Friday, November 16, 2007

Game Night

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.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Game Night

Better late than never with the game night posts, eh? And it's certainly late.

Game night for me this week started with Zooloretto, the latest Spiel des Jahres winner. This is the board game version of Coloretto (which I like very much). The board game adds a little bit of complexity (although not much) and it changes the scoring slightly. I like it but I don't think it will ever become one of my favorites. It's basically light family friendly gaming with lovely bits. Well worth playing with the family but a deep strategy game it's not.

Another game I played last Tuesday night was a really fun game of Ca$h 'n Gun$. This is a very light game where up to six players (the more the merrier) point foam guns at one another. Each player has a small deck of cards. Most of them say "click" but two say "bang" and one says "bang bang bang". On each round, each player places one card face down in front of them and then simultaneously point their gun at one other player. Next, on the count of three, each player may decide to hide. If you hide you don't get shot but you also don't get to help divide that round's loot. If you don't hide an someone points a gun at you which goes "bang" then you're shot. You take a wound and you don't get any loot that round. Too many wounds and you're out of the game. Naturally, each card can only be played once so part of the game is deciding when to bluff, when to shoot, when to hide, and when to stand brave in the face of four other muzzles. It's simple and fast and I really like it.

Next up for me was Notre Dame. This is a very cool strategy game that takes place in the neighborhoods of Paris near Notre Dame cathedral in the 14th century. I decided to pursue a vastly different strategy this time around and to say that it failed would be an understatement. I was clobbered. Still, I love the game and I'll be glad to play it again. Although this time I don't think I'll pursue that strategy again.

And wrapping up the night for me was a game of Tichu. Adam and I teamed up against Mike and Wade and we came out charging right out of the gate. Within a few hands the score was something like 865 to 35. At that point their luck began to turn and they staged a pretty good run but by then it was really much too late and we still cruised to a relatively easy victory.

I can't remember what other games were played last night but one I know for sure was Railroad Tycoon. This was one of the last and best from Eagle Games before they closed their doors. Personally, I prefer Age of Steam (upon which it's based) but there are a lot of people (some of them in our game group) who prefer this one. I can understand why, it's big, pretty, and it plays very well. Also, it's much more forgiving than Age of Steam, which has a reputation for sometimes knocking newbies out of the game before the first round is even over. It's a pity that it's out of print.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tuesday Night is Game Night!

Last Tuesday I had a conflict and wasn't able to attend game night, which explains the lack of a game night post. But this Tuesday I'll be there. Will you?

If you are near Redmond, WA then come join us. We'll be in Microsoft's building 50 cafeteria starting at about 5pm. Feel free to come late. If you don't have access to the cafeteria, just walk around back and knock on the glass door. Someone will let you in. Here's a map in case you need it.