Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Break Gaming Begins

Lissa and I played two more games of Carcassonne on the 19th and are now pretty decent with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion.  I would love to have input on what expansion to add next (Traders & Builders or what).

Yesterday we received one part of our Christmas gift to ourselves, a copy of Ticket to Ride: Europe (Board Games with Scott Episode).  Ticket to Ride is a beautiful game where you collect colored train cards in order to play routes on the map as you attempt to complete various tickets showing routes between European cities.  The turn sequence is simple by Euro-game standards.  Each turn you do one of the following: take up to two train cards, play a route, play a station allowing you to use one section of an opponent's track to fulfill a ticket, or draw additional route tickets.

Lissa and I both enjoyed the first game we played and today I introduced Jeff to the game.  Jeff and I also played two games of Carcassonne.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Two Player Games Quest Continues

Lissa was not feeling well yesterday but we were able to continue out quest for good two player games.  Up this time were Masons, Stratego, and Carcassonne with the Inns & Cathederals and River II expansions. 

First up was Masons.  Masons is a nice abstract game where you build walls and towers and place buildings on either side of the walls.  We started off by watching the excellent Boardgames with Scott episode on Masons.  This helped a lot and allowed us to play the game with only minimal reference to the rules. 

Basically, each turn you place a wall, roll three special dice what tell you what colors of houses and what color one of the towers you will place will be, place the items and if you complete a city you then have the option to remove a wall if by doing so you can merge your city with an existing one.  Guiding your actions are a selection of scoring cards in your hand that will allow you to score points based on various conditions (usually particular colored towers or houses either within the city just completed or outside of all cities).  When a city is completed, both players have the opportunity to score points by playing one or two cards from their hands.  All in all, this is a simple abstract game with great components and tactical goals that differ slightly between players.  Good for two players and likely to be interesting with more.

Next up was Stratego.  This game needs little introduction as it is an American classic.  As a kid I only had the opportunity to play Stratego a couple of times though I always wanted to play more often.  Luckily, at Charcon 2010 I was able to pick up a nice 1970s era copy with vaguely Crimean War themed imagery from my friend Charlie for the princely sum of $2.

Lissa was pretty skeptical of the game after having gotten used to so many great Eurogames recently.  Basically the game involves the secret placement of forty pieces on each side of a square grid board.  The pieces range from the Marshal to the lowly scouts and miners who all defeat opposing pieces of lower rank than themselves.  The scouts can move in a way similar to a rook in chess but give their identity away when they do so.  Miners are the only pieces that can disarm one of the six bombs that you can deploy.  The spy is a special piece and the only one that can defeat the Marshal other than of course a bomb.  The spy needs to be the attacking piece in order to defeat a Marshal and is defeated by all other pieces.  The final piece is the flag which is the object of the game.

The hidden identity of the pieces in play is the primary mechanic of interest in the game.  Players use their scouts to identify opposing pieces (by striking, or attacking pieces orthogonally).  The scouts are usually killed as they rank above only the spy but by doing so the identity of the opposing piece is revealed.  The game ends when one player strikes the opponents flag.  I like the game quite a bit, largely due perhaps to my own nostalgia but I think Lissa was pleasantly surprised by the game.

Finally, we played a game of Carcassonne adding the River II and Inns & Cathedrals expansions.  The River II expansion is similar to the original river but adds a fork as well as two ending lakes, one at a volcano that is used primarily with the Dragon expansion and the other at a city wall.  Inns & Cathedrals adds inns along roadways that double the score for a completed road but score zero if the road is not completed and Cathedrals that increase city scoring by one in a similar fashion.  The expansions add some additional scoring opportunities and the all or nothing aspect of the Inn & Cathedrals expansion adds an interesting wrinkle to an already great game.   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catching Up After a Busy Weekend of Gaming

I had a nice extended weekend of gaming this weekend.  On Thursday Lissa and I went up to a nearby state park for a library meeting and we played four games of Carcassonne in the lodge by the fireplace.  Very nice but I was disappointed in the lack of interest by the other librarians there though most of them arrived quite a bit later than we did.

On Friday, Lissa, Jeff and I played a couple of games of Carcassonne and a hand of Martian Fluxx.  I still like Fluxx ok and this game proved better for Lissa and Jeff this time around.  Still, I doubt that we will expand our Fluxx collection.

On Sunday Jim and Dana came over and we played Smallworld and a game that I had on the top of my "To Play" list, Power Grid.  Dana had a great night and whipped Lissa, Jim and myself in both games.

