Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Out With the Old (and un-played), In With the Soon-To-Be-Unplayed

Math trade time. This time I moved a couple of things I was probably never going to play for a couple things I'm probably not going to play. First the outgoing. War! Age of Imperialism, Age of Mythology: The Boardgame, Control Nut! (plus Coloretto and Escalation!) for Mammoth Hunters, Pow Wow (plus Othello), and Quoridor (plus Quarto!, Fire and Ice, and Chung Toi). Whew! So, I got a large number of abstract wooden games - hopefully I can put at least Quarto! out on display (not sure if my dumb-ass dog would try and eat it or not). Mammoth Hunters is part of the Alea Big Box set and is supposed to be an ok game to boot (not special, just ok). I'm getting closer to the set, though my shelves won't hold the set on one shelf, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. Getting rid of War! and AoM frees up a good amount of space that was just being taken up. I finally accepted that I was not going to play either and even if I did, I probably have something else that's similar I like more. As for the card games - Coloretto is ok, but I have both Zooloretto and Aquaretto, so I really don't need the card game too, so I threw it in. I also threw in Escalation!, which is ok, but take it or leave it. Control Nut! sounded more fun than it was, which is too bad, but oh well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gotta Get 'Em All

Or not. My son has "earned" Pokemon cards. Entirely his choice - I would not have chosen any kind of collectible game for him to get started in until he could at least earn his own money, but this is the thing he really wanted and it appears to have motivated him along. So at any rate, we bought a couple of theme decks at target and he earned one. Now of course, Dad had to have a deck as well (or else he couldn't have played and I'm not spending money on these cards so he can look at them), so I picked up one of the decks at random to be "Dad's Pokemon cards". After he got his cards, I read through the rules and we sat down to play. Now, my son is just learning to read, and while he can read the cards after some effort, the names of the Pokemon confuse him - he doesn't know if a word is a word, he's sounded it out incorrectly, or what - so I just basically explained the game and read the cards for him. Each round, he'd go through the things he could do and I offer him his options (do you have a power card? do you have a basic guy to play to your bench? do you have training cards? who do you want to attack?). Well, as it turned out, Dad's cards were all vulnerable to Red and Yellow energy. Guess what color cards my boy got? Yep - Red and Yellow. Now, I still won most of the games, but there was one game he just trounced me like 6-1. There was also a close game he had against my wife where he just barely lost because she got out a stage 2 guy and it took a long time for my son to realize he should knock it out. Overall, this is not a complex CCG, but its not so light as to be unfun. Its actually a pretty good introduction to this kind of game. I think as my son's reading improves, new decks will start to be enjoyable to him as well. I'm trying to keep him clear of the whole idea of boosters, because I hate the idea of spending $5 for a packet of cards (especially when a fully playable deck is there for $12). Deck building or even replacing a couple of cards is still probably out of his scope for a while, but I hope I'm not creating a monster.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Game Night

