There’s nothing like an August Quickie.

10 08 2012

I just made up that phrase, so I have no idea what it means either, but if you’re reading this then it did the job!

It’s hard to believe that my next Game Night review will be written in the Fall. Here at the end of what’s seemed an endlessly hot summer, I suddenly don’t want it to end. August’s Game Night was last week and it mostly left me wanting more. The expected seven were reduced by one, as Fitz suddenly had to work late. The rest of us made do without his august company, (Hey, see! I used it in a sentence! But then where does the quickie come in?) Myself, Daly, Faith, Fix, Stuart, Dav, and Mathilda, our gamer-in-training, enjoyed an old favorite, Bang!; a new favorite, Silverton; and a game that’s been burning a whole in my shelf for years now, finally hitting the game table for the first time: Citadels. While Mathilda practiced with an old deck of cards, the rest of us enjoyed Faith’s delicious chicken balls! Thanks Faith!

The rest of the group played Bang! as I sat out, attempting to refamiliarize myself with the rules for Citadels. Bang!is another in the genre of Mafia-style games, augmented with cards providing the players with various abilities. The players assume the roles of the Sheriff, some Deputies, Outlaws, and a Renegade, but only the Sheriff’s identity is known to the public. The Sheriff and Deputies must kill the Outlaws & Renegade to win, the Outlaws must kill the lawmen to win, and the Renegade only wins as the last man standing.

“I bang you!” “Nope, missed me.”

Players play “Bang!” cards to shoot at each other, augmenting their shots with other cards to give them further range with a rifle, for instance, or to dodge behind a barrel card for cover, or various other effects. In addition, each player is assigned a character, each with a unique ability. The game plays nicely and swiftly and is fun for a larger group. This time the Outlaws, Stuart & Faith, won the game.

Once they were through with that, I finally felt up to speed again on Citadels, a game I’ve owned for years but only ever played a couple times at another friend’s house a long time ago. The theme of Citadels is slightly reminiscent of Dominion, as players attempt to earn cash to purchase buildings of various point values for their town, but the gameplay is very different. Players play buildings into their city from their hand by paying the amount of cash indicated, usually between 1-6 gold. They may draw new building cards from the deck on their turn, or collect more gold from the bank. Some buildings give added benefits, such as letting you earn even more gold on your turn. But the real hook of the game is the character cards. Each round, the players shuffle the 8 character cards, discard one face down, and then take turns examining the remaining cards and selecting a character to play as for that round. (A game usually last around 10 rounds or so.) Each character grants that player a special power. Some powers are straightforward; the King always goes first and collects 1 extra gold for each yellow building in his city,

It’s good to be King.

(each building card is designated one of five different colors,) while others are malicious; the Assassin chooses another character to kill, causing them to lose their turn. The trick is that players choose their character from the remaining character cards that are handed to them from the right, always starting with the current King, (if another player chooses the King, she will pick first on the next round,) so they never know for sure who the other players are until the round begins, and even less so if they are seated several seats from the King. Really getting inside your opponents heads, trying to guess who they’d choose, and how to either attack them or defend yourself from them, based on just GUESSES, is the real meat of the game. As you can imagine, also knowing well what each character’s abilities are and how they tend to interact with each other gives you a leg up in this game. Since we were all basically new to the game, it was still a fair play, but the high advantage given to experienced players is what has soured me to this game in the past. Nevertheless, we had a fun time with it. Dav won, as is his wont, with 37 points, creaming everyone else- the next highest was Fix with 28, and Stu & I pulled up the rear with 17 & 21 points.

