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.