Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Another Tuesday, Another Game Night

I must say that building 50 is an infinitely superior venue. The lighting is just so much better than in Red West that it's like the difference between night and day. Everyone present tonight agreed and it seems likely that we'll make the change permanent.

Considering that this week falls between the two winter holidays, our turnout was actually pretty good. We had enough people to keep two or three games going throughout the night. Caylus was played again (although I wasn't there in time to get in on it) and some die-hards even showed up at around 10 in the morning to spend most of the day playing Die Macher. One of these days I'd like to give it a try but I'm afraid that no matter how good the game may be, it's going to prove way too long for my tastes.

As for myself, I started out the night with a three-player game of Fairy Tale. Fairy Tale is a pretty good light card game. It plays very quickly (around 15 minutes) and the drafting mechanic is pretty nifty. It's not the world's best card game but it packs a lot of interesting stuff into such a short game.

Next, I played The Gardens of the Alhambra for the first time. Frankly, I was underwhelmed. There just didn't seem to be enough interesting decisions in the game. Most of the time it felt like there were always one or two moves that were clearly "best", but finding them could take a little analysis. I could see this game suffering from "analysis paralysis". And for a game that's this simple (and frankly uninspired) that's the kiss of death.

The next game we played, Hacienda, was quite a bit better in almost every way. This is a new game by Wolfgang Kramer and like most of his games (El Grande, Mexica, Java, Tikal, etc.) it's one of those games where you're given a limited number of actions and it's never quite enough to do what you want to do on your turn. It's not a difficult game to learn but from our one playing it was pretty clear that you could play this several times and still feel that you haven't found the best strategy.

Finally, I rounded out my evening with a four player game of Fairy Tale. It works just as well with four as it does with two or three. Again, not the best card game there is but it packs a marvelous punch for its length and that's saying something.

While all this was going on, Kray, Adam and Mike were playing Kray's latest favorite: Descent. Kray's so enamored with this game that he begged for a copy as a Christmas present. Now not a day goes by that he doesn't beg me to play it with him. I still haven't actually played but I was able to spend the last hour of the evening as a spectator and it does indeed look to be quite good. If you're at all interested in a good old fashioned dungeon crawl then you'll probably fall in love with the juicy figures, modular dungeon map, inventive combat system and all of the other goodies that come inside this monstrous box. I think he's probably going to convince me to play it with him sometime this week.

So if you've noticed the posting time, you're probably wondering what I'm doing up at 2:30 in the morning. Well, along with the other Christmas gifts, my son was kind enough to give me a cold and while I'm mostly over it, for some reason I just haven't been able to get comfortable enough to sleep tonight. I'll be heading up stairs to try again soon. Wish me luck.


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