Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Qwirkle Cubes

Woo hoo! Qwirkle Cubes arrived today. Qwirkle was ok, but I had issues with the production quality. Despite that, I liked what I had seen from the shots of the cubes, so I ordered it and traded Qwirkle away over the weekend at the Geekway. So the first thing that surprised me when I opened the package was the size of the box. I'm not sure why I'd have expected huge cubes, but I was, so dice sized cubes threw me off. That's not really bad news, it just wasn't what I expected for some reason. Anyway, the good news is the quality is really decent here. The colors are strong (though I wonder if they will be just as hard to see in dim light since the cubes are black) and consistent and the cubes appear to be uniform (like you'd expect with a die). I hope to get a game in tonight and see how the game plays. Its also smaller and lighter (and still has a draw bag to keep them in). The only bad news? The box is small enough that you have to literally stack them to get them back in - no dumping here. That's ok, I'll just use the bag.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Geekway to the West 2009

The Geekway 2009 Cast

Justin EasleyJason EasleyNathan WinchesterBobby Stierwalt
Justin EasleyJason EasleyNathan
Bobby StierwaltChad StierwaltChester
Jay Little
Jay MooreJon McDunnJoshua HesselLisa PadalaMichael Pennisi Randy SallwaserTodd Dewitt

The Geekway to the West is a gaming convention in St. Louis, MO. I went last year due to being within driving distance of Omaha, NE and Illinois, where both Justin and Jason Easley reside. We had a great time and decided to go back again this year. I also talked Nathan Winchester into going out with me. This year I also chose to use a little technology to log everything and I created a Twitter account just for the purpose. So without further ado, here is the account of our journey.

nathan locked the keys in the running car at the airport. had to wait for guy to jimmy the car so niecy could drive home - 5:34 PM Apr 23rd from TinyTwitter The adventure began with Nathan and his fiance Niecy picking me up to take us to the airport. When we got there, Nathan managed to lock the keys in the car (while it was running), so we had a slight delay while we waited for someone to come open the car. Luckily we had loads of time, so after that was all said in done, we headed upstairs where Nathan bought a coffee and then realized we couldn't go through security with it. So we sat down in the Starbucks and I pulled out Hive (we played with the mosquito). I haven't played this a lot, so I pretty much had no strategy and just played it by ear. It appeared to work as my grasshoppers managed to hold Nathan in check until I could surround him for the win. flight delayed but beat nathan at Hive - 6:28 PM Apr 23rd from TinyTwitter Our flight was an hour delayed, which meant we were going to be getting in REALLY late (with the time change, it'd be like 2:00AM).

played twilight struggle on the plane (me US). nathan was on the ropes until the 8th round. he realigned w.germany then scored europe to win - 11:34 PM Apr 23rd from TinyTwitter Waiting wasn't bad though because I had printed out and laminated copies of the Twilight Struggle travel boards. We found a spot, had a beer and started a game. Nathan chose to play the USSR again (as he had when I taught him the game). We managed about 3-4 turns before having to get onto our flight. Once we were in the air, we continued the game. Everytime I'd get a good lead going, Nathan would have huge point swings. It was a good game of me dinking away at him and him gobbling up chunks of points. Going into the 8th round, I had managed to get back up on him by 10 points, only to see him break my hold on West Germany, which he translated into full control of Europe. Seeing the end coming, I could do nothing to stop him from winning as he played his Europe scoring card. All in all, a good gaming start to a long weekend. Unfortunately it meant we didn't sleep on the plane at all and didn't really get to bed until about 2:30AM local time. Our plan was to get up and have breakfast and hit the con early the next day which meant probably only 4-5 hours of sleep for us.

7:55AM - no easleys yet - 5:56 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter The Geekway opened at 8:00, but Justin and Jason were driving in and just like last year, weren't at the hotel on time for us to be first in line! No big deal since I knew there'd be plenty of gaming. I only mention this, because Justin called me to ask if I was still half asleep when he texted me, to which I was a bit confused as I hadn't been texting with Justin at all. He laughed at me like I was pulling something over on him, but I genuinely had no clue what he was talking about. When they finally arrived he explained what happened as something like this.

Justin (text to Charles): Is the plan still for us to pick you up?
"Charles": WTF?
Justin (text to Charles): Do you still need us to swing by and pick you up?
"Charles": Who is this?
Justin (text to Charles): Your Mom!
"Charles": I think you have the wrong number...

At which point he called me and the above conversation took place. Well, it turns out he was sending text messages to my old Union Pacific work cell number. I wonder who ended up with my old phone...

