Insert witty opening comments here.
The first (and only) game of the night for many of our group was Die Macher. Kai is always surprised when this game takes over four hours. I'm not sure why. My experience is that four hours is about par for the course. Kai insists that experienced players will play the game in under three and a half and I don't doubt it's possible but that never seems to be how it goes for our group. And that's why whenever Kai asks if I want to play it I say no. It really is an awesome game but I don't want to devote my entire game night to just one game so I always pass. But if you don't mind spending four hours on one game then definitely pick it up. It truly is a classic.
When I arrived there were a bunch of people playing Fantasy Pub, a silly little card game about fantasy adventurers getting drunk in the cliched tavern after a cliched adventure. Orcs, dwarves, elves, and so on all moving from table to table buying each other drinks. The object is to get as many of your guys drunk without getting them so drunk that they can't leave the pub under their own power (getting thrown out is bad, walking out so drunk you can barely move is good). Naturally, the theme is all tongue in cheek and nobody is really advocating this behavior.
While we waited for that game to break up, Adam and I played a quick game of Ricochet Robots. This has long been one of my favorite gathering games. It's almost more of a puzzle than a game and I don't really think there is a better game to play while waiting for people to gather. That's because it's one of those games that's always fun to play no matter what your score happens to be (in fact I really never pay much attention to the score). Anyone can join in at a moment's notice. Each round plays like it's own little self contained puzzle and it's the kind of thing you can explain to a newcomer in just a few seconds. In fact, my favorite way to teach it is to set it up and just start playing. After a round or two, new players quickly catch on and soon everybody's having fun. Some people find the cerebral nature of the game a little too taxing but I just love it.
My first meatier game of the evening was a three player game of Space Dealer. Unfortunately, nobody had a CD player so we had to use the alarm on my cell phone to time the game, which is really not nearly as fun as using the thirty minute count-down soundtrack which comes with the game. But it was a fun game nonetheless. I'm really impressed with this game (as you might have guessed if you've read my review from a few weeks back) despite its slightly gimmicky nature. The simultaneous play mechanic is really clever and very well done.
Next up for me was one of Richard Breese's classic games: Keythedral. This is a wonderful game where players first take turns placing hexagonal tiles to build up the playing area and then over several rounds players send workers into the hexagonal fields to gather resources to be used in building a cathedral. I really enjoy this game. There is a lot of opportunity for really clever play, particularly when deciding the order in which the workers will be sent into the fields. A big part of this game is figuring out ways to maximize your own production while interfering with that of your opponents. It's very clever and very well done. It's one of my favorites.
My final game of the evening was a game of To Court the King. This game feels a lot like a cross between Magic the Gathering and Yahtzee. It's a light dice fest where players are eventually rolling as many as ten dice on a turn in order to form Yahtzee-like combinations which earn the players courtiers (cards). Each courtier has a special ability which can be used to bring in more dice or adjust the values on the dice after they're rolled. The cards' abilities make it much less of a luck-fest than you might expect from a game that relies so heavily on dice and that makes it a much more enjoyable game for me than Yahtzee ever was. Of course at the end of the day, it's still dice and it's still pretty luck heavy but I enjoy it and I'll seldom turn down a game.