Happy Thanksgiving

We had a great day here at the coast. Before the details, first a little turkey day Haiku I composed:

Turkey be afraid:
Dinner comes before it's dark,
Best act like a duck.

The day started with a beautiful sunrise over Siletz Bay. The wind stayed down today making for some very pleasant beach time.

Before the big meal we all took a hike out on the beach.

There are some beautiful grass dunes along the beach area.

A sneaker wave jumped up and bit grandma Jan creating a slightly scary but mostly humorous scene. Note the streams of water dripping off her fingers.

In the afternoon we played Boomtown. It was quite fun (despite the apparent high level of boredom shown in this picture). There are some cool mechanics in this game - with some chaos of course, as is typical with Bruno's games.

Dinner was traditional and fabulous. Here Jacob's accusing Julie of taking a bite before everyone sat down.

Salishan for Thanksgiving

Julie, the boys, and I drove out to Salishan today for Thanksgiving weekend. Jan and David came out on Sunday and we are all very excited to have our first extended time here with a furnished home with very little work to do. Plus... yesterday we had broadband cable internet setup and we are stylin' with wireless internet access here.

Yesterday we had some old, nearly dead trees removed so I've got some updated pictures of the house that give a better view.

This is the view from adjacent to the driveway. That's the roof of the carport in the lower left, and you can see the non-functional elevator with the weathervane on top.

We don't have any big plans for the weekend other than watching some football, playing some games, and getting in some beach touch football action. What games did I bring? Here's the list:

View from the back of the house. There's a great ocean view from the picnic table.

Gaming in Atlanta

I had some business travel to Georgia last week, and my meeting ran to late to catch a flight back on United so I had to spend the evening there on Thursday. David Chappelle (no, not that one) was nice enough to respond to my email offer to hook up for some gaming, so I met him up on the NE side. David was here in Portland last winter for a couple of gaming sessions. I apologize for the poor photo quality. I'm spoiled by my Digital Rebel but it is too bulky to take with me on all my trips. So... my other camera had to suffice.

Ken, David, and Lyman and I started off with a game of Kingdoms. This was a first play for me and I was pretty impressed. Like many Knizia games the mechanics are exceedingly simple while the scoring possibilities are complex. I believe Ken won this game but we gave him a good run towards the end.

Next up was Victory & Honor, a four-player partner trick-taking game. It ranks as one of the heavier trick taking games I've played lately (I would compare the complexity to Mu). I had read the rules 2 or 3 times prior but still had a tough time explaining the game. The mechanics are a bit convoluted and I found myself going back to rules frequently.

After playing it once, I'm still not sure how to play this game to win. Read this review - I agree with Jake's assessment but I definitely want to play a few more times to see if it really is as good as Greg Schloesser says it is.

Last up was St. Petersburg. I'm not a huge fan of this as a four-player game, but as always the play was fun with plenty of tension. David pointed out repeatedly how good Ken was so we spent much of the game watching him closely. David turned out to be sandbagging as he walked away with a victory. Scoring was fairly close; I think I finished third.

Playtesting Report

KC, Rita, and I ran two playtest sessions here in Portland in November. Our goal was to get feedback on four of KC's designs and narrow down a list of publishing possibilities. We had a great turnout, solid participation and feedback, and we now feel ready to move to the next step with one or two games, which is blind playtesting. The following is a photo journal of the two playtest events.

The Events

The first event, held on November 6, was at the Midland Library on Portland's east side. This is a fantastic location for gaming and we plan on using it quarterly with our regular gaming group. The event was from 10am - 6pm and we had 12 playtesters attend. The second event, held on November 13, was held at my home with about the same number attending.

The day was fairly structured, divided into four sessions with KC teaching the game followed by a play of the game. Each player would then fill out a feedback form on the game. KC and I would stroll around jotting down notes on suggestions and complaints mid-game.

Pizzza

Pizzza was the first game tested each event. This is a lighter family game where players have secret recipes and try to build pizzas that maximize the scores of their secret ingredients.

We made some changes to the board layout before the second week, putting the ingredient scoring tracks closer to their respective pizzas.

Havoc: The Hundred Years' War

Havoc is the most strategic of the four games, and my personal favorite. This is a poker/rummy style card game where players fight in a series of battles. Strategy comes into play as players decide what battles to fight and what battles to avoid.

We tweaked the rules for the Dogs a bit in the second week of testing as they seemed a bit too powerful. Dogs, which are wild-colored zero rank cards, allow players to take cards back from the battlefield after a battle is resolved.

Northwest Trek

Northwest Trek is a tile-laying game where players try and collect snapshots of animals in a nature park. The original version of this game uses Cairo tiles, which creates a very distinct geometry but can create some confusion when orienting tiles for placement.

Ever the adjuster, KC made some more tweaks for week 2 and tried an offset square-tile version of NW Trek which rated much higher relative to the other games than in the prior week.

Tres Amigos

Tres Amigos is the lightest of the four games - a trick-taking game with some similarities to euchre. The game is a blast to play for those that like games in this genre.

There was a great finish to one of the games in week 2 - the last hand was played with at least three players in striking distance of a victory.

Catchup - Goldbräu, Power Grid x2, and more

I'm well overdue on a number of session reports, including recent playtesting reports for KC's games. Hopefully this is part 1 of 3 posts I'll make tonight.

On November 13 I had several folks over at my home for our second round of guided playtesting. Afterwards people stayed around to play some more games.

Mike Deans brought along his new copy of Goldbrau, the brewfest game where players try to maximize profits by supplying the most beer to the most patrons in the beer garden. Fantastic theme and a nice looking game, but the game was ho-hum.

Mike, KC, Ken, and I try out Goldbrau

After the fact we learned that we played a number of rules incorrectly, so I'm anxious to try the game again to see if there's more to it. My biggest frustration was holding cards that I knew I would never be able to play. The second biggest was the try-and-out-guess-your-opponents mechanic (think Hoity Toity). I often ended up randomly choosing my action.

The kids played upstairs most of the day, spending a lot of time on our computers playing multi-player shooters and strategy games. They did take a break to set up a double HeroScape set for some 2 on 2 action.

Brandon, Jacob, Jenna, and Matthew in the middle of a HeroScape battle.

While I was playing Goldbrau, another group of seven played Bang!. See if you can guess who the sheriff is.

To close the evening out, KC, Rita, Ken, Julie, and I played Power Grid on the Germany map. I also had a chance to play this at work the Friday before, so it was nice to play again so quickly while the game was fresh.

Fun with Power Grid.

This game was very tight, with all of the players within striking distance throughout the game. KC had enough of an edge throughout that most of us figured he'd win unless he made a mistake - he came away with the victory. This is one my favorite games - I put it right up there with Wallenstein and Acquire among my favorites.

One game was played last weekend on Saturday that just have to mention - O Zoo Le Mio. This is an absolutely fantastic game to introduce folks to these board games. Matthew and I taught his friend Dayton how to play, and he immediately latched onto the theme and the mechanics made perfect sense. I gave him plenty of time to look at and try and arrange the tiles up for auction so that he could decide what to bid on. I put this game over Carcassonne, TransAmerica, and many others as a gateway game.

Dayton sporting his Beavers shirt (we were watching the civil war game while playing) as he and Matthew build up their zoos.