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.

Holiday Haul

January 4, 2010

Between Christmas, my birthday, and a preorder, my board game collection was bound to grow. Here’s a quick run down of what I got:

Twilight Struggle Deluxe Edition – The MoV favorite and popular two-player card driven war game get’s GMT’s deluxe treatment. This means a beautiful new cardboard board, 7 new cards, and a heavier constructed box. I preordered this when it was first announced, so to finally have it arrive on my doorstep was a nice early Christmas gift. Look for thoughts on the Chinese Civil War rules in the future.

Ghost Stories – This was a bit of a gamble and a self-bought birthday present. Ghost Stories is a kung-fu horror themed beat-the-box game. The art and production values of the game are fantastic. I’m really happy with board game producers getting in on new printing technologies and turning out better looking games. I’ve played a few sample turns and the game looks interesting. I’ll be putting together an “Inside the Box” for this game and hope to post play experiences soon.

Dominion: Intrigue – Dominion is quickly becoming the game I get to the table the most, so it was nice to unwrap this present from my little sister. Intrigue introduces some new interesting new card combination and can be combined with Dominion to allow for 5-6 player play.

So how’d I fair? Or more importantly, how’d you fair?

WBC, Day 5 continued: John’s Perspective

August 7, 2009

Well, it is 11:00 and I am sitting on the bed in our hotel room, chomping on a few Wheat Thins and looking back over the day. It was great fun! After Here I Stand, I bought the guys from my semifinals game a round of beer (oh, I will miss Yuengling back in MN), and then some of us settled in for a quick demo/pickup game of Conquest of Paradise. The designer, Kevin McPartland, came over and introduced us all to it, which was gracious of him. He has an immense enthusiasm for what the Polynesian people have done throughout history. This is a two to four-player game. It’s published by GMT, which is odd; it feels like a civilization-building type game, which is very out of character for them. After one play, I am impressed by the marriage of theme and mechanics, though the game feels a bit too short to me. Just as you are done exploring and are busy building up an army, it ends!

After we wrapped up, I got in a three-player game of Small World with Ted from the Here I Stand semi-finals and Tim, a random guy we met in the open gaming room. This was followed by another game with Russ and Noah. And this is when I snapped my eleven game losing streak! I don’t care if Russ had never played the game before and if Noah was ten years old. It doesn’t matter. I won.

I also managed to get in a demo of Dominion: Intrigue, a nifty little card game that feels collectible, but isn’t. It’s a fun brain-puzzler sort of game. You have to purchase cards and build a deck to amass victory points.

Later in the afternoon, Russ and I headed over to a conference room for a one-hour look at Virgin Queen, the “sequel” to Here I Stand. I’ll have a whole post on this in the near future, but suffice to say that it looks like it’s coming along nicely and will (once again) set a new standard for what can be done with card-driven games.

In the evening, we met up with Dennis from the Here I Stand tournament and Battlestar Galactica demo and created a team for the Wits & Wagers game show. I’d guess about 60+ people showed up, and there was a lot of good-natured heckling. I appreciated the chance to blow off a little steam and learn insane bits of trivia like…how many US states allow marriage between first cousins. (That’s sixteen, by the way. Land of the free and home of the…shrinking gene pool?) That got out around 9:30 PM, so we headed to open gaming for one! last! game! It ended up being…Small World. It’s a fun, light little game that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower. And after 12 hours of gaming, you’re no good for anything else.

Today went so well that we decided to essentially end on a high note. We’re sleeping in tomorrow, and will be taking one last lap around the vendors’ hall before heading out. More reflections on the WBC as a whole later on.

WBC, Day 5: Russ’s Perspective

August 7, 2009

I nearly gave up on getting an internet connection. It seems the hotel we’re staying at doesn’t have the most reliable one. However, the long load times and retries allowed me to check out the rules of the new game I bought, World at War: Eisenbach Gap.

My brief encounter with the game yesterday put it on my radar. Today, at the vendor area, after talking with the designer, Mark Walker, and getting a run down of how the game works, I was sold (and walked away with a signed box).

The game itself seems to be a relatively quick playing tactical war game. It is set in a 1985 where the Cold War went hot and Soviet tanks and helicopters face off against NATO forces in West Germany. Suffice to say, I’m excited about playing a game that isn’t about knights, muskets, or panzerfausts.