9:00 ice flow - jason, justin, nathan, me - 7:05 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Well, we (Justin Easley, Jason Easley, Nathan Winchester and I) finally did get checked in and there was about double the number of folks that there were at 9:00AM last year there already. We took a look at the Play to Win table (which was LOADED with great games) and I pulled Ice Flow off it as a good starter game. Having been the only person to have played, I quickly went over the rules (making sure to get the bouncing polar bear rule correct this time). As expected, the game still felt the same overall - slowing a bit in the middle with an overly sudden end. 9:19 pulled out Exxtra to play during down time - 7:20 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter I had brought along my new copy of Excape (Exxtra) and actually pulled this out to play on the side during our game of Ice Flow. It worked pretty well playing both games and we'd just do our Excape turn right after we'd finish our Ice Flow turn. nathan wins ice flow. justin and I tied at 20 in exxtra - he rolls first - 8:06 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Well, Nathan managed to win Ice Flow and Excape came down to me and Justin tied at 19 or 20 - except that he was going to get to roll first and he hit another double-3 (like his 5th) for the win there.

30 minutes of rules - ready to start Conan. - 11:23 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter. We had wanted to get Age of Conan to the table early on during the convention (since it was on the Play to Win table). So after finishing Ice Flow we grabbed this beast and sat down to the rules. The rules were not terribly long or complicated and after pretty much just a straight reading we got started. The bits are really pretty decent here (the exception being the purple emissaries which are not mounted units so I confused them with the army guys regularly) and there are loads of cards, thick chits and dice. Pretty much your standard Fantasy Flight quality game. Bits aside, the game itself is a strange mix of Ameritrash (lots of dice rolling for combat) and Euro game play. I like the occasional AT type game, so that didn't really bother me, but I didn't fall in love with it either. two hours later - about 1/2 way through Conan.
starting exxtra again - 11:24 AM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter
Conan was a little slow at first (it isn't instantly obvious where the points are going to come from here) so I pulled Excape out again for another side game. done with Age of Conan. me 25, justin 22, nathan 21, jason 15 - 12:55 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter conan ok - would be faster 2nd time. its one of those once in a while games. - 1:00 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Once we were about 1/2 way through Conan, it did speed up a lot and I can see future playings being much faster (even if I was teaching this to 3 new players), though I doubt I'll see this on the table again anytime in the near future since I do not own it. justin bet we'd all crap out in exxtra. and we did - 1:14 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter As for our side game, we all wound around the score track and anyone could have won the game. Justin sat a 6-4 on the 1-pt rung and watched us all crap out for the win.

playing Roll through the ages now - its a dicey-day so far - 1:29 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter We'd been playing Conan for so long, we all wanted something light and quick before we headed out to eat, so we grabbed Roll Through the Ages off the Play to Win table. Now, here is a game that is clearly a weak re-theme attempt. Its Yahtzee. Seriously. You roll three times and score something on your score sheet with the results. I was so bored, I wanted to play ANOTHER game of Excape during my non-turns. Roll Through the Ages: charles 37, jason 17, justin 19, nathan 34 - time to eat - 2:17 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter We played one too many rounds, but oh well. I'm ok with To Court the King and other Yahtzee variants, but this was not at all interesting. I'll pass. Not only that, but there were production quality issues with this version (one peg was too large to fit any hole and a number of dice were very light and you couldn't readily see what was on them). Also, there isn't a lot of downtime, but it is there and that'd bad for a game barely holding your interest anyway.

went out to bbq for diner. Jason taking a nap, so we pulled out Chicago Express. - 4:08 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter We headed out to a BBQ joint (yes Matthew, apparently I need to have BBQ when I go to conventions). I was pretty disappointed with the diner - it was ok, but really too dry. Jason wasn't feeling well and took a quick nap in the car afterwords, so I grabbed Chicago Express off the Play to Win table (well, technically not off the play to win table - I checked it out of the library, but the rule was if you played the game, you could enter to win). I really like this game a lot. I have yet to play two games that felt the same. Some are long and others are really really fast. I am so bad at Chicago express - 4:40 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter And yes, I do suck at the game regardless. Inevitably, I'll be in an auction and feel damned if I win it and know I've lost when I don't. Such a good game.
Since this game ended up just being Nathan, Justin and I, I really had no clue how to play it and just got killed. Game over: Charles 99, nathan 116, justin 128 - 5:21 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter I really enjoy the Queen edition of this, as I like what they did with the map - it makes explaining the game much much easier. I've gotten to where I can rip out how to play this (though not how to win it) now.

