Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Game Night - With Photos!

We had a great turnout last night and got in several games. This time I decided to bring a digital camera and take a couple pics of the group. Here's the result.

First game of the night for me was Drakon. This is a pretty decent tile-laying strategy game that's themed as a dungeon crawl. On your turn you may either move your figure or play a tile that represents a room of the dungeon. Most tiles have special abilities or treasure which you activate/collect when your figure steps onto them. The goal of the game is to collect ten treasure units and exit the dungeon. It was a very competitive game that went on longer than anyone expected. Several of us were ready to win the game but Curt was the one who managed to get out first.

Next up, five of us set sail with Lifeboats, a simple game where players try to get as many of their pawns as possible to shore before the boats they are in sink. Each boat has a number of spaces in it, each of which can accommodate a player's pawn. At the beginning of each round, players vote which boat will "spring a leak". That boat will then have one of its holes filled with a round "leak" marker. That reduces the space in the boat for pawns. Get too many leaks and a boat may sink, taking all the remaining pawns with it. If there's no room for the leak then all the players with pawns in that boat vote which pawn to toss out of the boat to make room for the leak. Then players vote which boat to move closer to shore. Finally, there is a sort of "Chinese fire drill" where each player pulls one of his pawns out of a boat and moves it into another boat. This gives players a chance to hedge their bets by moving pawns to another boat and it also allows for some nasty play because it's possible that not all of the pawns will be able to get back into the boats. I enjoyed Lifeboats but it's a pretty chaotic game. It can also turn pretty nasty as players gang up on whoever they perceive to be the leader. This won't go down as one of my favorite games but I enjoyed it and will happily play it again. I'm sure it didn't hurt that I won.

Next up we played a quick round of No Thanks with six players. Technically No Thanks is only supposed to go up to five players but it's quite possible to play with more without completely ruining the game. Still, I prefer to play with five or fewer.

Sticking with the light, quick and nasty theme we decided to switch to Sticheln. I really like Sticheln but it is a nasty little game that shouldn't be taken too seriously. I was doing well until the last few tricks but I knew my time was short. I had a lousy hand with no obvious choice for a pain suit. I had to resort to choosing a relatively short suit with relatively high ranking cards. I knew that was a recipe for disaster but none of my other suits were any better. Sure enough, in the last few rounds I was forced to take a gamble that proved very costly.

Meanwhile, there were quite a few players who decided to play El Grande. This is perhaps Kramer's crowning achievement. It's a truly fantastic area control game that has inspired countless other games to all use the same area control mechanic. I have no idea who won the game but I did manage to snap a picture.

When that game broke up some of our group decided to start up a game of Tichu while the rest of us decided to tackle Doppelkopf once more.

Doppelkopf is a German variant of Double Sheepshead. Kai, our resident German, introduced us to this game several weeks back and my first attempt at learning it made my head spin. Since then, I took the time to put together a small quick reference card that helped clarify most of the rules (some of which seem rather arbitrary at first, particularly to someone who's never played Sheapshead before). That helped immensely. We actually managed to play a complete game and I surprised the heck out of myself by coming in second place! The game has a pretty steep learning curve but it didn't take too long for us to get the hang of it and I can see us playing this more often. It's an excellent game.


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