Monday, June 30, 2008

Stop the Bleeding (please)

And after Bug River, Jason took it to me again in 6 turns, whopping me 6-2. I don't hate Memoir, but I don't recommend playing it as Jason and I have (just playing one side the whole way). Reason. Its too hard to balance. In a scenario that favors the Axis, I get screwed if luck slides a little to one side (and maybe I'm jaded here, but it seems that most of this damn game favors the Axis). There have been games I've won and won by a decent amount (though few and far between). Now, having said that, Jason probably plays just a little better than I do, but come on! Averaging a kill a turn? Stupid game. Axis now ahead 220-203 for the campaign.

Bug River

The never ending Memoir saga continued with the Bug River scenario. This one starts the Russians at a disadvantage unless they can get the train to station for some reinforcements. I didn't get the train to the station. Jason won 5-3. As is typical for me, whenever I'm one turn from turning the tide in my favor, Jason smashes me and ends the game. The Axis remains ahead 214-201 for the campaign.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Trading

You'd think I'd be done trading things. Really. I just don't have that much left I want to trade. So anyway... a quicky 36 hour math trade popped up on the radar and I threw a few things in the ring. Arkham Horror, Fearsome Floors and Bus. I put up Arkham, because I'm not in love with it. Its a good game thematically and it is interesting, but I'm not that big on co-op games. I have Pandemic, which for me scratches that itch. Also, I'll never get Arkham to the table in Arizona with the guys I'll normally play with (and if I wanted to badly enough, there are other folks in AZ that have it and would play...). I got Fearsome Floors (NIS) off the trade table at the Geekway to the West 2008. I didn't really want it, but it was the best available choice (actually the best choice was a game I wanted but didn't see sitting there). At any rate, FF is ok at best. I didn't mind trading it at all. Bus. Remember Bus? I listed this in the MT, and I clearly stated that the boards were warped. However, as I got it, it was not going to get played, so I decided to get rid of it.
So what did I get? Beppo der Bock which is a kids game that uses magnets - the kids should love it. I'm also getting a like new copy of Doom: The Boardgame. I don't know why I want this. I just want this. I have Descent. I still want this. I finally got it. And yes, now I'll need the expansion. Lastly, I'm getting Bus. Yes, I'm getting Bus. A different copy. Couldn't be worse could it? I've traded with the guy in the past and he listed the game as being played, so the boards can't be anywhere near as bad.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Memoir 44

Jason and I got through another scenario - Breakout to Lisyanka. This was not really anything special - the only note being I didn't have to do the retarded Russian command rules. I mostly sat back and just tried to stay alive. Three of my four cards were always not very useful. Luckily my 4th card was typically useful. For the most part, Jason didn't make a big dent in me and I picked his units off as they closed in and was able to finish the game up 7-5. Axis is still ahead 209-198 for the campaign. I just can't seem to seriously make up any ground (and the next scenario looks to suck for me).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Memoir 44

Jason and I finished up Ponyri today. This was (I think), the first Russian campaign I played where the Russian command rules were not in effect. It didn't help. Jason's tank blitz was in full effect and he managed to move his right flank of tanks fully at least twice. Though he started the scenario with a 2 point deficit, there was no way I could withstand an assault like that. He won 7-5, moving the balance for the war 204-191 for the campaign.

Return to Memoir

Jason Maxwell and I fired up Memoir 44 again after a long layoff. I seem to go in spurts with this game. I can play for a while, then get bored, then come back and play some more. I really only think I'd play M44 face-to-face if it was overlord. Otherwise I'd rather play C&C or BattleLore. At any rate, we fired up Vassal and finally played the Red Blockade scenario. I got a bit lucky early on and nailed a few of Jason's tanks, which slowed him down enough that I eventually won. Score is now 197-186 in the Axis (Jason's) favor.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

NOT A Game of Thrones

Well, we had planned to play a little 6-player A Game of Thrones Saturday. Its been two years since I've been able to play one of my favorite games, so I was actually looking forward to it a bit. However, Justin Kosec and his buddy Ben never arrived. We (Mike Linder, John Davis, Mike Garrett) were unable to get a hold of them, so we abandoned that plan and switched gears to Indonesia. This was my second playing and I have to say I was impressed. In much the same way that Wabash Cannonball continues to suck me back in, Indonesia will play out so very differently each time depending on a lot of factors. This particular game saw a tight grouping of cities and shipping lines, making the ownership of shipping nearly worthless. Mike Garrett went for mergers early, which changed a lot of the dynamics from our first game where we didn't research mergers until late in the game. What we ended up with in this game was a lot of size two cities that were tightly grouped around the shipping lines and a LOT of Siap Faji. Mike Linder and John each had a Siap Faji company, and in the end I think the fact John had no shipping gave Mike a slight edge. We eventually conceded the win to Mike after Mike G merged some oil companies, allowing me to acquire the last company needed to end the game.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Me and My Menolippu

