Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gaming at the Lair 4/24

I screwed up my chance to play a block game with Rob by not checking my email and by the time I arrived at DL around 4pm, Simon and Rob were about halfway into a game of Crusader Rex. Not being in too much a hurry to get gaming, I just chilled out and watched while waiting for them to finish. Brian and Jon showed up but since we were going to eat soon, we didn't start anything in the meantime.

Finally after they called it early we went and played the eat dinner game. Simon quickly won, and I came in super special last place.

Cash and guns was the first real game of the night. The premise is we have just robbed a bank and now we are dividing the loot. The negotiations involve pointing loaded and unloaded guns at eachother. The first game was just the five of us without the special abilities. Jon and my strategy of attempting to shoot each other every time didn't work well as Brian waltzed to an easy win. We used the special abilities in the second game, and although my dragon skin was never a factor, I managed to squeak out a win. Kendahl showed up while we were setting up for a third game and quickly picked up the gist of things (Brian and I gave him the old newcomers welcome with a gun in his face on the first round). Jon died as the result of him foolishly shotgunning the crazy guy with the grenade (me) and Brian pulled out the win.

By this time we had quite a crowd, so Rob, Dennis, Rick and myself broke off to try out Louis XIV. I really don't know how to describe the basic mechanic, but it was a fun game. Rick ran away with it, the rest of us were clumped at the bottom. We took a while to finish (sorry) and I don't know everything the others did but I do know they got in at least one more cash and guns game.

Next up since we had about a kajillion people now was Werewolf. The Werewolf group was: me, Simon, Jon, Rob, Kendahl, Josh, Rich, Rick, and Dennis. During the first game, I was the moderator, Rob and Josh were werewolves, and Rich was the seer. Despite the fact that the Seer never found the werewolves Kendahl proved to be a master villager, sniffing out Josh and Rob very early on. The mob listened, and the villagers triumphed.

For the next game Dennis moderated, Jon and I were the werewolves, and Rich was again the seer. Things started off horribly bad as Kendahl pegged both of us (me randomly he claims) on turn one. Somehow though we managed to get Kendahl lynched with some "doth protest to much" type of arguments. During the night Jon and I had trouble agreeing on a victim. Finally I relented and let him kill Simon.

During the day things went horribly bad. The mob mentality was still onto us because of Kendahls random accusations in the first day. I felt like the winds of fortune were against us so I joined in the anti-Jon comments. We ended up both nominated for lynching and our arguments were pretty much identical: If I were a werewolf don't you think I would have killed (Jon/Michael) by now? In the end Jon was chosen for death and I was alone.

Luckily though the taint of innocence was now on me, and although I could not pick out the Seer, neither was he getting on my trail. After some random lynchings and semi-random killings, it came down to the final four of me, Rob, Josh and Rich. Up until this point I had confidently "guessed" at the identity of the remaining werewolf, but here I was stumped. After some hemming and hawing, I decided that Josh certainly at least looked guilty. Rich seemed to agree with me, and I thought Rob was in the bag as he had been one of my supporters against Jon earlier. But he turned on me! Our easy win was thrown out with a 2-2 tie for the lynching. So during the night it was imperative that the Seer had to die. I decided on Rich as the most likely mostly by a process of elimination. If it was Josh, I still had a chance to convince Rob of my innocence since Rich had supported me in the previous vote. If it was Rob, I thought he probably would have checked me already and been more vocal about his reasoning in the prior round. So Rich the seer was eaten and it was down to the three of us.

In the end Rob had a choice to make to decide the game. He chose poorly and Jon and I pulled out the hard fought victory.

In the final game Jon moderated, Rich and I were werewolves (that sucked for Rich), and Dennis was the Seer. On the first freakin day Kendahl was all like "we gotta kill Michael just in case". No amount of pleading or cajoling would sway the mob and just like that Rich was all alone. It was gonna be a tall order going 1 on 6 and when the Seer picked him out the next night it was 100% over.

Finally, we busted out Formula De, a racing game involving different dice to deal with different gears. Kendahl and Dennis jumped out to an early lead, I maintained a pretty steady third position and the remaining 5 players (sub Ted in for Rick and Josh) clustered up, blocking one another from easily improving position. After the major turn, I pulled even with the leaders, and when we called it after one lap, I managed to barely beat Dennis to the finish line. I guess its an interesting idea, but I pretty much agree with Simon's assessment.

Cash and Guns was the big winner of night in my opinion. If it gets released in the US, I definitely need a copy.

