Board Game Session Reports



The purpose of this web page is to keep a public journal of the table-top games I play this year.

January 9, 2002:

I played a couple games of Robo Rally last night (two player and three player on a two board map) and it turned out to be much more fun than reviews implied. I guess one should play with analytically and logically minded people to speed things along. Two-player was an hour. Three was two hours. I wonder if it keeps scaling that way. I play Robo Rally with house rules that make it more fun.

January 10, 2002:

I went to a store in Waltham, Danger Planet, which has open gaming. I got to meet other gamers and played Risk 2210 which is Risk with interesting twists. This is the second time I played Risk and I find I still hate it because no matter what strategy and tactics I use, the die roll still decides whether I win or lose. Also played Hell Rail which is a tile laying game with trains that pick up and drop off damned souls. Could be interesting, but the game's graphic design is not engaging and the rules and mechanics seem a bit convoluted for a first-time player.

January 17, 2002:

Thursday's gaming night at the gaming store ( Danger Planet) we played 7 player Top Secret Spies, 5 player Robo Rally, and 4 player Guillotine.

I don't know if Top Secret Spies can be fun. In it, you move spies around the board scoring points, but no one knows which spies belong to which of the other players. There are three levels of the game. First is as simple as I just described. Second adds cards to mess with positions of spies. Third adds scoring based on guesses of who's playing which spies (but we didn't get to that level... the second level of the game dragged out the length of the game to the point that it was no fun and we halved the scoring requirement to end it sooner.) As I can see it, if you move your own spy to advantage, you'll get a high score and people will know it's you. Otherwise, you'd be advancing someone else to keep them from guessing who you are, and you'll get the lower score. Knowing who's who never really matters during the game because everyone will try to knock down whoever is ahead. I think this game would be more fun for kids.

Robo Rally is a game where you pre-program robots to race on a factory floor with obstacles and the fun happens when robots knock each other of course. Our game went surprisingly fast because I do a good job of setting up the boards, but it didn't have enough interaction. I created an L-shaped design with two checkpoints but used a board that let players skirt the edge for the corner piece making it surprisingly easy for the winning player. I think it'll be better to keep a linear shape or a shape with only two boards (as I usually do) to keep interaction high. This game lasted two hours, so I'm not sure how it scales, but maybe about two hours is what a game with two or three boards with two checkpoints takes.

Guillotine is a cute card game, fun for its theme. Players are competing executioners vying to chop off the heads of the most valuable French nobles.

January 20, 2002:

Played Lord of the Rings with Allen, Jeff and Nancy. With Nancy and Jeff being big fans of the books, we found the game most engaging. We were tense as we went on the journey and all these nasty things were happening which were getting us potentially and actually closer to Sauron's corruption. Sauron won this time and we scored only 51 points. (60 points means we made it to Mt. Doom, and over 60 pts means we destroyed the One Ring.)

January 21, 2002:

I unwrapped the shrinkwrap on my Acquire board game Sunday and played against Nancy. (The rules were in German... arrrgh... good thing for the Internet!) She played a vicious game. I had a majority in two companies, and she kept ahead of me in all the others but one, Quantum, which we tied for. (That was a great moment because I merged a corp with Quantum and traded up to get the rest of Quantum's stock to tie with Nancy! Caught up with her before she could react! :-) The bank ran out of stock in most of the corporations! The game ended with Quantum and Hydra as the only safe corporations. I lost by $12,500. Nancy made the most of the cash from the first merger, and I couldn't catch up! Interesting that Phoenix was the one corporation that kept coming back merger after merger :-) Score was $77,100 to $64,600. [Note: The reason that a tie was possible was because the 25th share of Quantum was mixed into another stack of stock, and it didn't occur to me that there is an odd number of shares for each corporation.]

January 24, 2002

Open gaming at Danger Planet. Played 6-player Great Brain Robbery, 5-player Lord of the Rings (with Pilar, Tom, Rich), 5-player Evo (with Pilar, Tom, Rich, Jimmy.)

January 30, 2002:

I played a game of Acquire with Les, with the 100-75-50-25% stock bonus house rule. Les had the good tiles and formed corporations early on, while I couldn't. I made the mistake of spending my money early and didn't have money to buy Phoenix which Les created and merged, then I ignored it buying up other stock when Les had the opportunity to create and merge Phoenix again! This set me back and I ended up majority in only one corporation, while Les was a majority in the remaining corporations. The game ended with Sackson and Hydra being safe, and the score at:

January 31, 2002

Went to Danger Planet and played 3-player Chez Geek, 3-player Atlantis: Pathways of the Deep, and 3-player Great Brain Robbery. Attendance was low because of the bad weather.

Chez Geek was a fun themed card game in which players are roommates and are trying to slack off the most, while reducing slack time of the other players. I think Steve Jackson Games makes a lot of games that are appealing if only you get into the theme and this is one of them.

