Monday, July 31, 2006

Big Gaming Weekend!

As I've mentioned before, this weekend I slip the surly bonds of earth (and matrimony), which leaves me free to touch the face of long games. So, I propose this saturday for a bout of Seven Ages. Now, we could do this at my place or at Dragon's Lair. Obviously I have my preferences. So who is interested in another game of this (from 10am until whenever)? Post in the comment thread (and where you think the game should be held).

I would like to game on Sunday as well, but I'm not 100% sold on making 7 Ages a two day thing (even if the logistics worked for other people, which I'm guessing they don't). But it could be Sword of Rome, for example.

And I'm probably going to host the typical Friday night session, but I've got a few things still up in the air. Check back later ...

If you want to attend but haven't played, the 7 Ages rules are online.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gaming 7/31

Of course there's gaming tomorrow. Ben is the Google Calendar guy, so no evites are sent when he's MIA. I'll be there at 4pm. I'll bring my usual euros, Hecatomb (Simon?), and will be ready for Pacific Victory with Ted.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Games Looking for a Good Home

In an effort to turn my game room into a fully-functional poker & gaming habitat, I'm trying to pare down my collection so that it no longer spills out of the closet. So the following games are for sale or trade cheap, with my bestest buddies at SABG getting the first shot. It's a *really* random list, so look through it all!

Babylon 5 Wars (Agents of Gaming; includes counters but not minis)
Battleground: Fantasy Warfare (Human, Orc, and Undead starter decks)
Fantasy Business
Filthy Rich
Gettysburg (AH 1977 edition, unpunched)
Harpoon ("Includes 136-page 1990-91 Data Annex!")
Lionheart (Parker Brothers)
Lord of the Rings CCG (Decipher; ~200 cards from initial release)
Lord of the Rings: The Search
Stadens Nyckel (English translations taped to cards)
Starfarers of Catan
Vikingatid (two corners torn in box lid, otherwise unpunched)

War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age FAQs and Other Goodness

War of the Ring

I am surprised this stuff isn't posted on the FFG website where I've been looking for it, but this site has all the FAQs, errata, player aids, etc., we need for the game and the expansion set. Enjoy!

If nothing else, I am going to play one of the battle scenarios solo within the next week. I waited far too long for Battles of the Third Age to be released to let it sit in my closet unloved any further.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Card-Driven Wargame Heaven!

With For the People 2, Barbarossa to Berlin, and Shifting Sands all on their way to my house, I seem to be going through card-driven wargame phase in my board gaming hobby career.

Many times during the 90's I would pick up a gamebox like Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage at a store and then put it down, thinking it was just another wargame I'd probably never get around to playing. It took a little knockoff like Twilight Struggle to get me to take a serious look at the genre.

Ted and I recently enjoyed a wonderful game of Wilderness War, and now I find myself thinking about when my next card-driven wargame experience will be. I still hope we get a 4-player game of Sword of Rome or Wellington to the table some time, but in the mean time, I hope those of us with an interest in these games keep pairing up to experience all the fun they seem to offer.

Key things I enjoy about these games are:
  • Rulebooks are typically 20 pages or less, which I consider medium-to-light for a wargame
  • Counter density is low, which makes set-up and tear-down fast
  • The cards add a nice gotcha factor with hidden information and just the right amount (in my opinion) of randomness to the games
  • The mechanics of the games are similar enough that they seem to build on each other.
  • The games are complex enough that skill counts and each game seems to feel like an epic struggle
  • Most are playable in an evening or long afternoon

I am impressed.... a micro and belated session report

Well there seems to be a growing crowd of passerbys who come by and read about our amazing feats on this site, most of whom I'm sure we are not even aware of. I know it's late and kind of pointless when almost the whole group is showing up to these gaming sessions, but here is my micro and belated session report to last Monday's game night. BTW, I am really impressed with how many are coming to these sessions. It's been a while since I had been to one of these (about 6 weeks!), and I was blown away when about 12 showed up.

So in summary, I got there like at 4pm. Michael, Jon and I played a LIGTHNING round of T+E. It took us 30 minutes. I still think it's a brilliant game. Score was super tight (even when I got like 3 red tiles for the whole game AND NOT even a single treasure). Brian got there when we were finishing.