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19 Comments:

At 8:03 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ahhh....sweet gaming Monday. Much better than last week.

So many games, so much time...was yesterday's motto for me. You see, I'm going to be working only nights in June as some of you know, so that will cut my gaming time badly. So I'm on a mission to overdose as much as possible to make up for that month.

Cash and Guns: Would be a great asset in my "in your face" game collection (that includes Bang, and Family Business)

Werewolf: I should have killed my werewolf partner. There really was no need to save him. AND I should've gone with my gut instinct. I knew it was Michael, but he sweet talked me into going after Josh. You must be good with the ladies. Great psychological and stressful game. I'm sure lawyers kick ass in a game like that.

Louis XIV: It was what I knew it would be; a nice Euro with an interesting mix of mechanics and decent amounts of strategy. It is hard to describe like you said Michael, but it's like a quasi bidding game to me, except that you are restricted by the influence cards. Dennis unfortunately got a bad draw on the last roung, so the game got pegged as being too luck-driven. I guess that is what the designer tried to prevent by giving always an extra card in your hand to play.

Formula De: Interesting concept, fun and crazy with lots of players, but could probably pass if there are other games to be played.

 
At 8:26 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

I played Colossal Areana with Brian and Simon. The more I play that game, the more I like it. As happens often in my games, the Ettin finished strong and the unicorn bit the dust. The daimon went down early, too, which is a shame because he has one of the coolest powers IMHO. Brian won, I claimed second, Simon was third.

Werewolf is OK, but is 90% social and 10% game in my book, so Brian taught me how to play FrontLine. It's a bit overwhelming, but I think it will reward replays. The most notable feature is that its a squad wargame w/o a map; think about that for a sec. Brian's comment was in WWII, a small group of guys didn't know what was just over the hill, so a God's eye view isn't the real experience.

Dennis has been bringing Formula De for a while, and I finally got to play. Often big group games are a problem, but taskmaster Dennis kept us moving. Definitely some luck, but I can see some skill. As Dennis phrased it, the game is mostly about gambling: how much do I risk at this point in the race? Early in the race you don't want to take too many risks, but the chance to break out of the pack is worth a risk. I like games with an element of risk management. I'm intrigued by the idea of running a "season". Play a game every week for 10 weeks, track pts.

Pretty good game night.

 
At 10:19 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Frontline sounds similar to Up Front... I'll have to check it out sometime.

 
At 11:08 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Oops, I bet I got that name wrong...

 
At 11:26 AM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Kendahl said...

Well, I finally managed to make it to a gaming session at the DL. And oh, what a great time was had by all.

Cash and Guns is a good game. I wouldn't mind having it. I think it could be tweaked to allow for more than six players.

Werewolf is a classic. I think two or three more players would have improved the game, but eight is a good amount. I got really lucky in the first game. I was a villager and targeted to be lynched. When a tie vote resulted in me and Simon being safe, I knew I had to try something erratic. When I survived the night, I made up something about the guy next to me (Josh) making some odd noises when the moderator was talking to the werewolves. Josh did a terrible job defending himself and he was lynched. Since Rob was the only one to support Josh, he was an easy target. Unfortunately, despite my inate ability to discover the identity of the werewolves, no one (except Simon) listened to me the second game and I was toast.

Jon, Richard and I played Carolus Magnus. I really like that game. It's pretty dry, but there is a lot of strategy. There's a lot to think about and worry about. A lot of decisions to be made. Plus, it's a relatively short game (even if it is a little fiddly).

The night concluded with Formula De. The game took a little long, but was decent. I prefer Daytona 500, which goes much quicker and includes an auction (which always improves a game in my book...)

 
At 1:20 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Yeah werewolf is very much a social game as early on there may be nothing you can do to avoid getting lynched. I'm just a huge fan of hidden role/special power/whatever mechanics. It always gets me. Probably why I like to play bang and shadows over camelot as well.

I have no idea how long it will be before we get another group together big enough for werewolf, but I did see some posts about the game to go with the no reveal idea but still maintain the presence of some information:

At the minimum add one special card to the peasants team who at night can find out whether the lynched person was a werewolf or not.

The other big thing is allowing neither votes on lynch votes. So something like thumbs up/thumbs down/closed fist. Very early on it may be strategeric for the villagers not to "lynch without a reason" so that would help to mitigate the advantage the werewolves gain from less information.

 
At 2:30 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Well, that night greatly made up for the last. What a fun time. I was running on three hours of sleep, being up since 5:30, and was severely fading toward the end of the night. Still, I could hardly feel it as my mind blazed away on such great games.