Friday Jan. 23, 2009 - Gamer's Inn. Well, after a very late night Friday, I needed a couple days to recover ;). Friday was a pretty good game night with six different games getting played - including two being new and plus one new expansion. The night started off with a game of Ra. Nathan Winchester had wanted to try some more auction games, so I had pulled this one out (though I would have rather played Vegas Showdown, Amelia and Matthew had not arrived with it in tow yet). So joining Nathan and I were Dan Brugman, Noah Antwiller, and Rob Smolka. This was an odd game, in that we saw hardly any Ra tiles or bad tiles. Rob also sucked down most of the flood tiles, which made the other two rounds less interesting. The first round also saw Dan make a HUGE lead that he never relinquished - he won easily.
After that, we had something like 7 folks milling around, so Noah grabbed Smarty Party!. This was something I had heard the group playing a couple weeks ago that sounded like a bit of fun. This time, joining the five of us from Ra were Rob Ehlers and Filipe Lopez. As far as trivia games go, it was decent enough fun, though near the end, Rob Ehlers and Noah were apparently annoying each other as the playful jesting was getting a little nasty.
Things broke up into a couple of different games after that, so when Noah suggested A Game of Thrones: LCG, I was happy to give this a whirl. Nathan, Noah and I were joined by Amelia Boli, who also had wanted to try this out. So, the four of us set about seeing what the rules had for us and what the cards and houses were like. Noah was Stark, Nathan was Baratheon, Amelia played the Lannisters, and I was the Targaryens. The first couple of rounds made it look and feel like the game would last forever, but I then saw what I had been missing - to generate the winning power you need to win uncontested conflicts. By spreading around your attacks, it was often very easy to grab power two or three a pop (renown+red(attack)+uncontested conflict win would be worth three). There is a lot to like and a little that was annoying. The combinations of the core decks were a lot of fun to get into play. It was pretty annoying seeing some of the other deck's awesome combinations. Amelia also got smacked a bit, since Noah and I had awesome RED characters in play (though we each lost those in some nasty business). Really, our first game was a bit long, but I thought it was pretty fun. There is a lot of text to read and try to absorb, but having played through once I now have a better feel for the flow of the game and I also know that there are some nasty cards out there (there are some cards that will wipe out every standing character on the table - fall behind? Make it even!). I thought play was pretty aggressive, but I think it'd be even more nasty now. Really a fun game despite how long our first playing was. Once I realized what needed to be done, I went for it, only to come up with only 14 of the needed 15 power for the win. Noah was able to easily get to the 15 he needed immediately after I tried.
Our game had gone on a bit long, so Matthew had moved onto his own long game of Le Havre. Still just the four of us, I suggested Power Grid, since Nathan has been bugging me to try that out. Knowing the others would be game, I suggested to Amelia we play with the new power plant deck since that would level the playing field a bit for Nathan (since we wouldn't have much clue on what the coming plants might be like). So, that's what we did. We played the American map (all eastern zones) and away we went. I'm not sure I care for the new deck - seemed to be lot of power that took a lot of fuel too. At one point, I got lucky and snagged a nice 1 oil-->4 cities plant and Amelia got hosed with the next draw. She paid me back by keeping me out of oil for that plant a turn later, which I figured would cost me the game. We actually hit Step 3, and I grasped at a power 7 cities plant, but figured Noah or Amelia would snatch up all the oil for the last turn, and screw me. Instead, neither did and Noah pushed us to the finish, but powered one less plant than I did.
Matthew's group was finishing up their game of Leonardo DaVinci, so I suggested a quick game of No Thanks! with Amelia and Nathan. This game takes about 10 minutes with three, so I figured was a good finisher for the night. It was, despite finishing a point behind Nathan.
I was ready to head out, but Steve Bauer was complaining that it had been weeks since he'd been able to sit and play something together, so he and Dion Garner talked Nathan and I into staying for a game of Dominion (which turned into two). This was Nathan's first go round with the game, so after playing a quick game of Big Money, he was immediately ready for the next. Steve wanted to try Size Distortion (that's what she said), so we played that too. BTW, I don't think I care for that combination of cards. Not that I minded the interactive cards, it just wasn't my thing. Still, a good way to end the night

Friday, January 16, 2009


2 of 10, 7 of 20, 14 of 30, 21 of 40, and 25 of 50. That is to say I have not played 2 of the top 10, 7 of the top 20, etc etc from the BGG top 50 ranked games. Seeing that there are 25 of those games in the top 50, I didn't even bother extending that to the top 100. Interestingly (or not) I only own 6 of those titles. A number of those I doubt I'll ever try - like the ridiculously long and chit-heavy Paths of Glory. The two top ten games I haven't tried are Caylus and Through the Ages. Mike Gingold and Dion Garner are always trying to get me to play Through the Ages, so I'm likely to try that. I'm less inclined to play Caylus I think, but wouldn't walk away if that was the choice. I loved the Civ computer games, so I'm sure I'd love TtA, but have kept from purchasing this because of the number of production issues that the FRED editions have had. However (Dion, pay attention if you read this), I'm not playing this with more than three people. The next 5 games or whatever I haven't played includes Brass, Die Macher and Shogun. I'm going to get all of these played this year I'm sure. After that, I'm really more interested in my owned and unplayed list than the BGG top 50.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That's It For January Purchases