As you can see, I am the proud owner of Menolippu - i.e. Ticket To Ride Nordic Countries. This game came to me courtesy of my friend and co-worker Marie Shipman. I happen to just be chatting with Marie one day when I found out that she was in Norway. I asked if she could grab me a copy and she said she would go look. Turned out there was a game shop (or toy store) just down the street and within a few hours she had a copy in her hot little hands. A few weeks later, I had the game in my hot little hands. I do not know what I'm going to do with it. Maybe I'll just leave it in the shrink for a few years and then sell it for as much money as Black Ops. With my heading back to Phoenix (someday) I'll be able to play it with Bobby to see if its worth keeping or not.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tichu at the Geekway

So, I got a lot of thank you's for "running" the Ticu tourney at the geekway, and a lot of suggestions, so I just wanted to throw a couple of thoughts out about the what and whys of how things went. The original plan was to simply try and run a double elimination Tichu tourney over the course of two days, where we would announce the pairings and then let folks find their opponent and duke it out. I didn't want to schedule a large block of everyone's time for a couple of reasons - we got some response, but not enough and I didn't want people sitting out because they thought a large portion of their weekend would be occupied with playing cards. The other reason being that not everyone was going to be available on Friday. We didn't start until Saturday because we had open spots I wanted to try and fill. In retrospect what I should have done is simply run the stupid thing Friday night at 6:00. All at once. Can't make it? Too bad. In a game that hasn't finished by 6:00? Too bad - you forfeit your first match. Now, I'm not trying to be harsh, but rather fair to everyone else. Given the limited number of participants, I think that those limitations would be ok. Next (and I meant to do this, I just forgot) - print out the brackets ahead of time. They don't have to be filled in, just printed and ready to be filled in. You can find all number of brackets online so you can adjust for the number of teams. And that's it. While I know a number of players found the 500pt matches a bit short, I think for this format its ok. It makes the games a little more exciting and tense (I thought) and you still play the championship match(es) to 1000. Any other thoughts?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Geekway to the West 2008 - Saturday

And after a slight delay, we continue. Saturday was shaping up to be a good day. We had planned to start the day with Indonesia, which Jay Moore (MuKid) had said he'd play with us. Jay had been my secret Santa this last year and had made that event pretty fun, so I was glad to just have met him, but wanted to get in some gaming. We were going to play Age of Steam, but the library copy (Jay's) was missing a couple bags of tiles (I heard he found them) so we had to change plans. When we got to the Con Saturday morning at 8:00, I heard some guys say Jay wasn't going to be there until 9:00. I was supposed to be orchestrating a Tichu tourney, so I knew then I would not get Indonesia in over the weekend - c'est la vie. I still wanted to game a little with Jay though, so when Jason headed off to something with the Illinois gang and Justin and I checked out Manoeuvre from the play-and-win table.
I had been reading about this one a little bit on the Geek and was interested. It sounded like a scaled down version of C&C:A (if there could be such a thing). After playing, that is actually the best description I could muster. Since neither of us had played before, we banged our way through the rules (short) and started playing. Of course we missed some, and Justin cheated (I told him I would report him in my blog), but overall it was about like you'd figure from a first playing. If you like the C&C type games, you'll probably like this. Once players know the rules, it probably plays even faster. This is not as in depth as C&C, but its faster and has a number of different armies out of the box. The "Cheater" won of course. Jason was nearly done with whatever he was doing, so Justin taught me Balloon Cup while Jason checked out AoEIII and began sorting the UNBAGGED game.
This one is pretty simple, and there were only two things I remember about the game: Justin repeatedly reminded me to draw to "make up for cheating" - which I told him I'd also mention in the blog. So - "If you play with a cheater, he'll be nice in the next meaningless game so you will keep playing with him". :D The other thing I remember is that someone walked by and mentioned they remember us playing this with a different theme the previous day (Battle Line) - which in retrospect was a fair comment. Justin beat me here, though I really didn't care, because I just wanted to get to our next game.
Our next game being Age of Empires III. Jay Moore and Matt Dimmic (mdimmic) joined us to round out the table. I've only played this twice previously, but I really love this game and was super happy to get it played. I sort of went with what was available to me, but got screwed right off the bat with a failed discovery - which has happened to me every game I have played on my first discovery try. Oh well, what are you going do? Justin was sending soldiers to the new world left and right, so I gave up on that game pretty early, only grabbing points in one territory all game (I got three guys there for the good). I finished in 4th place. Justin killed guys most of the game and won by like two points. All told, still a good time. I'm really glad I got to game with all these guys and wish I had been able to play with Jay and Matt more than the one game.
After that, I had to go play some Tichu. I had tried to run a Tichu tourney this weekend. The results were mixed. I think everyone had fun, but in all honesty, it was a sloppy effort on my part. I really didn't want to have to try and lock people down for a long chunk of time. As it was, we only had 6 teams, which meant two teams got byes anyhow. At any rate, I teamed up with Ravi (snoozefest) and we managed wins in our first three games to head into the winner's bracket semis. There, we would have been up against Timothy Hunt and Jason Little, but Jason had to head out to Minnesota to start his new job with Fantasy Flight. Timothy recruited Roger Dominick (atholbrose) to be his partner and the game was on. It was a strange game. Timothy called Tichu the first hand and they easily went one-two in about 2 minutes. Now, since we were only playing to 500 (to keep the games from lasting forever), we were in trouble right off the bat. Only thing was, I had two bombs the next hand and Ravi and I went Tichu one-two. Roger called Tichu on the 3rd hand and they grabbed 80 points to sit right on the brink of winning. Next hand, I went out first and just needed Ravi to go out next to save the win, unfortunately not and we fell to the losers bracket. I was unable to attend Sunday, so Justin Heimburger (juheimbu) stood in for me. Timothy recorded the results in his geeklist. A really good time, and in retrospect, I would have just blocked off time for this and run it that way. Oh well.