Ca$h and Gun$ with my new friends: Randy Sallwaser, Nathan, Lisa Padala, Todd Dewitt, Joshua Hessel - 5:42 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Nathan and I then we trying to wrangle Jay Moore into a game of Age of Steam. Jason and Justin didn't feel up to AoS, so they headed off to find something else to do. As it turned out, Jay had something going on and we instead planned to play the next morning. Chester Ogborn wandered by and mentioned having room for two in a game of Planet Steam in about an hour, so Nathan and I reserved the spots. In the meantime, we were standing around as a group started calling for players for Ca$h and Gun$. Everyone got introduced and Randy and Todd explained the game to everyone that hadn't played before. taken 2 wounds already I'm toast - 5:50 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Wow. It sure didn't take me long to rack up two wounds. Nathan had none and a load of cash, which took a little heat off of me. I figured I had nothing to lose and didn't back down the rest of the game, which worked out ok. Ca$h and Gun$ with my new friends: Randy Sallwaser(died), Nathan $105k, Lisa Padala $65k, Todd Dewitt $70k, Joshua Hessel(died),me $80k - 6:13 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter We did manage to kill off a couple of players, but "Baby-faced" Winchester managed to steal the most loot. As is the case with this game, its a nice light laughable game and this was a good group of folks that didn't take it seriously.

Coming soon - planet steam. Now playing Ninja vs Ninja while we wait - 6:16 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Of course we hadn't used up an hour or anything, so we still had time to waste. I remembered reading that Ninja vs Ninja would be on the Play to Win table and Jay Little noted he could teach anyone the game in 5 minutes, so I grabbed this and Nathan and I sat down to play (besides, 2 de Mayo wasn't available - a running theme all weekend). And then who should walk by but Jay Little, who of course offered to teach this to us in 5 minutes. 5 minutes later, Nathan and I were moving plastic Ninjas across the board towards each other for secret scouting missions full of danger and mystery. Or something. All I seemed to be doing was moving and watching Nathan roll the right number each time to pick me off. Basically, you move your ninjas in a line or L shape - always to the opponents side, until you penetrate their territory. Then you have three turns to get back. If you get back safely, you score points for how deep into the other team's territory you got (this is called a mission). If an enemy is on your side and you can roll the exact amount you need to land on them, you capture them and they are out of the game. I did manage enough missions to out score him before he decimated my dojo, so I was able to win. I win N vs N 7-6 - 6:26 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter

Planet Steam - Jon McDunn, Chester Ogborn, myself and Nathan. Let the rules begin - 6:46 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter The big event of the night was Planet Steam. This was one of the Essen buzz games if for no other reason than the sheer size of the game. I'm pretty sure that the box was about Roads and Boats sized and the game board about like Railroad Tycoon. The reports were also correct about the great quantity and quality of bits. But on top of all that is a really decent production and stock manipulation game. Rules done, let the game begin...- 7:11 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter After about 20 minutes of rules (and eating) we got started. It didn't feel like many other games I've played and if this game wasn't $120 to import I'm sure it'd have been seen more. As it was, I think Chester taught this or played in something ridiculous like 6 games of it over the weekend. I had a good time, but it was the end of the night after 4 hours of sleep and I made a couple of silly-stupid mistakes that I recognized immediately and counted nearly 80-100 points I gave up in the last two rounds. That and this type of game make it hard to know how things will value out - especially with three players that have no clue. Also, Chester mis-lead us (not intentionally) a bit saying that the auction for the player actions didn't tend to go above 10, however after the first round losses I immediately realized that the first bid is easily worth about 15 in cost savings and getting first picks. That mistake didn't happen again and the bids were much higher in subsequent rounds, throwing Chester off his game. All in all, I think we all had a great time. Planet Steam is a decent game with nice bits and pretty fun. Worth it for the current price? ($120) - not quite. If this was $60 maybe - 8:48 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter Cost wise, it is probably worth $80 (retail). Its right up there with the quality you'd see from a Fantasy Flight game. However, I think $60 is the most I'd part with for it, so I won't likely own this anytime soon. Finished much better than I thought I would. I saw 100 pts I threw away which cost me the game. Finished about 70 pts behind Chester - 9:02 PM Apr 24th from TinyTwitter