Done with my purchases for the month. I can't say there won't be any new games - you never know if a trade might come up, but at the moment I'm cutting off new purchases for the rest of the month (let us hope no crazy sales come up that I have to say no to). So far I have made two trades (via math trade) and four purchases:
  • Nobody But Us Chickens - never never never do your want lists late at night. Never. I was thinking Why Did the Chicken...? but got this.
  • Dread Pirate - this really is one of the nicest looking games ever. Should be good with my son, since this is supposed to be a pretty simplistic game.
  • The aMAZEing Labyrinth - $2 at goodwill was to hard to say no. I actually liked Master Labyrinth more than I thought I would, so this simpler version should eventually work with my son
  • Senji - this one sounds like a slightly lighter take on A Game of Thrones, finishing in under two hours.
  • DVONN - yet another project GIPF game I don't have. That actually makes it just GIPF and TZAAR that I won't have (well, and TAMSK, but its box doesn't fit the set and it was replaced by TZAAR and stuff).
  • A Game of Thrones LCG - I added 6 chapter packs from the initial set. No multiples unless I really get into the game and deck building and league play. And even then, I might be more inclined to try and just track down the cards I want.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Speaking of Tracking Games

Ok, I haven't been talking about tracking games at all, but whatever. Matthew Frederick created and sells game journals on his website Genimuse. I finally got one and plan to log my plays there this year (have no fear, session reports will still get posted). I also plan to log my plays more thoroughly on the BGG this year - the recorded plays section allows for quite a good bit of extended details. Last year I kept a running geeklist going with my plays and opponents, but it didn't seem as useful as I thought it would be. Also, I was looking at my friendless extended numbers and the list of games I should play soon (minus the expansions) definitely is spot on. Here are the top 10:
  • El Grande - needs five players, but I've only played once and as I've indicated before, that's just not right
  • Fortress America - needs four players that are up for a dicefest
  • Torres - three or four players and shouldn't be too hard to get to the table, if I'd bring it out
  • Conquest of the Empire - best with six folks that are in for a longer dicefest
  • Vegas Showdown - slick little auction game shouldn't be hard to get out
  • Java - three or four player game that I love. Another that I just need to start bringing until I get it played
  • Antike - my favorite of the rondel games (nope, still haven't played Imperial)
  • Fjords - this light little two-player game is fun
  • Schn├Ąppchen Jagd - three player trick tacking game that is supposed to have been reprinted. I really liked it.
  • Nexus Ops - three or four player dice fest that isn't too long. Erik will play in a second (he brought it last week)

Continued Thoughts on Mecanisburgo

I've been reading the few posts to the game on the BGG. Found a few rules clarifications and subtleties. If any agents are removed from your corporation, the pawn stays in place on the board. If you can re-fill that spot before the pawn is revealed, you do indeed get to use the new character in that spot. We house ruled the other way in our game, which might have then allowed Eric the ability to beat Amelia in the final confrontation. Oh well. That still seems weak to me.
I also read a rules clarification about some of the support properties that (in my mind) makes a few properties more valuable. Properties that give a +1 to a profession (say +1 to scientists from the lab) give the +1 to each in that zone. So you can send multiples and get a multi-bonus. You can also use that bonus for the ability check (if you didn't use it in the conflict resolution phase). That's pretty useful too - IFF (that's if and only if) you are using some variant on the resolution (no random card or half random card value).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Initial Thoughts on Mecanisburgo

