Friday, December 29, 2006
Looks like I forgot to post the results of this one. The title was correct enough as the Axis were Kiln me. These Russian scenarios blow - I hate giving up what I'm doing on the next turn. This one definitely favors the Axis. Bobby crushed me.
I still hate the beach landing scenarios. This one looked like a good chance to make up some ground as Jason had something like only 6 units on the board. All I had to do was punch an opening. Well, three of my units later, I did. Jason still managed to kill a couple others and so I snuck out a 5-6 win. Whooopie. 93-81 still in Jason's favor.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The battle of deep fried burrito was a hard fought affair that went back and forth until I brought a weak unit too close to Jason's troops (though in my own defense, had I rolled a hit, I would have won 6-4). Jason closed it out for a 6-5 victory. 64-63 Rebels for the war
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I hate the beach assaults. If you've ever seen Saving Private Ryan, you'd understand immediately how much it sucks to be the Allies in these scenarios. At any rate, I moved in to position to be beat on and had a few turns with no help from the dice. Jason got a nice easy 6-3 win to move ahead even further 88-75 for the war.
Ok, I don't remember much about this, except that Jason broke me early on and I was just trying to hold on and steal a point or two back. Jason won 5-3. This was mostly a trial run to see if we could stand playing C&C:A over VASSAL - it worked out fairly well, because its mostly obvious when someone will evade or stand ground, so there isn't as much back and forth as we originally thought.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
So, the list has 128 different games. Most of those were new plays, though a number were plays of games that I had tried before. At any rate, to sum up my year of gaming:
- I bought a lot of games. I also traded a lot of games. I added 94 games to my collection, though a number of those went out in trade for others. My collection sits at 146 if I've not missed any. It never feels that big - probably because of the number of "games" that are really just expansions.
- My top three games? Power Grid, Age of Steam, and A Game of Thrones. I had not played A Game of Thrones until this year and I fell in love with it. Its really just well done.
- When I started the year, there were a ton of games I wanted to try, but as the year progressed, I realized I didn't care if I got to try all of the ones I read about. What I wanted was to play some of my favorites more.
- Surprise! I like the Command and Colors games. All of them.
- Surprise! I really like Twilight Struggle.
- I attended my first con this year - Phoenix ConGames. 4 days of gaming goodness. Except... there is only so much gaming with Jerry and two other n00bs I can take. Jerry is just painfully slow and it gets old when every game you play for three days takes an extra 45 minutes because you have to teach it. Otherwise, it was pretty fun.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Bobby sent me a continuation of some of the Eastern Front stuff. This one was a full blown assault with points going to 7 for the win. I managed some kills, but ran out of middle cards when I really needed them to push to the win. With the score tied at 5, Bobby managed a full out assault on the right flank and ended up easily killing another two units for the win.
Well, the second part of the Battle of Gettysburg went about like it did historically. Pickett charged and got smacked down. Not much Jason could do really - with the defensive line, the confederates didn't get much chance to inflict a lot of damage. I won this 6-3 bringing the war back to a tie at 58-58.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
BTW, if I haven't mentioned it, I HATE the beach scenarios. BAH! At any rate, I'm not helping the war effort. Jason took another game, 6-5. It wasn't as close as the score would have you believe. Jason had a huge lead, but I made a late charge to grab some cities and score 3 pts quickly. If I could have drawn a right flank card, I might have won, as their was an easy point sitting there that I could never move to. Ah well - that makes it 82-72 for the war. Geez. I need a really decent couple games to catch up and the next one is.... another beach <cry>
In a strange move, Bobby sent me a game he started of a scenario he hadn't tried before. I say strange, because I was also playing this one with Dion at the same time in our series. At any rate, I was fairly aggressive, as was Bobby, which let me get a lot more confrontational early on. Some good rolls on my side let me grab the 4-2 victory.