Crusader Rex
I showed up a little early to knock out a game of CR for Rob's new play testing duties. Although as the Franks I saw light at the end of the tunnel, the rules changes just weren't enough and I went down hard. At least I won the digest Taco Cabana game a bit later (and I didn't even know it was a game! Secret game mechanic anyone?).

Ca$h n' Gun$
Holy crap, what an awesome game! Sure it's gimmicky, but something about pointing foam guns at people and grimacing as you decide whether to back out or not when the bullets are about to fly is glorious. I don't really remember who won which games. Honestly I don't care though as it was one of those that's all fun in the playing.

Ark
While the group split, Brian, Jon, Kendahl (great to see you man!), and I played the new Doris and Frank game - Ark. It's a cute, lightish card game where players attempt to score majority points in categories while being restricted by the cards playable, for different reasons. Carnivores don't do well together, herbivores eat all the rations, and too many heavy animals on one side can tip over Noah's ride. I felt the cards might have been a bit too restrictive but I had fun and the game did have an original perspective on the genre. Kendahl destroyed us all.

Colossal Arena
Another split put me into an even smaller sub category with Brian and Ted. We vied for control over beasts in order to hedge our bets in the infamous arena of death. As monsters quickly bit the dust, I felt the pinch of a hand of cards that did nothing but help my opponents. In the endgame, I managed to pick up some good stuff. Unfortunately, it was too late and I finished in dead last...Stupid Unicorn. I must say the game was much, much better with three than four, perhaps even optimal at that level.

(more Ca$h n' Gun$ and then…)

Lupus in Tabula
A standard wanderer around Dragon's Lair, Josh, joined our huge group for a relatively tiny game of Werewolf. New comer Rick (very nice to meet you), Richard, Jon, Michael, Dennis, Rob, and Kendahl were the others to jump in on the action. I'm a fan of group psychology experiments and sociology in general so I liked the game before it even started. Kendahl played masterfully if not by luck as he claimed and Dennis was a cheap target (even spinning bottles hated him). We played three games and got pretty much every outcome: a close villager win, a werewolf win, and a straight up werewolf slaughter. I'd be interested in playing with an even bigger group and triple all the cool roles.

Formula De'
Yeah, I don't like this game and it's hard to hide. This last game confirmed all my original thoughts and I'm pretty sure I'm done with it, although Dennis did play GM quite well keeping the game moving. I just don't see the point. Sure you can make a decision, but your gear is already practically chosen for you and your move counted out and checked as a good one by everyone around the table. So your only real purpose is to chunk a die and sit back. You keep over-rolling by one or two? Well, that's your fault. Don't you know it's a "strategy" game and dice rolling is a skill? You don’t like racing games that take an hour a lap? Too bad, this game is exciting like that.

Anyway, it was great to see so many people and new and old faces. I really hope all of our future sessions can be as large and pleasurable as this one was. I’m so beside myself with the plethora of enjoyable people that have made the group what it is.

SABG for life, yo!

 
At 2:33 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Kendahl said...

If nothing is revealed, then just about every lynch will be without a reason. At least if you know you lynched a werewolf or mafia or seer, then you have some semblance of being able to make decisions based on some information. Without it, it's 99 percent social -- there is very, very little "game". Just my preference. But I probably logged 50+ large-group mafia games in college, so I am a little biased.

I forgot to mention Ark. Brian taught Simon, Jon and I. It was one of the worst card games I have played. No offense to the designer, I just didn't care for it at all. I won handily, yet I had absolutely no strategy at all. I could see getting it and playing it with my kids when they are a few years older because the animal artwork is pretty cute, but otherwise I will pass on this stinker...

 
At 2:34 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Looking back at my post, I just realized I didn't win a single game! Now that's a good gaming night when you don't even remember you lost at everything!

Though I suppose the Werewolf games sort of count as wins...

 
At 3:25 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

You know it's going to be an interesting evening when you enter a room just as six people point Glocs at each other. I didn't get into one of the Cash & Guns games, so I'd very much like to try that next time. What I did play:

LOUIS XIV: A short brain-burner, which is a rarity. It does have a significant luck element, and not because of my last draw (which was so bad as to be nearly statistically impossible, so it wouldn't be fair for me to cite it anyway). It's just that there are many elements out of your control, such as whether you get majorities in coats-of-arms, or whether the mission you just drew will require two of the only token that can't be bought next round (OK, that one was sour grapes). That doesn't make it a bad game -- it's just that the rest of the mechanics are so clever, I had my hopes up for a new, shorter T&E.

