Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday Session Report Part I

Brian and Jacqui were our gracious hosts for this Saturday gaming session.

We started things off with the Announce Pregnancy game, which is played in teams of two. Amy and I won. We're planning a two-player session of Go To The Hospital in May.

Haste Worte was next on the agenda. This is a Kramer & Kiesling word/party game that is only available in German. It was so intriguing to me that I made up some English language cards. Basically, a card with a category is flipped up. Something like: Things a cowboy uses. Then everyone gets one minute to write down as many things as they can that fit in that category. There's a round of blind bidding where you bid on how many items you think you will be able to read off your list. Starting with the lowest bid, players read off items. Once someone else has read off an item, no one else may use it. If you are able to read off the number you bid, you get that many points, otherwise you get nothing. The game ends when someone hits twenty points; high score wins.

Next up was Ca$h 'n' Gun$ with the long-awaited Yakuza expansion. Now you play with teams instead of every gangster for himself, and one lucky team gets to be the Yakuza. The Yakuza use Tanto and Shuriken instead of Guns and come with their own set of special power cards. The Tanto can only be aimed at an adjacent player (teams are scrambled so that no two teammates are adjacent), but if that player drops out, the next player around the table feels cold steel. The Shuriken have to be thrown, there's now a bit of dexterity involved. The expansion adds a LOT of gameplay with a minimal addition of rules. Amy said on the way home that she's not crazy about the base game, but she'll play again wit the Yakuza in the mix. We enjoyed it so much, we played it twice.

Let it be known - Tino is the man: 16 rounds, zero wounds.

The Black Coach to Devil's Castle (AKA the fart game) came next. Apparently, this went more smoothly than it did last week since it wasn't a learning game for everybody involved. I managed to work out who was on my team (mostly) but got no game-winning items. Luckily Dennis was paying more attention and trading more effectively, so the Good Guys won.

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At 5:11 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Congratulations, Jeff and Amy! SABG: The Next Generation continues to grow.

At 7:03 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

"We're planning a two-player session of Go To The Hospital in May."

Congratulations, though I have to say that babies take a toll on available game time.

At 7:16 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Ok, Meredith is giving me holy hell for the above post. Therefore I wish to add the following for the record:

1. We played Hammer of the Scots today, and we tied.

2. A child is a joy and a wonder.

3. I figure a great way to get new game players is to grow your own.


At 7:29 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

We also played World of Warcraft ... which wasn't bad, but basically felt like team Talisman with much slower "Lose a turn" cards. It's amazing that a game with a built in timer took longer.

At 8:37 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

Congrats Jeff and Amy.

Sorry I couldn't make it. Just woke up not feeling very great today.

At 9:09 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Haste Worte -- I *really* like the bidding. I was wildly overconservative, not missing a bid but still coming in 6th. But like Cineplexity and other such games, it has the "Does that fit the category?" flaw. The "Milk products" category was particularly prone to cheese (pun intended), as I had a least six answers that made me feel a bit queasy (whole, 2%, 1%, skim, chocolate, etc). I've always liked "What Were You Thinking?", because it dodges that problem by making the correctness of the answer immaterial.

Les Yakuzas -- Funniest game I've played in months. Brian and I worked out an incredibly detailed set of signs, including fakes and an option to either inform one's partner of your intentions or request a particular target. Yet somehow we forgot to include a sign for whether we loaded a Bang or not! Also, don't reveal the Ninja unless you want to draw fire from your partners.

Coach to Hell -- Works somewhat better when people's actions make sense. Though I'm curious why it took so long for the second bag to be traded. I'm also curious to see a potential "lockup" game, when the Blue team gets all the goblets and the Red team gets all the keys.

WoW -- A bit long at 4.5 hours, but it was a teaching game for three people. With 4 experienced players and the Shadow of War expanions included (to make the blue creatures worth something), I think this could make a good Monday night game. I like it, but I'm not sure I like it enough to buy into it yet.

At 9:19 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Brian at his blog: One glaring flaw ....

Did you all play with any of the expansions? The first expansion corrects the "lost turn" from random blue creature that gives you nothing. You still lose a turn fighting it, but you can get some items/vp's for the bother.