As per my MO recently, I felt like I was puting a beating on Dion, but couldn't kill anybody. I looked like I would be able to grab the win, but Dion's beat down units came roaring back and took this one away from me 4-2. That makes it 22-20 for the Allies.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
While this is not a board game, I don't care. Got to play this for the first time last night. I've seen other guys play before (Noah Antwiller is pretty decent at it). It was about as damn fun as I expected. Pretty sure we'll be getting a PS2 before long - Stephanie absolutely loved it. So anyway, I'm surfing You Tube and caught a guy doing Free Bird from Guitar Hero II on expert level. He misse like one note up until the solo at the end of the song. I have no freakin clue how ANYONE could do that song on expert and not screw up the solo. Seriously. If I practiced a lot, I might get the fingering down on some of that, but to strum that fast while fingering - no way. Impressive none the less.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
I arrived at the Inn around 4:30 with no specific plan, but a desire to try and get in a game of BattleLore and possible either Twilight Struggle or Antike. Before long, we had a group of five or six and Jason Maxwell pulled out Fearsome Floors for all of us. Joining the two of us were Eddie Hinan, Jason Sato, Matt Cullinan, Rich Frangiamore, and Jerry George. When you play with Jason Sato, he isn't in to winning as much as he is in to causing mass havok by getting the monster into everyone. We played the advanced rules and Jason saw to it that this game was no exception - he managed to get the board setup such that the monster wiped 5 or 6 guys out in the first move. Eddie managed to race a couple guys out as the rest of us just scrambled around trying to get the monster to hose each other. Still not a great game for me, but I admit that it can be fun getting the monster to wreak a little havok.
At this point, we broke up a bit and Jason Sato and I sat down to play BattleLore. Jason is an old wargamer, so I knew he wouldn't have much trouble picking the game up. He asked to throw it all at him, so we played a scenario with all (most) of the trappings. Unfortunately for Jason, the dice were not his friends. He rolled a lot of misses early on and to top that off, almost all his cards were on his right flank, limiting his choices. A slight bit of experience (very slight) and a run of bad luck for Jason helped me to a 5-3 win.
Next up, Jason Maxwell and I setup Twilight Struggle, which Jason was interested in give a try. The rules are actually fairly straight forward, so in no time we started playing with Jason as the USSR and me as the US. Now, I really enjoy this Cold War game - the theme fits in so well and it plays out a lot like history (the early war is in favor of the USSR, the focus shifts throughout the game, there are times when things are on the brink of losing for a player, etc). I know some other folks dislike the luck factor of the cards and dice, but it doesn't really bother me here. It bothered Jason this particular time. Jason was playing the USSR, because its typically easier for the USSR player the first time through - its harder to really screw up. However, luck was on my side, as my initial hand was devistatingly good for the US and Jason's was mediocre at best. Throughout the first three turns, I had good cards - which turned out to be good news for me, as I could not stop Jason from pushing to within a couple points of disaster for the US. However, about turn 5, I crushed Jason. I was able to play a card, Bear Trap, which forced Jason to discard a card and roll a die. If he rolled a 5 or 6, he had to keep repeating the action each action phase. The card worked TOO WELL, as Jason ended up rolling 5's and 6's until his hand was gone - essentially giving me a free turn to do as I wanted. I couple turns later I had a 13 point lead and had a card that allowed me to end the game with a US victory. We both agreed that the card (and its USSR match) are a bit unbalanced and turn up the unfair luck factor too much. However, this playing did confirm that we will probably start playing over VASSAL, which seems to be the perfect vehicle for this game.
Some other folks were 20-25 minutes from the end of their game, so Jason and I raced through setting up a Command & Colors:Ancients scenario. While it looked to be a bit unbalanced at the start, a crappy hand of cards for me and an excellent set for Jason made the early game look like this would be more than a fair fight. After advancing nearly his whole army, we finally clashed. Back and forth it went, until we were both exposed. I was able to grab the last point before Jason though, thus securing a 6-5 win.
It was getting late, so Jason Maxwell, Jason Sato, Matt and I were joined by Miles Antwiller for a wrapup game of Landlord. This was a card game I had never heard of before. Turned out that this was a total TAKE THAT! game, and was actually pretty fun. To bad for me, I got thrown in Jail for two turns (for bombing a building) and it pretty much took me out of the running. No biggie, as it was pretty fun.
