Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Under the Sea

Another great turnout for our Tuesday game night! We had a boatload of people show up: most of the regulars and a few not-so-regulars. It was great to see so many people there.

My first game of the evening was a nice game of Bluff (A.K.A. Liar's Dice). Six of us played a couple of quick rounds while we were waiting for more people to arrive so we could split up. Liar's Dice is a great little filler game. There's a new Pirates of the Caribbean edition that's recently been released so if you're looking for a copy, look for it at your local book store or Wall Mart-ish store.

While we were playing Bluff, several others began a game of Railroad Tycoon. Probably the best game to come out of Eagle Games before they went belly up this year, Railroad Tycoon is a reworking of the Martin Wallace classic: Age of Steam. Both are great games.

Soon we had enough people to split up into two groups. One group played Tichu and the remaining three of us played Reef Encounter. Reef Encounter is a wonderful game by Richard Breese about (of all things) coral reefs. Players compete to grow corals, guard them with shrimp and feed them to parrot fish. The game is really an abstract game with a lightly pasted on theme but the theme works well and the pieces (particularly in the newer Z-Man edition) are absolutely gorgeous. This is a wonderfully deep strategy game that requires lots of thought and has just enough luck to prevent any one strategy from guaranteeing success. I definitely recommend this one. I'm happy to report that I somehow managed to pull off the win this time.

We followed that game with a game of Carcassonne: The City. This is easily my favorite of the series. I consider it to be more polished than the other versions and there are wonderful mechanisms that encourage players to commit to long term scoring strategies while keeping the length down below most of the expansions. I especially like the way the game's focus changes as the game enters the wall building phase. In our game, Curt and I tussled back and forth for control of a monstrous residence which in the end he managed to wrestle from me. As I suspected, that proved to be the difference in the game. Whichever of us managed to secure that residence would win the game. I came in third behind Mike S. and Curt (who won). Our scores were all quite close.

My night ended with a pair of Tichu games with Kai, Oren and Mike M. The first game, Mike M. and I paired up and within a few hands we were up with a score that was something like 700 to negative 200. At that point Oren requested that we allow them to concede so we shuffled the partners around and began another game. This time I partnered with Kai and while we played reasonably well, the cards failed us and Oren and Mike won the game with more than twice our score. It didn't help that I called Large Tichu on our last hand and just barely failed to go out first. It was a desperation move which I'd try again in similar circumstances. Well played.

Meanwhile, six of the others in our group played Adam's new board game: The Order of the Stick based on the web comic of the same name. If you've ever read the web comic you may want to give this game a brief look. It's certainly not a great game but it does capture the flavor of the comic and it is very funny. It's basically a semi-cooperative dungeon crawl filled with very silly weapons, creatures and loot. Think Munchkin only funnier and slightly better (which isn't saying much). Judging from what I saw and comments made by those who played: as a game, it's mediocre at best, but if all you're expecting is a way to laugh and have a good time you could do much worse. Its biggest flaw is that it seems to be FAR too long for what it is. They had six players and they played the shortest version of the game. They started their game at about seven and by midnight they were almost done. I left before they finished but they were supposedly on the very last encounter.

Next week being Halloween, I will not be at game night and I'm unsure if there will be anyone there or not. But I'll definitely be there the following week! Hope to see you then.


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