Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oct 23 Session Report: Night began with a Bang!

I arrived about 6:45 or so to find many guys on a food run. There were 7 of us, and after a little discussion we settled on Bang using Jeff's copy of the expansion Fistful of Cards. We had a deadly rule from the expansion wrong due to strange phrasing, but we got it fixed. The first game ended in the first turn, so we played again. I think everyone enjoyed it a lot. The outlaws won the first game, then the sheriff & deputies took the laurels.

I've had very mixed success with Bang. If folks are loose, social, and fast, it's lots of fun, but I've had some games that were quiet, slow, and took far, far too long. I'm willing to keep trying. Brian and I both bought copies of Fistful of Cards which I had confused with High Noon. I already have Fistful, and if someone wants my copy let me know. High Noon was a very small printing and is somewhat hard to find.

We dropped down to 5 players and went for Beowulf. There was lots of risking, lots of wounds and scratches, and generally a good time. Poor Rob had terrible luck and actually ended the game with a negative score. Despite his sufferring he held in like a trooper. It's such a rush when anyone wins a critical risk, and several times people got 3 symbols from their risks. That push-your-luck element embedded in a bigger strategic scenario is a blast in my book (though as Rob showed it can bite you badly). While risking is central, there's a clear elements of both long-term planning (how will you handle the dragon battle?) and immediate tactics (how to bid this auction). I like this game quite a bit. I think Brian won and Michael took second.

Finally we played China. I dreaded it as Brian explained the rules, but I enjoyed the game play. You try to achieve majorities of either houses or emissaries in various areas. I did OK in first half of the game, but terrible in the second half of the game. I came in last, but I enjoyed the game anyway and I would play again. I forget who won.


At 9:39 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Night of many many games... 8hrs of gaming...

Got there at 1430, and found Jonathan and Michael anxiously waiting for me. So we played:

Mission Red Planet
We ended up playing this twice in the night, first 3-player (Michael, Jon and I) and later 5-player (Brian, Michael, Jon, Al, and I). VERY different games when played with different players, but all good in their own right. I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed it: the theme, the art, the merging of MANY tried and true mechanics, everything congeals so well. Plus, IMO, contrary to what some have said on BGG, it feels a LOT more different than Citadels. They both may have similar mechanics in role-picking, but it works out VERY differently since roles are not drafted from a common pile of cards in Mission. In MRP everyone has their own stash of the same characters. This in my book is great because makes me still want to get Citadels (which I still don't own) because they are so different. I WON THE FIRST GAME of the 2!!! Sorry... had to do that to compensate for the Beowulf fiasco...

Louis XIV
Brian reluctantly joined us at this point. Thanks for indulging us (at least Michael and I who wanted to play it). A SLOW first round of four just killed Michael and I. In the end Jon and Brian where tied, with Brian taking the lead on the tie breaker. With all its chaos, still like this Euro quite a bit.

Played with Jeff. Things slowed down for me after he destroyed my most valuable item, which was a strong card-drawer. Plus my hand was almost empty when he did that. Couldn't recover in time from this. He won. I'm giving this one a break (since I like it and don't want to burn out on it).

Yes the outlaws won on the first game, but mainly because of the messing up the rules on the new expansion. I had a blast on the second game. This game in my book, never meant to be the next Caylus, but it achieves what it aims for: a fun, loud, 45 minutes of trash-talking and shameless backstabbing. The best of the Werewolf-esque games IMO.

I started hating this game the first 2 times I played it. Pasted theme, weird auction system, hard to formulate a concrete winning strategy (and even harder to weigh the importance of the different "prizes" earned per major event). Third time I played, I won in a 3 player game with Michael and Jon, so I thought 'hey, it's not that bad...I just wasn't "seeing it" '.
Last night I confirmed that this game is just to chaotic for me. After my first "Risk" event, I didn't get a single Risk event right (for the ones who haven't played, it's basically a push-your-luck mechanic where you draw two random cards hoping to draw at least one of the 2 symbols on the event). I missed the first 2, then passed on the next one (only to find out that I had passed on 2 GREAT cards that Michael got), and then I missed like 2 more. I MEAN WTF! I've never seen a game where luck has kicked me this hard in the gonads. I hate to be the super picky gamer making everyone feel unconfortable suggesting a game (cough... Brian...cough...), but I'm never playing this again if I can avoid it.

Now this was a decent game. Too bad I 'got' the second and most important scoring element of the game 2/3 into the game. Feels similar in some ways to other 'route-building' games like T+T, Taj Mahal, TtR, but would like to try again. Good way to end the night.

At 11:07 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I knew who wrote this report before ever getting to the name at the bottom, just from the Beowulf evangelism.

I missed last night because I'm working on an arts-and-crafts project for next week that hopefully someone will consider playing...

At 11:55 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Portable Crokinole?