Power Grid was cool.  I like the auctions and the way the resource mix changes throughout the game.  Probably not a game we will purchase but I look forward to playing it again in the future.  Lots of fun.

My online Blood Bowl League restarted after upgrading to the Legendary Edition and the Lucky Scales continued their $@&*$ ways.  In an interesting but at times for me frustrating game we fell to a new Necromantic team with a star player vampire.

iPhone Board Game Apps

A lot of my recent gaming has been occurring on my iPhone.  While I am not impressed with the iPhone as a phone but as a little computer it is fantastic!  Here are my current favorite iPhone apps that are based upon boardgames.  I also play a number of non-board game based iPhone games, chief among them, the excellent tower defense game, Fieldrunners.

Carcassonne: This is a fantastic app.  It is only the base game but all of the rules from the basic game are implemented completely.  The interface is easy to use and you can play against up to four computer opponents at a time from a list or seven or eight possible opponents.  You can also play two player games against friends or random internet opponents.  If you like Carcassonne this is a gr4eat app.

Hive: This is a neat little app where you play and maneuver various insects to surround the opposing queen.  Each insect moves in a unique manner leading to a variety of strategies.  Plays quickly.

Ingenious: Ingenious is an abstract tile laying game where you score points based upon what color rows you connect when placing a tile.  The winner is determined by the player whose lowest color score is the highest so you cannot focus on a single color.  This is a great implementation of the game.

Roll through the Ages: This is a single player adaptation of the dice game.  Lack of multiplayer takes a little away from the game but as a solo game it plays well.  The interface is well designed and all of the rules (other than multiplayer) are implemented.

Settlers of Catan: Fantastic app.  You can play “hotseat” with a friend or against three computer opponents.  The AI is somewhat lacking at times but the interface is easy to use and all of the features of the base game are included.  I understand that the Seafarers app is coming soon.

Funagain games has a deal where they will give you a copy of the iPhone app if you buy a copy of the game from them.  Check out the offer not only to consider purchasing but also to see a more complete listing of available iPhone apps.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday Night NWN

The gang (Jeff, Harold, Nick, Rosie and myself) got together last night for some NWN action.  We are still trying to work our way through the quest system on Kharlindale Realms and move our current characters up to level 40 (max level).  After quite a few issues due to new laptops in the group we had a great session netting some nice items and I at least gained a level.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Final Holiday Gaming Post and Beginning the Quest for Good Two Player Games

On Black Friday I actually ventured into the world and visited at least one store, of course it was Lost Legion Games and Comics - the Riflemen and I went primarily to play games but I did take advantage of some Black Friday specials while I was there.  Shopping-wise, I picked up Say Anything and Arena Maximus from the buy one get one free table and picked up Mr. Jack PocketSmall World: Be Not Afraid, and Aye, Dark Overlord and received Small World: Necromancer Island free from the shop.

While there Dave G. stopped by with Tinner's Trail.  This is a nicely themed resource management game based in the mining region of Cornwall.  The game has an interesting turn sequence mechanism where players can choose to do various actions such as building a mine, opening bidding on a parcel of land, or constructing improvements on a parcel.  Each action takes a specified amount of time, moving the player along the turn sequence chart.  As players make money from the selling of their mined ores they then use the money to purchase outside investments that serve as victory points.  This is an excellent game and one I would be interested in picking up.

Prior to playing in Tinner's Trail, I watched Craig and Dan play a bit of Malifaux.  I had not previously been interested in Malifaux as many of the miniatures were too weird for my taste but some of the recent miniatures (Guld faction swashbucker types) looked good and a lot of folks around here like the game.  After watching for a while I can see the appeal of the game but I am now certain that it is not for me.  Too many rules (two whole rulebooks), too fiddly, and to be honest, too gross for my tastes.  Craig spent the first part of the game disassembling his own units in order to build a Frankenstein monster.  Not my cup of tea.

Next up - Lissa and I have been working our way through our two player games looking for good games to play together.  First up was Architekton.  This is a simple tile laying game.  Lissa liked this one quite a bit and I liked it ok.

Tonight we tried out three more two player games.  Scrabble Slam! is a fast paced game where you try to be the first to empty your hand of letter cards by covering up letters in the four letter word on the table to form new words.  This was a lot of fun for two and would be even better with more players.

Next we played Gold Digger.  This one was ok with two but would be far, far better with additional players.  You play cards to attach characters or gold/fool's gold cards to each of the six mines while staking a claim in up to three of them.  With two players there is little conflict for mines and you are able to quickly improve a mine that you have staked a claim in.  More players would lead to more cards being played between turns and more conflict.

