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.