Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Game Night Writeup

Last night was game night and this time I stayed for the full meal deal. I got there just after five and stayed until well past midnight. I'm gonna be napping at my desk this morning for sure.

My evening started out with To Court the King. This is a nice little dice game that has been called strategic Yahtzee or Yahtzee the Gathering due to superficial similarities to Yahtzee and Magic the Gathering. In this game players roll sets of dice trying to get certain combinations such as pairs, triples, runs, full houses, etc.; similar to Yahtzee. But in this game, instead of earning you points, your rolls earn you cards depicting members of the king's court. Each member of the court brings with him (or her) special abilities such as allowing you to roll more dice or adjust the numbers shown on one or more dice. Furthermore, you aren't limited to five dice; you start with three dice but as you add more members to your court that number can grow to ten or more. The object is to eventually roll eight of a kind so you can claim the king. Then once the king is claimed, there is a roll-off to determine a winner by seeing who can roll the most dice that match. For a game with this much dice, there is a surprising amount of strategy. The different abilities on the cards interact in interesting and sometimes complex ways which do a lot to mitigate the luck. Also, it's often not in your best interest to go for the most difficult dice combination available to you at a given time. Because there are a limited number of each courtier and you're only allowed one of each, it's often a better idea to pick off the easier ones before your opponents to be sure that you have the most flexibility in later turns. I came in second in a five player game and I'll happily play this again. Yahtzee's not really a favorite of mine but this game is much, much better.

Next up for me was On the Underground, a new game by Sebastian Bleasdale and Rio Grande Games. In this game, players build rail connections throughout the city of London. A traveler token moves about the city following a set of rules and your main goal is to get him to use your underground lines to get wherever he's going. I enjoyed this game quite a bit (I tied for the win and winning always seems to improve my impression *grin*) but I thought that it was a little bit fiddly. There are a ton of little wooden bits to manage and figuring out where the traveler will go next can sometimes be a little bit of a headache. It's perhaps a little bit too busy to appeal to the average family game player. Still, it's worth looking at. I'm sure there will be plenty of folks that will really enjoy it. We haven't got this game in the store yet but we should be getting it soon.

When that game broke up we had six people that weren't already playing another game so we decided to play . Mü is easily my favorite traditional trick taking game. It works best with five but it works quite well with four or six. I've talked about it enough in the past and I'm considering writing up a full review soon so for now I'll just say that I managed to come in second for the evening which in a six player game is a pretty good accomplishment, especially since it took a very good last hand to put me there.

And that's where my luck ended. I finished my night with two games of Tichu and they were both unmitigated disasters. Every time I or my partner had a good hand (which was rare enough), our opponents seemed to have a better one. Very frustrating. Great game though.

There were other games played last night as well but the one that sticks most in my mind is a very long game of Roads and Boats. It seemed that every time one of us asked they'd say "We're almost done!" Almost done is clearly a relative term.


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