Last up was Gone Fishing!  This game is a lot like concentration in that you are able to peek at the lake cards before selecting one each round when you are the angler.  The fish player can manipulate the placement of the lake cards between angler turns.  The game works ok but was not that interesting to either of us.  This one is destined for the trade/gift pile.       

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Gaming

Our holiday weekend of gaming continued today with Todd, Ann, and Jeff joining us for Smallworld and Carcassonne.  Everyone had a great time and liked both games and Ann's Brunswick Stew was fantastic.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Boardgames - Work & Home

Since we were only working half a day today at the library and the students have already left for home this week I declared today Library Team Building Day.  By this I mean that we ordered pizza and played boardgames.  We had seven players for our games: Anna, Rebecca, Heather, Stacey, Chris, Shubha, and myself.  We started out with what seemed to be an easy choice, Trivial Pursuit Book Lovers Edition, given that the people playing all librarians or library workers.  Even divided into teams we had a very difficult time we the questions as none of us are especially good at modern literary fiction.  It took almost three hours for the team of Heather, Stacey, and I to win.

Chris, Rebecca, Anna, Heather, and Stacey playing Trivial Pursuit

Next up was Hey That's My Fish!  This game was a big hit!  Rebecca immediately picked up on the game and began isolating her opponents on small chunks of ice.  We played two rounds of this and I was thoroughly beaten by my team each time.

Rebecca, Anna, Shubha, Heather, and Stacey playing Hey That's My Fish!

We finished up with a quick one round play of Guillotine.  This game gathered a lot of interest but the game had to end quickly as the pizza arrived.

Stacey, Rebecca, Anna, and Heather playing Guillotine - "Off with their heads!"

After leaving the library I stopped by the Lost Legion Games - The Riflemen and watched Dave and JB play the final game of the store league's Blood Bowl Tournament.  The game went into overtime with Dave pulling it out in the end.  It was a tight game the entire time with two advanced elf teams duking it out and Dave understrength for most of the game.  Congrat's to both Dave and JB for a great game.

Dave and JB playing the Season One Super Bowl
 Finally, Lissa, Nick, Rosie, and I played a game of Road Kill Rally.  I spent most of the game wiping out and Nick spent a lot of time without weapons as our wives proceeded to run down pedestrians and lead throughout the race.  In the end they tied in points at 360 but Lissa placed first as she finished the race ahead of Rosie.  Nick placed third and I puttered like an old man in a hat into fourth place.

The past two days have been a really great start for my gaming oriented Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow we will eat Chinese and then return home for boardgames and then on Friday I will head to the shop for Black Friday gaming. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boardgames with Tori and Ashley

My youngest daughter, Tori, visited this evening and later on her friend Ashley stopped by.  Before Ashley arrived Tori, Lissa and I played a quick hand of Dominion.  Tori and Lissa had never played before and I had not played since Charcon 2009 so the game was new to all of us.  Everyone enjoyed the game and is looking forward to trying out some of the other card combinations.  I won the game but I expect the results to be different as everyone becomes more comfortable with the rules.

Ashley arrived and we decided to show Ashley Hey, That's My Fish! since she is attending school to become a zoo keeper - perhaps this would give her some insight into the penguins at the zoo.  We played two quick games before they had to leave.  Again, I won both games partly due to Tori and Ashley constantly cutting each other off on isolated ice floes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Boardgames at Capitol Roasters

Jeff and I met up today at Capitol Roasters with Jim and Dana, two new math professors at the university where I work.  Unfortunately, Lissa was unable to play as she was working.

We started out with a quick game of Guillotine before Jeff arrived.  I believe that Jim won this game.

The next game was one of Jim and Dana's, Thurn and Taxis.  This is an interesting game where the players are building postal routes to various cities in Germany.  As routes are built, you score points based on a variety of factors, including the regions that the cities are in, and the length of the route.  You are also placing postal stations down as routes are completed.  These are used in the scoring process as well.  While I ended up placing very poorly in this game I rather liked it.  Dana won this game.

For game three we played one of Jeff's games, Steam.  This was a tight game that came down to the last turn where I would have won had Jeff and Dana not traitorously used some of Jim's track giving him the two points necessary to win :)  One problem that we had was that we badly misread the income rule and gave ourselves far more income than we should have.  Great game!

Our last game was another of Jim and Dana's, Ingenious.  This is a nice abstract game with an interesting twist in scoring.  As you play pieces, you score based on the number of matching colors/shapes that you can trace in a straight line from your piece.  You keep track of your score for each color/shape separately and your total score is equal to your lowest score.  This was another win for Dana.