Now, the interesting part of the night. Jason and I headed out to our cars, so he could unload all his Heroscape stuff on me (we are doing a trade). As we get outside, he asked where I had parked, so he could figure out if he had to truck the stuff all over the lot to my car. The thing was, I couldn't find my car. Now, given how scatterbrained I can be, I started wondering what the hell was going on. I own the car, so it wasn't going to be repo'd. Stephanie wouldn't have taken it without telling me (since she had the kids). Plus, I always park pretty much in the exact same spot. BUT DAMNIT, MY CAR WAS NOT THERE. I turned and put my armload of games on Jason's car and told him my car was gone. He said, "Seriously?" - turns out, that has been the most common reaction when I tell people. Now, given my retardedness, he starts asking if I'm sure I parked where I thought I did. Unsure of myself a little (I mean, why wouldn't my car be where I thought it should be?) - I start walking the parking lot. Its like 12:15AM at this point, and there are only like 3 small groups of cars, so it doesn't take long to realize that my car really is missing. At that point, I call my wife, who asks if I'm coming home soon. I explain that I am not, since I don't seem to have a car anymore.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Here are a couple webtoons from Ted Alspach this week about gaming. While these are funny, it does tell a tale that many gamers face - how do we play them all? One of my goals for 2006 was to basically play a new game each week - new game being defined as one I hadn't played before. Thus far, I'm sitting at something like 76 new games so far this year. I enjoyed most of them and would play most of them again if given a choice. But, I also recognized that there was no way I could keep trying games and still get more plays in on games I really really liked - which is why I set the number of new games so low. When I first really got into this hobby, I didn't play a game for the second time for something like four months. Yep, for four glorious months, I was learning something on the average of five new games each Friday night. And you know what? That was great. But I also recognized that some games were more entertaining than others. Some games were much deeper than others and needed more than a single play to "get". So, in 2006 I set my bar a bit lower. What I found out was the following:
- Some games are fun once. Then you play again and the game is the same. Or there is only one winning strategy. Or there is no winning strategy and in the end its pure luck that determines the winner.
- Some games are not fun the first time, because unless you have some understanding of the game's system, you can't really be competitive (Age of Steam, Power Grid, any Knizia auction game). These games require multiple plays before you come to love them.
- There are some games that I just don't care about playing. If a game isn't high on the BGG "radar" it doesn't mean its a bad game, but on the other hand, I don't need to try it just to say that I have. I can now happily watch others setup a new game, spend a load of time explaining rules and struggle through a playing while I play two other games that I know and love.
- There are some game types that I just don't care about playing. I don't need to play every random card game that will appeal to non-gamers. I don't need to play half the "light" games that get pulled out just to try them. I don't really care to play games that are heavy on theme and questionable on game (Arkham Horror, Fury of Dracula).
- There isn't enough time to get in replays of games that I do like. If I can't get enough time to play games I know I like, how can there possibly be time for playing new games that I know nothing about?
Anyway, back to the point about playing them all. First, as funny as the numbers that are thrown out in the above cartoons, the reality is that there are not that many games. Lets look at what I mean by paring down the numbers.
- Hell, probably 1/4 of those are new versions of Monopoly, Uno, Risk and the like. The BGG has seperate listings for each of the "versions" because people like to track their collections and it makes trading easier if you can specify the versions (on that, I disagree - the admins have merged any number of games that should definitely have their own entry based on that criteria and there are a number of "games" listed that are aggregations of parts (Heroscape sets). Having 100+ Monopoly versions is retarded no matter how you look at it). So, when looking at the number of games you'd have to try, you have to understand that a large number of that 27,000 or whatever are versions of the same game. At least in Risk, the games really are different, unlike Monopoly, where they just change the graphics of the board.
- A large number of the games listed are expansions. There are 16 entries for Age of Steam, yet there really is but one game. There are 15 officially released maps/expansions for the game. Ok, so that probably doesn't whitle the number down much, but it is a consideration.
- The BGG is international, so games from around the world are listed. A great number of those will never see the light of day in America (or at least they won't be readily available in America). Because there is no market, its not that great a game, whatever. So we can eliminate a number of games due to the unavailable issue.
- Also in the unavailable category - old games. There are a large number of old games listed in the BGG - games from the 60s, 70s, 80s that were just silly (The Bionic Man game, Gilligan's Island game (the cartoon version), etc etc). These are games you get at garage sales if they didn't mildew to death. You can get these on ebay for like $2 or at thrift stores. But in general, you can't find them and you don't care.