We all four then played GOA. Cool game. I don't feel it is Puerto Rico-like as it's been described in past posts on BGG, but it's cool. Many many things going on at the same time. By then Jeff, Ben, and Chad got there and started a game of..... ?

The main event was Shadows over Camelot with Brian's expansion AND the traitor. Well, I have to admit: adding that Werewolf-esque element of the traitor to the game really makes it shine. I had played the game before with no traitor, and it seems just OK in my book. Brian's expansion (it's your right?) gives the game a similar extra twist like the characters on RR tycoon, or the secret mission in TI3 do.

Ben and Ted played Pacific Victory while we were accusing Chad of his treacherous ways.

Dennis, Jon, and some others (sorry guys) played AGOT with expansions. Don't know how that went.

Brian, Michael, Chad and I played Indonesia to cap the night. Very interesting heavy economics game. Definitively need to play it again to get a better grasp as to what works and what doesn't. I was still somewhat shady with some rules by the end of the game. Would love to get it someday (could anyone spare a Benjamin???). When we were finished it was 10pm, and I really wanted to rest my brain.

I hadn't realized, but if all Mondays are like that one, there's no reason to call "Super Game day" super game day. I spent 6 hours there playing all kinds of stuff. Last week on Friday, we were at DL for 6-7 hours too!

Now the latest is PBEM A+A. There have been some flaws, but we'll see. It may work. All I can say is, nothing compares to dishing pain (or getting pain) in a game F2F.

Looking forward to next Monday.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gaming Friday

Yet again! RSVP in the comments...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bad News - Eagle Games

Oh no! Now I'm never going to get my deformed yellow block from Railroad Tycoon replaced: Boardgame News.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Axis and Allies PBEM

Michael alerted me to the existence of a PBEM Axis and Allies program called Triple A. I know we haven't had much luck mustering interest in PBEM in the past, but I was wondering if anyone in the group would be interested in some PBEM Axis and Allies: Revised. The game employs an automatic dice roller, so this should be quick and fun. For those of you a little rusty on A&A, the game plays 2-5 players, and the revised edition seems nicely balanced. Takers?

Burgers and Soup!

Well, some of us worked on friday. But Jacqui and I had Mark over, while Michael stood by the side of the road, tsk-ed and cursed the makers of his car. So we had three.

First up was Tom Lehmann's Fast Food Franchise. I put him among the Great American Game Designers (geeklist / blog) . FFF "makes monopoly interesting." [And as someone whose daughter recently discovered Monopoly, I know of what I speak.] The outer board is similar, but when you buy a space, you pick the company to found on it, and place a franchise on the inner board. Instead of houses, you can expand franchises. But if you manage to link two market spaces on the inner board, then each franchise counts as each market. In Monopoly, that would be like being able to own Park Place, Baltic, and Kentucky and then arranging it so that houses you built went on all three. Each company hasa different number of markets, franchises, costs, incomes and advertising (which forces players landing on it to "Go directly to Chicken!" Adding to the fun are the fact that three of the corners give players decisions to be made when the pass over them. One lets you draw or play a strategy card. One lets you build a franchise anywhere, and Start gives you income (per franchise, counting each market seperately). So that Ice Cream company will never bankrupt anyone (since income is only $4,000 per franchise) but the it's cheap, so the franchising fees will start to add up. In addition to bankrupting everyone, you can win by amassing a worth of One Million Dollars, so the game rarely drags.

Mark quickly opened Burger Brothers, an slightly expensive chain (Markets cost $50k, Franchises $30k) with good income. Jacqui and I, drawn like moths to an open-grilled flame, couldn't resist the lure and soon enough Mark had linked his two markets into a connected chain. Then a 3rd market. Then a 4th, 5th, and sixth. Jacqui and I quickly bankrupted.

After that we broke out Primordial Soup Now we weren't eating branded products, just amino acids. Your ameobas drift around, eating (and exreting) and acquiring genes to evolve. I hadn't played this with three, it's brutal. A lone ameoba can only eat once before a square is uninhabitable. Ameobas need certain combinations of cubes, but can never eat their own color. In a four player game, an ameoba gets two turns before they 'deplete' a square.

