Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Game Night! Woot!

Last night was our weekly game night. We had a good turnout. In addition to most of our regulars, I brought my oldest three sons. Here are some of the night's highlights.

I arrived just as people were starting to divide up for games and five of us jumped right in to a game of Notre Dame. This is the latest Alea game and it definitely lives up to the standards of the line (one of gaming's finest). The game is a card driven strategy board game with some production elements, some area control elements, some drafting elements (think of the card drafting in Fairy Tale) and turn after turn of extremely difficult decisions. I don't mean difficult as in the game is hard to learn; I mean difficult as in "Drat! I want to do ALL of these things but I can only do one of them!" I really enjoy it. I'll try to write up a proper review soon.

Next up for me was a four player game of Caylus Magna Carta. I just reviewed this game so I won't go into too much detail about it here except to say that it does a superb job of shortening Caylus and making it more accessible to casual gamers. The only negative thing I can say about Caylus Magna Carta is that it does introduce a certain measure of luck and that certainly didn't work in my favor this game. But what really made this game odd was that for some reason, on both of the first two turns someone pushed the provost all the way back to the very first card on the road, meaning that only one player got any resources and the rest of us just wasted coins putting workers on the road. It was a truly strange beginning but the game was still fun.

Rounding out the night for me was a four player game of with the guys I regularly play with at lunch. Mü really shines when it's played with a bunch of people who are all pretty experienced at the game. Card play is still important, but the bidding rounds become crucial. The game is won or lost on the bids. This game saw some particularly heated bidding. One hand in particular stands out. The bidding went on forever with Jason and Mike continually jockeying for chief and Adam and I revealing card after card strengthening our candidacy for partner and encouraging Mike and Jason to continue bidding. By the time the dust settled, Jason's bid of 11 (yes, you read that right) won him chief. Making a bid that high requires taking all but ten points in play, perhaps two tricks if the points fall just right. Mike called ones as under-trump, since Jason and Adam had pretty much every yellow between them and Mike had the yellow one. Jason then called no-trump (even though a color is typically a safer bid and the bonus points for making a bid top out at 100, meaning that the extra risk wasn't worth extra points to him with a bid that high) and chose Adam as partner. (The no-trump call was a bit of a surprise but the partner wasn't.) By now, all the other guys at game night had gathered around to watch the carnage. We had to keep reminding people not to comment on the play. *grin* Play then began with Jason and Adam carefully splitting the tricks (most going to Jason). Mike an I were carefully protecting the cards that we hoped would take us just two or three tricks. Would it be enough to ruin Jason's bid? As the game wound down, I was left with two high cards in suits that I knew Jason would eventually have to lead. Sure enough, I took the last two tricks. Unfortunately they were worth only 9 points. Jason had made his bid with only one point to spare. If Mike or I had taken just two more points we'd have set them. It was a great moment.

Other games played last night included RoboRally, Augsburg 1520, and Tichu.

If you're anywhere near Redmond, come join us next week! Look for us in the Microsoft building 50 café every Tuesday night after 5.


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