- Kids games. There are any number of games listed that no adult would normally play. The Dora the Explorer Game for example.
- Game styles will impact the number. For example, I am no Grognard and don't feel the need to play any wargame with loads of chits. I don't really feel the need to play a "block" wargame either (though I admit, there are a couple I'd try). Most Grognards feel the same way about Eurogames and meeples. I also don't really play collectible games (Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, anything ending in CCG). You can probably eliminate 1/3 to 1/2 of the remaining games based on what style of games you enjoy.
So, where does that leave you? I don't know, I'm not doing the math on this one, because its based on a gamer's personal tastes. For me, I'd guess that (realistically) there are about 100 games that I haven't played that I'd like to try. I added a number of games to my list from Essen reports, but I also gave up on a number of games based on other reviews and word of mouth from friends. Do I think that I'll ever play/try all the games that I desire? No. I'm sure if I tried all the games currently on my "list", I'd be able to go make a new one, or that a new batch of games will have hit the shelves. For 2007, I'm not sure what my goal is going to look like. I have a friend, Dion Garner, who has been trying to play through the top 100 games on the BGG. That's probably as good a place to start as any, but I looked through the list once, and I don't really desire to play all of them. I think I've gotten to the point, where I'm just happy playing games. I know enough of them, that if I never got to play a new game, I'd be ok. I do like learning new games, but it is not the driving force it was when I first started playing 18+ months ago.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
This one went back and forth for a while. and was in a 4-4 tie. I had half my command cards giving me orders I couldn't use, so ended up late in the game kind of flailing around trying to get anything done. I got a fire card that let me push one of Jason's infantry units with a general back off the board, giving me the last two points I needed for the 6-4 win. Union takes back the lead 54-53 for the war.
Ok, that's what I wanted to happen. What really happened was that I screwed up that last turn. I hadn't moved an artillery back at the start of my turn and so had rolled too many dice. I re-played the turn and did NOT kill Jason off. Instead, he killed me the next turn and HE won 6-4. Damn 55-52 for the Confederates.
Well, only a couple turns into this, Jason did a "Panzer Blitz" and took out a number of my units and I was done at that point. He finally finished me off a few turns later for a 6-3 win. The score is now 76-68 for the war (Axis/Jason).
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
First of the official new scenarios. So we went back and forth on this to 4-4 and then I had to take a chance and make a run at the last two points - Jason took my units and smacked them around scoring the last few points he needed to win 6-4. Axis now ahead by five points 70-65.
Monday, December 11, 2006
1) Power Grid. I really enjoy Power Grid, because it incorporates a number of mechanism that I think are easy to understand (auction, supply and demand, jockeying for position) and have been mixed together quite well. This game plays equally well with any number from 3-6. Its slightly fiddly in managing the goods track and to a lesser extent, the power plants - though a single person can easily handle those portions of the game. Ther rest is easy enough for a beginner to quickly pick up.
2) Age of Steam. Though I like this one better than Power Grid, I don't rank it higher because its unforgiving - which means beginners will struggle with it and might not want to play again. Its also a bit long, if you get behind far to early. However, if you can get past the learning curve, I think its easily one of the best games I've played. Tight economics and a changing map (and for that matter, set of expansion maps) make this one fun to me.
3) A Game of Thrones (plus expansions). This is one freaking great wargame. Nearly no luck and all strategy makes this a nearly perfect. Everyone's house plays differently, yet the game is really well balanced. It also captures the flavor of one of the best fantasy series exceptionally well. This would be number one if it didn't take 5+ hours to play.
4)Torres. This is one that I do not own. I really really should. I should also play this more, as I really enjoy it. The action point system and the spatial system really connect with me (it probably why I also enjoy Java).
5)Carcassonne The Castle. This is probably my favorite two player game. Knizia's take on the Carc franchise is very well done. Its pretty simple to learn and has enough to it to make you think a bit. I wish regular Carcassonne was this entertaining.
6)Tichu. This is far and away my favorite trick taking game. A great card game that I've never gotten tired of. The 6 player games is quite different from the 4 player version, but I like them both.
