You know how we say Dave always wins and Chuck never does? Here's the data; draw your own conclusions.
|What shall we play next?||Back to the Castle|
|June 7||Risk 2210||Chuck|
|A very close hard-fought game. None of us was playing especially brilliantly, but tht hlped keep it close. Dave took what was left of Australia, but at a high cost. Then he took the moon. Chuck started with a very strong position, and tried to strike at the Moon, but Space Mines got him. Ken did very well for never having played before. Bob almost took Asia in Year 5, but failed to play a crucial card. Chuck didn't win the bid, but went last and took North America FTW.|
|May 3||Settlers of Catan||Andrea|
|Just a quick four-player game on the basic map. The layout was
a little mud-poor to begin with, and then we got a bizzare series of rolls.
The first four turns were: 11, 11, 3, 3, and we were halfway through the game
before 8 showed up.
Next time, I think we'll try using cards instead of dice. Also, let's not ave the Longest road revert to no one at a tie. And Sara wants to play.
|March 2||Civilization||Craig, as Rome|
|We decided to ressurect a classic computer game on five networked
machines. After Stace aplied his wizardry to the network, it all workd quite well.
Poor Dave was marooned in Antartica, but he soldiered on. Lannette had a feisty
computer opponent for a neighbor, but had the greatest city for most of the game,
thanks to a plethora of Elvii. Had we layed one more turn, Stace would have jumped
into the lead by building the Collossus.
Next time, we'll go for 1 minute turns after the first round, and we'll all know to focus on Wonders. I'll also try to get an Earth map into the game.
|February 2||Magic the Gathering - Draft||Tony|
|Tony brought 12 packs of the newest expansion Lorwyn/Morningtide and we drafted them. Cathy saved the day by agreeing to play when a new player didn't show. After a late start, the draft plans deckbuilding took about an hour. Dave managed to put together a mono green deck, while Cathy went for fairies and mermaids (surprise). Chuck focused on red, and Tony built a fairy/rogue deck around a wicked black card.|
|November 10||Illuminati||Bob, as Cthulhu|
|Finally got to dig out the INWO cards. With four players, we had a nice,
tight game, even tho it had been years for most of us and Tony had never played.
Tony - playing Bavaria - felt like he couldn't draw any good cards. He and Dave -
as the Network - teamed up to quash one of Bob's early plays, while Chuck - also Bavaria -
sat back and laughed. Chuck commented that no one had rolled over a 10, and then did
so when he had an effortless 18. Very bad timing, and he never recovered. Despite the
setback, Bob held on to an unassailable position in the last turn and won handily.
Dave thinks Cthulhu usually wins, and we should pull it next time.
Next time we'll use a bigger table.
Tweaks we used:
|We had planned to play Iluminati, but since we had only four players we opted for a game that is limited to that number. Even Chuck had never played it to completion before. This game is about exploring a group of islands. We ran into a reef or someting at the easy edge of the board, making everyone very poor for the whole game. Andi got off to an early lead, with the only points for several turns. Chuck's theft of a 35 point island from Dave put him in the lead, but Dave's many scouts on that island stole second place from Andi.|
|September 1||Magic the Gathering||Chuck|
|We each brought 60 cards of a different color, and played Chuck's
5 Points variant: Two mana could be converted into the color between them
on the back of the card, and the winner was the one with the most life left when
the second guy went out. It seemd to work well.
We spent a good while shuffling, and seemed to get pretty good randomness. By turn 6, Dave had one mana of each color. We were a little surprised that if anything, there was *too much* mana in the game. Based on the pre-game comments, several of us restricted ourselves to smaller critters. Looks like we needn't have. One of the first creatures Todd played was a 5/4 green Spined Wurm. Chuck and Bob we're a little low on mana, but I think that can be chalked up to the nature of the game. Sometimes you just get screwed.