Finally, we ended the night with a 3-hour stretch of Silverton, the game of Colorado railroading! We first tried this out at our Hamptons Game Night and really enjoyed it. I was anxious to see how it would play with so many players. As we discovered then, while the rules initially seem complex, once you get playing, they begin making sense. Particularly enjoyable again was the market mechanism, utilizing supply & demand to drive the prices for coal, silver, gold, and lumber. As we only had 3 hours left in the night to play, we only got through something like 10 rounds, which was not nearly enough time, especially with so many players. Like Monopoly, and not in a good way*, there’s significant luck involved in getting the properties, (railroad lines & mines,) you need to earn money to progress in the game. In this case the randomness of dice rolling is replaced with card drawing. Thankfully, Silverton mitigates this luck factor; as the game goes on, each player will inevitably begin scoring railroads and mines which they are situated to take advantage of. However, this does take time and the game is supposed to be played with 24 rounds, (6 in-game years!) and is even suggested to play till 30 rounds! 9 hours is expected to be able to play a full and fair game. Despite this, the game is enjoyable, perhaps because you don’t really seem to realize how badly you are losing as much as in Monopoly. Fix won this time, with $14,600, followed by Daly at $12K, and Faith at $8,150. For a nice change of pace, Dav wasn’t even on the winners’ podium.

THIS is the board we play on, the first edition. Thankfully, the game-makers have issued a graphically improved edition, making the game much easier to follow.

As usual, Game Night this month was a big hit, chicken balls, bangs, quickies, and all. See you next month!

*IS there a good way to be like Monopoly?





Panic Station + Space Alert = Don’t Panic! ah… H2G2 makes me smile.

22 06 2012

Hey there, hi there, ho there, you lucky game-o-philes! That’s right, I’m finally getting around to the written wrap-up of our monthly gaming adventure! So without further ado…

Groceries! That’s how I began the night, anyway. Arriving late to my own Game Night due to the need for sustenance, and even keeping poor Stuart and Fix waiting. But it was worth it since I bought a giant bucket of cheese balls. I’ll tell ya, those things look tempting, and they even taste tempting, kinda like crack, but, oooogggg, they sit like a rock. Especially when you all but finish 2 gallons in an evening. But enough about our gastrointestinal issues! The highlight of the night was our new addition! (No, Stuart and Zoe’s baby did not come early.) Friend Will recently moved to the neighborhood and we managed to trick  convince him to join us. A weary Dav rounded out our group at five. (Mathilda’s teething, apparently. See what you have to look forward to, Stu!)

We started our gaming this evening, (this is a blog about games, remember?) with Dav’s new Panic Station, which is basically Mafia, (or Werewolf, or Resistance, etc,) but with a really nicely done modular tile-based board game/exploration mechanic wherein the players actually have to turn over new map tiles and move their tokens to explore the map and destroy the source of the infection, as well as killing off the infected. The infected, of course, have to try to keep their status secret and move to be in the same room as another player in order to infect them. This added physical aspect of the game, (which reminds me a lot of Zombies!!!,) is a really creative addition to the Mafia base game. I wasn’t sold entirely on it being worth playing over The Resistance, but that may have been because I was the infected and managed to lose miserably, infecting a total of ONE other player, and that only at the very end of the game. Everyone else seemed to have a lot more fun- go figure!

Next we played Space Alert! which is fast becoming a major favorite. Wil looked a bit intimidated as we explained the basics, but performed admirably in his first tutorial mission, which we WON! Too bad it was only a simulation. With our spirits buoyed we tried a real mission, complete with internal threats, the C button, and robots. Naturally, those fickle, fickle robots, being so hard to control, were the death of us. Thinking I was so smart, I managed to pull a Daly instead. Yep, I flew off with the robots to cover our ass with the short range fighters but launched with the wrong card, triggering a mulligan, which then forced me to land, and subsequently our ship was destroyed by the last enemy attacker. Nuts. I hear the expansion is really great, (it scores a 8.75 on BoardGameGeek!) but I really think we need to get better at the game to justify buying it. Especially considering I’ve just bought two new games: Dungeons & Dragons- Lords of Waterdeep, and the Shadows Over Camelot expansion, Merlin’s Company.

I finally did a bit of maintenance and have logged my entire game collection on BGG. So now we can peruse it remotely and maybe even decide in advance what we’d like to play! (Yeah, right.) Anyhow, you can check it out here:
Mr. Burp’s Games!