Like any red-mitochondrian ameoba, I went for junk food & promiscuity, snapping up substitution (eat more food, but less variety) and division rate (kick out the ameokids faster). This got me an early lead, but Mark played the predator card (Struggle for Survival) and got primordial on my ass. I picked up the other copy of Struggle to retaliate. At this point, Jacqui's movement based strategy (Streamlining to move for free and Movement Two to avoid having to roll for direction) blended nicely with "Escape" (run away from attacks). With two predators who could chomp each other, but not her, she snuck in a point ahead of Mark (I was two points behind).

Friday, July 21, 2006

World of Warcraft: The Board Game, 21 Jul 2006

Members of the San Antonio Board Gamers finally brought Fantasy Flight Games' World of Warcraft, the Board Game to the table today.

The free peoples of the Alliance (Dennis, Michael, and Ben) took on the evil armies of the Horde (Jeff, Jon, and Rob) in a battle of questing across Azeroth.

The Alliance jumped out to an early lead as the sneaky Troll Rogue Rob met a nasty demise on Turn 2 from a little bunny rabbit or some other horrid level one monster. From then on, the evil Horde seemed to be most comfortable taking on the monsters as a team rather than going solo.

The Alliance marched onward, with pure of heart Michael the Paladin gloriously disemboweling, cleaving, and eviscerating any forest creature that looked like it might be holding a gold piece or two. Hooray for the forces of goodness! Warlock Ben and Priest Dennis too showed no mercy to any unbelievers, smiting and burning down anyone that might even smell like a monster.

The game drew tense in its final turns as the Alliance had to decide whether to immediately go for the win by slaying the evil boss Nefarian or first head back to town to restock, but thereby allow the less powerful Horde first crack at victory. Deciding discretion was in order, the Alliance decided to let the Horde fight the dragon first... The Horde charged forth! The clash of arms and cries of battle rang forth across the land as dragon, orc, troll, and whatever Jon was hacked, slashed, and shot magical energies at each other. Alas, a few minutes later, smoking Horde carcasses were seen to be launched forth from the Dragon's cave after a loud and particularly smelly belch was heard.

The Alliance, after changing their soiled armor, regained their composure, held hands, and with knees shaking walked up to the Dragon's mountain. Again, the dragon roared! But, the dragon's roar was suddenly cut short as the Alliance opened up a serious can of cosmic whoop ass upon him. Angels sang! Princesses wept! Flower petals fell from the sky! ...and three brave heroes came swaggering out of the dragon's cave with victory in hand. Hooray!

What a fun game! I think we only made just a couple minor mistakes, which is not bad considering a 40-page rulebook and six brand new players. The game, though long at over five hours, was well-filled with tension and never seemed, at least to me, to really drag. I think we could have won the game around turn 24 or so, but we wanted to make sure we wouldn't get killed, and this nearly cost us the game. Like Runebound, WoW is a race to the finish game. It's fun leveling up, but you have to take risks to win.

Other thoughts on the day:
  • I was very pleased to briefly meet Carlos! I hope you make it back to play some games.
  • Playing any six player game is tough on the senses after a while, but with our group I had a great time. I definitely do not take for granted the quality of players in our group. You guys rock!
  • Playing games on a Friday rather than working is the best!
  • FFG is going to have a hard time making WoW better without making it longer. Any longer, and I don't think it would be as much fun.
  • Replayability for this game is huge. Our characters seemed to play pretty differently, and the bosses seemed pretty different as well. With the expansion on the way, this game has legs.
  • I was pleased to learn that, I think, this game is more of a board game enthusiast's game than a video game enthusiast's gateway game. I think most people who play WoW: the video game would be overwhelmed by the time requirement and complexity. I hope this doesn't slow down the expansion sets from coming out!
What did everyone else think?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

WWII in the Pacific

Check out the excellent session report (here) for Pacific Victory, Columbia's block game covering WWII in the Pacific.

I am hoping to get this to the table for some F2F action before too much longer. It looks like a great game that uses the blocks really well and captures the spirit of the conflict with a pretty simple rule-set.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friday Night Gaming 7/21

Jacqui and I will again be hosting this friday night. RSVP in the comments....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Friday 7/21 Game fest

Here it is...another precious opportunity for an all-day gamefest.