At the outset, we gave everyone the Poker option, but only Dave turned in any cards. Bob started with three scary black creatures in his opening hand, but had no luck at all drawing getting the mana he needed to cast them. Chuck drew a Dark Ritual early, which enabled him to get out a 3/2 Cheetah, and then Enchant it into a very effective deterrent.
Short on creatures, Bob became a big target. Having a Royal Assassin out didn't help his image. Chuck did what he could to keep his ally alive, but Bob kept hemorrhaging. Sara made a clever play that removed Bob's Angelic Renewal, and Bob was forced to Drain the life out of his own dragon to stay in the game. Ouch!
When Bob finally succumbed, Chuck was left in a position where he could kill off either Dave or Todd, but with the 5-Points rules, doing so would have cost him the game. So he began assaulting Sara, who was still at almost full life. Dave and Todd were stalemated against one another, and since Chuck was also almost full, they couldn't take him out without exposing their own neck to one another. So in the end, Chuck had one live Ally and one dead foe (as did Dave), and more life than anyone, so Chuck was victorious. Dave was spot on in his estimate of three hours, and that was *with* a 4th grader playing.
We talked about starting with only 10 or 15 life next time, to shorten the game a little, but in the end decided that if we incorporate fewer weenie creatures, 20 life would be fine.
The Mana Lens did a great job of evening out the color spectrum. We decided that next time we would also allow 3 colorless to convert into one of any color. We didn't really discuss it, but I think the option to spend four colorless for a draw a card at any time would work well, since there was surplus mana lying around, and it might have helped people get moving. There was a little bit of "well, I guess I'll just attack again" and more cards might have helped that. As Tony predicted, I don't think anyone got Hellbound. Maybe a discard-and-draw rule. Are there any Artifacts like that which we could compare to for balance?
|August 4||F.A.T.E.||the party|
|For a change of pace, we tried out a new role-playing system, with avery old dungeon crawl: "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan". While much in-character fun was had by all, we were doing something wrong, because none of Our Heroes ever took even a scratch.|
|July 4||Tigris and Euphrates||Cathy|
|Chuck got off to a good start, but stumbled about the time the Monuments started coming out. Before he knoew it he had no leaders on the board. Steve and Liz were playing at a disadvantage, trying to keep and eye on Carl, but even so, they couldn't seem to get any breaks. Cathy played solidly and steadily, and won handily.|
|June||(no game)||Stitch and his Trash Can|
|The Cooleys were in Florida.|
|May 5||Betrayal at House on the Hill||Dave lost, then Lannette lost|
|This is a fun game, but very very random. Gotta remember to use the UPDATED Haunt chart. We played "Hellbeasts" and "You Wear it Well". Very kind of Dave to donate to the collection.|
|April 7||Formula De||Dave|
|We played three laps. Chuck won the first one, when we didn't use Dave's "slipstreaming" rule, because Andi was just learning the game. Dave won the second game, and Chuck crashed. Andi won the third one, when we tightened up the slipstream rule so that it can only add to your roll. Dave's consistent performance earned him the win for the circuit. Beetle Bob was... present.|
|March 3||Babylon 5 Cards||Tony|
|Four (and a half players this time): Steve and Liz were trading off,
keeping an eye on Carl, and Craig was just learning the game. Tony had built a
Centauri deck, and focused it on Chuck's Minbari early, crippling him. There was a
nice battle over kidnapping Dr. Franklin, and an extended Test Their Mettle.
Tony's focus on Intrigue paid off, because tho we playe dslowly and didn't get to 20,
no one could touch him.
