Metro Game Day IV: Recap

October 19, 2010

We had a smaller group this time, but we had fun and got several plays in on Saturday. So, as promised, below is a list of the games that were played:

Space Hulk: Death Angel
John was the first guest to arrive at Game Day. While waiting for the others to arrive I taught him how to play Death Angel. John safely avoided rolling a 0 the whole game on Brother Claudio’s attack which helped us make our way to the last level. However, my team was dropping like flies. On the 4th level we – and by we, I mean John since I was out of it at that point – entered the Genestealer Lair with 3 marines. They didn’t stand a chance.

Alas poor Claudio...

A mid-game rule check while playing Death Angel

Power Grid
By the time we finished, Russ and Lily had arrived and my wife was done nursing the future space marine so we broke out a 5 player game of Power Grid. This was the first game for my wife, so after a rules explanation we dug into powering Germany. Lily took a lead early on and held onto it for most of the game. My wife and I took a slower approach and trailed while Russ and John duked it out in the west. Shortly after Phase 3 hit the Cold Fusion plant came out and there was a fierce bidding war between Russ and Lily. The plant finally sold for ~$105 to Lily which allowed her to power 15 cities at the end of the game for only 1 coal or oil! But John and I also made it to 15 and because of our more frugal bidding, with more money. The final tally was John with $40, me with $36 and Lily with $18. This was by far the most enjoyable game of Power Grid I’ve played. We all took our turns fairly quickly which helped move the game along. And having 5 players meant there was always active bidding and a struggle for resources and cities. This game is really growing on me.

I still can't believe I only lost by $4!

Russ and John enjoying themselves while my wife takes a better look at the board.

Blokus Trigon
After the intensity of Power Grid, my wife had to duck out with the kids for birthday party. So the four of us remaining played a quick game of Blokus Trigon. I got my first victory of the day winning with 9 points to Lily’s 12.

Cosmic Encounter
By the time we finished Shannon had arrived and was ready to try a game of Cosmic Encounter. The Clone, Pacifist, Chosen, and Filch aliens all attempted to conquer my Miser’s planets. My horde contained the 40 attack, an artifact and the +5 reinforcement card! The game was full of silly attacks, zaps and alliances so we all had fun. When 4 of us were at 4 points, my Filch brother attacked my empty planet. I defended with my 40 to prevent him from winning but he of course had an artifact which turned everything into a negotiation. We decided at that point to end the game as shared rulers of the galaxy.

Crusader Rex & Blokus Trigon
Russ and John had enough silliness and moved onto a more serious game of Crusader Rex. With my wife and kids back, I took a break to watch the kids and this game for a while. Russ and his Saracens had some hot dice at the start of the game, but John’s Crusaders put up a good fight. They duked it out for quite some time while the four women (John’s wife joined us for the evening) played a game of Blokus and the kids and I ate dinner. Lily pulled off her first victory of the day in Blokus.

Shadows over Camelot
The Crusade was still raging when the four ladies and I decided to team up against everything evil in Camelot. We drew more cards than people for alliances so it was unknown who the traitor was or even if there would be one. We teamed up quite well and had early successes against the Saxons and the Black Knight. After a couple of bad progressions of evil though we had to regroup. We successfully won Excalibur and then moved on to find the Holy Grail. We took the grail and successfully defended Camelot with 7 white swords to 5 black… or so we thought. Quietly Shannon had been working against us this whole time. She revealed herself as the traitor with much gusto and snatched away our victory.

The Crusaders also succumbed to defeat shortly after. It was not a good day to be a knight!

Tigris & Euphrates
It was getting late so most people headed out. We put the kids to bed and then Russ, my wife and I played a game of Tigris & Euphrates. It was Russ’ first game and my wife and I had previously only played a handful of times with just the two of us. It was interesting to see the way the game changes with 3 players versus just 2. I built up a sizable kingdom in the top left part of the map while Russ had one in the bottom right. We however let Russ’ two monuments go too long before we were able to create some conflicts to break it up. I made a surge at the end of the game in blue that allowed me to get 2nd place, but it was no match for the balance of Russ’ civilization.

One thing I usually do is play a new game on Game Day and that didn’t happen this time, but I did get my other goals accomplished:
– I won a game.
– I got to try some ‘old’ games with new and more people.
– I got all three of my most recent purchases to the table.
– And most importantly I had a great time with friends just relaxing and playing games!