Per calendar details:
10-4pm (or longer?)
@ DL of course w/ lunch somewhere cheap and close.

It seems to me like we are leaning toward the meatier games. Some have said A&A... others Descent, TI3, or even AGoT. Of course, there should still be room for the usual euros too.

Days like these are hard to come by; with this post, I'd like to set things in stone (if such a feat is possible) to avoid the blank stares and uncomfortable silence as we try to steer someone from the group to the 2-player game we want to play. : )

Seriously, I'm personally REALLY interested in Lock and Load: Band of Heroes (plays in 1-2hrs), or 2-4 player World of Warcraft (both of which I own). If anyone is interested in "signing up" for any of these, let me know. I would need to review the manuals, and would like to do that before then.

I'll be there by 10am and can be there until 5ish. I'll also bring a couple of the usual euro hits, and Hammer of the Scots (doesn't require extensive rules book review) just in case. And of course, if there is more interest in any of the other games already mentioned, I'll gladly join in.

btw... my copy of Eastfront finally arrived.... just wanted to throw that out there....

Games So Nice, We Played Them Twice -- 7/17 Session Report

I arrived at the apparently late time of 6:20pm to find one group wrapping up Indonesia, and another playing 10 Days in Africa (after having already finished Transamerica). Those 10 Days games look like fantastic game show prep material. While the games finished, I scooped up the lone copy of Storm of Swords (the Game of Thrones expansion), which includes an all-new better-balanced game for four and must-have event decks for the original game. I'll have it prepared for Friday gaming for sure.

Both games finished at the same time, leaving ten of us to divide up. Ben and Ted went off to play Wilderness War and were never seen again. Brian and Mark broke out War of the Ring, leaving six of us for...well, what else do you play with six?

Cash and Guns
Two rounds were played, using both special abilities and the cop variant. The first game was my first time as the cop, and I managed to get two calls in on the first two rounds while still keeping Simon and Chad as suspects. A lot of gun-pointing and grenade-brandishing later, I was forced to reveal myself in round 6 to get the third call in. With two wounds already, things looked grim. But after fleeing in round 7, I was lucky enough to have everyone turn on each other in round 8 and snuck out with the win.

In the second game the cop was quickly narrowed down to either Chad (the real cop)or myself. Deaf to the unerring accuracy of Werewolf Logic, the rest of the table gunned for us both to avoid any chance of failure. Chad went down in a hail of bullets, and I again slunk away with two wounds, though nearly flat broke this time. Jon nipped Michael $95k to $90k for the win -- had I died, Michael's special power (+$10k per death) would have given him the game.

I'm the Boss!
Two more rounds of this one. In the first game deals were opened on nearly every turn, and people quickly ran out of cards to interfere with them. Thanks to an entire hand of Stop cards and nearly soloing the final deal, Chad pulled ahead of me $33 mil to $30 mil for the win.

In the second game there was a lot more drawing and saving for the bigger deals...but once the cards started to fly, it was hard to resist. At one point an entire sortie of jets (four Trip cards) were simultaneously flung at Chad, who Stopped them all like a Jedi master, only to then lose the deal to an I'm the Boss. Amidst the carnage Jeff pulled down two nearly-solo deals of $12 and $15 million for the easy win, $10 million ahead of second.

You Must Be an Idiot!
The War of the Ring folks rejoined us for this party game, which featured much harder questions than our previous play. I had a horrible run of Idiot cards on hard questions that I knew (seasons Star Trek was on the air, author of "Sleepy Hollow") and normal cards on questions I didn't know (Moops, the only US state with a diamond mine). Brian got big genius bonuses for being the only correct answerer early on, and ran away with the game with accurate Idiot pronoucements.

Classic moment: everybody missed the question, "What trivia answer did George Costanza argue about with the Bubble Boy?" After Simon read the correct answer of "Moops", Michael yelled, "Of course it Moops, haven't any of you......GAAAAAAAHHHH!!!", and ran into the bathroom. Had this been a bluff, it would've gone down in history, but alas, he was in fact an Idiot.

I think with that many players, the award for being an unaccused Idiot should also increase -- getting past *seven* potential accusers should be worth more than four or five. Also, it looks like I was right about a card error. Check Wikipedia for "American Top 40"; Casey Kasem was replaced by Shadoe Stevens, not Ryan Seacrest. My pride in catching an error is tempered by my embarrassment in knowing who hosts "American Top 40".