So, after the first playing, here are my thoughts (mixed in a bit with some conversations I had with Matthew and Nathan). So first off - it does seem like there is a reasonably fun game in here with a decently integrated theme. The first problem is - the icon-ology. There are TONS of abilities and categories and classifications for things and they are all done by icon. This is great once you understand the icons, because the cards are pretty easy to decipher - ONCE YOU GET IT. However, it takes a while to get it - say playing through a full round (there are four rounds in a game) will get you enough that you will only occasionally go back and look at the reference card for an icon. Now that would be ok, except for the amount of effort it takes in that first playing to absorb it all. Trying to just grasp at the system means you aren't going to make much of a coherent strategy in the first game.
But, fear not - coherent or not, you will be in the game due to the instant win victory conditions. Now, I don't know how I feel about these. They are random, so you can't really plan to try and win with one. You might not see it or have the opportunity to use it, but as we saw in our game - being in last doesn't mean anything. Which also means being in first doesn't mean anything either. While I understand trying to keep people "in the game" in longer games, I dislike that I can play really well and still lose to something well out of my control. The instant victory conditions, if treated like a threat by everyone, add a little spice to the game, but otherwise just make it a bit random.
Speaking of random, we now come to the part of the game I really disliked. The mostly random resolution of the special actions. If you manage to win control of an area on the board, you get the opportunity card there. In addition, most of the zones offer a special action if you sent an agent that can perform the action. The actions are things like seduction (steal an agent from another player), sabotage (destroy another player's property), prosecute (force a player to lose a building or agent that is criminal or corrupt), hack (use a computer to steal funds from another player), etc. Most of that would be worth while, except to do the action, you have to play a card (from your limited supply numbered 1,2,3,4,4,5,6) and add to it a RANDOM card from 0-8 (only 3 each of 0 and 8 in 150, the rest evenly distributed). The other player does the same. Which means - you can try to influence the result with your card, but mostly, its random. AND you don't get to know the random until you've selected your card. Its not enough control to make it worth spending your cards on.
My last complaint - the rules. The rulebook was fine as a rule book, and terrible as a reference. Since there is a lot to try and remember, it'd have been better as a reference guide. I REALLY like the way GMT does their rules - very spartan and very straight forward. Rather than putting examples in blocks to the side of the rules, they simply publish a separate game example book which walks through a turn or two and references the rules appropriately. It also explains why you might do (or not take) a certain action. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what a card or threat or event does. A better reference would have shaved about 30 minutes out of our game.
Now, if it sounds like I really didn't like this game, you are wrong. I did like it, just not enough. I want to play again, but with a few house rules. Matthew and I talked about modifying the random part of the action resolution to be a bit more reasonable. That would help. So would a modified summary of events, threats, robots, characters, etc. I think with that, and not having to re-explain the rules would likely make this a 2.5 hour game. I'm still not sure the payoff is there, but the game still interested me. The idea of the game is cool, but the execution needs a little work. Maybe it just needs those couple tweaks and it'd be a decent game.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Game Night

Jan. 9, 2009 - Gamer's Inn
This evening started with a plan to try out Mecanisburgo with Nathan Winchester, Matthew Frederick and Amelia Boli. Nathan was already there when I arrived and we found Noah Antwiller, Dion Garner, and some others finishing up a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe with the new dice. After they finished, we elected to play a quick game of Medici while we waited for Matthew and Amelia to arrive. It was: Nathan, Filipe Lopez, Dion, Matt Cullinan, Noah, and I. Nathan hadn't played before, so I quickly went over the rules for him and off we went. I Immediately paid too much for a load of stuff on the first ship and was out of it. Nathan let Noah take a few loads of good waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to cheap, and Noah squeaked out a win over Matt by a couple of points (and still 13 more than I).
Matthew and Amelia had arrived, so we setup Mecanisburgo and started into the rules. The rules are mostly straight forward, with a couple of questions that we had to go back to the rules for, but not a terrible number. The rules took a good hour though, because of us trying to get a grasp on the complex set of icons and what each thing really meant. After a playing, it mostly made sense, and you really didn't need to use the icon reference card more than a couple of times after the first round. Erik VonBurg arrived right before we started, so we invited him to join us. Matthew covered the rules with him and off we went. Now, for the first turn or so, I'm pretty sure we all had no master strategy, we just played the game and tried to make sense of it. After a while I'd guess Matthew had decided a certain direction to try, but personally, I had no clue and was just trying (poorly) to keep my agents alive. Going into the third turn, we turned up an instant victory card that allowed the last place person the chance to go for a win. We counted up the points and found Erik was out in front by a good amount while Amelia was in last place. She elected to try for the instant win and did end up winning the game as neither Erik nor I couldn't match her power. I'm going to post my thoughts on this game separately, but the general consensus seemed to be that there was a game with potential there, but we didn't hit it.
After that, we opted for something quick and lighter - Liar's Dice - yet another Nathan had not tried before. We bumped out Matthew, then Nathan, then Amelia. Erik then pushed me down to have a 3 to 1 dice advantage and won the game.
Everyone else took off at that point so I asked Nathan if he had one more in him. He did, so I pulled out Hansa, which is just ok for two. The reason though, was to teach him a game we could do PBEM. Given the number of times I had played, it was pretty easy to place my markets in the cities I knew the ship would hit the most and so forth and won easily on the number of markets I had solo. But now, we have something else to distract us when we are sitting at the table playing games.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mecanisburgo - Pre Playing