Monday, April 20, 2009

Twilight Struggle

Well, the Geekway to the West 2009 is coming up, so I finally got around to teaching Nathan Winchester Twilight Stuggle. If you wonder how those are connected, I went ahead and printed and laminated the travel board for TS so that Nathan and I can play on the plane (and at the airport and hotel). All we need is the cards, a die, and a dry erase marker.
At any rate, Nathan got the game quickly enough, though understanding the rules and understanding the game are different. He played the USSR and did well enough that after six turns, we were tied. He had to leave for the night, so we called it a draw at that point. He saw a number of things almost immediately after they happened, so our next game will likely be very tense. Hopefully, we'll get a few games of this in over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Ok, I'm on twiter. if you care. I really only plan to twit while at the geekway next friday and saturday as an easy way to log things until I get back for my full session reports here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Well, nailed off a couple games on MaBiWeb recently. The normal motley crew - Nathan Winchester, Mike "The Fonz" Garrett, and at least for Mykerinos, Justin Easley. So, the first game was Mykerinos with all of us - last week. The first round I thought was a waste (as apparently did Justin). I used all my cubes and came away with very little that I hoped to. Mike saved a lot of cubes and I think Nathan pulled the sole brown patron. The next round didn't look great for me me either. Despite one round where I simply took my purple cube and didn't place anything, it turned out ok and when we headed into the final season, I was in a good position. As it turned out, I was in a fine position, though apparently it wasn't enough to outright win. Justin and I shared a 41 point victory. Mike, who had been hoarding cubes most of the game didn't get as much of a chance to use them, as we all got out of cubes much faster in the final round.
This week, we started by finishing a three-player game of Samurai (Justin bowed out). I can't ever remember what to take for three players, so I took some ships, my Ronin, and a couple of 3s I think. I was last in turn order, so I didn't figure there was much point in starting with 4s - my position would be dictated by where Mike and Nathan started. Nathan jumped on the capitol city, so Mike and I left him alone to spend his tiles there. Mike hit an island first, so I went north. After that, I had a fantastic draw of tiles the whole game. I used my totem swap early to steal a couple of pieces from "Mike's" island (and right after he called me aggressive). I also stayed away from the main areas until I was ready to leverage Nathan's need to finish the middle. In the end, we all had one majority, but I had a single piece more than either Nathan or Mike had to take the win.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BGG Top 100

So, out of the top 100 games on the BGG, how many do you own now? Um, before I answer that - why are we doing the whole inner monologue thing again? Probably because your style of writing isn't interesting enough by itself. You really need this extra superfluous crap or the whole thing becomes a series of monotonous drivel and your readers will give up on you. Well, first of all, I really only do this for my own amusement - its not like I'm part of a larger site that has to regularly publish stuff. True Dat boooooy! And secondly... ok, I don't have another point. Forget it, I'll answer your question. After a quick spot check, I show that I have 49 of the top 100 games. I used to own another 11 of those but I traded them away. WTF?!? You traded away highly ranked and well thought of games? If you don't watch out, there is going to be a picture of you on the FailBlog with something like "Game Collection Fail!" Whatever. Of those 11 I had only played 5 (Tigris and Euphrates, Race for the Galaxy, Memoir '44, Arkham Horror, Amun-Re, Ticket to Ride:Marklin). The other 6 were games I didn't really care about and mostly got for trade bait in the first place. Dude, there's something not right about that. Ok, I have to ask. How many of those 49 have you not played yet? Dude! You are me! Why do you have to call me out like that? Eight. Well, that's not as bad as I thought it was going to be. That's only like 16% of your "Top 100" collection. Yeah, that was lower than I thought it'd be for sure. I'll probably get a few of those knocked out in the coming month, what with the Geekway 2009 less than three weeks away. Oh? Like what? Well, I'd like to try and get Le Havre played both before I go and at the con. I'd kinda like to play Die Macher at some point. And of course, there is Shogun. Gotta play that. But that's really more of a "play my un-played stuff" thing than play the top 100 thing.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Update - Cult of the New

Ok, So here we are 3 months of the year gone. The collection now sits at 114 un-played games and expansions. I've played 17 new games and expansions so far this year. 76 of the 114 (2/3) of those are games, so 1/3 of that total are expansions, which I have dramatically increased thus far this year with additions of the entire Killer Bunnies set and the new Carc: Big Box. I still have not played Le Havre. I have acquired more Age of Steam maps, so need to get to work on playing those. At least so far this year, I feel like I've done a pretty good job of working through my un-played list as well as getting some old friends played. I've moved some other un-played items in trades. I know I'm not going to have everything played, but the more I can reduce the list the better.

