Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Archive for August, 2011

Game Day: Aug. 28th– Let’s Deck-build

Posted by sodaklady on August 29, 2011

“Look, I’m no longer uni-plegic,” Dave announced as he came through the door holding up his two hands. The splint and wrapping that had hindered him last game day was gone, replaced simply by a bandaid on two of his fingers. This was great, ‘cause he was gonna need two hands for rolling dice and holding cards.

My husband, Richard, had to work so it was just the three of us. We started with a neat little game called Tsuro. This simple, fun game is a good way to start since you can talk while you’re playing, catching up on what’s been happening, discussing games you’re looking at and what you’ve been playing. I was the first to force someone off of the board, unfortunately for Dave. Then it was just a matter of seeing who had the best, read luckiest, cards in hand. Turns out it was me!

Tsuro closeup

A closeup of a Tsuro piece and tiles. I love the pieces!

Then Mike was anxious to show me his newest game, Quarriors. This is a light deck-building game using dice rather than cards. The dice represent your minions and spells which are activated to destroy your opponents’ minions. For each of your minions who manage to survive the round, you score glory points at the beginning of your next turn. I usually don’t do well with dice but in this game, they hated Mike to such a degree that he rarely rolled a minion but rather had more than his share of quiddity (the currency of the game). Any minion he did roll was soon eliminated. Dave and I fought it out, almost neck-and-neck, until I finally reached the finish line first. This is a fun little game, the only decision of note being which spell/minion to buy each turn, but if you yearn to roll dice and trash talk your opponents, this is a good choice.

Keeping with the deck-building theme, I brought out my newest game, Nightfall. This is also a confrontational game but it is not light. In fact it’s not light in two ways:  it will make you think, and the theme is dark. Nightfall is set in a world gone dark which is now peopled with werewolves, vampires, ghouls, and the people who fight them.

What makes this different from the few other deck-building games I have been introduced to? Your participation is not limited to your turn, and how much or little you decide to do on other people’s turn can make a big difference. This twist is accomplished with a mechanism called “chaining”, which is very cool in my opinion.

Nightfall cards

A sample of chaining. Notice that the Kicker kicks in on Grim Siege.

Each card has a color, represented by the large moon in the upper left corner. A card whose color matches either of the smaller moons can be linked to it. In this way the active player can introduce new minions into his play area and cause various actions to take place. Once the active player has played all the cards he wishes, the next player to his left can continue the chain. This chaining continues around the table until everyone has had the chance to add to it, then the text on each card is resolved in reverse order. If the moon on the bottom of the card matches the main color of the previous card, the “Kicker” text is also applied.

Chaining keeps people involved during other players’ turns, influences what you decide to buy, and I think it can also be a help to someone new to the genre, allowing them to buy cards by colors rather than totally understanding how the text works. And it makes you stay on your toes because being resolved in reverse order can cause you painful problems if you’re not paying attention. And sometimes even if you are!

The game was a hit. We all three started slowly but got a pretty good feel for the flow of the game after a few rounds. Mike and Dave both like the deck-building genre and this one really hit the spot. For myself, I haven’t been really impressed with the other games I tried (Dominion and Puzzle Strike) but this was fun, vicious, meaty, and quirky. Did I win? No. Dave won; Mike and I tied for wounds with Mike having the most of one type.

As Dave had something else to do, we only had time for one more quick game. Mike wanted to show us Take Stock, a Z-man Games card game. It was quick and mostly painless. Nothing special and a little annoying since the luck of the cards can really beat you up. Or maybe it’s just not my type of game.

Richard came home shortly after Dave left, and Mike and I were dying to show him Quarriors and Nightfall. I was amazed to win Quarriors again, barely beating Richard! And again, Mike barely got on the scoreboard because he could NOT roll minions. Seems there’s actually a dice game that I’m good at! 😉

Nightfall was such a hit that we played it twice more. I still didn’t win but I just don’t care. It’s that kind of a game.

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Game Day: Aug. 14th, 2011

Posted by sodaklady on August 15, 2011

Mike and Dave showed up about 11:00, Mike with an armload of games and Dave with his left hand bandaged up and two fingers splinted. Seems he had a little disagreement with a power tool at work and just barely won.

Being one of the Sundays that Richard has off work, he joined us for a day full of games starting with Ra. We’ve been using Ra: The Dice Game as a closing game since it’s so quick and fun; we all really like it but I figured it was time to teach Dave how to play the father game. It wasn’t too hard to teach with the dice game as a reference and Dave did very well, coming in second to Richard.

