The day started with Carlos and Ben showing up and we broke out Arkham Horror. A promising start was soon derailed by an event card that acted like a Lovecraftian time bomb, forcing us to repeatedly dump sanity points in a neighborhood street location like so many UPS deliveries and chew up valuable time. As we finally chased away that bit of evil, Steve showed up and got pulled into the game. Soon, though, more monsters started to appear. Gates started to open all around. As things looked bleakest for our heroes, Rob stopped by.
At this point, we agreed to call the game so that we could start something fresh and have Rob join in. Something fresh became Wings of War. In our scenario, Ben, Rob, and Steve (the Allies) were tasked with taking out a zeppelin while Carlos and I (the Germans) mopped them up. Unfortunately, Carlos and I forgot our mops. In fairly short order, my plane, and soon thereafter the zeppelin, disappeared in spectacular explosions, and the Allied forces carried the day with not much more than a few scratches.
Carlos departed to go to the movies with his family, leaving Ben, Steve, Rob and I to try Zooloretto with the expansions. The cute panda on the front has got to be one of the most misleading box covers of any board game, as the addition of building sites turned a deceivingly cutthroat game (after all, it did win the Golden Geek awards for best Family Game and best Children's Game) into something even more vicious. These sites are obtained by drawing tiles and planting them in other people's zoos. They become immobile blocked spaces in your opponent's pens or barn that prevent scoring or add penalties. They can also be sent from one player to another as a money action, turning them into virtual "hot potatoes." Essentially, they are money sinks, as you constantly must pay money to shift them from yourself to someone else, all the time hoping they don't come right back when the recipient gets their turn. As Rob duly summarized after the game was over, "The game was nasty before..." I don't know that we found the right word to adequately convey how much screw-your-neighbor was added, but suffice it to say, more nasty falls well short. Overall, it feels like a very different game. I'm not sure if we came to a consensus as to whether it makes it a better game, but everyone seemed to have a good time. Congratulations to Steve for building out a zoo that became impervious to attack and having money left over to ship his extra animals away to other happy animal homes. Well done.
Finally, Rob had to depart and the rest of us played Conquest of the Empire. Steve quickly swooped in and took control of Rome on the first turn. Ben followed shortly thereafter, and after taking a detour to smack down my armies for trying to develop influence in his territories, he seized Rome and took control of the Senate and their votes. This gave him further influence and money that strengthened his grip. As Steve tried valiantly to retake Rome (thereby drawing Ben's attention and ire), I swept around and quietly took over Asia and a few outlying countries and protected my gains with a naval blockade. As Ben withstood Steve's final all-out assault, I snuck in behind him and grabbed just enough influence in Rome to claim the slimmest of victories when all was said and done. Another tough, vicious game.
Thanks for a fun day, guys. When are we playing TI3?