It was great to finally get to play with Jim and Dana and to try out two new games.  Lots of fun!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Night Magic

Harold, Nick and Rosie came by tonight and Harold, Nick and I got in three hands of Magic.  Harold's recent losing streak turned around tonight with him winning two of the four games and Nick and I splitting the other two.

We had one interesting occurrence that I would love to hear feedback on.  Nick had a Blood Moon in play and Harold had an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play.

The question is, does Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth retain the text or is it simply a Mountain?  My take is that it would become a Mountain with no text.  Please comment!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Laundry/Boardgames

Our eldest daughter, Shari, and her fiance, Ernest stopped by to do laundry and as is becoming our habit play some games with Lissa and I.  We were able to get in five games today while they did laundry.

We started with one of my favorite games, Carcassonne.  This is one that they have played before and enjoy.  I won this game and it's end signaled the end of my winning for the evening.  This is a fantastic game and it runs a close second to Settlers of Catan for my favorite Euro game.

Carcassonne Box
Next up was a game that we picked up at this year's Charcon convention.  In fact, we picked up two copies of it and had given one to them previously and they wanted to try it out with us.  Terra Nova is an interesting little area control game published by Immortal Eyes Games.  The game involves the claiming of sections of the hexagonal map by laying out "border stones" to delineate areas of control.  These areas are scored according to how many different types of terrain are included in the plot.  If the area contains only one type of terrain you score the number of hexes times three, if two types, times two, if three types, times one.  Only the player with the most pioneer meeples in the area scores points.  The points are shared in case of a tie.  The game starts out pretty open but as the end approaches things get rather tight and the decision making becomes more difficult.  The types of terrain shown have no effect on the game other than to determine the score multiplier and it is somewhat counter-intuitive that the more types of terrain you include the less you score.  Lissa one this one handily though she seemed to like it the least.  Ernest and Shari both seemed to like this one a lot.  Myself, I think it will grow on my after a play or two.

Terra Nova
Next up was Roll Through the Ages.  This is a favorite of mine and was one of the games offered at the 2009 Charcon Premier Board Game Tournament.  I was able to add it to the collection at this year's Charcon as part of my winnings.  It took a few rounds for everyone to catch on to this one but I think everyone enjoyed it.  Ernest caught on very quickly and won the game handily.

Roll Through the Ages Box
Last up was everyone's old favorite, Guillotine!  We played two hands of this fantastic, French Revolution themed game and both times Shari won.  We have been playing Guillotine for years now and Shari and Ernest liked the game so much that they picked up a copy shortly after we introduced it to them.

Guillotine Box
I certainly do not remember trips to my parents to do laundry being quite so much fun.  I guess Shari is just lucky that her parents are gamers :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday Night Gaming - Egizia

We had four players tonight for gaming and pulled out my brand new copy of Egizia by Rio Grande Games.  Jeff and I had played before but Nick and Rosie had not so we began by taking a few minutes to go over the rules.  The game involves the players running work crews who work on various monuments along the Nile River valley.  Mechanics-wise Egizia is a worker placement game and resource management game that includes a neat mechanic wherein you place worker boats as you move down the Nile but cannot (unless you have a special card) place a boat upriver of your previously placed boats.

The game runs for five turns and the mechanics are learned by the time the second turn begins.  Everyone really enjoyed the game.  I won followed by Nick, Jeff, and Rosie though the scores were close for everyone.  This is one of my top two games from Charcon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Charcon 2010 - A Busy Night in Distraction, New Mexico Report

This has been a while coming but here is a short writeup with a bunch of pics from our Charcon 2010 Gutshot game.  The buildings are all from Eric Hotz's excellent Whitewash City range of paper buildings as is the play mat.  There were six teams, each with separate goals to accomplish.  The teams were the Pinkertons, the Sheriff and deputies, the US Marshals, two outlaw gangs, and a gang of banditos.  The goals ranged from the banditos needing to "rescue" the little sister of the leader who had ran off and become a "can can dancer" and the Marshals who were tasked with arresting the leaders of the three gangs and one of the Pinkerton agents who was wanted in Colorado for actions in a coal strike.  The only team to complete their mission was Jeff's outlaws who successfully freed a team member from the Sheriff's lockup and left the board.  They were also shot up unexpectedly by Ken's banditos who ignored their goal and simply shot up the town and anyone in it they could reach. 

