Adrienne and Andrew Mackey

We went to Florida last weekend to celebrate the marriage of my niece Adrienne and her new husband Andrew. Saw some family I hadn't seen for a long time and generally had a wonderful time. Also played 36 holes of crappy golf. There are some great muni courses in the Melbourne / Cocoa Beach area.

The photo above? Well, it was just a tad windy for the beach wedding and hearty sons Jacob and Matthew were assigned the duty of bracing the wedding arch. After the ceremony we got this nice pic of Adrienne and Andrew holding the arch for the Jacob and Matthew pose.

Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Mackey!

Summoner Wars with Matthew

I sensed a willingness in Matthew to play a game. He offered up something we could play with Jacob and Julie, but knowing Julie was busy with CASA work and Jacob having an unknown return time from umpiring baseball, I grabbed the two player game Summoner Wars off the shelf.

This game, the "master set" edition, is technically on my I played list because I had only played the original small box version (and the iOS version). Opening the box brought a smile to my face. The mounted glossy board is so much nicer than the folded paper board in the original. The many different faction decks, most unplayed, were also a nice surprise. Matthew chose the Tundra Orcs while I picked the Shadow Elves.

The orcs are strong but slow, the elves sneaky but easy to kill. Summoner Wars lets you cycle through your deck just once. Think of the decks as "all the army reserves you're gonna get". The game requires that you choose to discard useful cards into your Magic pile so that you will have resources for summoning on a later turn. Also, opponent creatures that you kill go into your own Magic pile, creating a strong incentive to be aggressive.

Matthew indeed was appropriately aggressive, killing my creatures on three of his first four turns. Fortunately for me I had an event card that put the killed creature in my own Magic pile ("that's a two magic point swing Bob!"). This gave me a strong leg up early with a big creature majority.

Still, I nearly managed to throw it all away. You see, the only goal in the game is to kill off the opponent Summoner (a buffed up boss type creature) that is the leader of the faction. I got too aggressive and went after his Summoner with mine. Next turn Matthew summons new critters that surround my Summoner and nearly kill him off. I survive the onslaught and brought my big dragon-like creature up to clear out his minions then killed his Summoner.

The game played in about 30 minute. Because it is easy to teach, quick to play, and great for replay I think this will have a permanent spot in my library. It is mostly a tactical game but strategy clearly enters the mix as you make tough choices in hand and deck management.

Recent Gaming: Love Letter, Fantastiqa, and more

How about we catch up with some recent gaming?

Love Letter

I've been playing this about every week for the past month. It only has 16 cards and is extremely light, but still a nice diversion. It reminds me of Fluxx in complexity but Love Letter has a much better flow to it with short rounds and a total game length of about 30 minutes. It definitely plays better with 3 or 4 players than with 2, which generally devolves into who draws the better cards.


Playing P.I. - similar to Clue and Mastermind

P.I., a surprise game from Martin Wallace given his tendency towards deeper games, is a deduction game similar to Clue or Mastermind but with a few different twists:

  • One of your opponents is holding the cards representing the crime you must solve. When you take an action to investigate an area, that opponent is responsible for answering correctly. Yes, there are consequences if you screw this up.
  • There's a two dimensional element in the deduction process manifest in the game board, which represents a fictional city. If you've played Mastermind, you might remember that your opponent color codes their response to your guess based on accuracy. P.I. is similar but the 2-D aspect adds a nice twist as you see these orbits around your guesses intersect to help narrow down your crime solving.

Julie, Matthew and I played and enjoyed it - P.I. is a keeper for us.


I asked my game group if anyone has a copy and Doug obliged by bringing a borrowed copy to my game night this week. I've been calling this Dominion meets Elfenland (but without much of the route planning involved in Elfenland). The theme and cards are very cute with a light fantasy theme and some funny card color text. We played the partnership 2 vs. 2 game and I think everyone enjoyed it. I'm still on the fence about acquiring it - I'd like to play a 2 player long game first.

Fast Action Battles: Sicily

FAB: Sicily, fairly light wargame covering allied invasion in 1943

Whenever I get a free full or half weekend day with Jacob or Matthew I try to squeeze in a deeper strategy or war game. Jacob and I agreed to play FAB: Sicily a few weeks ago, a game covering Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily in WWII. This game uses the same series rules as FAB: The Bulge and FAB: Golan '73 will hopefully will come out sometime next year.

This game has the Axis player (moi) setup the less-than-stellar Italian beach garrisons, then the Allied player choose their beach landing strategy. I made some awful newbie choices in my initial setup and could not contain Jacob's invasion forces. The Americans pretty much wiped the map of my garrisons and the meager German panzer and infantry forces present on the NW side of the island. I'm eager for a rematch playing the same sides so I can try a different setup strategy.

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game

We've taken the dive into this amazing miniatures game. The miniatures are extremely well produced and the game is easy to get into and plays quickly. I'll write about this some more as I produced my own star field play mat and we have a few more minis to try out in a full game. We might get to try this Sunday evening.



At GameStorm 15 I played this 18xx game with Greg and Matt. We had a pipe dream that we could play this in four hours but only managed about five. I really like this 18xx game because of its draft mechanism for buying initial private companies. This makes it much easier to introduce new players as they don't need to worry about company valuation, just relative value of the different companies offered.

Fields of Fire

I had a rare weekend with nothing scheduled and without Jacob or Matthew to play a long game with me, so I endeavored to attempt (for the third time) to teach myself Fields of Fire, a solitaire complex game of infantry tactics. This game has been hampered by poor rules with a very steep learning curve, but I will say that it was worth my time and I will play this again within 2 months. With much help from the revised rules, Youtube videos, and a few player help guides, I was able to complete the first scenario in about 8 hours total play time spread over a Saturday and Sunday. The game has a campaign / role playing element to it as you get to rebuild your squads between missions and level up some of the leaders and units.