Ok, I've read the rules and I set up the game once and was a bit overwhelmed. I started to write a description of the game, but this one below from G@mebox is much much better. Though there are a huge number of options, I really hope that there are not so many options as to bog down the game. This to me is the perfect sounding mix of complexity and theme. I can't wait to play and hope that its well received enough to get more than a single play. Here's the Mecanisburgo piece of the G@mebox article which describes the game:

In Mecanisburgo, the players assume the management of Mega-Corporations which are all present in largest Metropolis of the Western world, and there they battle each other for power and influential projects to become the ultimate controller of the planetary economy. To reach this target, each player receives a boardroom-gameboard of his own where three starting characters (the directors) of his corporation are placed, but there is always room in and around the boardroom for a total of up to 8 characters, so that the players may hire new characters during the course of the game. In addition, each player also receives some fixed benefit cards and draws a few cards from the central "Opportunities"-pile, and of these cards he may keep some cards up to a certain value as starting resources of his corporation. The Opportunities pile actually contains new characters and items which might be useful for the players, but it also contains some events and threats which will be ignored at the setup-phase.

However, once the game has started, all nine locations on the gameboard will be filled with cards drawn from the Opportunities pile, and now events and threats may come into the game just like new characters or items. Each location on the gameboard receives one card, and then the players will start their deployment phase. The players have pawns for each of their agents, and the pawns cannot be recognized without looking at their bottom where a number is printed which corresponds to the slot a character card occupied in a player's boardroom. Thus, in the deployment phase the players place their characters one by one into one or more locations, and nobody knows who the other players will have sent to those locations. Once the deployment is over, all locations with characters of only one player will be dominated by that player for this round, whereas all locations with more than one player's agents present will need to face a conflict resolution.

The character cards usually display different values for negotiation and combat skills, and the first player to have sent an agent to a location will decide whether the space will be resolved using the combat or by negotiation skill. The players add up the corresponding value of their leading character with the support values of possibly present additional characters, and they may also use certain properties to increase their value even further. In addition, a character may be removed from the game if an opposing character actually uses his assassination skill on him, once again reducing a player's score. To get the final scores the players actually are allowed to chose an additional action card (with different values), but on the other hand all unused action cards will give the player bonus income at the end of the round. Thus, a decision must be made whether to use a card or to save it to create a higher income.

After all conflicts have been dealt with at each location only the characters of one player will be present, and that player now will have the opportunity to use that place's special function this turn and to gain access to the Opportunity card which has been placed there. New characters can be hired and property can be acquired in order to boost up a corporation's resources, and then the final steps of the round will be dealt with. So, the players will receive their income, pay all their characters the required wages (or discard them) and make repairs. However, most important is the investment into Major Projects the cards of which are displayed on the table, since these projects actually will bring high amounts of victory points which are needed to win the game. However, these projects cannot simply be purchased, since many of them have pre-requirements in terms of money, , professions, skills and property which must be owned in order to get the major project.

