us and he did, in fact, turn out to be the Zombie Master. I knew he would be since I had such trouble with him earlier—fate is like that. Taje managed to kill him and recover the book. His character was also the one who had the Fire item and we managed to win with one move left on the sun track. It was a good, tight fight and we all thought it was a fun scenario.

Jack had arrived in mid-game and was more than ready to join in the next zombie hunt. We chose the second scenario that I’d downloaded, “We’ve Got to Go Back!” In this scenario, you’re once again searching the buildings but this time for 2 canisters of the 6 tokens scattered around the board. The canisters contain bio-chemicals that a scientist thinks can be developed into a way to stop the zombie infestation. The board is set up differently, using all 6 of the L-shaped boards paired up and in a line while the Town Center board set off one of the long sides. The truck is set in the middle of the Town Center and is the Heroes starting position and their ultimate destination once they find the 2 canisters.

Two things struck us about this scenario even before we began. One: Cori still had only 14 zombies but a much larger area to cover with them. Two: the canisters were much easier to find compared to the Townsfolk since we had only to enter a building and use our Search action to turn over the secret chit. This did turn out to be too easy since even when Cori put a Lights Out on a building, the Hero didn’t have to stumble around the building one space a turn to find the canister but could stand just inside the doorway. We beat the zombies easily and decided to spruce up the scenario to make it tougher for the Heroes. We all like a good, close fight and this didn’t give it to us. The one move that left all the Heroes with their mouths agape was Cori’s first card played: Bickering. All the Heroes in one space are too busy fighting amongst themselves to take a turn. Well, that was a lucky draw! Cori laughed through her whole two turns.

In the second try of this scenario, we decided that you had to move into the same space as the canister chit before you could Search and turn it over. We also decided that the Zombie player (Jack this time) would get an extra 6 zombies to help cover the huge board. A few brave soldiers from Memoir ’44 volunteered to be zombies. Didn’t anyone ever tell them never to volunteer for anything?! Now when Jack had 12 zombies on the board, he could roll one more die to see if he could spawn this turn. We were all set for our new and improved scenario.

The first card Jack played was, believe it or not, Bickering! What are the chances of that? The Heroes spent considerable time grumbling about that but sucked it up and moved on. It took more time now to search each building, fighting off zombies rather than avoiding them, before being able to find a chit to examine. About half way through the game, we finally found the first one. By now the extra zombies started to make a difference since it was much harder to run around the town without bumping into them.

With three turns left, we finally found the second canister; of course it was on the edge furthest from the truck! A mad dash to the cornfield situated next to the Town Center and we were ready for the final showdown since the zombies had found something interesting about the truck and had congregated there. Cori drew her shotgun and took out 4 of the 6 hanging around the truck. I grabbed my canister and the fire extinguisher and ran for the truck. A squirt of the fire extinguisher and the zombies were pushed back, allowing me to get in the truck. The second canister-bearer ran to catch me up and off we went to save the world with no time left on the clock.

We all agreed that this was a much better game than the first time. It was tense and tough, giving us the feeling that we might not be able to make it, especially since Jack had managed to kill off 3 Heroes and added them to his zombie horde.

We are all still enthralled with this game. We have a lot of fun even when we’re grumbling about our bad luck. It helps that we’re all getting along extremely well and have talked through any fuzzy edges regarding the rules. Three 20-somethings have seen a LOT of zombie movies so we use common sense and theme-driven logic to come to an agreement. In one instance it turned into more of a debate, each side with logic on his side. The Junkyard allows a player to Pick Up: a random card from the discard pile. Random to me means that you can’t search for what you want but rather a card is chosen blindly. But it could mean any card in the pile rather than a specific item like a weapon. Since it says you have to have at leave 5 cards in the discard pile to pull from, we agreed in the end that it was meant to be a blind draw.

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May Day Blizzard

Posted by sodaklady on May 3, 2008

April showers bring May…blizzards!?! Yeah, in the Black Hills that can happen. We woke on May 2nd to every window in the house being coated in snow and some with a thin coat of ice underneath. My husband opened the side window on our bow to scrape off a peep hole for us to watch the weather.

View through bow winder

We also had no electricity from roughly 3 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Not really a big deal since we have a wood burning stove as an alternate heat source and a camp stove to make instant coffee. The rough part is that our housing development has it’s own well and pump house so without electricity we also are without water. That sucks. My appreciation and respect goes out to those who go out into such horrible weather to get the electricity back on as soon as possible.

About noon the snow let up but the wind continued. Cori and I took our cameras outside to document the shapes since it was already starting to melt! Truly, it no sooner stopped snowing than it warmed up a couple of degrees and started to melt.

Path from back doorWe took quite a lot of pictures but here’s a couple that really show how nicely the snow drifted.

This is the narrow path from our back porch, around the garage to the wood shop/Cori’s loft area. The lumps on the left are 2 chairs and a short table; on the right is a glider swing and the gas grill. The door to the garage is just outside of view before you get to the swing so this is our main door and had to be kept shoveled. Unfortunately, it’s also the side of the house that gets the biggest drifts. And Mother Nature laughs.

Drift along the windbreak treeline

This drift was our new view out of the bow window. The three rows of trees that were planted as a windbreak did their job well. A couple hours of “warm” air left the overhang drooping.

Tucker on the porchHere’s our Corgi, Tucker, also checking out the aftermath of the blizzard. He’s cute as heck so I thought I’d add him, too. The snow piled next to the landing is about 3 feet high and is the result of shoveling off the steps during the storm.

Today is beautiful and sunny. Richard and I started it out with shoveling off all of the walks and patio so we wouldn’t have a lake later today.

Now I’m looking forward to Cori’s friends coming over again to play with the zombies some more. Yes, they’re definitely hooked!


Cori decided to create in snow this morning when she got up.  She started with a 4 foot high pile of snow at the end of the driveway and created the Wicked Witch of the West, “melting, melting”.  I was very impressed when I went out to see it.

Wicked Witch of the West, meltingShe had some trouble since the snow was melting so fast.  The witch’s right arm was originally up to her face but fell off and had to be re-attached in a more stable position.

Is this cool or what?

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