Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Game Night: Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

I said I'd be doing a game night wrap up and here it is.

We had a decent turnout last night. It was nice to see Christopher back from his vacation. Also in attendance were both Mikes, Jose, Birch, Wade, Oren, and Tejas. Have I missed anyone?

I'd been itching to get Ark to table. This is the new game from Doris Matthäus and Frank Nestel. Doris is responsible for the artwork and Frank designed the game. I'd played it with my son a couple of days ago and then played it again over lunch yesterday but both times the correct rules eluded me. Mostly that's my fault because the rules really aren't all that complex but there are a number of niggling confusing bits that take a bit of getting used to. Tonight we got them right. I'll be writing a proper review very soon so I won't go into much detail right now but I will say that I enjoy the game. It has a nice blend of light strategy, tactics and luck. It plays a bit like a blend between a card game and an area-control board game. We played it twice back to back so that should say something about how it was received.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we also got Tigris & Euphrates to the table again. Mike K., Christopher, Wade and I duked it out for what turned out to be an incredibly low scoring game. I took second with 6. Mike K. edged me out with 7. I made a few mistakes early on, building a monument too early and trying a bluff that Mike called to my misfortune. The game went so fast because from the get go people set out to gobble up all the treasure cubes, ending the game with perhaps 1/4 of the tiles still in the bag. I never get tired of this game.

Also seeing table time were Bluff and die Seben Siegal and a few other games I've forgotten. I wasn't involved in any of those games.

My final game of the night was Sticheln. I really like this quirky trick taking (or avoiding) game. In Sticheln, the deck consists of a number of ranked cards in 5 or 6 suits (depending on the number of players in the game). It looks like a pretty standard trick taking game and the mechanics will be familiar to any card player. The quirk is that before the hand begins, players must select one suit as their "pain suit". Any card you take that isn't in your pain suit is worth one point but any card you take in your pain suit is worth minus its rank! Simple? Well it would be except that any card that doesn't match the suit of each trick's first card is trump! It becomes very hard to keep from taking negative points. I like this game because it's fast and easy to learn and it doesn't require precise card counting to play reasonably well. It can be somewhat unpredictable but it definitely rewards skillful play. Best of all, it can be downright brutal as players scramble to stick other players with cards in their pain suit. Tons of fun.


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