I played today with a new (new to me) group from east Houston (1hr away from me!). It was simply GREAT! It was at a store with lots of games, lots of gamers (over 20), multiple different games at the same time .... (sounds familiar?). Will always be an SABG'er....


Got to play 2 games of Antler Island, and 1 of Phoenicia. AI is another hit for me in that light to medium 30-45min category. Phoenicia? It was meerly my third game ever, so it still has a lot of mileage for me. I did finally understand why the famous concern with the game happens (the possible run-away leader issue): if there's one player that doesn't pitch in on 'the fight' for the auctions, simply because they are lost, or not paying attention, or don't truly see the value of a card, then leaders simply can't be overcome by the other player. Of course, I'm talking about a 3 player game. I was the sole combatant against this VP and money-generating machine to my left. The guy on the right had his mind somewhere else, and passed on A LOT of auctions for no apparent reason (he was only generating 3! cards by the end of the game).

Oh and CONGRATZ Jeff!

Ted, great post.

At 10:45 PM, November 03, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Man... I missed Wow! Darn. At least it sounds like you didn't get the Burning Crusade out yet, which I'm really looking forward to. Star Craft and WoW: BC are tied up waiting for Yula Korlitz to arrive at Boulder and none of my begging for a split shipment has paid off. Unfortunately their customer service just isn't quite up to Thought Hammer standards.

At 11:21 PM, November 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ca$h and Gun$ was a blast! I don't think we've laughed so much during a game, at least not that I can remember. Definitely need to play it again soon--it worked well with the number of people we had.

I'm really glad I finally got to play WoW. I wish it moved more quickly with 6, since I liked everyone playing. However, the interaction between teams wasn't as involved as I thought it would be, as we never really considered PvP during the game, even though we were close to each other. I think I'd enjoy it more next time I played, since we wouldn't have to go through the learning pains. That being said, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not a game I could play with great frequency, but I'd like to try it again. Ben, maybe we can get in a game with the Burning Crusade expansion at BGG.con.

Kutschfarht was enjoyable as well. I certainly felt like I had a better idea of what was going on this time. The one thing I lost sight of was how close the other team was to winning. Wow, you can't waste time during this game--time is valuable, especially since you can't make your final "accusation" on the same turn you get what may be the final piece of the puzzle in terms of learned information.

Ted, I think I speak for all of us when I say I'm really happy your baby is doing well. It sounds like your family has a tough road but that things are looking up.

And congrats to Jeff and Amy!

Rob, I like hearing the updates!

At 5:41 AM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Whoops... I commented on the wrong post about WoW. You need Shadows of War shuffled in to fix the low interaction problem. I suspect Burning Crusade will add elements to PvP as well.

At 9:02 AM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Brian said...


We didn't play with any expansions, (and I did mention that they supposedly deal with it), but:

1) This really isn't a novel problem. This is the equivalent of a "Lose a turn" card. FFG should know better.

2) This just reeks of the "customers are our playtesters" attitude. (Which applies to Talisman, too).

3) I play and enjoy long games, but I don't respect those where the board play is dominated by a single card or two. WoW may be enjoyable (now and again), but its not a design I respect. It joins a long list.

At 10:14 AM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Ben said...


I would agree that WoW is more like an all-you-can eat pizza buffet than a fine dining experience, but I do love this kind of pizza.

With the possible exception of Starcraft, which I've only seen over the shoulder thus far, WoW has the highest production value of any game I've seen. Some might say its "over-produced," but this is a concept I just don't understand.

Yes, its a shame most FFG games only seem to fully ripen after the first or second expansion (e.g., Arkham Horror, Descent, WoW, TI:3, Doom, AGoT, WotR...), but at least the patched versions are some of the most cherished games in my collection.

My main concern, which may be totally unfounded, is that they've gone completely over the top with Burning Crusade. The rules state that a full second table is needed for the added components from the expansion. They've increased the speed at which you level, but I'm thinking this is still going to approach a 6-8 hour game with 6 players once you add in the dungeons. Anyway, I look forward to finding out!

By the way, adding in at least Shadows of War pretty much involves just shuffling a few cards into the main decks, plus I think there's some form of bounty deck that gets cycled. Its been 6 months or so, so I'm a bit fuzzy on the finer points.

