West Side Saturday - March 20
This will be a rather long session report - there was a ton of gaming going on last Saturday at Mike's, mostly due to the unusually large crowd of 12 people. Jacob joined me, but for the first time we didn't actually plan any games together.
First up was Oasis. Mike was interested in another play (I first taught him at GameStorm a while back), and KC and George were eager to learn. This is a very easy game to teach so we were on our way quickly.
The key frustration I (and apparently others) have with this game is the potentially debilitating random card draw when making offers. The next time we play this game we will try with open hands. Perhaps this will lead to too much analysis, but it is certainly worth a try. This would allow players to tailor their offers and better manage their hand size. Of course it will certainly break the game in unforeseen ways. In this game KC had a great showing, amassing a large quantity of steppes and the corresponding horse scoring tiles. He finished around 190, and I was the closest to him with around 120.
I was a bit disappointed to see this come out at a time when I couldn't play it - this is one I've been wanting to try. Feedback was mixed, but I think all players were interested in another try. Patrick, Dave, and Chuck played; I believe Dave came out ahead.
Comments from Dave: A fun system that's right up my alley. Time will tell whether it's a good system. My fears about the "game arc" were reflected in Doug Adams' BGG comments, where he suggests that the game will usually end before folks start buying shares before companies change hands. In our game, the income was tilted heavily in the favor of Chuck and myself, and, with both of us receiving high income from two companies each, I was able to end the game by breaking the bank. Thumbs Up for now.
Ken, Brandon, and Jacob showed up a bit late and decided to dive into a game of Attika. This was the first game I've seen where a player one by completing all of their buildings, a task accomplished by Ken.
During the Oasis game KC was mounting some cards for one of his prototypes, so he enlisted some help from Peter, Erik, and Mike.
Peter brought out his copy of this classic game and taught it to Ken, Brandon, Jacob, and Erik (his son - not sure if he had played before).
While waiting for Railroad Dice to complete, KC and I taught George how to play one his newest prototypes. The theme of this Cairo-tile laying game is pretty cool - players manipulate photography teams trying to collect snapshots of wildlife in a conservation park. This game is simple to learn but has enough depth to keep it interesting. After 3 plays I'm anxious to get my own copy.
As always, the quality of KC's prototypes are on par with many commercially produced games. George clearly caught on quickly and managed to win this one.
Close-up of the board. The goal is to collect animals (into sets) by surrounding them with three tiles of the same color.
This was the one larger game I was able to play on Saturday, and is one of my favorites. This was my first play with five players since the first time I ever played the game about a year ago. I played a reasonably strong game, staying close to the lead at the end of the old age and hanging in to contend in the final age. I was flush with income in the old age, but ended up being on the wrong side of the sacrifices second time around and spent my time struggling to keep up. Fortunately I managed to draw a few build-for-two- bricks power cards, allowing me to stay ahead in the pyramid race on one side of the Nile. Dave had the opportunity to surpass me, but didn't think I would be ahead of him at the end and took his chance on another card. The card was worthless, and Dave and I ended up in a tie for second, one point behind Mike who won the game. Tons of tension in this game as it came to a close - very enjoyable.
Comments from Dave: Argh, I could have won if I were less aggressive with my final bid, or the bid before that one. No one ever contended much in the bidding rounds, despite many low bids. I still don't like this game. There's not enough interaction, and the purchasing of items is busy work. Thumbs Down.
Magic: the Gathering
Erik was happy to take on all comers in Magic, and I'm fairly certain he won every match he played.
Heimlich & Co.
This is a great Wolfgang Kramer, hidden information game. Peter, Ken and the boys all played. The green Spy was the first to 42 points, but was un-owned by any of the players, but Peter's blue spy was next, winning the game (now how did they know, no-one was green?)
One of the FFG silver box line by Kevin Wilson (WarCraft). A light mining game, were the board slowly/(quickly) is destroyed. Peter added the Second Age Expansion which makes the 3 stone tile stronger and adds two new special tiles, and one additional row to the game, all of which lengthens the game (It needs it) . Ken, Brandon, Erik & Matthew dug away furiously but with four players this is very hard to control anything. In the end Brandon won going away.
This was a new Goodwill find (Complete and unopened for $1.99) by Peter. This is a pretty good dexterity game, where you try to be the first to place all your men on the tower. This game has several chaotic elements, the men do not have flat bases, the tower has many levels and is top heavy (and adjustable) and the marble ballast moves. The result is can quickly spin out of control throwing men all over the place. Several games were played but the winners were not recorded.
This was my final play of the day - Peter introduced this short game that has a key element that I'm learning to hate in some games. Similar to Hoity Toity, this game is about guessing what your opponents will or won't choose to do. In the words of Dave, my only strategy in games like this is "I'll play randomly."
Comments from Dave: Never played this one before. My manipulation of the group psychology was masterful. g:-P The design is a bit too bared-bones for my tastes, but I'd play it again if asked. Thumbs Up.
This game was getting started as I left - no word on the final results.
Comments from Dave: An old favorite of mine, but I've always played with the Streetcar ending rules. I much prefer the Linie 1 rule, as it gives you incentive to build long (and not necessarily direct) segments that don't pass by any stops. Top Shelf.