The other exciting news is I finally found victory in a tournament game. Yes, that’s right! I made it to round two of the Twilight Struggle single elimination tournament.

My first game put me up against another casual player. I played the USSR and began a slow crawl, earning victory points throughout the early and mid-war. I pressured him hard, controlled much of South East Asia and eventually took West Germany. He played a well-fought game, but eventually the momentum was moving in my favor. On the first turn of the late war, I pulled three scoring cards and Aldrich Ames. I played Ames in the headline phase and found the US player holding a great number of Soviet events. I reordered his hand to get me the maximum number of victory points. After two action impulses and a Europe Scoring, the USSR was pushed up to 20 victory points and I won.

My second game put me in the shoes of the US and placed me against a more experienced player. I got an early lead in turn 1 that put him on his heels. Unfortunately, luck left me and I found myself struggling through card plays. I was pulling so many scoring cards that I couldn’t conduct the operations I needed to. And, thanks to the tight DEFCON track, I was always losing VP due to military ops at the end of the turn. After getting blocked out of South America, the VP track shifted to the Soviet side and just kept crawling up. The death knell for me was on turn 5. I had Flower Power in effect from a late turn 4 play and was hit with Quagmire. This allowed the USSR player to push hard in Europe, score it, and win the game.

It was interesting seeing my opponent’s strategy and even though I lost, I learned a lot and can’t wait to take on John, Joe, or any of the other Twilight Struggle players back home.

Finally, I had some fun getting good and surly at the Wits & Wagers gameshow (I told you to listen to me about the number of Tootsie Roll licks) and I can’t end this post without mentioning how I beat John at Dominion.

WBC, Day 2: Russ’s Perspective

August 5, 2009

As I’m writing my day two reactions this morning, I’m coming to the realization that the hotel orange juice tastes surprisingly like Tang. Somehow, that’s an improvement over most hotel orange juice. Yesterday was also full of surprises.

I started the day, sitting down at a table with a father and two sons who gladly taught me a new game, Dominion: Intrigue. This is a card game that uses a deck building and card playing mechanic similar to a collectible card game. The game played quickly and was immensely fun. It’s now on my short list of games to buy.

After that, I sat in at a Lost Cities: The Board Game table. Joining me were a mom and her two daughters. I started to wonder if was going to have a theme for the rest of the day. Lost Cities is a fun little Euro style game where players try to advance down five different tracks by playing incremental card plays. Victory points are awarded based on how far you advance and the events you triggered along the way. Honestly, I think the experience was better by playing with kids (and not because it was the only game I won all day). Lost Cities isn’t the kind of game that would keep me occupied through multiple plays, but it was fun to see kids figure out the strategies and get excited by earning points. Ultimately, I would play the game again, but I won’t be buying it.

After lunch, I hopped into a Ra: The Dice Game demo. Despite one of the guys at the table really liking it, to me it just felt like an Egyptian themed variation of Yahtzee with a set scoring pattern.

Later, I joined a game of Steam. Steam is about trying to make a profit through shipping goods over the railroads you build. After asking a few questions and glancing over the rules, I had the game down pretty well. Perhaps the most interesting part of the game is that you start with no money and immediately go into debt by borrowing it. From then on, players must balance track building, train upgrades, shipping for profit, and role bidding while trying to make more money than the other players. It is a game I’d consider buying, except I don’t think I’d get it to the table much to actually play.

Finally, John and I learned Britannia from Ewan, a great fellow whom we first learned about by his comments on this blog. The interesting thing about Britannia is that the game and many of the strategies are scripted. Players are rewarded for following scoring summary on their cards that end up following history. Of course, you can’t follow history exactly or the winner would always be predetermined. I look forward to playing all the way through it when we get home.

The final game of the day was also my only tournament game, Here I Stand. I expected tournament play to be difficult, but not in the way I experienced it. Four out of the six players at the table were beginners. As a result, they didn’t appreciate the long term consequences of their actions and I had my worst ever HIS game. Playing the Ottomans, I ended the game with a net one victory point increase. I’m sure there’s a post in me about just what lead to this disaster of a game for me, but the short of it is HIS should not be marked as a beginner’s welcome game. There were two many take backs and goofy happenings going on at my table to make me feel like I was playing in a tournament. My sampler game of Steam was more cut throat!