Next time we must define the rules about leading (and de-leading) fleets, and maybe look for some more "always available" cards (like we've done for Declaration of War). Tony has Chuck's Centauri box and Shadows cards, and Craig has Chuck's Narn.
|February 3||Puerto Rico||Chuck|
|We had a full boat of five gamerly players, so we gave this well-regarded game a chance. Good choice! I does the things that Cities and Knights wants to do, without the initial placement bugaboo. The learning curve is steep at first, but we could just feel ourselves creating it, and then it played rather quickly. We could all see how there might be fairly deep strategies for the next game, as well as nifty opportunities for hoseage. We'll play this again.|
|January 6||Babylon 5 Cards||Dave (Minbari)|
|Tony Middleton - a rabid B5 freak - joined me and Dave in (re-)learning this elegant game. It was different with only three players - lots of interesting kingmaker possibilities. We experimented with some Quick Start rules, and decided that a free fleet and location is too much. Came up with some ideas about bonus Influence and Tension changes for next time.|
|Tried this for the first time, with six players - counting Sara - once we cajoled Cathy into playing. Very good six-player game. It could handle two more but would probably bog down. Agreed the Assassin is too powerful as written, but I have some ideas...|
|September 29||Tigris and Euphrates||Chuck|
|A well-renowned German game, and Steve and Liz were the perfect people to try it out with. Harder to explain than it is to play, the mechanics are subtle and devious. Can't wait to go again. Too bad it's only 4 players.|
|March 4||Starfarers of Catan||Chuck|
|If I had to pick a favorite game, this just might be it. It's so well balanced that I haven't added any rules to it (tho I'm thinking about one ...). I got off to an early lead due to an excessive amount of fuel in the opening draw. I ended up with 6 boosters, but Lannette's ship was still faster! Unless you count my buddies with the space jumps.|
|February 4||Hold'em Poker||Keith - twice!|
|We all wanted to see what the current poker craze is about, so Stace taught about Hold'em. Cathy led off by saying "I really suck at this game", and proceeded to win not one but two hands with four of a kind. Chuck kept paying to play, and this ran him out of chips quickly (but not first either game). Keith however, was unstoppable, never getting caught in a bluff.|
We played this almost straight up. I set up just three boards in a straight line, with six flags strategicly placed. The idea is that the leader would have to fight back thru the pack to get more flags. This theory worked okay, but Todd took a commanding lead early, and never relented.
Some notes for next time: We liked the pit toggles, but there was too much repair. However we do think you should get a repair for just ending a phase on a wrench. Limit a robot to 4 options, and the bonus everybody else gets for a flag to one per turn. Also, we thought the game should end when the first 6 flag is collected.
|For the last game of the year, we had an eight-player Munchkin fest. Andi took the early lead, but Sara (!) quickly overtook her and led for most of the game. Cathy was a feeble helpless Orc for most of the game. Down at the end, almost everyone was in the running, with stopper after stopper coming at the last moment. But in the end, no one could stop... Cathy!|
|December 3||Magic the Gathering - Five Points||Dave|
|This was a five-player variant that worked very well. The guys
sitting on either side of you were your allies, the guys opposite you were your
opponents. The game is over when only three people remain. You get five points for
each defeated opponent and also for each surviving ally, plus one point for each
Bob got mana-hosed in the first game, and Chuck stood quiet and defensive. Dave squeaked out a win with a slightly stronger position. The second game dragged on a bit, with Chuck getting deeply hosed this time.
Next time we might avert some of the hoseage by allowing you to use your ally's mana (with permission). If we do that, perhaps your lands should untap after your opponent finishes his turn.
|November 5||HeroQuest||The Good Guys|
|We tried out the bid-based conflict resolution system from HeroQuest. After we straightened out one of my tweaks, it all worked very well. I'll probably adopt it for my upcoming campaign.|
|October 1||No Game|
|Only Bob was available, so he and I played City of Heroes.|
|September 3||HeroScape||Bob (just barely)|
|We gave Dave's snazzy cross-genre tactical miniatures game a try, and it's a kick! Simple and fast paced, and not ridiculously expensive. Chuck's Dragon took out Dave's Stormtroopers instantly, but then his Roman Legions marched methodically to their doom. (Note to the Warlord: Lead from the front next time. Bob's Orks made off with the maguffin by the narrowest possible margin.|
|We celebrated a bunch of happiness (Bob's birthday, Liz and
Steve's happy news, Lynn's return to the group with her new Prince)
with a big game of Munchkin. It plays a little low with seven players,
including two newbies, bit it got going after a while. Steve was a curse
magnet probably owing to the innuendo of his combination of cards. Cathy's
cards held her back, insisting that she was a High Dark Dwarf (with
Perfect Hair) who couldn't actually DO anything. Even so, she almost
pulled out a win with a suicidal rockfall, but not before Jeff's High
Dwarf soldiered in.