6 Nimmt
Mark and Chad left, to be replaced by newcomers Jordan and Steven. (Or is it Stephen? My brother's name is spelled that way, and my mom gets bent out of shape if you use the "v".) 6 Nimmt with eight people turns out to be complete madness, as a row will often get scooped, refill, and get scooped again. At one point I played a 10 to cover a 1, only to see the 2, 3, 4, and 5 come out ahead of me. And befitting such chaos, first through fifth were separated by only 7 points at the finish (roughly one sweep of a typical row).

See you all for Game of Thrones goodness on Friday.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Gaming at Dragon's Lair, 17 Jul 2006

Come one, come all to join the best board gaming club in the world, or at least San Antonio, for another night of fun, games, and epic struggles for world domination! Ted and I plan to play a game of GMT's card-driven wargame Wilderness War as our main course for the evening. I hope we're joined by many others filling all the tables with gaming goodness.

If you're willing and able, please signify your plans to attend by accepting the invite on the Google calendar invite sent to you.

I hope to see everyone there!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tucking In Your Board Games

I recently became aware of the process of using tuck boxes to organize board game components rather than the standard solution of ziplock baggies and/or plastic tackleboxes. The above design for Arkham Horror was created by BGG user Helen Holzgrafe (hholzgrafe) and is posted there for download. She has also created numerous other designs for other popular games. Very impressive!

There's also a generic tuck box generator program on-line created by Craig P Forbes. In addition, I found a wealth of information on the topic at the Making Custom Card Boxes website.

I am not sure if I'm ready to spend the time to get quite this organized, but I do appreciate the thought of having themed, well-organized internal storage. Anyway, I thought I'd share this research with the group. Has anyone had experience making their own storage boxes?

Mehr! und Mue!

Last night Jonathon, Jeff, Jacqui, Je and the J-Less Micheal got together for a session. We capped it off with the old Doris & Frank trick taking card game Mue. (There are quite a few other games in the box, hence the name "Mue and More"). Sadly, I didn't have the english rules, but I remembered 99% of them. The basic idea is that you bid for tricks by laying your cards face up in front of you. The more of your hand you expose, the higher your bid. The high bidder picks a partner from the other players. Except, the second highest player can't be picked, and gets to name an "under trump." So, unlike a normal game, two suits are trump. (There are five suits). Players can also pick numbers as trump, which leads to two numbers being trump (or a number and a suit, with that suit re-arranged so that the trump number is highest). It was a nice closer, and I prefer it with five.

I stormed off to an early lead, which isn't surprising since I've played it before. After brief lull in the action (including where I sacrificed points to end a hand without scoring), I held on for the win.

Prior to Mue, we romped through another game of Stage II. The game seems to have relented a bit, as we probably only missed three or so themes altogether. Jeff crushed us, although I insist he was helped along by my guessing a theme correctly several cards before it came up.

The evening opened up with a screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. ("Still better than Barney"). Meanwhile the table had Union Pacific. We expanded trains, claimed stock and played it for control of companies. (Michael didn't do that last part, which made him a mortal cinch for last). I'm not exactly sure what the 'quintessential' Alan Moon game is, but UP has a strong claim for the title. Turns have a simple choice, you draft cards from a number of face up cards (or face down), and there are several scoring cards shuffled into the deck. His trademarks, as it were.

Jon won this game by controlling the Union Pacific, a close fought affair with 1st through 4th ranging from around 125 to 109. That was just the excuse I needed to bring out a trivia game published before he was born.

Undoubtedly there will be more Friday evening games as we head into the highly anticipated 7 Ages weekend! Stay tuned!

[And the 1% of Mu I got wrong? The high-bidder (Chief) leads to the opening trick.]

Friday, July 14, 2006

Entire Scale Model Map of Korean Peninsula Up for Grabs

I just received an interesting call. A company has an entire scale model, high quality, painted, accurate model of the Korean peninsula they are trying to get rid of and are looking for gamers or modelers to take it off their hands. The model has accurate water, mountains, urban areas, etc. Apparently this thing is big enough that it covers several large shipping containers and is taking up a lot space in their warehouse. We're talking multiple 4'x8' sheets of highly detailed modeling here.

