Jacob and I drove the 45 minutes to Vancouver, WA for an afternoon (and evening) of gaming at Doug and Mimi's. Many of the usual suspects joined us, including Kevin Graham, Sabrina & Greg, and Kim. This is turning into a great crowd with similar interests - great personalities all around.
We started with a couple of games of Take It Easy. This is a great opener - a bingo-like game that is easy to learn but has some difficult choices. The goal is to maximize the number and score for continuous segments in three different directions. Since you don't know which tiles will be called (all players are playing with the same tiles), chosing when to disrupt a potential score can be very difficult. I did pretty well in this game, winning both rounds with scores of 161 and 162. Jacob won the comeback player of the round award - he jumped from a 44 to a 132! One interesting tidbit in this game was that in the second round, at least 4 of us had identical boards through the first 6 or 7 tiles.
At this point we split into two groups of four - Jacob, Mimi, Greg, and I played Airlines while everyone else played Industrial Waste. I've taken a liking to transportation-themed games, particularly those that involve route planning and some degree of cooperation. Airlines is the predecessor to Union Pacific, and one can easily see why this would make a good train game. I got off to a terrible start... I was unable to found a new airline in my first turn due to very poor flight cards, so right off the bat I was helping other people and hoping to gain a leg up in stock. The only reason I even stayed close for a while was a favorably timed scoring round right after I took control of one of Greg's better airlines. This was a great match, with the following round-by-round scores:
Jacob fully built out and maintained control of a major airline, and wrested control of another from Mimi towards the end, causing a huge spurt in the final scoring round to take the game.
I didn't play this one, but it looked interesting and consensus was that this is a keeper. Kevin won with Sabrina finishing second.
This is one I've been itching to try for sometime. This is a beautiful game, but a bit of a brain-burner. The game is just so open - many choices each turn, and it seems to be a game where you should be spending at least as much time worrying about what your oponent will do after your turn as you do about the turn itself. I found myself maximizing my scoring opportunity only to create an even bigger opportunity for Kevin and Doug. Doug raced ahead quickly in this one through some smart play of irrigation tiles. I made some decent moves toward the end and shored up some solid end-game scoring for our larger cities, but it wasn't enough to hold off Doug. Final scores: Doug 108, Chris 100, Kevin 86.
Shortly after starting our Java game, Mimi was kind enough to serve everyone a fabulous dinner of fried rice, coconut shrimp, salad, and other goodies. As I've mentioned before, Doug and Mimi always take great care of their guests and this was no exception.
Someone mentioned how few games are designed for sterotypical female interests, so Doug and Mimi had to reach into their vast collection to grab a light cooking game with really cool bits.
For a closer we played a couple of games of Can't Stop, the Sid Sackson classic. This was a first for me and Jacob, and we both loved it. Of course I played horribly in my one shot at this one - Doug won (he actually completed 4 lines!) and I only had two markers on the board. Don't let the dice and random elements of this game fool you - there's some real strategy in this combined with a gambling mechanic.
Jacob and I needed to head home to get some sleep, but Doug, Mimi, and Kevin stayed on to play McMulti.