Note: I wonder if there are too many non-monster cards. The action if might pick up a little if we thinned out the deck a little. Or maybe we could let everyone start with a race or class. Or maybe cull Space and Bites decks so that if you draw from the Bites deck you are more likely to get a monster and from the Space deck more likely to get something else. Just brainstorming.
|July 9||Cities of Catan||Cathy|
|We had five players and an unusual diamond shaped island, which even included a volcano, from Das Buch expansion. Bob risked building a city on the slope of the volcano, while Dave and Chuck made the mistake of placing initial settlements on the shoreline. We decided that City walls should not protect against the volcano, but it didn't erupt much, until Chuck Invented a volcano machine. He had the lead most of the game, until Cathy made a dash at the end. The Barbarians were never a threat.|
|June 4||Formula De||Chuck|
|We started with 7 cars on the Monte Carlo track, but Sara and Logan got bored after the first lap. Chuck's no-pit strategy paid off, and he squeaked past Cathy in the end. Very few collisions - better revisit that rule.|
|April 2||History of the World||Cathy|
|We tried the Bidding rules, and even with two rookie players finished in almost exactly six hours. Bidding makes a good rule for experienced players, especially if they play each other regularly. Unforeseen consequence: the little "gypped" empires are highly unlikely to appear. Since Liz is not a gambler, she did not do well. Chuck got off to a very solid start, but then Cathy got Rome and nobody remembered to get in ahead of her and quash it. With that and a solid stance in China, Cathy walked away with the game. Big fun.|
|March 26||Betrayal at House on the Hill||the Explorers (twice)|
|For Dave's un-birthday, we spent the afternoon exploring a haunted house. Despite the many rules glitches, this is a really enjoyable game, especially if (like me) you think figuring out the rules is part of the fun. We played two scenarios: "The Tentacled Horror" with Cathy was the Traitor, and "A Gaterhing of Shadows" with Andi as the Traitor. Since we had six players, the explorers seemed to have a solid advantage both times. Still, mega-fun.|
|March 5||Lord of the Rings RISK||Chuck|
|We stretched this game to six players, and it mostly worked. We started with 20 armies and 9 territories each. We need to work out the placement sequence. And we have got to remember that you get an army each turn in each stronghold. Other ideas: a rule for trading cards, and a retreat rule. Also the Capture the Ring variant.|
|February 5||City of Heroes||no winner|
|Since we couldn't seem to get more than three of us physically together, we played online. We planed to do a Task Force but couldn't gather the requisite numbers and levels. Got some good teamage in anyway, and visited Dark Astoria for the first time (for some of us, anyway).|
|New Year's Eve, actually. Bob spent the first few rounds as the Lesser Peon, but then rose to the top and stayed in the comfy chair for the rest of the evening. We had all forgotten how much fun this game was!|
|December 4||Spacefarers of Catan||Bob & Liz|
|With four players, the game went so quickly we got in two! The first game was very close, the lead shifting around quite a bit. There was a serious shortage of Fuel. Bob parleyed advanced into an abrupt win. In the second game, Liz profited from four consecutive rolls of 4, which gave her enough Carbon to built two extra space stations and walk away with the game.|
|We had five players (including Mikee, which was a treat)
which seemed to be about right. Very tough indials. Cathy got quashed early
and proceeded to play spoiler whenever she could. Chuck was in a commanding
position until a disastrous encounter with ICE at Catatonix. |
|Three players. 100 points each. Big fun.|
|September 25||Divine Right||Cathy|