Somewhere in between playing lots of Tichu, the trade table started. Basically someone is picked at random to start, then they pick something. Whoever's game got selected makes the next pick and so on. I threw in two games: Winds Of Plunder and Sudden Death!. I felt I got a little hosed because Winds of Plunder is a bit small and it got buried beneath a lot of CRAP. When it finally got picked, the game I wanted to get for it was hidden behind a lot of crap. Sudden Death was avoided until nearly the end (probably due to large box size and the fact that the box was in super crappy condition (the game was not though). So whatever - the only thing that ended up being interesting about the trade, was the game of Eketorp that I won. Ravi and I sat down to play with Ryan Parish (who was one of our next Tichu opponents). We were joined by Chris Reuber (sikeospi) who was wandering by. Ryan went through the rules (a bit slowly to my mind, as this wasn't that hard a game to pick up). We started and got about say 1/2 way through one round when the trade table guys asked that everyone with games come stay near the trade table to speed things up. I had to leave, so the group basically played my player as RANDOM. Turns out I won. Heh.
After a bunch of Tichu and the trade table ended, I hooked back up with Jason and Justin. I wanted to play a little Edel, Stein and Richt so one of Jason's Illinois buddies Adam Osborn (atomzero) joined us. It was interesting and boring at the same time. I can't remember how many times it happened, but we often had 3 guys picking the same action. I have Justin down as the winner in my notes, but I thought I had a good amount of cash more than he did in the end. Whatever.
. Next the four of us played Bamboleo. Now, I had no desire to play this whatsoever. It looks dumb as hell. But, the guys wanted to play and I was too tired to care, so I caved to trying something new. Guess what? It is still dumb as hell. It was also a little cool and yes, a little fun. We spent a long time getting everything on and then getting it balanced for the first round. After that, we just threw the crap on the disk and played. Adam was the guy dumping the disk nearly every time, so the guy after him (Justin) ended up winning.
Adam left and we caught Karen wandering around and sucked her and Brian into a game of Medici. CJ Faria (CJHeart) asked to join and we had six. I was the only player who had played before, so I explained everything and away we went. My first ship sucked as far as matching goods up (though it was valuable), so I had to settle into trying to just grab valuable ships cheaply. It payed off as I was often able to run the other player's bids up and then dump it on them. I really like this game a lot and think its one of my favorite Knizia games. The beauty here was that Medici was one of the play-to-win games. Turns out Justin won it. Justin, Jason and I had to leave before the drawings Sunday and we had asked Brian and Karen to grab any games we won. Turns out I also won something - Manila (blech). I gifted my free game to Karen to thank her for getting up early Sunday and running me to the airport. I traded with Justin for Medici since he doesn't have much interest in it. So maybe we all made out a little. Well, not Jason. He didn't win any play-to-win games. Though I thought he won a door prize. Whatever. Overall, it was a good experience and I had a good time. I'd do the Tichu tourney differently and I might have skipped the trade table, but for the most part, it was a great weekend and I met a lot of really nice folks.