Three player games

So, heard you played some three player games Friday night? Yeah. Amelia Boli and Nathan Winchester stopped by. Cool. What'd you play? Well, we started with End of the Triumvirate, which is a game none of us had played before. Its a three-player only game, so it seemed to be appropriate. Um, the box says 2 or 3... Yeah, but I can't see where two player would be interesting - its definitely a three player game (and possibly my new favorite with three). Basically, three players are fighting for control in the ancient Roman Mediterranean. Players can win through political dominance, military control, or by demonstrating proficiency in both on a skill track. The neat thing going on here is that when you are attacked and you lose, you get benefits. The first loss makes it so that the next attacker has an even great chance at you inflicting casualties. If you take a second (or third) consecutive loss, you actually gain skill on the proficiency tracks (thus pushing you closer to victory). There is no good way to protect "your" territories, so things shift around a lot (though not in a chaotic manner). It felt well balanced and was interesting and relatively short. Amelia had a lot of cash and used it to buy influence in the political arena. Nathan kicked butt all over the map with his armies. Taking beatings in both areas, I decided to focus on pushing up my proficiencies. At the end, Amelia attacked me after Nathan had, and I was able to then grab the last proficiency steps I needed to win the game. Because of the odd number of players, this game probably hasn't gotten much attention, but it is a really fun game for three.
Ok, then what'd you play? I know you didn't just play one game. That's true. Next, I un-shrinked a game that has been away from the table too long - Torres. I had to review the rules since it'd been so long, but it all came right back to me. I got slightly lucky - got my elevator card at just the right time and shot up near the top of Nathan's giant tower and that helped push me to the win in what was a pretty close game. Charles: 257, Nathan:235 , Amelia: 241 Hmmm, why in the world has this game sat in the shrink so long? I blame Jerry. He likes this, so nobody will play it for fear they'll have to play with him. I'm going to bring it along on occasion I think. I'll be happy to pull it out when I don't have to play with him.
Then what? Then what what? Then what did you play? Don't be stupid. I've obviously loaded a picture of the Rumis box, so why are you asking? And who are you anyway? Duh, I'm just your inner monologue. And duh! I'm asking because I was trying to transition you to your next game. Ok, but you can't come up with a better transition that "what next"? Don't try and blame me buddy! You are the one writing this whole thing. Why don't you stop having a fake argument with yourself and get on with the session report? Uh, yeah. So next we played Rumis, which Amelia had been wanting to get to the table for a little while. Amelia seems to enjoy abstracts (which apparently just aren't Matthew's thing - which funnily enough, The Fonz would argue that all Euros are abstract - but I digress). So we randomly selected the Chullpa board, which is the rectangle tower shape. Amelia felt abused at the start and I miscounted the height of the tower, pushing me right out of the game as Nathan covered me up. However, Nathan and I topping one another let Amelia pick the rest of the board apart for the easy win. Amelia: 10, Nathan: 6, Charles: 2.
Hahahaha - you only scored two points! Yeah, well I won the first two games and the last game of the night too, so shut it! Ah, so there is at least one more game to report on? Yeah, the closer of the night. A three player session wouldn't feel right if we didn't get to play San Marco (though again, End of the Triumvirate may have taken its place as my favorite three player). But, that's like apples and oranges - yes they are three player games, but the mechanics are not the same at all. Yeah, its true - San Marco delivers that delicious tension in splitting the cards and trying to tempt the other players to take the stack you don't want. This is a wonderful exercise in trying to understand how the other players are evaluating the board. There is nothing more fun that having a person agonize over splitting the cards and then in a second, taking a stack that you see as very valuable that they didn't think you'd ever take. And there is nothing worse than watching everyone "stick" you with the crap pile that you were sure that you wouldn't get. But enough on why I like this game - Amelia and Nathan hadn't played before, but the rules are pretty simple. This is the first time I saw all the bridges getting used in a game, though the Doge didn't move around much. He sort of sat to one side and stayed there. My first couple of attempts to banish were weak, but I did manage a good one near the end and some good swaps let me score a good amount for the win. Charles: 110, Nathan: 92, Amelia: 88.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hansa Online

Played a quick three-player game of Hansa via with Matthew Frederick and Dion Garner. I started and had a pretty good run with the goods and board - quick lead and never really felt like Matthew or Dion would catch me. They didn't and we managed to finish just before Matthew had to leave for THE GATHERING. I had 58pt to Matthew's 32 and Dion's 46. I've played like 3 games this year, and I've probably had my fill for a while :)