Summer Gaming Highlights

August 16, 2010

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted, but a master’s thesis and a baby on the way sidetracked me just a wee bit. But while those events meant less gaming, they did not mean that the quality of the gaming dropped. So, a few highlights:

Games Purchased: Well, let’s call them “games gifted.” I got both Cosmic Encounter and Dominion for my birthday and have enjoyed them both immensely. Just this week my brother and sister-in-law got me Washington’s War as a groom’s dinner present before their wedding. Best. Present. Ev-ar.

Games Sold: After a thorough analysis of my gaming spreadsheet, I realized that neither Wellington nor Last Night on Earth had been played in over two years. Ebay for those two. I’m rather surprised at the prices I got for both of them, around 50% of their original purchase value. I guess games depreciate more slowly than cars. Go figure.

Games Played: Summer is always obligatory cribbage season in my household, usually while camping or visiting the in-laws. I played most of my games this summer waiting around in the hospital for the baby to come. I’m winning in cribbage, but still no baby quite yet. Russ and I duked it out in Washington’s War back in mid-July, which was fun but a little confusing on the first play through. We’ll definitely make it up in the future, however. I’ve also gotten in a few games of Wilderness War, two online and one with Russ just a few weekends ago. I’ve learned a lot about British strategy and now am itching to play the French some more. (I also managed to start a large grease fire while cooking dinner for Russ and my wife in between game turns, but the dinner eventually turned out okay, and it didn’t affect my gameplay later that evening, so…). There was also a very memorable game of Dominion in late July with three attack cards in use and no defense cards. This led to a lot of good-natured cussing on everybody’s part, but a lot of laughter too.

Whether or not this will truly be a Summer of Victory is still in doubt, but a few weeks remains. More soon on how that all turns out.

First Contact with Cosmic Encounter

June 28, 2010

Well, the weather didn’t really cooperate on my birthday. Tornadoes, golf ball sized hail, sheets of rain–they all made me a rather nervous homeowner. But we survived, and two friends braved the storm to drink some beer and play a game. Of course, we had to play one of my birthday presents: Cosmic Encounter, purchased that very day. Earlier in the week, I had watched a brief introductory video and was prepared to teach the game. We played in about an hour with only two rules ambiguities, which confirmed my pre-purchase research–it’s a simple game with a surprising amount of depth.

So, who played and what happened?

John the Chosen: As fun as it would have been to play The Losers, I went with The Chosen: every time I’m the main player in an encounter, I get to grab three cards off the top of the deck and use one to increase or replace my encounter card. Sweet. The other players begin to plot against me; the power of the special ability is pretty transparent and they quickly realized they needed to counter it. As it’s a first game, I basically paint a target on my back, deciding that forcing them on the offensive would make for a fun game. I was right; after some rapid first-turn expansion, they turned on me like a pack of intergalactic thieves , stabbed me in the back, and left me for dead.

Sara and Baby Girl the Mutants: Sara, perhaps subconsciously acknowledging that she’s carrying our little mutant inside of her, took The Mutants. She was careful to draw up to a maximum hand of eight before resolving each of her encounters. In the end, she was able to cycle through the deck quickly and saved her wicked +40 attack card for the last encounter, which gave her the game. Why couldn’t I stop her, you ask? Because she’s got two brains to my one. And she’s freaking ruthless, even on my birthday. Which is one of the many reasons I love her.

Aaron the Barbarian: It was really cool watching Aaron play The Barbarians. He’s a pretty casual gamer, but quickly developed a sound strategy. He clearly drew a bad starting hand full of Negotiations, but was willing to throw his ships into the warp in order to draw a large hand and give himself more options. He was also incredibly sneaky, riding our coattails and almost winning the game by the second turn. He’d just quietly come in on one side of an encounter or another, take his colonies, and keep quiet.

Karen the Zombie: Preferring birthday cake to brains, Karen still made a good Zombie. She was a little wary of playing with spaceships on a Friday night, but warmed up to it admirably! In the end, she screwed me out of an alliance so that Sara won all by her lonesome and I came in tied for second with Karen. All I have to say is watch your back next time, blondie.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a stormy Friday night. There was a lot of laughter and discussion about the game, but it didn’t feel like a huge brain drain. The 50 alien races will keep the game fresh for a long time, and the simple rules combined with  endless opportunities to interfere in others’ encounters make it a great gateway game with more direct interaction than Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan, though next time I’ll keep Flares out of teaching games with casual players for the sake of simplicity. The stunning finish to the first game with Karen pulling the rug out from under me made me laugh really hard. However, after I recovered, I was instantly ready for a second game. Next time, I will rule the galaxy for sure!

So, first contact with Cosmic Encounter? A resounding success! It appeals to the intergalactic Lex Luthor in all of us.