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!

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