Game Days: June 19 and July 3, 2011
Posted by sodaklady on July 5, 2011
Although I haven’t posted anything for a while, I am still playing and occasionally buying board games. The latest news is that we have another member in our small group: Dave. He’s a local guy that Mike has known for a while and his only day off is Sunday so our game day has moved from Friday to Sunday.
We have been playing a mixed bag of Mike’s games, which generally lean more towards the Ameri-trash end of the spectrum, and mine, which are typically more Eurogame. Our first day together, a couple of weeks ago, we played Survive: Escape From Atlantis, Power Grid, Twilight Emperium and Ra: The Dice Game. We all had a great time and Dave fit into our group very well. He’d never played any of these games but he’s a quick study and, most importantly, he knows that it’s not the winning, it’s the fun that counts.
I had never played Survive before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s an interesting game, very cutthroat but that doesn’t bother me. I enjoyed it even though I didn’t do very well. Twilight Emperium was also new to me and I could feel my eyes begin to glaze over as the rules explanation began. Dave and I both agreed: just get it going and we’ll see what’s what once we get there. That worked better than an in-depth explanation. It wasn’t necessarily a hit with me although I enjoyed the beginning as you’re growing your civilization.
Next came Power Grid. This has very quickly become a favorite of ours and I was happy to hear that Dave was totally under its spell as well. He did poorly but it was only his first time while Richard, Mike and I all had previous experience with it. The popularity of Power Grid is well-deserved and actually scared me off of it for… well, until Mike bought it and introduced us to it. I kept thinking it would be a very complicated game if all those geeks made such a fuss over it. I was wrong; the rules and game play are very simple and straight-forward, it’s what you do with them that make this an extraordinary game.
We ended our first game session with a quick game of Ra: The Dice Game. I absolutely love this little filler and could play it over and over again back to back. It’s the perfect way to end a game day.
This Sunday we started with a new acquisition of mine from a trade: Samarkand: Routes to Riches. This is a tricky stock market game dressed up as a friendly camel game. I have to admit that just reading the rules did not lead me to understand the game totally. The rules are simple, really, and took me only 5 minutes to explain the 2 choices you have during your turn, and their implications. This lead to 10 minutes of questions and clarifications from all four of us! Even as we started to play and see for ourselves how this fits together, we were still having little lightbulb moments. By the end of the game we were all quite impressed with how simple but tough this little game is. I would have turned right around and played it again but we must move on…
Mike had brought 7 Wonders once before when it was only he and I playing and I was not overwhelmed with love for this oh-so-popular game. But I was willing to give it another shot now that we had four players. And I’m very glad I did! I can finally see why people are so enthusiastic about it and I’d join their ranks as owners of the game if it only played as well with 2 as it did with 4. I didn’t win; far from it. But I had a great time and can’t wait to give it another go.
Next up, something familiar and new at the same time: Power Grid but with the map of France. Dave did much better this time and kept right up with everyone else. In the end, though, it was between Mike and myself who would be able to acquire and power the most cities; who could buy the biggest power plant while also being able to afford the materiels to run all their power plants, and still be able to expand their city grid in this last turn. ME! Yes, I had 19 cities and could power them all. Happy dance around the table because it’s rare to beat Mike at a tough game.
It was almost time for Dave to leave so we played a quick game of Ra dice again. Maybe next time we’ll get out its big brother and show Dave how much fun an auction game can be!
After Dave left, Mike wanted us to try out a new game he got in trade, Gunslinger. This is an old game published in 1982 by Avalon Hill. This is a game where each player pre-programs their moves using their own deck of cards. You can draw and cock your gun, aim, shoot, throw various punches, duck down or get up, etc. and each of these actions take a certain amount of time. When the counter that’s keeping track of time gets to that action, it occurs. In our simple scenario, we were three bad guys who had just robbed a bank and each decided that splitting 3 ways wasn’t as much fun as not splitting it at all! After the gun smoke had cleared, the plain outside of town was the site of three dead bodies and a pile of money. But my dead body was lying on the pile of money, dadgumit! This is a fun little game with a lot of thematic flavor and a good story to be told from it. I could see how the more envolved scenarios would be a real good time for everyone.