Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday gaming

Sunday gaming opened with Steve, Ben and I trying another go-round of Star Wars Risk. This is actually a quick, enjoyable version for three that sees the Empire, the Rebellion and the Hutts each trying to accomplish different victory conditions. As the benevolent Empire, I was tasked with restoring peace to the galaxy by ending Steve's troublesome rebellion. Ben's Hutt Clan, meanwhile, tried to take advantage of the chaos by sweeping to control over the most valuable planets among the stars.

Now, when we played the game a few weeks ago, I played the Hutts and had come very close to victory without even realizing it. This time, I think Steve and I were more aware of the Hutt threat and we spent more effort keeping the Hutts in check. However, this game is still very much each man for himself, and while fighting against Ben, he was unable to hold back the Imperial swarm at the same time. The Death Star unleashed its might against one of the high-commerce worlds and, vaporizing it, sealed off a vital gateway between two systems that kept the Hutts essentially stuck in one corner of the galaxy. It then moved around to protect the Imperial homeworlds as the Rebellion was slowly extinguished. Finally, in one last dramatic stroke, the Death Star swung around the last Rebel planet to the moon on the far side...and in a flash of light it was over. No thermal exhaust port to take advantage of this time.

Overall, like I said, it's a quick fun game. The cards that each side draws add a lot to the theme and make each game different. The ships you can build confer a huge advantage to the owner, and the addition of eight-sided dice as a bonus was a neat idea. The sides feel pretty balanced, and the fact that each side has its own victory condition rather than just having to own every planet gives the game a great ebb-and-flow. But at its heart, it's still Risk which means its still rolling 6's. If you can take it for what it is, it's enjoyable.

Then it was farming time. Steve went to go rock out with Dennis, Michael and Jon, so Tiffany, Ben and I baked bread and bred sheep and had families in Agricola. One interesting card that came out was the Ratcatcher occupation. It let me keep Tiffany and Ben from using one of their offspring's action in rounds 10 and 12. For being in the non-interactive E deck, it was surprisingly interactive. One action might not seem like a lot to lose, but in Rounds 10 and 12, when there's a harvest every two rounds and you're trying to improve while rapidly making food at the same time, they feel pretty vital. By the way, the power of Fireplaces to convert animals to food without an action makes them extremely attractive, especially when a Bake Bread may only net you one grain to food conversion at a time. And I agree with Brian that 15 points for 5 family seems like a lot, and that maybe 2 points per family rather than 3 per family might place more emphasis on the rest of the farm improvements. It seems like the added actions you get from each family member is enough of a reward in and of itself. But I'm sure smarter minds than mine have thought all this out already, so I'll let it be.

Finally, we did something a bit unexpected and broke out Pacific Typhoon. It was especially unexpected because we got 6 of us playing at the same time! (Jon, Ben, Tiffany, Dennis, Steve, and me...Michael, operating on very little sleep, lapsed into unconsciousness and had dreams of Rock Band 2.) This is a card game in which you pick battles between the Japanese and Allies in the Pacific theater and play fighters and battleships and heroes and see who plays the greatest total of numbers on each side. The victorious side gets the spoils, with the player that contributed the most divvying up the VPs. The highlighs were Jon recreating the bombing of Hiroshima with a card that let him take the VPs regardless of who wins ("I'll take the Japanese Home Islands 8 point card, thank you..."), a battle that had day threatening to turn into night and remove the attacking Japanese air support (I'm surprised the cheers and groans at the last die roll to see if it happened didn't wake Michael up), and Dennis winning the last battle on a roll of 6 to claim the overall victory. Surprisingly fun because of the interaction. We don't usually get 6 people into a short game on weekend gaming sessions here, so it was fun to get everyone playing! Now if only I owned a copy of Ca$h and Gun$...

In other shocking news, I am watching the final scenes of Lord of the Rings as I type this. I can't believe it...I know how it ends, and it only took five years after it came out to see it. I thought maybe Aragorn was going to break out into some Middle-Earth version of the Ewok song at the end, but it seems maybe not. Well, I suppose my geek cred got bumped up a bit tonight.


At 10:42 PM, August 24, 2008, Blogger Tiffany said...

So.. your session report wasnt up when I posted my session report. Somehow. I checked. really. do we just keep two session reports?

And for the record, the idea of Aragorn breaking out into an Ewok dance, with the ghosts of the fellowship past keeping him company makes me oddly happy.

At 10:49 PM, August 24, 2008, Blogger Ben said...

Nice report! Wow, I suck at Agricola, but I keep thinking about it. Get out of my brain! Pacific Typhoon was alright, but its much more intense with teams, because there is a strong disincentive to opt out of critical battles. Plus, its feels less gamey not being able to switch sides at will.

Good job checking the LotR movie box. Now you need to watch all the Star Wars movies... Lots of good metagaming quotes there.

On an organizational note, I think 12pm is a great start time for weekend gaming. Doing so pretty much takes food out of the equation as a major planning element, as there's plenty of time for lunch beforehand.

Hooray! I finished Battlefield: Bad Company. Perhaps now I'll finally crack open Bioshock.

At 10:56 PM, August 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Play Bioshock! Well worth it.

Yep, sorry about the duplicated effort, Tiff--I thought about posting a brief message along the lines of "Session report in progress" but then I thought...nah. Maybe that would have been a good idea after all.

At 9:02 AM, August 25, 2008, Blogger Brian said...

It's not quite the Ewok dance, but I really didn't need to see a slow-mo, white-light-backlit shot of hobbits bouncing and hugging on Elrond's Bed.

Incidentally, we all agree that Hugo Weaving is the geek actor of the modern era, right? Elrond, Agent Smith, V. A trifecta unlikely to be topped. (I suppose you could count his role as Megatron, too).

At 9:37 AM, August 25, 2008, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

I think Ian McKellen may unseat him, and not just for Magneto and Gandalf (in *four* films, including The Hobbit to come).

I went to his IMDB page to see if I was missing anything, and found two things. First, he's the voice of the bear in The Golden Compass. Second, and this is the one that puts it over the top:

"The Prisoner" (2009) TV series (pre-production) -- Number Two

At 8:21 PM, August 25, 2008, Blogger Rob said...

Hmmm....I still don't know about lowering the points for the family members...

I played a 2 player game with Carmen this weekend (my 6th game, so I'm assuming I played almost optimally). I had 4 family members by game end, and she had just picked up her third on rd 12. I only won by 3 VP's. I'll leave it at 3 VP's for now, because of what Chris said.


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