7)Samurai. A great Knizia game that took me a while to understand the 3-player strategy. I still have no grasp on the 4 player strategies. This one looks great and is pretty fun.
8)Java. See the above entry for Torres. This one is more complicated than Torres, and I tend to get a bit of analysis paralysis trying to find really slick moves, but I've never hated any game I've played.
9)El Grande. A seriously fun area control game that I've played ONE TIME. I think this might actually be a crime in some parts of the world.
10)Ingenious. Hmm, three Knizia's in my top 10? Well, there are a load of games that could make number 10 in my list depending on the day. This one plays equally well with 2-4. The more I play it, the more I like this one.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Stephanie was out of town with Ainsley, so I invited Jason Maxwell, Dion Garner, and Matthew Frederick over to get in some two player games. Of course, the first game we played wasn't a two-player. Jason had picked me up a copy of Front Porch Classics' Stretch Run. I wanted this simply for the brass horse figures. Jason wanted it because he knew the person who had done all the art for the game. At any rate, Stretch run is a fairly simple horse racing game. We decided to simply run a single race to see how the game played. It pretty basic and of course, totally random. There are more advanced rules to handicap the horse and for betting, but we didn't bother getting into that so that we could play the games we really wanted to get in.
I had BattleLore, the new Richard Borg Command and Colors game. We drew for who got to play, and the partners. Dion and Matthew got to start playing BattleLore, so Jason and I opted to try out the other game in the system that we hadn't played - Command and Colors:Ancients. Being simpler than BattleLore and a bit easier to setup, Jason and I were able to get through the first scenario pretty quickly, with Jason winning 5-3. There was no terrain to worry about, so it was just a straight clash of the armies. We looked over and saw that Dion had half the points he needed and Matthew had none, so we decided that we could get another scenario in while they finished. We setup the next scenario which put me in the poor position of having to ford a river to get to Jason's armies. This allowed Jason time to get in position to wipe me out as I crossed. He won easily 5-2. We had all finished up, so Jason and I took over BattleLore while Dion and Matthew pulled out Twilight Struggle.
Though I had only played one basic game prior to this and Jason had not played at all, Jason wanted to jump right into the advanced game (adding lore cards and a War Council). I too was interested in trying it all out, so I picked the most basic of the "advanced" scenarios and we got setup. Basically, the War Council allow you to customize which lore skills you are adept at. I skipped the Cleric skills (healing and some attacks) and went pretty evenly on the others. Jason skipped the wizard (spell attacks) and spread out over the others. What we found was that the lore added a bit of chaos to the game. The cards let you increase attacks, escape, screw up the other player's orders etc. It also lets in another source of randomness, so if you want very little randomness and more strategy/tactics in a Command and Colors game, you probably want to skip BattleLore and stick with C&C:Ancients. Jason and I though, had a good time and I was able to use some decent lore at the end to quickly comeback and crush Jason out of left field for the 5-3 win. Matthew and Dion were (not unexpectedly) still playing TS, so we setup another scenario with a ton of armies. Again, pretty chaotic, but I had a pretty good run of cards. I managed to inflict a lot of damage, but very few kills. Finally, I got a couple decent lore cards and disrupted Jason's plans long enough to kill some of his armies and ended the game with a 6-4 win. Overall a fun night, winning 2 and losing 2 games.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Jason Sato, Mike Gingold, and Dion Garner jumped into a new game I started. I feel like I have a good handle on the 3-player version of the game, but I just seem to be lost in the four player version. It may just be too chaotic with 4 players. At any rate, Mike seemed to easily win. It may have just been one of those games where the opportunities matched up with his tile draws. My tile draws sucked :(
I was checking out the notes to this one and I noticed that tanks counted double to VPs for the Allies. I also realized that Dion had probably not remembered this, as he had put a tank pretty deep into my side of the board with no support. I jumped on his tank and won 4-1. That now makes it 21-16 in my favor.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
- Average a new game each week. My gaming group usually bring a bazillion games (it took me about 4 months before I got to play a game that I already knew). This shouldn't be too hard for the first half of the year, but I want to keep things new all year round.
- Play all the unplayed games in my collection. I'd like to have at least one play for every game I own.