If anyone is interested in picking this up and taking it off their hands, I will put you in touch with the right people. I advised the guy to call Dragon's Lair to see if they wanted it, so I figure I've just paid my Dragon's Lair dues for a lifetime if they grab it for free.

Point 2 Point Podcast

I have recently been enjoying a podcast focused on wargaming: Point 2 Point. Point 2 Point provides a good counterbalance to The Dice Tower now that Joe Steadman has departed. The current episode focuses extensively on block games and includes an interview with Jerry Taylor of Columbia Games. Good stuff!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Welcome Carlos!

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to our newest member, Carlos. He found me via the Frapper Twilight Imperium 3 list, and he's expressed an interesting in playing this and other games with us. Could this be the beginning of a TI:3 groundswell of motivation and enthusiasm to play the beast again?

Welcome, Carlos!

Interesting Accessory

I discovered the Hold-It Game Card Holder website tonight. This would be great for games like Arkham Horror, World of Warcraft, Descent, and other games with upteen million decks of cards. I'll have to think about this, but I thought I should share the interesting find.

My Next Order

One thing I thought might be fun, informative, and useful to share among the group was a recurring post of what each person was planning on ordering. Advantages of doing this include:
  • We can cooperatively spread risk of new, early adopted purchases out among the various members. There's no sense to more that one of us blindly buying the same game only to find out it is a stinker
  • Within our little circle of trust we might team up on orders so as to lower the free shipping threshold for each person.
  • We can all collectively salivate on the great new games inbound.

Games I planning on ordering within the next month are:

A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords

Descent: Well of Darkness Expansion

Dungeoneer Epic: Call of the Lich Lord

Dungeon Twister 3-4 Player Expansion

How about you?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

GMT Bonanza and Random Thoughts

War Galley just arrived, and I've now been charged for For the People and Barbarossa to Berlin. Time to break out the comforable chair, caffeinated beverages, and concentration-oriented mood music as I get caught up on wargame rulebook reading! I still need to get Paths of Glory, Wilderness War, Wellington, and Sword of Rome on the table. Luckily, many of the core mechanics to these games are the same (with the exception of War Galley, of course). Napoleonic Wars is sitting at 499 orders on the P500 list, so I better subtract this cost off my hobby budget now...

My excitement is a little muted by the outcrys I'm seeing from grognards about the way GMT's new printer is cutting the paper maps rather than folding them. Thus, you have to line up the various pieces under your plastic overlay rather than just unfolding them as a single sheet. Apparently, the above three games were all victims of this new supplier before GMT stepped in and corrected them. Hopefully it's not as bad as some say. With this hobby, I've come to understand it's necessary to overlook a wart or two from time to time (e.g., horses pieces produced in four shades of brown in Winner's Circle). I'm still waiting for a reply from Eagle Games on my mangled RR Tycoon block...

War Galley looks like a lot of fun if you have an interest in massive trireme battles of the ancient era. I didn't realize until now that the game is the older sister to the recent Flying Colors game. There's now early talk of doing a samurai-era naval battle game using the same system. The GMT Great Battles of History (GBoH) series of games by GMT, of which War Galley is volume 7, seems to be more simulation than game, but War Galley is billed as a simple and fun addition to the series. If you're interested in checking it out, just let me know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Warrior Knights Strategy

I do look forward to playing more of the excellent game, Warrior Knights. I couldn't in good conscience fail to pass along this link providing some thought provolking strategy tips on the game. Beware the berserker knight!

Railroad Tycoon Thoughts

I had great fun playing 5-player RR Tycoon last night with the group. Reflecting on the game the following day, these thoughts come to mind:

1. I was supremely impressed by Michael's ability to digest the layout of the massive board, make shrewd short-term and long-term strategy decisions, and beat off even the determined opposition of Jeff and Jon to secure victory. Two thirds of the way through the game I was still figuring out how I should have played my first turn...

2. Building long, connected networks, I think, is the key to victory in this game as it is in most RR games. Securing victory point cards runs a close second. I did neither and wound up comfortably in last place.