Half way through the game Richard had to take a break for a trip into town to feed our daughter’s cat while she’s on vacation. During this forced intermission, I taught Dave and Mike Can’t Stop, a quick push-your-luck dice game that we’ve had since the kids were little–twenty years? I am the poster-child for push-your-luck, in this game particularly. I rarely get a marker on the board the first round and this time was no different. Dave stuck to the most popular numbers he could and conquered the first column (8). Mike was half way up several of the middle columns and I wasn’t too far behind when I decided to take 12 as one of my numbers, then stop. On Mike’s next turn, he also took a 12, followed immediately with rolling four 6s! There went my 12 column. A couple of turns later, with Dave within reach of winning, Mike had to make a serious push to steal a column from him. He rolled 7s until he took the column but he also managed to shove his way into my 2 column and take that as well! Fantastic win for Mike, impressed looks all around.

Can't Stop

This is the version of Can't Stop that I have. Image by BGG Admin

Richard still wasn’t back so Mike showed us the game he got for his kids: Carcassonne Kids. It’s a neat little game to get kids playing with you and teach them the basics of good sportsmanship, and it has wonderful artwork. It took us about 5 minutes to play by which time Richard had returned.

After Ra, I brought out an oldie but goodie: Carolus Magnus. This is an excellent game for two or three but I’ve never had the chance to play it with four in partnership. I partnered with Dave across from me, the only novice in the game, and we got our clocks cleaned quite nicely in almost no time at all. We decided to blame the dice rolls!   We talked our worthy opponents into a second game since the first one was over almost before it had begun. The second one lasted a little longer, was a bit more of a competition and we won, so it was a lot better the second time. *wink*

Carolus Magnus

Carolus Magnus in play. Image by Scott Alden

We next turned to a new game of Mike’s, Puzzle Strike. This is a deck-building game using poker-style chips instead of cards. I admit that I have trouble totally grasping these types of games on the first play mainly due to learning iconography and all the various powers available; it is a lot to internalize immediately, at least for me. And the whole “crash”ing and “trash”ing thing didn’t click for me right away so I struggled with what to do and which way to jump. I glanced at Richard and he probably had the same glazed look that I was wearing. Dave had played before with Mike so he was comfortable with it. In the end, I managed to win seemingly by default. I attacked Richard, the only choice of attack is to your left, who died and sent his extra pieces towards Dave who also died, sending his left over pieces to Mike to also died. I win as the “last man standing”. But somehow it didn’t feel very well earned.

Puzzle Strike

Image of Puzzle Strike from Sirlin Games website.

Looking at the pile of games that Mike had brought, Space Alert, Battlestar Galactica, Wealth of Nations and Stronghold, Dave spoke up with a request for Power Grid. I would never say no to Power Grid! I may say, “Mary, what the hell were you thinking starting right next to Mike to block him off?” but I would never say “no”.

See, here’s the thing: Mike is ‘the one’ in the group. You know, the one who always gets it faster, understands it better, thinks it through quicker, and conceives plans more easily. Thus, he gets picked on…a lot. THAT was the plan. Make life difficult for Mike. Unfortunately, it backfired when Dave proceeded to cut my avenues of escape down to one and it became too expensive to expand. I struggled through the whole game at the back of the pack but was finally gaining ground by the end of the game. I learned a lesson and still had a good time. In fact, my little bit of insanity was the cause of much laughter and hilarity so a good time was had by all. Richard and Dave tied for most cities powered but Dave took the trophy by having more money left.

While Richard went to feed the cat his supper, Mike, Dave and I had some excellent sausage-sweet potato stew from the crock pot and discussed life (you live, you die, and in between you try to find something you love), the universe (42, of course) and everything (we all agreed we hate Elise on Hell’s Kitchen).

By the time Richard came back, Dave’s hand was starting to hurt so we decided on just one more quick game, one that Dave was curious about, Ticket to Ride. I haven’t played  TtR much but when I do, I usually get stomped. I’m not sure why, maybe I try too hard not to fail a ticket, maybe I’m not brave enough to take more tickets, maybe it’s timing. Still, I’ve liked it well enough to get the 1910 expansion so we shuffled them all up and set out the two Bonus cards for longest track and most tickets completed. All three of my opponents started out on the east coast and left the west all to me; how nice! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the blue cards I needed so kinda wandered around but did manage to finish the two tickets I had in the area plus one more I picked up and a couple of 6-track connections. Dave finished up in the east and joined me out west while Richard and Mike each took 3 more tickets and continued expanding their rails. In the end, those extra tickets were their downfall, both taking substantial penalties. Richard got the most tickets completed bonus, Dave connected his east and west routes to win the longest track, but I managed the win by 2 points with my 3 medium length routes and several longer sections. That’s my problem, I’ve never played in the west before! Those longer connections are a pain to get the cards for, but the points really add up.

What a great game day, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I could have done without the hail in the afternoon, but luckily it was just small stuff and the garden didn’t suffer.

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