We have to stop the corn?
While my group was playing Battlestar Galactica on Saturday, I kept hearing mentions from the Chaos in the Old World table about "corn." I couldn't quite figure out what they were referring to. I thought a few times, "Did I put corn chips out and the corn chips are too strong? No..." Lo and behold, they were referring to Khorne the Blood God, one of the malevolent deities in Chaos in the Old World. I learned about Khorne first hand during the second Chaos in the Old World game of the day when Scott introduced me to his minions over and over again. Kudos to Scott as he played this warloving race to perfection, spreading out and sowing the seeds of battle to run away with the game. I really like games such as this where the abilities of the sides are different. It forces each player to modify their style play to the strengths and weaknesses they've been given and to me adds an additional layer of thinking to the game as well as increasing replayability. My favorite of this type of game is still by far Twilight Imperium 3, but TI3 is too long to hit the table with any frequency. Chaos and Age of Conan do the same basic thing in a shorter period of time. For me, the two games are similar enough that I would play either on occasion, although everyone I've asked seems to like the former better than the latter.
We did get in a game of Battlestar Galactica. Steve and I became Cylons at the sleeper phase and managed to drive morale into the ground for a last gasp win. Tiffany's impression of the Pegasus expansion: "It's better than it used to be." A ringing endorsement if I ever heard one. I think our group's BSG frenzy may have finally died down, but that's probably also related to the fact we've all had less time for boardgaming in general recently.
Rob also brought Endeavor, or as we nicknamed it, "Chaos in the New World." It reminded me of Puerto Rico with the building and worker placement. Each building either ramps up your economy slightly or lets you take actions on the game board. These actions basically involve the establishment of shipping lanes and founding or forcible takeover of colonies. Each board action usually nets you a bonus token which also nudges up your economy. Victory points come from established colonies, economy improvements, and bonus cards (more colonies in a region gives you access to better region-specific bonus cards). I wonder if the ability to automatically take over an opponent's colony without the opponent being able to mount any kind of defense may be a little overpowered, especially since being able to attack back is imited by building availability. Still, it's straightforward and enjoyable with good production quality (as is typical for Z-Man games).
Lastly, Michael introduced us to Barbu. I love card games and trick-taking games (although I frustratingly still haven't quite grasped Bridge), and this game is like a trick-taking buffet. The version recalled by Brian (and described on BGG) has seven sub-games:
Nullo: -2 per trick taken.
Queens: -6 per Queen taken.
Last Two: -10 for taking the 2nd to last trick, -20 for taking last trick.
Hearts: -6 for taking Ace of Hearts, -2 for each other heart taken.
Barbu: -15 for taking the King of Hearts.
Trumps: +5 per trick taken.
Dominoes (also called Fan Tan): go out of cards before everyone else, score 40/20/10/-10 for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to go out. Cards are played in ascending or descending order on the table from an arbitrary start card.
Michael's version also added Ravage: -24 points for the longest suit held among tricks taken.
Each dealer picks a game after looking at their hand and then calls one of the eight games. Each dealer will deal eight times and call each game for themselves once. There are some bet doubling options and requirements thrown in. As Michael mentioned, it's a zero-sum game, so finishing with positive points at all is good. Michael won handily, and his "funny math" was the source of some amusement during the game. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the constant flow of varied trick-taking games, and I'd probably play this game anytime we could find four players. The time required to get through this game is potentially prohibitive, but it does make for a good late evening weekend gaming option when no one is really worried about the clock.