Homemade Pitchcar expansion?

Full-contact Jenga?



I'M IN!!!

At 12:39 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

What can I say except: I like Beowulf. I find it highly thematic. Sure there's zero chrome, but the theme is "baked in the bones" (to create a bizarre metaphor).

There's enough luck that sometimes you are going to get the shaft no matter what you do. Still those key risks are so suspenseful that for me it's worth it. Often the whole table will erupt in cries of disbelief. If that's not fun, I don't know what is.

Dennis, you've never said "I don't like Beowulf," but you've pretty strongly implied it. I don't understand how you can like the risk management in Forumla De but not Beowulf. I like them both, but to each their own.

At 1:42 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I like Beowulf! Why would you think I didn't? I almost bought it; the theme is just a little too thin for me. But I think it's a far better version of the card mechanics from Knizia's Lord of the Rings. I just found it funny that you're always defending it, even when you were first teaching me the rules, or while we're playing it and no one has said anything bad. Sorry if I've offended you.

I've probably oversold my arts-and-crafts thing, so in the interest of controlling expectations, I'm making "cardboard flats" for Blood Bowl -- I'm taking miniatures images from the GW website and making stand-up playing pieces for each team. The release of Living Rulebook 5 has made me very much miss my league days.

At 2:09 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

I just found it funny that you're always defending it, even ... while we're playing it and no one has said anything bad.

I didn't realize I was quite so far "out there." That's pretty funny, in an embarassing kinda way.

Sorry if I've offended you.

No worries.

I'm willing to give Blood bowl a try sometime.

At 5:17 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

I'm certainly a Beowulf booster. I rate it an 8, and no more than a point of that is just being a trendy curmudgeon. Even at a seven I rate it higher than BGG's average. I rate less than 10% of the games at 8 or higher.

It has hideous luck, but it's out in the open. Lots of favorite games can screw you over, but the generally take pains to hide it. I'd say the luck is much less than Louis XIV or RailRoad Tycoon, or any game where you can get screwed if players secret goals (cards they hold) match up with cards you hold. At least with Beowulf the luck is all "out in the open" and independent. [There is bad luck in that player X has a one-suited hand, but most players complain about the risks].

Blood Bowl. That takes me back ... it's a fun league game. (I'm partial to 3rd edition, but I sold my set ... figured I'd never play in a league again).

At 7:25 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Actually the bad rules interpretation in bang had very little to do with the outlaw's win in the first game of bang. having the sherriff gang banged by the guy with the auto-volcanic and then the guy with the actual volcanic was pretty terrible.

So many area control games in the mix yesterday. MRP seemed pretty chaotic to me with 6. I won the second game through no fault of my own. Louis does have some variance issues. China was interesting. In retrospect the emissaries score so much it would have been a much better idea to sacrifice some house placements in the first half to get some centrally located dominance in the emissary department.

I like Beowulf alot. Analyzing risk/reward for any given risk seems pretty cool to me especially since the true value of each reward isn't necessarily known. But I guess like with stage II, I'll have to curb my enthusiasm when Rob is around.

At 7:52 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Beowulf is officially my least favorite Knizia and Fantasy Flight Game... though since Knizia and FFG are my favorite designer/company, I'm not sure this is saying much. I love Beowulf the myth, and perhaps this is my I was so disappointed by the thin theme of the game. Perhaps this is why I find it difficult to judge the game as a game in its own right, so my appraisal probably isn't a fair one.

Let's do a Blood Bowl league! With LRB 5 and the wealth of java-based resources, we should be able to get this running pretty easily.

At 9:13 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I'd be in for Blood Bowl. I'd probably have to play my matches by email client since I can't always make it in, but I'm up for it.

At 11:38 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I think the live Java client would be a lot more fun than PBEM. From what I've seen you can play LRB 5.0 by PBEM right now, but only LRB 4.0 via live Java. I'm not an expert enough about 5.0 vs. 4.0 to know/care about the differences. I know 5.0 removed player aging from the game, which most people hated as far as I can tell. Unless you play multiple seasons with the same players, this shouldn't matter.

At 1:59 PM, October 25, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Don't know much about Blood Bowl... note to self: look it up online tonight.

Luck, Louis & Beowulf
There may be less luck in B. There's only 5 suits, and wilds. Odds are that you are not going to scre up on 5-6 "risk" events when drawing two cards. But it happened to me. And I'm just ticked that there just was no way for me to recoup/counter that.
In Louis, there are more "suits", but I guess they mitigate the luck by adding a fifth card to your hand (of which you'll play only 4, for our readers who have forgotten the rules), there's wild cards, and you technically can influence 3 characters with every card. The coat-of-arms deal I was kinda of ticked about at first, but during our last game, I didn't feel like it broke the game. We pretty much knew Brian was running away with it (ok, it was only after tie breakers, but still).


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