3. The game is good enough that its fun to run your railroad even if you are getting your butt kicked all over the map.

4. Being able to take in everything going on across the massive map and rapidly spot the optimal opportunities is key. This is true for probably all board games, but the map size and amount of activity in this game makes this skill more challenging.

5. I found it interesting how, at least partially, players focused on building on the parts of the map they were standing near. Jeff was standing by the Southeast and that's where his empire was built. Jon was by the portion of the board by Chicago, and he too focused on this area for most of the game. Again, I think the map size is a factor which potentially drives suboptimal play, though these guys both did well.

6. My interest in the game was rekindled such that I sent Eagle Games an e-mail requesting a replacement for my mangled yellow block!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gaming at Dragon's Lair, 10 Jul 2006

I look forward to seeing everyone Monday evening at Dragon's Lair for a variety of board gaming fun. Please bring the game(s) you own that you most look forward to playing, and hopefully we'll get as many as possible on the table.

Monday, July 03, 2006

What a day at the races! Session Report from 3 Jul 2006

In addition to playing 7 Ages in a parallel universe, I was able to play five fantastic games today thanks to the fantastic fellowship of Chad, Jon, and Jeff.

For starters, thinking it was going to just be the two of us, Jon busted out the new Memoir '44 Pacific expansion. He quickly explained the rules, and we began setting up. Just as I realized Jon had cleverly picked the Wake Island invasion scenario (a.k.a. the Alamo of the Pacific) with me playing the unfortunate USMC defenders, Chad showed up to join the party.

So, we switched to 3-player Warrior Knights. I upped the victory pool to 12 influence per person and the game felt just about right. If playing with people who know the game, I think I'd go ahead and up it to the full 15. Jon and Chad were up and running by the end of the first turn, and the game was a close fight the whole way. Unfortunately, I learned a valuable lesson about guarding your stronghold during this game. As we entered the last turn, I was ahead by a victory point or two and looked like I was going to pull it out. Just then, the master of all backstabbers Jon assaulted my home castle and sacked it, making me forego victory points for the turn and forfeit a city to Baron Jon as ransom! Argh!! I quickly sailed downward to a comfortable third place with the evil laughter ringing in my ears.

Next up was Knizia's Samurai. I'd call this one Tigris and Euphrates light, and I enjoyed it very much! Jon explained the rules quickly and thoroughly. I'm not sure I completely followed the scoring rules until the very end, but I somehow managed to squeak out a victory. Payback!

Next, Jon had to leave, so Chad and I busted out Nexus Ops. This sucker has been sitting in my closet for1.5 years, so I wanted to get it to the table. Wow, what fun!! Although we were only playing a two player game (and the game plays 2-6), I really had a blast fighting Chad across the alien planet surface. If you can imagine Twilight Imperium 3 with only the combat and secret objectives (using space monster units instead of ships), then you'd have a good concept of the game. There's a powerful center hex you fight over, producing units from your HQ hexes in the rear and sending them across the player constructed hex map to fight the other player(s). We completed the game in under an hour, with Chad beating me 12-10, but I really got lucky with my last couple of points.

Next, Jeff appeared and we played Mykerinos, a game I had not heard of until today. It's by the same guys who produced Caylus. I'll let Chad explain it, but the game involves archeologists looking for treasure in Egypt, courting favor with rich patrons who offer special bonus powers, then vying for ideal placement of treasures in the royal museum. Pasted on theme? Perhaps, but a good, deep, solid eurogame that kept me engaged. Chad seemed like he was totally killing us, but Jeff almost pulled out the win!

Next, one of my favorites of the day was Winner's Circle. Jeff, Chad, and I placed wagers on the nags, cheered them on, and flung our tickets in the air as we cursed their onery hides! Chad astutely managed his herd through three high addrenalin races to win the big bucks and carry the day. What a great, fun game.

7 Ages Report: 4th of July Weekend (Monday)

Well, I got to give 7 ages a go for the first time today on the tail end of this glorious three day weekend. Ben, Brian, and Jon were the other participants in our marathon game that lasted on into the third age before we all called it. The ending was just plain crazy and probably the best part, making me consider playing again. It went something like this:

Ben was winning coming into the final stretch when we agreed on the ending age in advance. He had a seven point lead over myself with a mere two empires (his attempt to start the Franks had been hit by a Shooting Star). The two empires he did have, however, were the largest--the Huns, 10 territories, dominating China and India--and second largest (tie)--the ancient Iranians(!), 7 territories in northeastern Europe. Brian was the first player for the final turn and would win all tie-breakers. Between the two of them, his empires were in a position to score roughly 6 points.

