Sunday, June 08, 2008

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


Jaybird said...

Man, I did not know that we were all set to play Indonesia. The worst part of it is that I got stuck (admittedly by my own choice) playing Kingsburg (a good not great game that has the propensity to take entirely too long, which it did). Anyways, I am sorry (in more ways than one) that I ditched you two--Indonesia would have made things worth it. Thanks for the report--I love my brother, but we are not butt pirates. Next time I see you, I will teach you how to play PitchCar....

Tatsu said...

No worries about Indonesia.
You two on the pirate spot certainly butt-f***ed me a lot.
I have Pitchcar and all the expansions and I'm sorry we didn't get to play, but I did enjoy Bamboleo (or whatever that was called).

Matthew Frederick said...

Though I've not met him in real life, I've had quite a bit of interaction with Jason Little on the internet, and he's clearly a great guy.

I always, always, always get screwed by the pirates in Manila, so I don't play it much anymore.

The cards in Agricola can definitely hurt you, though surprisingly it's more of an issue with the Basic set cards than the others. Still, once you've played a few times you can usually figure out how to make out well with most any set of cards. That comes with experience, though, so it is effectively a bit unbalanced for beginners.

Sounds like a great time! I won't be hitting Phoenix ConGames this year (my brother will be in town), so I especially envy you.

Jaybird said...

Yeah, I know you have PitchCar. Just figured that you might need to be shown how it is played.

Red October said...

yup...i took you to the ol' woodshed in Agricola. tim had the only worthwhile hand...and you and i both went to town on him. sort of like Twilight Struggle: that version (the family version) may end up being how to best manage your suck. only getting a single hand of cards to work with the entire game. how many people compare TS with Agricola....booya.

you should have been a pirate.

KZimmerli said...

You missed Brian and my screen names on BGG! I am grrlgeek42 and Brian is hskrfn822 ....:)

Bobby said...

After you have played a few times, the cards won't screw you as much in Agricola as you will figure out a way to adapt to them. You should download the flash version and play some solitaire to really get the hang of the game flow. I killed many an hour playing it in the past few months, though I haven't played lately.

I love Manila and haven't played it in ages.

You can buy special pitches for Subbuteo which roll out and don't have the problem with the folds. The set a friend had in High School had a much better cloth pitch than the ones which come in the newer sets I've seen.

Brian said...

Hey, this is Brian aka hskrfn822.

I thoroughly enjoyed gaming with you and the Easley's. In fact, i'm regretting not just following up the few games I had played with you guys, with more. I unfortunately got stuck quite a few times looking around the room once one game ended, looking for a decent game and people to play with, only finding a bunch of games in progress, including your guys' and often no free people. I got some gaming in, but not as much as I could have had the fates smiled upon me a bit more. Tell Justin he won Medici. We need to make arrangements on getting it to him. Thanks as well for the gift. Much appreciated. Apologies to Jay for ganging up on him in escalation, but I get the impression that game's a bit nasty anyways and he probably would've done the same had he been in my shoes. Sad to hear you're moving Charles as it's always nice to meet cool new gamers. Hopefully we have the opportunity to play a time or two more before you leave town. There's always Game Shoppe Fridays. I'm using my gmail email address to write this, and you have my cell still I think, so email, geekmail or call if you're up for some games sometime.

Thanks a bunch,

Red October said...

yeah - subbuteo has an Astropitch...if you want to fork over $100 for it!! instead, i mounted my pitch to a rubber backing...we just needed to let it lay flat for 15 minutes or so before playing on it. the biggest issue is needing walls along the edge so the ball or flailing players don't fall overboard.

newer sets: hasbro is junk (both the players and the pitch), superfooty is said to be very near some of the best original sets...just doesn't come with the astropitch :(

Jaybird said...


Thanks for steering me clear of Escalation--tough to like a game that you get absolutely buried the first time you play it. Kind of like Manila.....

It was good to sit down with Karen and you, as you are both good opponents. See you around.

Red October said...

one final note on Escalation!:

dumb game. Pass the Pigs was more innovative than this game. glorified "War." "Hey, I have nothing to do tonight. Why don't I make up a game that isn't really original (taking up only 5 minutes of my time, no less) and since my name is Knizia, some poor fool will actually pay money for this so I can make a beer run next weekend."