Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Game Night Write-Up

So last night was Game Night and here follows my stunning writeup of the event.

Family conflicts prevented me from arriving on time but I got there sooner than I thought I would (around 7). When I arrived there was a game of RoboRally (the original version) going. I have no idea who won but Oren, Darryl, and Mike K. were involved.

Christopher, Jose, Tejas and I played a quick round of HamsterRolle. This is a wooden game from Zoch where players try and balance oddly shaped blocks in a wooden wheel. It's a great game but it's a bit pricey, mostly due to the wooden wheel I guess. I proved more dexterous this time around.

We were trying out a new location this week: the café at the Microsoft Red West Campus (affectionately known as the Ski Lodge). The primary attraction of this location is that it's near to Oren's new office so he'll be able to let people in at five. It's also an attractive space that DOESN'T seem to have a cleaning crew going through it every Tuesday night (like the building 41 café does). The primary disadvantages are that the lighting is relatively poor (although the up-stairs portion isn't that bad) and it's relatively far from parking (a concern for those of us who lug games to and from the car). I think we'll probably meet here for the next few weeks unless someone comes up with a better venue.

Anyway after the first games, we moved upstairs and mixed the groups. Birch, Wade, Mike K., Mike M and I got a game of Aladdin's Dragons going. This time we played with the complete magic rules (not just the artifacts like last week). I like it better with the magic cards. The cards are pretty powerful but you have to use an artifact to be able to play them and that makes them very costly. Also, the presence of counter spell artifacts adds a whole layer of strategy around playing them. I'm sad to say I didn't win this one. Birch won with seven artifacts and he claims it's because it's the first time he'd played the game and now he'll never be able to win again.

We also played Razzia, a game that's currently only available as an import. This is kind of a "baby Ra". Ra is due to be published by Uberplay any time now and I believe that Rio Grande is planing to do a domestic version of Razzia soon. I hope so because I really like this game. It's a card driven, set-collecting auction game. My strategy of getting an early gangster lead at all costs (even though it left me with the 2, 3, and 4 in the second round) paid off and I won the game.

The others started and aborted a game of Traders of Genoa (no one was familiar with the rules - Curt we miss you) and I can't remember what they eventually settled on.

The Seattle gang went home at that point leaving Mike K, Mike M, Oren and myself. With only four players left I felt it my duty to suggest Tichu. Mike K and Mike M had never played and Oren was familiar with the game but seemed to be a bit fuzzy on the rules so I got to spend about fifteen minutes going over the rules. Tichu's rules can seem a little overwhelming but believe me, it's well worth the effort and after a couple of hands people get the hang of it. Unfortunately, Mike M really hates trick taking games and particularly partnership games so it took some convincing to even get it to the table. But once we got going, Mike M actually played quite well. Unfortunately we only got in a few hands before Oren and Mike K had had enough of Mike M's and my lucky hands and so we broke it off to play Turn the Tide.

Turn the Tide is a nice little card game by Stefan Dorra, the same guy who did For Sale, with which it shares a lot of similarities. Like For Sale, it relies heavily on the mechanic where each player simultaneously selects a card. In this game, having the highest card is usually not so bad, having the second highest is usually terrible, but it's generally best to be neither of the two. The two big ideas in this game which really make it work are (1) that a hand's scoring potential varies with its strength (stronger hands have a lower potential) and (2) that all the hands rotate around the table so that each player gets a chance to play with each of the hands. Got a bad hand? Don't worry, everybody else is going to get that exact same hand before the game is done.


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