Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Games Played at Last Night's Game Night

Last night was game night and this week I was able to attend with my son Kray. We had a really good turnout which was good to see. We were well over a dozen. It was good to see everybody there.

My first game of the evening was Mogul, by Michael Schacht. This was the first time that I'd ever played this simple bidding card game. I can't say that I was overwhelmed but it was pretty fun. A little long for what it was perhaps. The rules are pretty simple. A player turns over one card and players either put a chip into the pot or pass, taking all the chips in the pot and dropping out of the bidding. The last man in gets to either add the card (which represents a share in a railroad stock) to his play area or sell shares whose color matches the color on the border of the card, gaining victory points in return. Whoever dropped out last gets to take the other action. Play continues with the next player turning over another card and ends when all the cards are gone. That's really all there is to it. Pretty simple. I'd play it again but I don't think I'd request it.

Next we played Your Bluffing, a game that I much prefer. This is a pretty good bidding and bluffing game where players try to acquire sets of farm animals. The animals come in sets of four and each set is worth a different amount. At the end of the game you add up the values of each set you've collected and multiply by the number of sets. As you might imagine, the number of sets is generally more important than the values. Tejas pretty easily destroyed the rest of us. But I got my revenge, I played the game again over lunch today and this time I came away the victor! I'm pretty convinced that the single most important strategy in this game is to get as many different animals as you can during the auctions so that you'll have plenty of animals to trade when the cattle trading starts. Speaking of cattle trades, that's the only part of this game that I'm not sure I like. When two players have a card with the same animal, one of them can start a cattle trade. In fact, sooner or later they'll have to trade. A cattle trade is when each player puts forward one or two cards in an animal set. The player initiating the trade puts forward a set of money cards, face down, and the other player typically does likewise. Whoever offers the most money walks away with the animals. The thing that bothers me about this is there's often not enough information to help you decide when to bluff or when to bet it all. One or two bad trades can totally swing the game and for the most part the trades are completely blind. But there is definitely some psychology at play here and all in all this is a very good game.

While all of that was going on, the others played some Heroscape. This has got to be one of the silliest themed games ever, what with ninjas, robots, orcs, spies, vikings, and zombies all mixing it up together. But the miniatures are INCREDIBLE and the modular terrain is brilliant. It's a wonderful light miniatures battle game that is so flexible and so ripe for tinkering and house rules that it's just a joy to play. As long as you don't take it so seriously, there's a heck of a lot of fun to be had here.

Next we played a quick round of Liars Dice. This is a simple standard filler game. Its two biggest flaws are that it's very luck driven and it has player elimination. Still, it's such a short game that neither of these flaws really matter much and it's a very enjoyable way to pass the time.

Finally, Tejas and I closed out the night with a few scenarios from Memoir '44. Tejas asked me to bring this in so he could try it out and I was only too happy to accommodate him. Memoir '44 is a wonderful game. It's got lovely pieces (naturally, it's from Days of Wonder) and it's got loads of theme. Setup time is a little long but playing time is just right and it's a heck of a lot of fun. We played the first scenario just to get the hang of it. I forget the title but it's the one that only has infantry where the allies are trying to secure a couple of bridges. Then we played the Omaha Beach scenario which uses just about everything in the game. I won but I don't know if I'd be so lucky next time. And Tejas had an incredibly lucky run of rolls on Omaha Beach where he wiped out my tanks before they could really do any damage. Still, karma caught up and the allies did finally secure a beachhead.

I know there were a few other games played. One of Christopher's prototypes got trotted out. Kray said it was great and it got him wanting to design a game. More power to him! And everybody's favorite card game: Die Steven Segal was played. A lovely trick taking game. (Its real name is die Sieben Siegel or the Seven Seals.)

Come join us next Tuesday!


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