Geekway to the West 2008 - Friday

I just got back from the Geekway to the West (2008 ed) and before I dive into the session reports and so forth, I thought I'd get a few preliminary things out of the way. First off, I'd like to thank Jamie Miller (jami1kenob), who was nice enough to offer me a ride from the airport to my hotel Thursday night when (at the last minute) I choose to fly out instead of drive. She didn't know me from Adam, but offered to help a gamer out. As a (very) small token of thanks, I gave her a copy of Escalation. I kept meaning to try and play something with her, but never did. It should be noted that her gesture of good karma payed off, as she was the Grand Prize door prize winner - World of Warcraft:The Boardgame + both its expansions. Next thank you goes out to Karen Zimmerli (grrlgeek42), whom I met Friday morning (along with her boyfriend Brian Gomez (hskrfn822) - both of Bellevue, NE). Karen was also gracious enough to get up early this morning and haul my sorry butt back to the airport after I discovered that my previous plan (the Easleys) wasn't going to work. Thank you both - I'll find something for Karen (if I can find something Brian doesn't already have in his collection). And now, on with the show.
The Geekway started Friday morning at 8:00. Not for me. I was waiting for Justin (gameInformant) and Jason Easley (The Gamebler) to drive into town. They got to St. Louis quickly enough and we were at the Con and ready to go about 9:00. The Geekway has a Play-&-Win table, where you can checkout and play games that were donated. At the end of the Con, all players who played a game were eligible for a drawing for the game. Don't know if we won any, but I'll know more soon. At any rate, we started the game by Justin and Jason teaching me Glory to Rome. Glory to Rome is what Race for the Galaxy should have been. And by that, I mean: interactive. You can screw with the other players and steal their crap and so on. So, basically, its a card game where you are building things that give you abilities and the cards have multiple purposes and so on (sound familiar?). It is sufficiently different from Race that you could argue for owning both, but I think Race suffers from two flaws - multi-player solitaire and no way to come back if your cards suck for the first couple rounds. Glory is about the same length and more interactive. Like most games in this small genre, more playings will allow understanding the flow better, but I did pretty well my first game out and wasn't far behind the winner (Jason).
After checking Glory back in, I wanted to get in a game of Samurai with Justin face-to-face. Knowing that last year, our host Jay Little (yennen) hadn't played much, I asked if he'd like to join us (and we offered to sit up front with him so he could still handle incoming traffic). He accepted and we began playing with random hands. We also abused Mr. Little a bit - not so much purposefully, but he did get screwed a lot. After Jason Easley was the only player to go for the 3-totem city, I joined him, but got hosed and only claimed one of the three totems. I then spent time just playing opportunistically. In the end, Justin and I each had a majority and I had one piece more than he did for the win. Poor Jay had pulled down only a single of each piece. I haven't played this in a long time live and found its just as good in front of you as on the computer (which I have found to not be true for a number of games like PR, which is too fiddly to bother setting up.
Jason then payed us back by teaching us a new game (one that he could return the beating to us with) - Micro Mutants: Evolution (which was also a play-&-win game). Basically, this game is combat Tiddly-Winks. Each side has a set of plastic pieces with different powers. Each side has a base and the goal is to flip your pieces onto other pieces (if you cover them you take them out) and onto the other player's bases. That's really the gist of the game. However, its well done and pretty entertaining. I may have to find this for my kids (and me). We played in teams (Justin and I vs Team Jason) and we lost a fairly close match (but lose we did to the superior tiddly skills of Yennen).
After that, Justin, Jason, and I sat down and pulled out Lightning Reaction! We attracted a few onlookers, including Brian Gomez and Karen Zimmerli - both Omaha (Bellevue) gamers in town for the Con. After introductions (and a shock or two), we settled in for a game of Himalaya. I was glad to try this out with five, and found it to play just fine. Being the only experienced player didn't seem to matter much as everyone got the game quickly enough. However, I seemed to have a good run of luck in the game and nailed a number of larger deliveries which helped give me the win. The best part of the game though, was getting to go after Justin and placing a Yeti in his path right after he placed his special token to take any good from a village. Bwuuuhuhuhahahahahahahahaha.
After that, we followed up with a quick game of Escalation!. This little card game (and I'll quote Justin here) was probably thought up by Knizia in like 2 minutes. Whatever. Its fun and take no time to play - its a simple little filler. Brian managed to get a LOT of pass cards and Jason suffered for. Unsurprisingly, Brian won and Jason ended up in last.
Jason chose our next game - Manilla. This is a little race/wagering game that I will never play again with those DAMN EASLEYS. It was on the play-to-win table, so I agreed to try it out. Basically, you have an auction round, then three rounds of moving boats to get them across the finish line. Each round, you can put a guy on a boat, or on a spot on the board (paying the appropriate cost). Most of the board spaces are basically based on the odds (ie infrequent events cost less and payout higher). The exception to this being the two pirate spaces on the board (which were always taken by Justin and Jason, which might have made them the butt-pirate spaces). The pirate space is a longshot space (1 in 6 IF the boats aren't already past the finish after the first two movements) that pays out extremely well. Well, the dice (which were never my friend this weekend) loved those Easleys and boats landed in their hands time and time again. No less than five times (and twice it was two boats) in this game if I remember correctly. The dumbest action in the game and they cleaned up on it. Dumb dumb dumb!
We broke for dinner and were planning to play some Indonesia, but Jason left us for a couple of guys from Springfield, so Justin and I checked out Yinsh from the library and I taught him how to play. Apparently I taught him too well, because he waxed me in no time. We elected to play another quick two-player game and pulled out Battleline. I had never played with the tactics cards before, but they didn't seem to change the game a whole lot. I repaid Justin's previous win with a win of my own.
Justin then pulled out his Subbuteo game and we set that up to play. Being a spaz certainly didn't help my cause here, but we both had a pretty good time flicking and flicking and flicking. Soccer isn't normally my thing, but this was pretty fun. If Ashton or Ainsley (my kids) really gets into soccer, this might be worth trying to acquire. After about 20 minutes of flicking, Justin finally was able to get one by me for the 1-0 victory. The only issue we really had was that his mat was still slightly "ridged" from being folded. You almost need a special table to play this on.
We were getting tired and were trying to figure out what to play. Justin wandered off and came back telling me that there was a guy willing to teach us Agricola. Well, I couldn't pass that up. Our teacher ended up being Chad Krizan (chaddyboy_2000). Joining Justin and I was Timothy Hunt (Timotheous). Chad explained things and then let us alone to do our thing. We were playing the basic game, since this was an incomplete paste-up. Timothy seemed to have a great set of cards and dove right into nailing occupations left and right. My hands sucked and when I expanded my family, I ended up short of food within a round, costing me 9 points (ouch). I also blame Justin who kept stealing my fish. Now, don't get me wrong, I think there is a great game here, but I was a bit disenchanted with my one playing, given that my cards sucked so badly I couldn't recover. I was also out of gamer gas at this point and getting cranky. I will definitely try this again once I receive my printing from Z-Man, but never felt like I had to play this again over the weekend. And that wraps up day one for me

