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!

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Metro Game Day IV: Preview

October 14, 2010

The fourth gathering of game-playing will commence this Saturday. Between work, family and raking leaves, we haven’t had as much time to put into this game day. I had grand visions of theming each game day (starting with this one and Lord of the Rings) and then tailoring the achievements to fit the theme. But I think it’ll have to wait until next time… or at some point.

Even so, I’m really looking forward to this Game Day. It will be a great opportunity to put off other responsibilities (as much as possible) and just relax, hang out and chat with friends and get in some good gaming. I have recently acquired a few games and I’m excited to get them on the table. I’ve played them solo or with my wife, but it is always interesting to see how the game changes when more players are added. I also like to see how different types of players approach the same game.

Look for a recap next week. I’ll at least have a list of all the games that get played.


Game Day Achievements

March 25, 2010

Previously, I wrote about introducing achievements to our Metro Game Day. I’m pleased to report, the reception was great. Even among those who aren’t video gamers and the concept was new to them got into the fun of trying to earn achievements and making sure their achievement list was up to date.

Karate Kid Achievement

The Karate Kid Achievement

The achievements were created using the using the website http://www.says-it.com/achievement/steam.php. The website works rather well, but there are a few limitation. There is no ability to upload and use your own images and use of the site is throttled. In the middle of some achievement making marathons, I was forced to take a break and let the bandwidth limit refresh.

The achievements created were designed to reward play, embarrass, and give people something to brag about. The complete list of achievements is as follows:

  • A Dish Best Served Cold – Beat someone who beat you
  • A Series of Tubes – Reference the internet for more information on a game
  • And So It Begins… – Play the first game of the game day
  • Boom, Headshot – Make a video game reference
  • Card Shark – Play and win a card game
  • Cobra’s Worst Enemy – Roll “snake eyes” twice
  • Cornucopia – Bring food to the game day
  • Do Not Go In There – Hold up a game for a bathroom break
  • Do Or Do Not – Learn a new game at the game day and win at that game
  • Don’t Get Cocky, Kid – Win three games
  • Got Me Some Edjukashun – Learn a new game
  • Film Buff – Quote a line from a movie
  • Grain Sales to Soviets – Make a “Twilight Struggle” joke
  • Heartbroken – Fail to win a single game
  • Hobo – Roll “boxcars” twice
  • It’s a Trap! – Lose a game by being betrayed
  • Karate Kid – Knock, spill, or otherwise disrupt the game board due to animated movements
  • Life of the Party – Bring three or more games to the game day
  • Long Haul – Play in a game that lasts over two hours
  • Lush – Bring alcohol to the game day
  • Ninja – Win three games in a row
  • No One Suspects the Spanish Inquisition – Make a “Here I Stand” joke
  • Pity the Fool – Win every game played
  • Power to the People – Teach a game to someone
  • Return to Sender – RSVP for the game day
  • Rival – Beat or be beaten by the same person twice
  • Sonic – Finish an entire game in less than 15 minutes
  • The Hoff – Play a board game that won German award
  • There’s No I In Team – Play a cooperative board game
  • Those Things Cause Cancer – Hold up a game for a phone call
  • War Monger – Play and win a war game
  • Zombie – Stick around to play the last game of the game day

The original idea was to print all these out and have a large board where we could write everyone’s name and tape the achievements underneath. But time was short and arts and crafts isn’t my forte. So, instead I created a TiddlyWiki with tiddlers for each player and linked the achievement images into their tiddler. This was all displayed on a 23 inch monitor.

Long Haul Achievement

The Long Haul Achievement

The TiddlyWiki worked, but because so many people were unfamiliar with wiki editing and how I was linking the images, it ended up be a user unfriendly situation. In the future, I’d either go with the low tech solution and print everything off or go even more high tech with a custom written application and a 42 inch HDTV display.

So, for next time, TiddlyWiki is out and a custom built Flex app is in. The goal will be to have check boxes to easily update and unlock achievements and statistical view where you can compare two player’s achievements or see how many people have unlocked each achievement. Maybe by Game Day IX I’ll figure out how to get social network integration working so everyone can log in with their facebook account and we can embarrass them in front of their friends by posting their board game achievements.


Metro Game Day II: In Honor of Saint Patrick

March 16, 2010

This past Saturday, 25 people gathered at my home in St. Paul for Metro Game Day II, a quarterly event that we host at various places around the Twin Cities. Russ already mentioned the sweet achievement system that he put in place, which was a huge hit. He ran the tally off of a LCD monitor on the mantle top so people could easily check it out throughout the day.

The event started at 10 AM. As people arrived throughout the day, they were greeted by the sight of a huge stack of games on the front porch. There was a  two-player game going on in the living room, multiplayer games in the dining room, two multiplayer games upstairs, and a two-player game in the basement. The event went for ten hours straight, with things wrapping up around 8:30 PM.