In addition to the normal activation cards that each character would have I added several cards that activated a civilian in a nearby building or began a pre-staged event such as the rampage of El Nacho Loco, a midget Mexican (Flintloque Frontiers Hobbit?) who was angry that all of the ladies at Madame Orre's were so dag-blamed tall.  At one point an outlaw used Nacho as cover and shot over him at another player.  The other main event was the gunfight.  When this card was drawn two NPCs left a bar and set-up in the street to have a classic shootout.  Unfortunately, as they thought this was to be their day of fame, they were largely ignored as folks brawled around them paying them no attention.

Figure 1: The setup

Figure 2: Another view of the setup

Figure 3: Larry moves one of the Sheriff's men

Figure 4: Overview of the game as the GM (me) digs for a civilian to add to the mix

Figure 5: The gunfight

Figure 6: Ken moves a bandito

Figure 7: The carnage at Madame Orre's and Nacho Loco being used as cover

Figure 8: The bank president walks out at the wrong time

Figure 9: The banditos just before they shot down poor Granny Clampett

Figure 10: A view of the carnage

Figure 11: An overhead view

Figure 12: One of the outlaws found some dynamite and decided to blow up the livery and is confronted by the elderly livery operator - he was eventually successful and miraculously survived

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Charcon 2010 - General Pics

Charcon 2010 was a blast.  Here are some general pics from the show.

This year Charcon welcomes Hack3rCon to the fold.

Gettysburg Soldiers Civil War game.

One of the many boardgames played at Charcon.

Some of the many items in the Charcon raffle.

See big hammer, I did not win big hammer :(

Folks playing games, Tumbling Dice game in the foreground.

Matt K. running his amazing game where all of the figures are handmade.

Another view of Matt K.'s figures.

Another view of the hammer. . . that I did not win.

Charcon Crokinole board.

Charcon 40k Tourney - Terrain

While I did not participate in the 40k tournament, a lot of folks did.  There were some really nice terrain pieces used in the tournament as shown below.

Charcon 2010 - 5th Anniversary Cakes

Given that this was the fifth anniversary of Charcon, we had cake.  The organizers provided five cakes, each one showing one of the five program covers.  The cake was very good and went about as quickly as you might imagine with 500+ gamers hearing the words "free" and "cake".

2008 Cover

2009 Cover

2010 Cover

2006 Cover

2007 Cover

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Charcon General Review

Let me start right out by saying that Charcon was simply AMAZING!  We had an absolute blast playing a ton of different games and spending time hanging with some great people.  The action started on Thursday with a dinner out that included the special guests from the show.  Unfortunately author Eric Flint was unable to attend due to an illness in the family but it was wonderful to have dinner with everyone.

The folks at Charcon have great industry connections and as always make preregistering worth the time and effort.  Not only did you get to select your choice of Charcon T-shirt color but the pre-reg bags came with a copy of the PC version of the game Puerto Rico and a small deck of magic cards.

The first order of business for Jeff and I was to go to the boardgames area and sign up for the Charcon Premier Board Game Tournament.  Each year the organizers arrange for a number of new games to be available for the tournament.  This year the games were Founding Fathers (with the designers attending), Egizia, the Adventurers, Charon, Inc., and Road Kill Rally.  There are two rounds of games and those who win during the first round are asked to play in the finals.  I was able to play four of the five games during the first round winning three of them.  My record in the finals was good but not nearly as great as I placed second in each of the three finals I was eligible to play in.  I came in second overall with a point total of 27.  The first place winner scored 29 and the third place winner 15.  The tournament was fantastic fun and I came away with a bunch of great games as prizes including one of my favorite games of the tournament, Road Kill Rally!

Figure 1 - My Loot from the Tournament
On Friday night we hosted our first convention western game, A Busy Night in Distraction, New Mexico.  We had a full group of six players for the game and everyone seemed to have a good time.  Look for a full report with pictures this weekend.

On Sunday I hosted and played in the annual Charcon DBA tournament.  Again this year we had generous prizes provided by Scale Creep Miniatures.   And, again, we had a poor turnout.  This year we had only myself and Nick competing so we played a quick game pitting his nicely painted Macedonians against my Early Imperial Romans.

Figure 2 - Your humble narrator in purple and Nick in green

Figure 3 - The Roman line makes contact with the Macedonian pikes.

Figure 4 - Alexander and his cavalry wreck havoc on the Roman left, building a 3-0 lead in stands lost.

Figure 5 - The view towards the Roman left.

Figure 6 - Nick contemplates hitting me with the ruler :)

Figure 7 - Once the Roman blades made contact with the pikes I began to make up ground.  Eventually my general element was able to contact his artillery and a quick close combat phase later the game was one for the Romans.