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

May 2008 Game of the Month

Ok, May was a sad sad month for playing games. One game night (5 games) and two online games of Patrician. Given that, Wabash Cannonball finally makes the game of the month. This is a short and yet fascinating economic game. If you haven't seen it, you aren't missing anything - it probably is the cheapest crappiest looking game I've ever been exposed to. It honestly looks like someone started selling their mock-ups of a game. In fact, I've never seen a game where at least 6 BGG'ers have made their own versions of the map (myself included). Once you get past the looks, you'll find a pretty good game. Its a stock manipulation game with an auction component. Its fast and there are lots of ways to make money and hose the other guys. The thing is - most of them are subtle. Subtle enough that I have not even come close to winning since my first game. I think most of that comes from always playing this with Mike Garrett and two other newbs. I'm more interested than ever to play this with a full complement of experienced players. And despite my losing ways, I can see the great game here and it is short enough I want to play it again and again.

Other games that make the list this month? Um... well, this was really the only good choice for me. In fact, of the games I played - I tried Bobbin' Bumblebee and wasn't impressed (its an ok kids game that is fun when all 4 players are in, but gets old when there is only 2 and can get tedious quickly despite being short). Patrician was ok, but suffers the same problems that another Michael Schacht game (Hansa) does - randomness can overtake skill and cause a better player to have no hope.