The most fun thing about hosting Metro Game Day is watching people you care about discover a new game that they like–the quick grasp of rules and strategy, followed by the smiles, jokes, and cries of victory and defeat. We were fortunate to have several people stop by who are complete strangers to board games outside of those found at Walmart, and a common question I heard was “Where can I get this game?” Those of us who are well-versed in various games and have experience at teaching them became little focal points for strangers to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

The other cool thing about Metro Game Day is the way it has become a true community event. People are encouraged to contribute to dinner by bringing a side dish, and they were very generous! My wife cooked Sloppy Joes (or “barbecues” in her parlance) and others brought fruit, chips, salads, pies, cakes, and cookies. It was also an excuse to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick, and green was in abundance. (Around 8 PM, we seamlessly transitioned into a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.) Here’s a short list of my personal highlights from the day:

  • Five of us sitting down at 10:10 AM to play Carcassonne just so Russ couldn’t get the “And So It Begins” achievement by playing the first game.
  • Beating a table of three women at Martinis and Men.
  • Watching Russ and Will emerge from the basement after three hours of Twilight Struggle (Will had never played before) only to discover that Russ, the teacher, had accidentally triggered global thermonuclear war and incinerated the globe.
  • Sitting down to play games with two friends from college who I haven’t seen in five years.
  • Seeing my dad finally win a game of Ticket to Ride after two and a half years of trying.
  • Playing the first three games of the day with my wife.
  • Hearing Rick insist loudly that “You don’t get points if you don’t play cards!” as I was contemplating whether or not to discard yet another hand in Pacific Typhoon.
  • Passing through the living room over the course of two hours and watching a pile of Apples to Apples discards get bigger…and bigger…and bigger…

Thanks to all for making Metro Game Day II a success. If you want an invite to Metro Game Day III in June, please let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to find a way to get you the info!

"This end table is just big enough for Stratego..."

Small World + plate of BBQ weenies = bliss.

"Hey, you took my route!"

Two dudes put on their "thinking faces." It didn't matter; my dad (clenching the Coke can in anticipation) won.

Another thinking face. Again, this didn't work either.

Actual (not posed) thinking face. This time, it worked!


Achievement Unlocked

March 12, 2010

Tomorrow is Metro Game Day II, as opposed to Rural Game Day I which is what it would be if I hosted. The game day was created to share our love of gaming with friends and acquaintances; a chance to try to new games, get people excited about gaming, and flaunt our vast collection of games that aren’t found on the shelves of Walmart.

At the inaugural game day, a rudimentary scoring system was introduced at the last minute. You earn a number of points equal to the number of people you beat. So, first place in a four player game gets three points, second place get two, and third gets one. It was simple enough, but deeply flawed. A two hour slug-fest of a Twilight Struggle game would only get you one point. In that same amount of time, another player could play a variety of party games and rack up a double-digit score.

For Game Day II, we went to work trying to develop a new scoring system. While a system that takes into account complexity, time, and number of players is very much possible, the tracking would have had to be done on a spreadsheet and arbitrary decisions to create weighted values for complexity would only lead to problems.

Borderlands: My Muse

Borderlands: My Muse

But in every dark situation, great men shine. I thought back to how I kept jumping off of cliffs trying to land on an enemy in the video game Borderlands just to get an achievement. (Let me tell you, it’s harder than you’d think, especially when you are targeting midget bandit ravagers.) But, if a little meta game reward could keep me doing stupid stuff like this, just imagine what I could instill in my friends!

That’s right, Metro Game Day II brings achievements! Perform certain tasks at the game day and participants will earn achievements.

Here’s a complete list of achievements. Except for the embedded examples, how to earn them will be kept secret until after the game day.

  • A Dish Best Served Cold
  • A Series of Tubes
  • And So It Begins…
  • Boom, Headshot
  • Card Shark
  • Cobra’s Worst Enemy
  • Cornucopia
  • Do Not Go In There
  • Do Or Do Not
  • Don't Get Cocky, Kid 1/3 Achievement

    The Don't Get Cocky, Kid Achievement With Partial Credit

  • Don’t Get Cocky, Kid
  • Got Me Some Edjukashun
  • Film Buff
  • Grain Sales to Soviets
  • Heartbroken
  • Hobo
  • It’s a Trap!
  • Karate Kid
  • Life of the Party
  • Long Haul
  • Lush
  • Ninja
  • No One Suspects the Spanish Inquisition
  • Pity the Fool
  • Power to the People Achievement

    The Power to the People Achievement

  • Power to the People
  • Return to Sender
  • Rival
  • Sonic
  • The Hoff
  • There’s No I In Team
  • Those Things Cause Cancer
  • War Monger
  • Zombie

Next week, I’ll describe how I made the achievements, how we gave them out, and the lessons learned from the game day.  In the mean time, feel free to speculate on how they are earned.