Talking about character's profession and skills we have actually come to the first dimension where playing depth is increased. There exists a considerable number of different professions and skills which can be found as symbols on the different character cards, and each of these skills actually confers certain benefits for the player. For example, Executives can increase income, Security officers make an assassination more difficult, Technicans gain additional support from Robots present in a confrontation, or a lawyer may sue and remove a criminal character of another player from the game. Some of these professions actually just require a certain situation to arise, whereas others require a character to be present at a special location. So, the Lawyer only can use his special skill at the Palacio die Justicia, whereas an Autowarrior can participate in an Autocombat night in the Anficiico arena. Skills are varied likewise, and so the characters may have special options in terms of seduction, hacking, socializing, assassination or sabotage.

At this stage it becomes clear that Mecanisburgo is a game of considerable playing depth, since a look at the overview sheets available to each player reveals that quite a lot of specialization is possible by the possession of the different characters. The next dimension then is added by the nine different locations, since once again all of these locations offer special powers which can be used to the benefit of the player who controls them. So, players in the Casino complex can seduce other players' characters at a wider range, the Spaceport offers control of space traffic for the ongoing round, or the Financial complex offers business income and an additional, secret opportunities card. The treatment of the locations also goes hand in hand with the different corporations available to the players, since the players may get benefits in certain locations depending on which corporation they represent. And as a further interwoven connection the Major projects which a corporation may acquire (if it has the right professions, skills and financial resources) will not only bring good victory point and bonus points for certain possessions at the end of the game, but many of these cards actually may have some associated bonus which will be applicable during the course of the game.

The game only has a playing duration of four turns, but within these four turns quite a bit of action and interaction will happen between the players. After four rounds, victory will be gained by the player with most victory points out of his corporation's assets, but at the beginning of turns three and four victory event cards will be revealed which offer special alternate victory conditions. And even more, a special combination of Opportunity cards may ensure an alternate victory as well.

However, victory of a player is not altogether certain, since some great threats exist in the Opportunities deck which may actually wipe out the whole city (and the player's with it). And so a Giant Beast or a Robot Rebellion might destroy too many locations so that the game is lost by all players, whereas the fearful Triunvirus may spread and kill loads of characters. The appearance of a threat always will detract the players from their current issues, but apart from preventing an early ending of the game it usually pays off for a corporation in terms of victory points to be responsible for the saving of the city. On the other hand, a player who sees himself loosing the game actually may seize the opportunity to further the chaos by occupying spaces at the location of the threat and holding them against other players, so that possibly the other players' victory can be prevented by a cataclysm.

Mecanisburgo by no means is a light game (even in the literal sense since the small gamebox actually has a weight of about 2 kilos!), and I was rather happy to have the game explained to me by the author at the SPIEL convention. Still, in comparison to older games by SPI or AVALON HILL which offer a comparable degree of complexity Mecanisburgo actually shows that modern ways to design cards and components actually can help, since the fitting symbolism is used on board and cards can be used quite well in conjunction with the player's overview cards. The structure of the rules tries to be helpful here as well, since they offer appendix sections which are meant to keep the players from searching for certain passages in the main body of the text.

Nonetheless, the degree of complexity which can be found in Mecanisburgo was intended and the players who will invest the necessary time will finde a quite intriguing game of politics and power, and the assembly of a player's corporation by outfitting it with characters and resources (and keeping it up by paying for it) is a rather challenging and interesting task. Many ways can be explored by which victory could be possible, and since the game comes with over 150 individual cards with quite stunning artwork (in comparison: Dominion has 31 different cards, including money) a very high replay value should be found with Mecanisburgo.

