Friday night I trekked on down to the Game Shoppe in Bellevue for a bit of gaming. The plan was to met up with Justin Easley and play some Twilight Struggle and perhaps then try out Age of Empires III with some of the other gamers who already were planning to play Zooloretto. I arrived at the Game Shoppe around 6:00, and ended up exploring the shop for an hour - it turned out that Justin's child had been sick and he was unable to come out. This was the first time I had been out to the shop and I was surprised and happy to see a really decent assortment of games (though they did not have Imperial nor BattleLore Call to Arms). Being the bored impulse shopper that I am, I grabbed Gulo Gulo and No Thanks! for my family. Though I had been looking at the selection for nearly 40 minutes, I somehow missed that they had Blue Moon City sitting there, which I would have grabbed instead of Gulo Gulo - oh well. The shop manager Becky was very nice and the store has a huge wall of "demo" games, which she told me I was free to browse through if I was interested in the rule or bits of various games. Though I've played or seen most of the stuff on their wall, I was impressed that they had so many games available for people to play - including Shogun/Samurai Swords. Overall, I was quite happy to find such a nice store, though I really wish they had a store a bit closer to my side of town.
After a bit, a few other gamers arrived and started setting up Zooloretto. One of the gamers asked if I wanted to join them, as their 5th player didn't look like he was coming, and since I wanted to try Zooloretto out, I sat in. The players were Mike and his significant other Janelle, Bob (Ashitaka) and his girlfriend Isabelle and I. None of us had played before, so Bob explained the game, which is in essence Coloretto with nice bits instead of cards and slightly different scoring. The first game was a bit cautious as the gals hadn't played Coloretto before and seemed to be trying to work out the game mechanisms. In the end, Bob and I tied, but I lost the tie breaker as I had no money. The scores were sadly low: Janelle 3, Mike 11, Bob 15(win), Isabelle 12, Charles 15. What we missed was the extra two points per unique market stand on your board. Nobody had any clue what the score might have looked like since we discovered that a bit into our second game. I also misunderstood a rule - I thought you had to have matching stands in the one zoo area that takes two concession stands, so I never placed another one in that area and lost points. Ah well. About halfway through the game, the other guy (Dana) showed up. After finishing our game, Mike and Janelle headed out so the new guy joined. After debating we agreed to play Zooloretto again. This time out the first tiles were really good to me, and I got two trucks with the same three animals on them. I also managed to grab a good number of coins and avoided extra animals. Bob was not so lucky ended up with nearly one of each animal time in short order. This game was not close as I pulled away with the win. Final scores were Charles 29, Janelle 18, Bob 12, Dana 11.
After that I suggested Attika (I hadn't brought a load of games, and it was a bit late to try Age of Empires). Note, the box says 1 hour (60 minutes) but apparently if the game is a teaching game and one of the players has to be told to take his turn EVERY time the game easily run more like 2 hours of excruciating boredom. At any rate I explained the game and tried to point out some of the important details - take advantage of the building chains and board resources while they are available. The game started out very slowly for me - my capitol city was the last of my black stack. After that, I couldn't get the ships to finish my harbor nor any of the white buildings to chain off my blacks that I had in play. The easy two-structure sets never matched available resources on the board or my hand. After a couple hours of reminding Dana it was his turn, I finally noticed that Bob was likely to build all his buildings in a couple turns and then pointed out that he could end the game due to Dana placing a tile that game Bob immediate access to connecting two shrines. The odd thing about having to remind Dana to go the whole game was that he professed to really like Attika and wanted to play it again sometime. In many ways, his play and inability to pay attention to the game reminded me too much of Jerry* - it was spooky.
*AZ Boardgamers know exactly what I mean.