Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday, 25 Nov 2005: A Magnificent Day of Gaming

First, let me say thank you to Amy and Jeff for your kindness in opening your home for three rabid gamers to come piling in. I sincerely appreciate your tremendous hospitality. I had a fantastic time!

Members present: Amy, Jeff, Kendahl, Robert, Ben

Games Played (Winner):

Ticket to Ride Europe (Kendahl)
TTR Europe with five players was very awesome. I felt myself really focusing on each person's plays and making some truly painful decisions. Always a good sign.

Evo (Kendahl)
I would say Evo might have a bit more white-knuckle tension if we played with the variant where there's one less mutation than the number of players. I did think the components were great, and I enjoyed the theme.

Colossal Arena (Ben)
At long last, victory in Colossal Arena was mine! I was dealt a great hand with a good amount of spectator cards. When I first started playing the game, I thought the spectator cards were kind of lame and was hooked on playing the monster powers. Now I understand the value of the specators as pseudo-wild cards, very useful to help out your team of monsters across the board.

Bang! (Kendahl the Sherrif and Amy the Deputy)
Bang! was a blast. I think now that I've played it once, my strategy next time would be much improved. I do find it hard to envision a scenario where the Renegade wouldn't either face two fugitives or two good guys at the end, but perhaps the expansions improve this a bit. It would be especially cool, perhaps, if each person had a slightly different role.

All in all, a fantastic day of gaming!


At 6:23 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Rob said...

My input:

Amy and Jeff, thanks!

TTR Europe:
Great game! It was better than I expected. Definitively better than regular TtR (which I'll be selling on ebay to get TtR Europe). These 2 games I find, are one of the very few that gets better with more players. In general most games tend to have a "sweet spot" when it comes to number of players: for example, three to five can play PR, but I feel 4 is the perfect number. I've tried 2,3,4,and today 5 player TtR, and it was the toughest/nailbiting game I've played! And tough=good in my book.

Interesting how it combines many different mechanics... some "empire building",territory control, battles, auctions, unit upgrades, with a funny/silly theme. Great game, and one that I feel I'll play better next time now that I have the basics. Getting good at seeing ahead through all the phases in every turn, given the mix of so many mechanics, is very interesting (and mind-numbing IMO). More often than not, I missed foreseeing the repercusions of a "wrong desicion" taken in an early phase in a turn. A definitive replay.

Becoming a classic. It was a smooth ride (~30min game) given that we all knew the rules. It was awesome. I came in second (I think). Ben won because the unicorn was left out from the start.

Another game that gets better with more players. With 4 it is too easy to predict who's who, but with 5+ it gets better. As the renegade, I sided with the Sheriff so as to not stir his wrath, although he shot me twice at first for no reason!. After getting rid of the first outlaw (Jeff), I sided with Ben, the other outlaw. Of course, I was trying to prevent what ended up happending: to be left alone against the Sheriff(kendahl) and deputy (Amy). After slaughtering Ben, I was pulverized quite easily with Kendahl's Volcanic gun (use multiple Bang cards per round) combined his cool character (play 2 Missed cards to dodge his Bang cards!), while Amy used her character's ability to slowly but painfully drain your cards from your hand. Cool game... replay with even more players. Love the Werewolf element in this game.

Fun times... when are we playing for 6 hours straight again?

At 6:26 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Ben said...

Hopefully tomorrow!

Perhaps we should also start planning something during the Christmas / New Years period... maybe there's another day where we're all off at the same time.

At 6:53 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Jeff said...

We're really glad you guys could all make it. What an awesome session! That was a really diverse set of games. We'll definitely try to plan another long session for Christmas/New Year's/both.

At 6:57 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Ben said...

Darn, I forgot to give Kendahl back Furunkulous' arm!

At 7:25 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Kendahl said...

Great fun...thanks for hosting Jeff and Amy. I got in a little trouble for missing my curfew, but I survived.

My thoughts on the games:

TTR Europe - the big cards alone make this an improvement over the original. Just enough extra choices to really make this a deeper game than TTR. The stations are a great new addition, in my opinion. I got lucky enough to get my destination cards on one side of the board away from everyone else, so I could piggyback some of the routes with no interference. I finished these destinations early enough to work on the longest route, which made the difference in the game. Very close game where everyone had a chance to win. Some of the decisions were excruciating, particularly knowing if you should claim that critical route or pick up the two cards that you've been waiting for... A definite keeper.