And It Begins

After saying I'd lay off the purchases for a month or so, there is like some random voice in the back of my head pushing me to get new games. Stupid voice. So the other day, it was adding a few decks to Mike Gingold's online order for my new A Game of Thrones LCG (which I haven't played yet). This morning, it was Senji. This is a beautiful looking game that is normally quite expensive, but I found a good deal on the BGG marketplace, so I finally pulled the trigger. My minor OCD kicked in a little too, as I picked up a set of Plano 3650 boxes to store my Starcraft pieces. Yep, I don't hardly get to play the game, but I have sleeved the cards and sorted the pieces in Plano. I also ordered 2000 euro-card sleeves. I have a number of games crying out for these (I'm undecided on whether or not to wait for the premium version of these sleeves for Dominion) like every FFG game I have (Descent, Starcraft, Runebound come to mind). At $0.012 each, I didn't mind buying enough to sleeve some card sets that don't really need them.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

I love the Dork Tower. So this is why I'm not making resolutions about board games this year :) Don't get me wrong - I'm really trying to play my un-played games. I really don't need to spend cash on new games that I haven't played just to play them once. I really Do want to play the games I have more. But I'm human and flawed, so I know I'll expand my collection. I also know that I get different gaming itches and not any one game scratches all the itches the right way. Its like food - I like a variety of things. Sometimes you want something light and healthy, sometimes you want something fried and greasy. Sweet, sour, spicy, bland, grilled, baked, with meat, or with extra meat and bacon and butter. Gaming is like that. Sometimes I want a little randomness, or player confrontation or theme or abstract or short or long, yada yada yada.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blah Blah Blog

I just felt like posting something so here we go with YAPE (Yet Another Pointless Entry). I went out and grabbed another small corner shelf.
  1. I ran out of room on my shelves. With Dread Pirate coming, I needed someplace to show it off.
  2. I really really disliked that when I measured out the room, I didn't account for the molding and came up 1/2 inch short of getting my long shelf in and had to have it at a goofy angle.
  3. I needed something to do.
So anyway, after a bit of re-arranging games and pulling out some games I need to get rid of, I'm still out of room. I have room for maybe 4-5 games. At the rate I'm going, that means I'm good until maybe February. Sigh.
I'm going to start on a piece of wall art. Its a collage of box art. If you have any suggestions for cool looking boxes, let me know. The only one I can think of off the top of my head so far that I'm going to use is Metropolys. I'll probably just hunt around the geek images for box art, but we'll see.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Let the Trading Begin

Well, the first math trade of the year looks to be close to official. I'm trading a copy of Epic Duels for the Treasure Chest edition of Dread Pirate. This is one of those games that is supposed to be fairly low on the depth (making it great for my son's age), and just gorgeous to look at. This version of the game runs $100 or so retail, and I only paid $35 for my copy of Epic Duels, so I'm happy with this one. It'll look great, and be another one I can play with my son (and/or family). Add to this the fact that the parent company to Front Porch Classics filed for bankruptcy in November and this one could be a collector's item to boot.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Its 2009!

Hey, guess what? I hate making resolutions of any kind - New Years, Birthday, whatever. Why? Because I'm a Hasegawa, and we are notorious for lacking any kind of follow through. I made a list last year, to which I think I did about 50% or so. A few were way off the mark, and a few still need followup. So, as far as the new year goes... I plan to play some more games. New ones that I've never seen or heard of. And some new ones that I have, but haven't gotten around to playing yet. I also plan to play a couple of games that I've played before. I'll probably play some kid games and party games. Some long brain burners and some abstract ones. I'll play some online too, just because I can. Ok, now I'll admit, those are not really goals. Not really much more than saying - I plan to breathe and get a dozen haircuts in the next year. But, since its the start of the new year, here is what I'll try and do. Each month, I'll pick a game out to try and get played and reviewed. No promise that it'll be a new release or anything, but at least a game I haven't played before. This will help me try and get some un-played games to the table at the very least. It will also let me do a before and after thing, where I can talk about why I want to play said game (or expansion). So, for January 2009, the new game to play this month is Mecanisburgo. This game came out in 2008 with a very slight amount of fanfare from Essen. I caught wind of it, and it sounded pretty interested, so I asked for and got it for Christmas from my sister. Theme wise, it sounds a bit like Blade Runner. Its futuristic mega-corporations fighting for control of the giant city. Rougly speaking, it appears to be a worker placement game. You place workers with different abilities in different parts of the board and expend your resources to gain new workers, buildings, etc to augment our current abilities as well as to gain victory points. There are numerous and varying alternate paths to victory to watch out for and I'll guess it takes a playing or two to get a handle on everything in the game. Its supposed to take 90-180 minutes and I'd guess that would be a bit longer for a first playing or with slower players as there are a lot of icons to try and absorb. After a playing, I'd guess that the playing time should drop a bit as players leave behind the confusion. I think it sounds a lot of fun from reading through the rules, but I can see a couple of potential pitfalls. One - there are a lot of icons to try and keep straight. Yes, there are player aids and after looking at most cards, they start to make sense, but not right off the bat. Two - You can only exercise certain abilities at certain times in certain areas, so at least one playing might be needed to grasp that. I can see where some folks in my group won't give it that second playing.

