Feb. 22, 2008 - Game Shoppe
Mike Garrett, Justin Kosec and I planned to meet up at the Game Shoppe for some Friday night gaming. I got there just ahead of Mike and Justin and sat down with Mike Spoto to eat my fast food. Mike S was busy opening Race For the Galaxy and after I finished eating, I offered to teach him how to play. Justin had walked in at that point and we were also joined by Will Suacier. I went over the rules, using the backwards order for the actions and Will and mike seemed to grok the rules quickly. We played with the starting beginner hands and off we went. Will started dropping cards left and right while I worked on military might. Mike went heavily into the brown and was getting cards easily left and right. Justin? I'm not sure what he was doing, but he took a while to do it. Will ended the game with a 12 card build and won. I couldn't ever find any 6 bonus cards for military (as Will had been holding them).
Mike G had arrived in the middle of our game and so we now had five. As there was no real decision on a game being made, I pulled out my new Wabash Cannonball map. Despite its flaws, the bigger map and cubes are much easier to play with (and anything is better to look at). I explained everything and off we went. Mike G won the PA (red), I won B&O (blue), Will took C&O (yellow) and Mike S won New York (green). On his first turn, Justin put red up for bid, and won that. Shortly after that he and Mike G ran track to cut the B&O off. Not being happy with that turn of events, I grabbed a share of green and started helping Mike S increase that stock value. Will grabbed a second share of yellow and Justin managed to get the third (last) share of red. Mike G now realizing that he was getting behind and that his interest in red was far and away helping Justin more, bid for and got a share of B&O (blue)! We laughed at him a bit, buying a stock for a line he had screwed earlier, but I helped him to increase its value and get into Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the other lines grew with no unexpected things happening in a first game (for Mike S, Will, Justin) - green ran the northern cities, yellow the southern - red and blue ran short of cash in the middle. I ran green to Chicago for the +7 income and dividends. Mike then took Wabash, gambling that his $10 bid would be recoup-able (he did get his line to Detroit, and got in two dividends, thus making a small amount). When we added it all up, I was out in front by about $10-20. I really like this one, but would be less happy playing the original with the crappy map and small bits...
Next out was Ca$h and Gun$. Mike G keeps laughing at me, since I've only rated this a 6.5 yet I keep asking him to bring it out. I had had a long week and wanted some dumb fun, but I don't think I'm changing my rating. It still is what it is. The winner (Will) was unsurprising as he took one haul all by himself.
The last game of the night was a new one to all of us as I pulled out In the Year of the Dragon. This is one I got because it was an Alea/RG big box, but had been hearing good things on, so I wanted to give it a go. This game has a couple of pluses to me - the rules are simple and its easy to teach (I basically read the summary bars out of the instructions to everyone and we started playing) and its full of interesting tough choices. It was a good mix of mechanics that didn't make this feel like many other games I had tried before. Essentially, there are 12 games turns. Each turn, an event happens (though the first two are always - peace/nothing). Each event is typically something bad - taxes, plague, invading Mongols, etc. There are two of each event and one pair is benign (firworks) but earns players VPs. So the game is about planning for the up coming disasters while trying to sneak in as many VPs. on a turn, players pick an action, then pick a person to come to a palace (people give you things during the action or scoring), then the event occurs, then there is scoring and you repeat. That's the game. Most of the people come in two flavors - simple bonus or much better bonus. The interesting part of this is - turn order is determined by the value of people you have selected. Choose a good bonus and you don't move far on the turn order track. Take a lesser bonus and you shoot out on the turn order, allowing you to choose your action before the others (the first to choose an action gets it for free, those after the first have to pay for the privilege). Its really a nice mix of angst. Like PR, I think this may have a limited amount of re-playability as people start figuring out the "engine" (there are already a number of strategy threads on the geek), but I'm guessing this will see some play with the folks in this area for a bit. BTW, Mike G squeaked out a two point win over me here and despite winning this the first time out (he normally dislikes any game he wins the first playing of), Mike seems willing to give this another go.