Friday, March 6, 2009 - Gamer's Inn
This was a game night that I hoped to get in a little Age of Steam - specifically I wanted to get in a new 4-player map: Secret Blueprints. When I arrived, there was not another boardgamer in the store and it was nearly six before Rob Smolka and Dion Garner arrived. Rob had a sub he was eating, so I pulled out Hive to have Dion explain it to me. Despite his clear explanation, I simply didn't pay attention and he worked me over in about 5 minutes. This is a nice little abstract and I'm sure I'll get some plays in with Nathan Winchester soon. It wasn't long after that that more gamers arrived, so I pulled out AoS. Joining me were Matthew Frederick, Amelia Boli and Ray Morgan (I can't believe I don't have a picture of Ray). Ray had not ever played AoS, so we explained the basic systems to him. I don't think this is even close to appropriate to the right map for a teaching game, but I wanted to try the Secret Blueprints out, so wasn't going to switch. The Secret Blueprints are 4 individual maps that each player works on independently and hidden from the other players. Each map is fairly small and has three cities on it (meaning players may not deliver any number of their goods). Unlike regular AoS where you can take "un-optimal" moves, in these maps you often just get screwed and have turns where you move nothing. Also, since you all work on individual maps, you can build and move each round simultaneously, which speeds up the game (unless you are playing with the new guy). Overall, it takes some of the tension of the main game and moves it. The trade off is that 4 experienced players could probably do this in under 90 minutes. Ray actually did well and ended up two points shy of me at the end of the game (two more tracks for me for the win!). The most annoying/cumbersome part was just finding a way to hide our maps. Turns out that four large box lids worked pretty well. I'd play this again assuming we were short on time.
We had Jake Troken and Dan Brugman waiting, so I pulled out Q-Jet 21XX (aka Ave Ceasar) for a quick game while we waited for the other group of gamers to finish Le Havre. I like this race game, because its tights and offers loads of chances to screw everyone else. As usual in a 6-player race, a couple of guys (Ray and Jake) came up short of the finish line. Being stupid, I let Dan have the outside lane on the last move and he finished ahead of me, making me last of the finishers. Matthew and Amelia jostled for first, with Matthew just crossing before Amelia.
Our last game of the night was a playing of Matthew's prototype Elven Craft. Dan doesn't care for the game, so Greg Perschbacher took his place. Since I'm not sure how much he wants details out yet, I won't go into too much detail about the current rules or my feelings about the playing since the next version may be quite different in feel. It was a bit different than my playing a few years ago and I'm glad to see my friend closing in on finishing this game.