Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game Night

. Day after Christmas game night, and yet I didn't play any of my new games. That is not to say I didn't play plenty of new games, but my Christmas presents from my wife (A Game of Thrones LCG and Dominion remain un-played). So, I headed over to the Gamer's Inn to meet up with Bobby and Mike. There was a guy (Rich Irving) from California looking for a game or three who also joined us. Mike had wanted to play his new copy of Chicago Express, which I was happy to teach. Everyone was new to the game but me, which meant I had no clue how the game would play out. So what happened? Everyone just started trying to make their company more valuable to a crazy degree. Rich started with Red and I grabbed the second share hoping to pull down some cash as he made the company valuable. Rich was able to snag two of the three red shares pretty early though, and I couldn't close the game down fast enough to keep him from earning the win. My starting company, yellow, got no help from other players and I didn't get a chance to increase its value early enough to put me ahead. Final scores: Rich-47, Bobby-33, Mike-43, Charles-42.
Next, I pulled out Hare and Tortoise to get it played. This little family racing game was one of Jason Sato's favorites and I felt wrong owning and not having ever played it. Well, I finished 3rd behind the two experienced players (Bobby and Rich). The game was alright and probably needs a couple plays before I'll get it. Everyone claims it plays best with 5 or 6, so I may bring it along for a decent 5-6 player short game.
Noah Antwiller had arrived, so we got Bobby to pull out Funkenschlag - EnBW Edition (Power Grid), which had a couple of rules changes (if nobody buys a plant, two go out instead of one and you redo the turn order immediately after buying plants + a couple other minor changes). I don't know how much those effected the game (if at all), but the redoing turn order after the plants is weird after playing lots of regular Power Grid. Noah somehow managed to get into coal pretty much by himself the whole game as well as placing after me and cutting me off. I made a good run, but when he got his 5 and 6 plants (coal), we all knew it wasn't going to be long before he won. I managed a comeback of sorts to finish a nice distant 2nd - Noah, Charles(tie breaker), Bobby, Rich, Mike.
Rich had time for a short game before needing to head out, so Bobby pulled out Sushizock im Gockelwok - something of the next evolution of Pickomino, but better. This version is a fast playing and light press your luck game, with a much better playing time than Pickomino. Having played it, I'd get this and skip Pickomino forever :)
After Rich left, I pulled out both Aquaretto and Zooloretto for a combined game. I had not played Aquaretto before, so after getting the lowdown from Bobby and Mike, away we went. After just this playing, I can see a bit where I might like Aquaretto better than Zooloretto. I liked playing the two as a whole, though it makes for quite a bit longer game. If you only tolerate this series, you won't want to play the combined game. If you enjoy them, you'll enjoy the more gamer-y feel of playing both together.
We finished the night playing yet another new game for me - Control Nut!. I've had this little trick-taking game for years (since I love trick taking games), but have never had the chance to play. Basically, you score points by taking the 1s, 3s, and 7s (each has one or two stars on it) and multiplying the number of stars you get by the number of tricks you take. That part is pretty simple. The complicated part is that there are 4 special cards (out of 8) in play each hand. The hand starts with an auction for those cards - you bid three cards. If you win the card, you give one card from those three to each of the other players. So you have to balance your ability to take tricks with getting the specials. It sounds better on paper than it seemed to play. I never quite grokked it and Bobby and I got killed by Mike and Noah 135-318 - blech.


Jaybird said...

If you enjoy trick taking games, have you played Die Sieben Siegel or Sticheln? Both are great renditions from the group, and both have pretty strong mean streaks. My parents played and loved Sticheln. Very simple rules, and it can play up to 8.

Having played Chicago Express myself a few times this weekend, I found that one truth of the game (and I always emphasize this when teaching it) is: make people pay for stocks they don't want. Grab 2 decent stocks at the beginning, and then sit back, look for lucrative developing companies, and put them up for auction. It will quietly drain your opponents' pocketbooks, while keeping your cash steady.

The problem is, once the other players recognize this, you could get stuck with a pile of stocks you don't really want, or they might get their stocks for too cheap.

Forcing semi-cooperation with your opponents is what makes this game tick. Emergent partnerships, or whatever they call it, as a mechanic is one I enjoy. It comes out a bit in both Union Pacific and Acquire as well. But I suppose I feel that CE/WC has developed this to near-perfection, which is why it stands out to me.

I apologize for being so wordy. Being on vacation while BGG is down is no fun.

Tatsu said...

The thing I haven't been able to get myself to do in CE is keep from trying things. Buying a cheap stock and then killing the company by building expensive tracks through the forest is a great trick - if other people are doing the same thing to other companies. Similarly, diluting one company with lots of stock shares is sweet, but only if other people are also trying to dilute the other companies as well. Otherwise, you fall behind hurting one player and the others take advantage and run away. This is a slick game in that there are lots of things that can happen, but it also has a pretty strong lemming mentality. You have to go with the flow a lot or you just fall out of the game.

Jaybird said...

Don't go with the flow--create the flow, and stay out of it.