WEREWOLF: Definitely among the better and more analytical games of Werewolf I've played, with more attention paid to communication and voting patterns and less to "He looks guilty" (unless, of course, you are Josh, in which case you *do* look guilty). The little girl sounds like a must next time.

FORMULA DE: Thank you all for indulging me. I don't know why it goes so slowly -- I do a time-trial lap in 2.5-3 minutes, which extrapolates to 40-50 min for an 8-person 2-lap race. And I won't try to convince you how much skill there is (though if you are curious, Google for World Championship results). Anyway, screw it. I had a brainstorm this morning on how to make a better racing game, with more strategy and a 45-minute playing time. Time to make a prototype! (Hint: It may end up using the deck from The Great Dalmuti.)

 
At 4:58 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Random notes from a celeb:

1) It was "Up Front". Yup.
2) I don't see any particular reason why Cash N Guns couldn't be expanded. But you'd probably need more money if you added more people. You could just buy a second set.
3) I played lots of Formula De a long time ago (with house rules, natch) which took 90-120 min for a 2 lap race (we had 12-14 cars). But the first game is usually a lot slower.

 
At 5:10 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

If nothing is revealed, then just about every lynch will be without a reason. At least if you know you lynched a werewolf or mafia or seer, then you have some semblance of being able to make decisions based on some information. Without it, it's 99 percent social -- there is very, very little "game".

That is exactly how I feel about Werewolf and Bang...good post Kendahl. You need SOME info to make better decisions instead of mindless killing. But yes, revealing roles does make things more challenging for the Renegade.

I probably logged 50+ large-group mafia games in college, so I am a little biased.

I knew it! You were just way too good.

AND Louis XIV, well it's definitively not T+E, but I do like the intermingled mechanics in particular the "modular" board. And I thought there was more confrontation than I expected for this kind of euro. Kudos in my book. Having played a 2 player and now 4 player game, I feel that this may actually be best with 3 players: it seems like you'd have the best balance of flexibility when fighting for influence, and speeds the game up.

 
At 7:56 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

"Brian said...
Random notes from a celeb:"

Are you allowed to do that?

lil' L. Ron Hubris

 
At 8:21 PM, April 25, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Regarding the fuel penalty on downshifting in Formula De. I asked some of my co-workers who do engine research, including testing on Formula 1 engines. There was lots of talk about "decel fuel cut-out" and such, but then one guy said "Oh, I bet they mean double-clutching."

When you want to drop from 4 to 2 in a manual transmission (racers never use automatics), there's a big mismatch between the initial and final engine speeds. If you try forcing the transmission to engage, you can damage some of the components. To alleviate this problem, you first put the car in neutral, then you rev engine up close the final speed. Once the engine is at the right speed, then you re-engage the clutch. That's double-clutching.

It's hard to believe the fuel involved in revving the engine is large compared with, say, accelerating the whole vehicle out of a turn. But in the context of a race where fuel is precious, maybe it's enough of a penalty to be a problem.

A better simulation might be to make folks do a skill check to see if they double-clutch correctly. Failure causes damage. But I think pros don't mess up a double-clutch.

In any case, the engine research guys are pretty intrigued by the concept of this game.

 
At 5:42 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Regarding Louis XIV...

Dennis: One more thought I didn't post. It dawned on me yesterday when I was thinking about Monday night gaming.... The last player every turn has a considerable advantage (like you did with the card swap ability to prolong your turn and try to be one of the last players standing). I felt like I was doing well on the first 2 rounds because I was the last and second to. You can't expect to complete many missions when you go first (I barely won influence on any of the characters on the last round of the game when I played first). Just another thing to keep in mind when cooking up your strategy.

 
At 6:00 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

So who are these Rick, Rich, and Josh people? Have we sent them an invite yet? I go out of town for two weeks, and I'm totally clueless... :)

 
At 6:07 PM, April 26, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I just sent an invite to Rick to join the blogger group. I do not have Rich's email so no invite sent his way, and Josh is just some guy that was wandering around D-Lair and joined in the games.

 
At 5:23 PM, April 27, 2006, Blogger Rick N said...

Regarding Louis XIV...

I think I was able to sneak away with a win because I had to go first while everyone was still trying to figure out the game. By the second round as we were getting the hang of it, I was going last which left me in a very advantageous position.

 
At 3:12 PM, April 28, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Exactly Rick... in this game, your turn position is definitively key. I realized it on the last round.

 

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