I really saw a lot of potential in this game. Enough strategy to reward good play yet enough chaos to allow everyone a chance for victory. It's a light theme but that's deceptive as I think it's a fairly deep game. Everyone played nice -- not too many combats. I think multiple plays and a deeper understanding of this game will improve the game. I also think the official variant is the way to go. Interesting that Jeff thought there were too many turns while I felt just the opposite...I thought it ended too quickly. I did take a commanding lead, almost insurmountable, but I think there are possibilities to gang up on the leader (again, we all played fairly non-aggressive). I really think the main reason I won was that I bought an egg first round and there was shortage of eggs for awhile. I had twice as many babies as anyone for three or so turns.

Colossal Arena
Ben played brilliantly for the win. This is a solid game. Lots of stuff to keep track of. Hand management is crucial and second-guessing your opponents' moves are critical for success. I did a terrible job of both and lost miserably. I seemed to play the wrong card at the right time. But it was still fun. I think some of the creatures special abilities are just a tad imbalanced, but this is a feature not a detriment. Do you back the strong creatures knowing they'll be a target? Hmmmmm...

I had a great deputy in Amy. She really saved my butt. That and I couldn't draw anything but miss cards. I really thought it was fun, but I see two things that would improve this game -- playing with the full complement of seven players and a better understanding of the game. The first is difficult -- when do you ever have seven players? (Next time we do, I got dibs on playing Junta...) The second won't be an issue after a few more playings. I think the game was longer than it should have been for a game of that nature because we were all still learning it (maybe it just felt long since I was supposed to be home and was still playing games...). But I loved the theme, the characters and their special abilities, the cards, etc. Overall, a great 5-7 (or 8 with expansion) game that gets better with more players. I too loved the werewolf element, but I think you should be allowed to claim roles. It would have been fun for Ben, the other outlaw, to take shots at Jeff and then claim he was the deputy. (I think if I ever designed a game, I would try to somehow incorporate this mechanic...not that I have design aspirations but I do know a a publisher!)

Great games AND I tried Papa John's pan pizza for the first time. It was pretty tasty!

Have fun tomorrow...I wish I was playing.


At 7:28 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Kendahl said...

Crap...Furunkulus' arm! I introduced FF to my in-laws and wife and had to assemble a different monster. (It was a crazy game, the monster ate only a few dudes. Everyone easily avoided the monster and ended up on the exit side, opposite the monster with no chance of getting eaten. My wife got all four dudes out the exit in the first round. Pretty unsatisfying, really...)

At 7:32 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Ben said...

I'll bring the arm to work with me on Monday. Maybe we can make the switch then?

At 11:34 PM, November 25, 2005, Blogger Rob said...

Reg. Bang!

hey, Ben could have shot Jeff...making him look like the deputy. The rules clearly state that the outlaw can get the 3 card reward for killing the other outlaw. But then again, he does need that ally.

And yes Kendahl, I kinda agree with the length issue. From my limited experience with this game I can say that technically it is possible to play it forever. It has the possibility of never ending. If you keep getting beers, missed, etc. it can drag forever...and I saw this happen in a 4 player game. Don't know if the expansion actually improves this since I haven't had much chance to use it. Someday.

sleep now.

At 4:08 PM, November 27, 2005, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Reading through this makes me so jealous.

With my wife's family in town, I had only a little gaming. I got my brother-in-law to play Hammer of the Scots, but the family kept talking to us while I tried to teach him to play. Then the family kept drifting over to see what we were doing. Then he kept asking questions that were explained 3+ times in the rules (because he hadn't heard the rules because people were talking to us while I was explaining).

Eventually he did get most of the rules sorted out, and he was doing fairly well as the Scots, but I'm not entirely sure he enjoyed playing. I didn't bring it up again, and neither did he.

The next night I brought out Settlers, but my in-laws didn't seem receptive. Too complex they said, and too many rules. These are people with multiple advanced degrees. Obviously that excuse is a lot of baloney; I guess they just don't like that kind of game.

We played Taboo, a word game, for a while until they got bored with it, putting me out of my misery. I couldn't help but think they wouldn't have walked away from Settlers like that. I don't know how to get them started, though.

I'm glad I've found some geeks to play with here in town.

At 10:29 PM, November 27, 2005, Blogger Rob said...

I feel your pain Ted. I've been there before... it's lonely (insert violins).

None of my work buddies are into this "dungeons and dragons thing" I do on a weekly basis. :)

At 6:56 AM, November 28, 2005, Blogger Kendahl said...

I guess I feel lucky. I introduced my in-laws to Settlers and they loved it. My father-in-law was at 9 vp for three turns but I couldn't let him win! My mother-in-law asked if two people could play. I feel fortunate...they are good sports when they come visit and play anything I put on the table. Of course, my wife didn't play...

I remember when I was a Monopoly and Risk guy, one of my friends brought over Settlers and everyone poo-pooed it because it just looked to complicated.


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