I Have Been Gaming – 1853, Duel of Ages, and more

Gaming, but obviously not blogging. Let’s talk about a few recent sessions.

Matthew and I dug out Duel of Ages with the first two expansions and it was good. The components could be nicer, the cardboard tiles are warping in their old age, but the game was enjoyable though not terribly interactive. I think we fought against each other 2 or 3 times. Still, the time limit approach to the game keeps it bound and we think we’ll keep this one around.

Duel of Ages

One of my un-played games was Risk 2210AD, a highly regarded Risk variant set in the future (oh, 200 years or so I guess). I can see why folks like it – similar to the Lord of the Rings Risk it is time-bound and keeps everyone moving. The special technology cards add a nice twist as does the moon, though only Matthew and I spent any time there. I think if we want to play Risk we’re more likely to pull out Lord of the Rings.

Axis & Allies 2210AD with Jacob and Matthew

Over the holidays we did a bit of family gaming and broke the shrink-wrap off of Buy Low Sell High. Classic but in my opinion underwhelming Knizia here. Maybe because I finished dead last?

Buy Low Sell High

Ken and Brandon came over for day of gaming and we enjoyed the cooperative game Red November and our first-ever play of Pacific Typhoon. Red November is a gnome-oriented (!) submarine survival game. There isn’t much depth there but we had a good time, though I’m not I like the “bail out” option a gnome can take towards the end – seems to break the team spirit and doesn’t feel as right as a the traitor in Shadows Over Camelot.

Pacific Typhoon is the redone, Pacific theater version of Atlantic Storm, a game I’ve never played. We all enjoyed it and I’d like to explore it some more to see if there’s a durable game in there.

Red November with Brandon, Ken, and Matthew

JD, Ken and tried out Hansa Teutonica, the only game I purchased at BGG.CON. I see why people are raving about this game – many ways to score points, quick turns, the game flows very well. Be warned though that this is a dry, mostly themeless classic Euro game. Writing this does make me want to pull this out again for another play, though.

Hansa Teutonica with JD and Ken

A couple of weekends ago I ventured up to the GameStorm game day in Vancouver WA for some 18xx action. Chris Shaffer was kind enough to teach two full groups how to play the recent Mayfair games new look at 1853. Did I mention that my game group has gone a bit 18xx crazy lately? They have, and so have Jacob and I. In fact I might try to talk both boys into some 2038 action this weekend.

1853 is a bit wacky but very enjoyable. It has a very unique (to me) opening auction technique with sealed bids that determine the seating order (and initial priority deal). Folks overbid by much early on and we did a restart, but in the restart I was essentially forced to start a minor company. I had fun operating in the south and working my line up but was aided greatly when Chris Shaffer started building his hybrid line down south to join me. This opened up my minor to some big runs, and I raided and dumped the last major company to get some nice trains. The wackiest parts of 1853 (relative to other 18xx) are that dumping shares doesn’t bring down the stock price, and you aren’t obligated to hold onto a company if you are the director and sole shareholder. I managed a win by a small margin. It was great to play with some old friends and I think I’d like to add this one to my collection. The bits are very pretty but I wouldn’t say the game was designed for function – some issues with colors and differentiation.

Getting near the end of 1853 with Nate, Chris and Matt

BGG.CON 2009 Wrap-Up

I’m only about a month late on this wrap-up. Maybe two.

Though my trip to the convention was shortened by a day and a half due to work commitments, I had a great time and experienced a great mix of the old and new (with more emphasis on the old this time around). Again, I did most of my gaming with good friend Jim Ginn.

Great Stuff

We the People – This is becoming an annual tradition for Jim and me and arguably has been the highlight for the past two years. This is just a great, simple card driven game that seems extremely well balanced. We both can’t wait for Washington’s War to come out next year. This time I played the American colonies and emerged victorious, partly due to some amazing card draws early in the game. Jim did a valiant job of trying to keep up, and even with that advantage I had some hard choices in the final turn to ensure my victory.

Havana – This is the card game derived from Cuba and I played twice. More expensive than it should be, this is still a fun little game with an innovative action selection and sequencing mechanism.

18AL – We played about 1/2 of a game on Sunday morning with the amazing graphic re-design by XYZ. This was Hamzy’s first time playing 18xx and I think he enjoyed it enough to get the bug.

FITS – Brilliant Knizia design that feels like Tetris combined with Take it Easy. I love the different phases in the game that present unique ways to score. Got this one for Julie for a Christmas gift and she enjoys it as well.

Steam – My first time playing the new Mayfair / Wallace version of the classic Age of Steam. We played with the advanced rules and I think the streamlining choices were appropriate.

The Pillars of the Earth – Hadn’t played this in two years and really enjoyed this play. A game that probably registers negatively with me because my first two plays were with the German cards and we would fumble through with translations, this is better than I have given it credit for.

Roll Through the Ages – I still wonder why I don’t own this game – great quick fun with surprising depth for (just) a dice game.

Just Good Stuff

Power Struggle – This new Essen release was just OK for me. I think it felt too much like other Euros I’ve played and it didn’t grab me. The mechanics seem solid though.

Homesteaders – I’m certain I need to give this another try and the comparisons to Lehmann’s Phoenicia are accurate I think.

Canal Mania – Love the game, hated this instance of playing. We had three competent players and one, er, incompetent player. Every freaking turn he would ask again what his possible actions were and even by the end of the game I think he still didn’t understand the basics.

Roma II – I love Roma but I’m not sure I see enough here to warrant a purchase. It felt like a redoing of the same game with some different cards and powers, though the extra action possibility seems like a nice addition.