|For my 40th birthday, I planned BIG game of this classic wargame. Though it groaned under 8 players, everyone seemed to have good time. The best bit was when Stace got help from a Rebel Baron, who died under "Mysterious Circumstances" a few turns later, just as Cathy laid siege to his castle. At the end of the game, Keith was best by a Barbarian Horde, not to mention the Boon of Greystaff that Lannette invoked.|
|September 4||Babylon 5 Cards||Bob (again!)|
|Another learning experience, enjoyed by all. Is it the Human deck, or is Bob just really good at this game?|
|August 21||Munchkin Blender||Cathy|
|We celebrated Bob's birthday with a 5-player Expedition to the Barrier Peaks Munchkin Style. That means we used the Space stuff as well as, well, everything. Chuck impressed everyone when a low level monster he was fighting became Extremely Insane due to Cathy, and he simply Transferred it to her. But she won anyway, as usual.|
|August 7||Babylon 5 Cards||Bob|
|I've had this game for years, and never really played it, so I was eager to try it out, and others seemed to be too. This was explicitly a try-out game, and we learned a lot. But as I suspected, it is a fun game, and easier to play than the rules make it sound. I think we'll do it again next month.|
|Just three players, and three boards, but we had a blast reviving this classic. Tried some rules tweaks that we mostly liked. I should make a page.|
|Three way cooperative network play is a blast, but we should never have let Dave play the Wizard. Next time, he gets the slowest computer; maybe lag will equalize things. Installation went well.|
|May 1||Chicken & Balloons||Andrea|
|Celebrated a new decade at White Fence Farm.|
|April 2||Civilization (the other one)||Cathy & Bob|
|We tried out the board game version based on the computer game
Sid Meier's Civilization. The rules appeared to be well written, but they left
out a few bits. The first turn took forever as we hammered things out, and we had
to back up over a couple major goofs, but the four of us all had fun.
I didn't get in a land war, but I must have made some other classic blunder because my corner of Asia was very third-world. Dave a had a solid grip on North America, but couldn't compete with Cathy's oil wealth in the middle east, even tho we only got to the end of the medieval era. Bob caught up to her with some very prudent technology purchases.
Despite some flaws in the game, we all said we'd try it again. However, while the game will support up to six, doing so would definitely require getting food delivered.
|March 27||Dark Conspiracy: Minion Hunter||Andrea|
|Strangely, this refugee from Dave's basement cleaning was another vaguely monopolistic game. We had a major misunderstanding of the movement rules (count only the purple spaces, the others are merely hazards), and the equipment seems awfully expensive, but we had fun. Very evocative.|
|March 6||Past Lives||Cathy|
|Cathy was in trouble until she hit a big Charity, which she then used to finance stakes for a couple people. She ended up on the fourth karmic level, and was nearly a saint. Bob was happy to be Hannibal's elephant. All NINE players had fun.|
|6 Mar||Star Munchkin||Lannette|
|Stace was a cyborg combat monster, but Lannette was able to confront and defeat more things. Best combo: The Last Miniaturized Cyberbimbo.|
|February||Hunters and Gatherers||Dave|
|Dave walked away with this game, owning two hefty river systems and joining Cathy's meadow. Cathy did... not so well. And Sam announced that he no longer wants to sleep in the basement.|
|February 7||Formula De||Dave|
|Dave really needs a handicap next time we play this game. Lannette came in second - not bad for a rookie. Bob staged a really impressive comeback, from dead last in the middle of the second lap to a very respectable third.|
|January 3||Lord of the Rings RISK||Chuck|
|Chuck was Evil (heh) and ended up with most of Mordor after the initial placement. Bob had some rotten luck, and Chuck just quietly expanded his holdings until the Ring reached Doom.|