At 10:18 AM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

BTW, isn't the use of baseball signals in Cash 'n Guns sort of cheating? I've always thought that part of the fun is not knowing where everyone was going to point their gun.

At 11:32 AM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

Ben, in the base game it is but since you have teams in Yakuza the rules say to work out signs with your team so you can work together better.

At 5:56 PM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Jon beat me to it. The Yakuza expansion does allow for it.

And Shadows of War is indeed the expansion I was talking about. Chris, if you are picking up just one of the 2 WoW expansions, that one should be it (it fixes the 'blue creature flaw').

At 6:05 PM, November 04, 2007, Blogger Rob said...


I definitively agree with 'lose a turn' effects/cards/mechanics. They just suck. And sure they deserve a slap on their hand, but with the expansion, the game is pretty sweet.

I see FFG expansions unfortunately like PC game patches: the company can playtest the heck out of a game, but nothing compares to the hundreds (thousands?) of gamers trying it out..... so flaws will definitively be found that will require a patch.

You know...I probably would be bugged by this if it were a different game, but I am (was) a true WoW (the MMORPG) fan. Plus FFG makes some fine-looking games.

At 7:50 AM, November 05, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

Regarding playtesting -- I certainly understand that 1,000 OK eyes beat 10 good eyes ... but it's not like the game is slighly unbalanced for one side or the other, or that a non-obvious strategy works (I'm looking at War of the Ring here).

This was just "Hey, some random events cause one side to lose 1+ turns."

At 10:15 AM, November 05, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I think what they were aiming for was to throw a wrench into otherwise obvious decisions. Do I go for the Worgen close by, or do I go for the easy quest over there, but lose a turn and possibly more fighting the Blue Murloc in the way?

It wasn't necessarily a good idea, but I think that was the idea.

There are two things I really like about WoW:

1. The combat system, which cleverly includes so many powers into just dice rolls. Like the different effects of blue, red, green, and attrition (ahh, attrition, how we love thee). Or my dwarf's Stoneform ability, which allows him to turn a single 1 or 2 into a 3, making him less susceptible to creatures with nasty powers that trigger on low rolls.

It's interesting to compare this to other fantasy quest games. I like Talisman because it gets the combat out of the way quickly, so you can get back to the fun parts -- revealing bizarre locations, and hosing other players with spells and effects. I dislike Runebound because (a) every turn ends in a combat, and (b) the optimal move in each combat is both usually obvious and always solvable, leading to a lot of boring dice rolling. In WoW, the choices of when to spend energy are not as obvious, and the choice of *target* is also interesting, leading in my mind to a deeper experience.

2. I like choosing a "character build", picking just the right talents & spells to make a pure engine of destruction. Just like in the MMO.

I had a thought last night about a version of WoW that streamlines out the parts I like:

- Everyone builds a lvl 4 character
- Deal out a stack of items to each player and do a draft...what is it called when everyone takes one card and passes the rest to the left?
- Do a much shorter dungeon crawl or PvP free-for-all.

The evil voice in my head said, "Isn't that just Descent?", but I don't believe it is.

At 3:53 PM, November 05, 2007, Blogger Tiffany said...

"ahh, attrition, how we love thee"

i second that. it is amazing what attrition does to sway the game :)

At 8:33 PM, November 05, 2007, Blogger Carlos said...

Jeff and Amy, that is great news. I feels that now I will have more to talk to other members about. First little Henry and now your new baby. Congratulations!

At 9:34 PM, November 05, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Dennis: I like choosing a "character build", picking just the right talents & spells to make a pure engine of destruction. Just like in the MMO.

This is what I think Descent lacks, as I've said before. Thus, although very different games, I'll pick WoW over Descent when it comes to fantasy-themed games.

At 11:53 AM, November 06, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

Dennis -- It's funny, I was thinking the other day about how to build an interesting RPG-ish game that was different, and my thoughts turned towards Super Giant Monster Showdown, where the real fun is building your monster. (And the rest of the game is, sadly, not as fun). Nothing like saying "Oh yeah, well my giant crab shoots plasma!"


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