Until next time!

Oh, and guess whose letter was printed in a comic this month?? 🙂





I’m Cuckoo for Co-ops!

8 03 2012

Hey there, you groovy gamers!

Well, last night’s Game Night was another hit, with Fix, Fitz, Stu, Dav, and myself indulging in two games each of the cooperative games Pandemic: On the Brink and Space Alert: Keep the Roommate Awake. The gang all trickled in around six o’clock and we started out with some frosty beverages, idle chatter, and exchanging of library material. Making the rounds this month are: Scott Chantler’s beautiful WWII graphic novel, Two Generals; last year’s best new comic series relaunch, Daredevil #1-9, by Waid, Martin, & Rivera; Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft, & Attila Futaki’s terrifying comic miniseries, Severed #1-7; and two Terry Pratchett Discworld novels: Guards! Guards!, the introduction to his beloved City Watch characters, and his most recent and perhaps last Sam Vimes story, Snuff. After that bit of housekeeping, we got down to business.

The Pale Blue Dot.

First we had another go at Pandemic, with the On the Brink expansion set. After getting trounced twice last time we tried hard to do better this go. The first match we got stomped by 8 disease outbreaks before we even discovered 2 cures. The second round we let Fix play the BioTerrorist, (since Laura wasn’t there,) and that was really fun. We were doing pretty well, and it got right down to the wire. We were accountably just 3 turns from losing by running out of Event Cards when Dav, Fitz, & Stu hit upon an incredibly complex series of moves and card combos which looked like it could win it for us. I could explain it to you but I was apparently distracted by a dog outside the window. He was really cute. The other guys will tell you that this took me out of the game, but we did win after all, for which I’m sure I deserve a fair share of the credit; we were a team after all! It was nice to finally, after all these years, beat Pandemic.

Wait, the game gets HARDER?!?

Can I get visual confirmation on that dog, Lieutenant?

Next we sat down to Space Alert, the game whose object is apparently to explore hostile deep space by yelling at everyone enough to forget what it was you were supposed to be doing in the first place. It was around this time that our roommate, Liz, came home, preparing to study and then go to bed. She graciously assured us she could deal with our raucous ruckus, and even complimented us on our running playback of the Star Trek: The Next Generation’s ambient engine noise. I wonder if she still feels the same way. Last time we played I acted simply as the instructor, but this time around I got to play along with everyone else. I’m still thrilled at how fun this short game is to simply watch, but playing is even more enjoyable. If you’ve ever wanted a realistic game crewing an intergalactic starship- well, you just might be fooled into thinking this game is for you. But if you can occasionally enjoy Galaxy Quest over Star Trek, Starship Troopers over Ender’s Game, or Munchkin over Dungeons & Dragons, then this game is right up your alley. We first played a Simulation round, which we did reasonably well on and didn’t even die. Too bad you’re not supposed to keep score on Simulation Runs. I even managed to get us a couple extra points for visual confirmation! (Otherwise known as looking out the window, which is apparently a running theme tonight. But you do get points for it! Serious!) With our confidence buoyed by the successful Simulation Run, we attempted a real mission. Suffice it to say that it didn’t go as well. For one thing, our ship was overrun by internal threats alone. For another, BOTH our security robot teams LEFT the rooms the evil seeker droid was in in order to defend an empty room. As for myself, I stick with what I know, and so I looked out the window again. There was a dog there! Sirius!… … huh? huh? See what I did there? (Did I say “running theme?” Perhaps I meant running gag.) Anyway, the seeker droid evaded capture, blowing a gaping hole in the side of the ship so big I figured the kamikaze fighter would sail on through it. We had no such luck. Soooo, after that ignominious defeat, we decided to call it a night.

It was a great time had by all, as always, and I can’t wait to do it again. I did just pick up some additional zombie and skeleton miniatures, so maybe another round of Super Epic Zombies Plus is in the cards?

Braaaaains!
Kris

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