- Try and keep my purchases in line with goal #2.
- Play one heavy game each month (3+ hours). I'd like to try and play at least one of those games once a month. This will probably still fit in with my first goal, as I can think of a number of epic games I've never played.
So, with only a month left, where am I? Well...
- I've tried 78 new games this year.
- My collection still has a number of unplayed games. In fact, I've acquired a number of new ones I haven't played. Some are really decent bargains that I didn't want to pass up. Some I expect to play with friends or family, but not my regular group. Others just haven't seen table time yet.
- I have played at least 11 3(+)-hour games. I think one a month is about right, if you game every week. Although, playing A Game of Thrones almost always makes me want to do it again.
So what about 2007? Well, I'm trying to cut back my game nights to every other week to make my wife happy. We are also moving to Omaha, so I'm losing one of the best game groups in the country. My folks will play some games and they like cards, but it won't be the same. So, I'm not sure, but here is a early take on what I see in 2007 (assuming we move).
- Tichu has to hit my dime list again. That means, teaching my wife and folks to play.
- Find a group to game with.
- Get a Crokinole board.
- Go to the BGG Con.
- Attend at least one other game con. Origins might be the one, as I could stay with a friend near Columbus.
- Write a couple game reviews each month.
- Teach my parents and/or their card partners 12 games. Real games. Probably things like: Ticket to Ride, Mystery Rummy, Cluzzle, Tichu, Samurai, Canyon, Carcassonne, Coloretto, David & Goliath, Quandary, M, Margin for Error, That's Life!, Union Pacific
This scenario sets up with the Union in the center of the board, and the Confederates in the left and right flanks. Of course, Jason eliminated the one unit I had in the wings and left me with a hand of useless cards. I took at least two turns where I could not do anything because my cards were left and right moves only. I made a good dent in his troops and lead most of the game, but in the end I didn't have any cards to fend Jason off and he won 6-5. The lead swings back to Jason 49-48 for the war.
Another interesting one that had unpassable hills on the left and right flanks, making two valleys. The objective was to race through the valleys and try and take the town in the middle. This one seems a bit weighted towards the Allies, who start with a number of tanks. I had a few good cards that let me move a lot of tanks in position early. These charges let me inflict enough casualties for the win 5-3. Axis still winning the overall campaign 64-61. We've decided to just keep playing through the official scenarios and expansions, so more to come.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
When I arrived at the Inn this week and there were already a few guys there. Jason Sato and Matt Cullinan were playing a Star Wars mini game and Dion Garner, Jerry George, and Rich were setting up for Cleopatra. I declined to join them and instead took a look around the store. I ended up grabbing the new Power Grid map of Benelux/Central Europe. Of course, I hadn't brought my copy of Power Grid, since Bobby Warren had said he'd bring his. Then Bobby canceled on us at the last minute. Luckily, Noah Antwiller showed up and had his copy. And so it was that Rob Smolka, Jason Sato, Noah and Miles Antwiller, Matt Cullinan and I all sat down and tried out the Central Europe map. I don't know that we got any kind of feel for the map though, as the order that the power plants came out was almost in reverse. Since people were not buying plants worth of resources each turn and because the nuke and garbage plants just hadn't shown much, the resource board was mostly full to start each turn. On the second turn of the game, the plants came out in poor enough order that I ended up having to take a plant I didn't want. This pretty much kept me out of the running for the rest of the game. I believe Miles pulled out another win.
Noah and I were then joined by Steve Bauer and Matthew Frederick for a game of A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords None of us had tried this out yet and so Matthew and Noah begin going over the rules as Steve and I attempted to sort out the cards and playing pieces. We managed to finally get started and about 3 turns in, we realized that we had mis-played a rule (as we inevitably do every time we play). This ruling went against me and the others decided that we should probably just start over, as it made a huge difference against me. And so it was that we started over, which is probably why we never finished the game - at 1:30AM we finally just decided that we'd all had enough and called the game a draw. So, how was this version of one of my favorite games? Very interesting, and quite balanced. There are a few new things (the allies and the strategy cards). I'd have to say that the new items add a bit of freshness to the game. The new four player version is very balanced - too balanced maybe, as nobody looked even close to winning at any point.