What's that? It's a Game Night post!
I know, I know. I've been really slacking on the blogging lately. Life has a way of getting busy this time of year and it's only going to get busier through the holidays but I'll try not to slack off quite so much for a while.
There was a game night and I was there. So were many other familiar faces and even a couple faces we haven't seen in a while! Nice to see you again! Hope to see more of you!
I arrived just in time to watch Adam and Chris play a game of Duel in the Dark. This is a new game just arriving on our shores courtesy of Z-Man games. It's a two player game set in World War II where one player plays the British and the other plays the Germans. The Brits go on a bombing run over Germany and the Germans try to ensure that the run fails. I was thoroughly impressed with the production values and the game seemed very interesting too. It's basically a "programming" style game with elements of misdirection and hunting. The British player pre-programs his bombing run by building a deck where each card in the deck indicates his bomber's next move. On each turn, the top card is revealed and the bomber is moved accordingly. In addition, the British player controls one plane over which he has complete control. That plane can zoom about ahead of the bomber to take out various ground targets and obstacles to clear a path for the bomber, or to deliberately mislead the German player and draw away the German fighters. The German player controls a squadron of four fighter planes which he tries to maneuver into the path of the British bomber. The bomber can't really be stopped but each player earns points for things that happen in their favor. For instance, the German player earns points by having the bomber fly into a hex that contains one or more of his planes. It's a pretty cool game and I look forward to playing it myself one day.
When I arrived, another group of players was a third of the way through with Franz-Bello Delonge's most famous game: TransAmerica. Let's all have a moment of silence for Mr. Delonge who passed away just the other week... *shhh* ... OK. Now back to the game. TransAmerica is a very nice, light gateway game that's about building railroad's across America. Sound familiar? Yes, there are definite superficial similarities to Ticket to Ride but this really is a very different game. I enjoy it but I think that it's pretty light.
Several others settled in for a long night of Die Macher, everyone's favorite super-long game of German electioneering. It's a great game and I will play again some day. I just hate giving up my entire game night to play such a long game.
And yet, what did I play next? A long game. Go figure.
I had just received a box-dented copy of Glenn Drover's new game Age of Empires III. Can't sell it. Might as well open it and play it. So what's it like? Well first off, let me say that I have never been a fan of Glenn Drover's games. He tends to produce stuff that's over-produced and under-developed if you know what I mean. Most of his games don't really feel finished to me. But I must in all fairness say that this is easily his best game yet. The rules weren't overly-complicated and the game seems to be pretty solid. It runs a little long for what it is (around 120 minutes) and the theme is largely pasted on. Underneath all the chrome (more on that in a minute) is a pretty solid Euro-style game of investment, development, and area control. I enjoyed it. But there were two things that really annoyed me about the game. First, for a game that is obviously trying to be so deeply strategic, there is just a little too much luck. The discovery tiles in particular can be either really, really good or really, really bad and there's no way of knowing which you'll get until you go for one. But I can live with that. What really bothered me was (and this is typical of Drover's games) the production. The board is HUGE and very ornate. It's very pretty but it isn't all that functional (although it's a lot better than some of the old Eagle Games stuff he did). The scoring track is particularly bad. And then there are the figures. The game comes with dozens of really cool looking plastic figures. They look fabulous. Unfortunately, they're too large even for this over-sized board, they tend to fall over when bumped, and what's worse, the different figure types (particularly the captains and settlers) are difficult to distinguish from one another. I would have much preferred they use simple wooden shapes such as the ones used in Game of Thrones. It would have made playing the game a much more pleasant experience. Still, I have to give kudos to Drover for coming out with a very nice game that was quite fun to play. And given his recent experiences with Eagle Games (which just folded last year) just getting this game to market at all was a huge achievement.
Next up we played a quick six player game of Ca$h 'n Gun$. This is a silly light filler game where everyone has a foam pistol and a deck of twelve cards that say either "click" or "bang". On your turn you choose a card from you deck and put it face down in front of you. Then on the count of three you point your gun at another player. After a brief time to asses who is threatening to shoot who, there is another count of three and those who are too chicken can "hide" by putting down their weapon. If you hide then you can't be shot but you have to take a "shame" marker which costs you points at the end of the game and you don't get to help divide the pot of loot. Those who are still pointing at brave players reveal their cards. If the card says "click" then the player isn't shot. If the card says "bang" then the player is shot, draws a wound token (3 and you're out of the game) and isn't available to collect money from the pot in the middle of the table. All surviving players who aren't hidden get to divide up the pot and everyone gets ready for the next round. 12 cards per deck means that the game lasts for 12 rounds and as you can guess, they go pretty quickly. It's chaotic, simple, sometimes a little mean, and a whole lot of fun. If it were any longer it might get old real quick but it's so fast that the simplicity works in its favor. I enjoyed it very much.
My last game of the night was Tichu (as usual) and it was a wild game. There were some crazy hands including three dueling Tichu calls. I was involved in all three of those and I won two of them. I should have won all three but on one of them, the player to my right led the ONLY combination of cards (a pair of threes) that could possibly have allowed his partner to go out before me (since I'd already played a bomb of twos, his partner held only a pair of fours, I controlled any singles, and my partner had the dog). Dumb luck wasn't enough to carry the game for them though and the good guys won!