Friday, July 06, 2007

Fireworks for Game Night? You shouldn't have!

Game night this Tuesday went on as scheduled. Since Tuesday was the 3rd of July and since fireworks go on sale in this county a few days before the 4th, I'm sure there were plenty of people firing off fireworks in honor of our game night. I mean what better reason could they have?

My two oldest sons went to game night with me and when we arrived there was already a game of No Thanks! in progress. Now I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, there is really no better ultra-light filler game than No Thanks! It can be taught in 30 seconds and played in about five minutes. It can be played on even the smallest of tables. The game comes in a sturdy cardboard box just big enough for a deck of cards and a small zip bag of mini chips. The whole thing can be tossed in a purse or a coat pocket and brought out whenever the mood strikes. Waiting for a meal at a restaurant? Play No Thanks! Riding in an airplane? Play No Thanks! It works just about anywhere.

My first game of the evening was a game of Colosseum. It's a Days of Wonder game so of course the bits are first rate. I really love the emperor and console pawns which look like over-sized pawns dressed in costumes. The game has some very unique qualities such as the high-water-mark scoring system (your highest score on any of the five rounds is your final score). It has some production elements and some bidding elements and enough luck of the draw that my second eldest son was able to kick butt even though he'd never played it before. (I refuse to admit that he might be good at the game. That couldn't be it.) I like the game quite a bit and I'm eager to play again.

My oldest son spent most of his evening playing a two player game of Tide of Iron. This game could be described as either a deeper Memoir '44 or a simpler and prettier Advanced Squad Leader. It's a squad level World War II game with gorgeous miniatures and a very versatile modular board system. The board is made up of reversible heavy press-board (hard as wood) panels which can be configured in any number of different ways to make nearly an infinite number of scenarios. There are also hexagonal overlays that let you configure the maps even further. He loved it and has been trying to play it again ever since.

After our Colosseum game we played a game of The Downfall of Pompeii. I've mentioned this game several times recently. I like it enough that it seems I play it every other week. It's not a deep game and it's not a difficult game. Heck, it's not even a truly great game. But I really enjoy it anyway. What can I say? I just love chucking pieces into that volcano. I suppose it helps that I usually win.

We wrapped up with a game of five player which both of my oldest boys played in. Neither of them had played the game before and I was worried that it might be too difficult for them, since they really haven't played any true trick taking games before other than Hearts (which really shouldn't count). As expected, the bidding was a bit too hard for them to get a feel for at first. But much to my pleasure, they had no difficulty at all grasping the rules. Their trouble was just that they didn't know how to evaluate how good their hands were and how high they should bid them. That's the same trouble that everyone has when they're learning this game so I don't think their ages (13 and 15) were a factor at all. My oldest over bid a couple of times and that hurt his score but he still played very well and there was really only one hand where he bid too high. The other bids he missed, he missed only by one so there is certainly no shame in that; in fact most of the time you'd rather miss a bid by one than allow your opponent to get away with a bid that he can make. We'll have to play this again soon so they can get some practice in. I'm sure with practice and a little more coaching they'll both be very good.

Finally, I want to drop a little hint that there are some changes in the works at House Full of Games. We're in the final stages of bringing on a new, larger distributor which will mean better access to new releases, an expanded product line, and a lot of great deals for you. Those of you on our store's RSS feed should see some new titles posted very soon. There may be some other surprises in the works too. We hope this is the beginning of great things. Keep your eyes open.


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