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?