Nickels and Dimes of 2008

The official count is in. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, Nickels and Dimes refers to games that were played at least 5 times and 10 times respectively. The most played game of the year for me was Samurai at 23 plays. Sadly, I think all but one of those were online plays. I tend to go in streaks with this game, playing loads and then letting it be for a while. It is such a good game though that I'm always happy to come back to it. Anyway, on to the lists:

Dimes (10+ plays)

  • Samurai - as I said, this is a great game. Plays well with 2,3 or 4 players (though differently)
  • Memoir 44 - These were all played via email with Jason Maxwell. It plays pretty well over email, but I just got bored with it and finally traded away all my board game Memoir collection since I figured that if I wanted to play a C&C game face to face I'd play C&C:Ancients instead
  • Tichu - I love Tichu. I'm so glad to be where I can play this just about anytime I sit down at a table. The Fonz was willing to play with me in Omaha, but nobody else knew how to play.

Nickels (5+, less than 10)

  • Chicago Express - at 9 plays, this almost made the Dime list. I really like this game, and hopefully the release of the Queen version will mean more folks will have played this. I really haven't played this much with anyone that has played multiple times.
  • Chinese Checkers - I picked up a nice wooden board and bought some nice glass marbles for this children's game. Hey now its a nice display piece and game that I can play with my kids (and they do like it). I'd expect this to be a dime next year.
  • In the Year of the Dragon - This disaster management / VP engine game saw as many plays as it did in large part to MaBiWeb implementing it. I like it, but think I'd rather play Notre Dame face to face.
  • Micro Mutants: Evolution - as I've mentioned before, this was a surprise game for me. Never in a million years would have said I'd like or even play this. Even better though - my son can play it and he loves it.
  • Qwirkle - this hit the list as Stephanie will play it a couple games at a time. Its ok and might see more play as the kids get older.
  • Zooloretto - I kinda like this lighter game. After finally playing its sibling Aquaretto, I think I might like it better, but I'm not sure. Another one that will be a hit with the kids when they get a bit older.
  • Agricola - The most hyped (maybe second most, hard to say) game of the year got five plays by me. I think its a pretty good game, but I think its best and fastest with 3.
  • Battleball - the best part of these plays is that they were all with my son.
  • Blokus Trigon - the best part of these plays is that they were all with my sister
  • Ca$h 'n Gun$ - there is no reason I should like this "game" (its a social thing more than game, because if you play it as a "gamer", its no fun at all). Yet each time I played it, I laughed and had a great time. I keep getting asked why I don't rate it higher if that's the case, and the answer is pretty simple. It would wear out its welcome and not be any fun. It is simple a GREAT once-in-a-while-game.
  • Race for the Galaxy - yes, its better than San Juan. It got played as the HOT THING. I think its ok, but didn't fall in love with it like everyone else did. There was too much else out there this year that I liked more. I traded my copy away and I'm not trying to re-acquire it. I'd still play it, but would look for another game first.
  • Tsuro - another one where all my plays were with my son.