-And then the cards started raining down on poor Ben. First I caused an Earthquake in the Hunnish empire, disordering 4 areas and dropping it to third largest nation on Earth for purposes of scoring. I followed this up with a failed attempt at causing an Uprising among the Huns. Next I played the dreaded Empire Collapses card on the Ancient Iranians. Their entire empire went into disorder, meaning it would score no points.

This ended my Civilize action, so Jon then decided to use Vizier to retrieve the Empire Collapses card. He agonized over whom to use it on, since he was too far behind Ben to have a realistic shot at overtaking him for the win. He decided to target me instead. First he hit Japan with Fires, plunging all of Japan's land territory into disorder. Then he unleashed the Empire Collapses... but I used my long-hoarded Blowback card to retarget it on the Huns! Thus the Huns were reduced to six areas, all in disorder.

So Ben ended up being the victim of a Shooting Star, Earthquake, Uprising, and two Empire Collapses all on the same turn. As a result of all this, Ben went from having the two largest and most powerful empires on the board to owning not a single territory that wasn't in disorder. Around this time, I was laughing my ass off when the disembodied spirit of Michael drifted out of the game board and proceeded to choke the life out of Jon, the nearest victim. His body fell over limp and I wondered to myself how an unemployed game junkie had mastered astral projection (my question was self-answering). Brian was next and took a Dr. Pepper up the nose, for a full frontal lobe pounding. I then noticed Ben was gone as I heard the sound of tires squealing outside. I gave Michael a timid smirk and whispered while in the act of wetting myself:

“I betcha’ you were pissed reading this report until you got to the end!”

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Back to the Woodshed

I love long weekends! This weekend after all requisite chores were completed, I was able to spend some time back in the woodshop working on my dice tower (goal photo to the left). My goals for this initial tower are:

- reproducible: I am creating template pieces along with the actual tower so I can evolve the design over time. I haven't completely ruled out the idea of giving these as gifts or using them in trade once I'm satisfied with the quality, but for now I'd like to at least be able to move to versions 2.0 and 3.0 rapidly.

- Functional: Of course, I want it to serve its intended purpose very well.

- Good Craftsmanship: I want it to be something I can proudly show off to friends and family

Two features Rob recently emphasized that aren't quite as important to me, at least initially are creativeness of design and quietness. I actually don't mind the sound of dice rattling through the thing, though I don't want my dice chewed up either. I'm going to insulate the shelves and base, but probably not the inside walls like Rob did. Rob's design with crenellations and arrow slits is truly impressive. I may get there someday, but for now I'm looking to get the basics down. Ideally someday I'll build myself the dice tower equivalent of Baradur or Orthanc, but for now I'll be happy with something the lego knights would be happy living in.

I'm still a few hours away from victory. Its amazing how long these suckers can take. The most difficult part is getting the ramps to line up correctly. I think I'm there now though now that I picked up a real router rather than relying on the Dremel. Anyway, I'm finding working on this thing quite a lot of fun, so I don't mind the time its taking. As long as I don't router off my thumb in the process, I'll consider this time well spent. Hopefully in a week or so, I'll be able to show off my creation to SABG!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Quick report for a quick session

Last night the stars aligned and I was free to head out to Brian and Jacqui's for my first SABG gaming in what felt like forever. It was fairly last minute, and I didn't have time to RSVP. Turned out I was the only one who could make it, so there were just the three of us. We got things rolling with Stage II. It took me a few minutes to engage the long-unused trivia centers of my brain, but I managed to get warmed up and pulled out a close win: Jeff 50 Jacqui 46 Brian 44

I had been up since pre-dawn, and the Banklers had plans for early the next day, so I called for a closer and Brian brought out Ricochet Robots. Again, underused brain sections had to be dusted off, but since the tiebreakers for RR favor the losing player, I was able to get back in the running after an early deficit. It all came down to the last round - Brian and Jacqui shared the win with 6 each while I came in a close second/last place with 5.