Atlantis: Pathways of the Deep is a game I picked up at KB Toys for $2. Being a Hasbro game, it's a game with high quality parts at a Cheapass price. It's tile-laying game in which a player lays tiles or rotates a tile trying to create a path to Atlantis which is at the center of the 9x9 board. Then try to move their subs along the path to get to the center. It's a fun game that doesn't last long at all so it's suited as a filler game.

Cheapass Games Great Brain Robbery was fun. This time, we ended up with unaffordable brains at the beginning of the game, so the zombie players were running around brainless most of the time. Then we finally started drawing cheese when we could pay the tokens for a brain. When we finally got the engine, it was a race to draw and install a brain.

February 2, 2002

Dante and I, and Nancy and Dante, played 2-player filler games of Cheapass Games Very Clever Pipe Game It lives up to its name by being an engaging quick game about laying plumbing and collecting pipe cards that are capped at both ends in the player's color. It's novel compared to other pipe games because the tiles are rectangular, which makes for more interesting layouts, strategically and aesthetically.

Nancy and I played our first game of Java Things got off to a fast start with us building cities with bigger palaces. As the board filled up things became very interesting in that there were so many good plays each of us could make but we were limited to making only a few of the good plays and preventing a few of opponent's plays. I read on the Net about analysis-paralysis at this point in the game, but, except for a couple turns, our turns went fairly quickly-- perhaps because both of us can analyze patterns and make decent decisions quickly. The game ended surprisingly close at the final scoring at: Nancy 102, Vitas 100. We did miss the rule about opponents participating in festivals only if their developers were in the same city as the initiating player's developers. However, our scores would have been just as close if lower.

February 6, 2002

Went to a BLAH gaming session. Played 4-player Ursuppe, 3-player Settlers of Catan, 2-player Battle Line.

Ursuppe is the amoeba battle in the primordial soup. Players play amoeba's eating food bits of each of the other players' colors, leaving behind two of their own colors. They collect up mutant genes which must survive different ozone levels per turn. There's not enough of each mutant gene for all players. Movement is within an asymmetrical board containing food bits, and movement is by current or spending BP's (which is the game's form of money.) Using BP's, players can divide amoebas, obtain mutant genes, or try to alter their movement. Players can only perform specific actions during the specific phase per turn that allows it, and players take turns within each phase in the order of their scores.

There's little interaction during the game, unless you count the metagaming interaction to negotiate not getting eaten my aggressive mutant amoebas. And the game seemed slow because there's a lot of game bit swapping for each amoeba. I could see how turns would end long before my chance to move again, and I could see who'd win half-way into the game, because it seems that owning a survival of the fittest (which allows an amoeba to eat another amoeba instead of colored bits thereby severely limiting other players), movement (which gives a player more control over movement) and free action (which gives a player to control movement without paying for it) will pretty much guarantee a win. Considering there's only one of each of those cards, and not getting them means you're counting on a lot of luck to win.

Final score:

Settlers of Catan Seems like this game, the high probability numbers actually came up more often than others, which meant that all of us were often lacking in resource cards we needed and have to trade up.

I did a nasty thing to Tamara who asked me to trade to resources for one at my port, but I demanded payment to do it once I had a chance. That didn't go at all with the spirit of the game, and I felt guilty enough to offer her additional cards for free later in the game to make up for it. I only played the robber on opponent hexes to get even with them, which surprised Rich and Tamara who always play the robber to get an advantage. It was a close game until the end because of the shortage which affected all of us.

Final score:

Battle Line This seems like a combination of Solitaire and Poker. Playing a deck with six suites, players start with a hand of six cards and a battle line of nine pawns. The idea is to create a hand of three cards at each pawn that beats the opponent's hand at the same pawn. beating a hand wins the pawn. Winning three pawns in a row, or winning five pawns total wins the game. Players alternate plating a card then drawing from a draw pile or from a tactics pile. The tactics pile has special cards with special abilities. One rule that threw me is that players win a pawn before both hands at that pawn play our if they can prove from the face up cards that it can't be beat; however, the tactics cards don't count toward this proof.

Tamara won with three pawns in a row.

Click here for another take on this session.

February 7, 2002

Went to Danger Planet. Played 6-player Dog's Life, 4-player Java, 2-player Elements.

Dog's Life is a theme heavy, strategy lite game. Players play dogs doing dog-ly things: eating, fetching bones, piddling, avoiding the dog catcher. This is done on a board representing a neighborhood. (It's a closed loop, so it must be Pleasantville. :-) With that many people, there's a lot of down-time between plays, which made for more time to socialize, which is good because the game itself requires little thought.

Rob, Tony, Ian and I played a game of Java This games works well with four players as it does with two. Every turn is very engaging, thinking about all the possible moves, and the juicy ones you have to give up as well. Even during the downtime, you can spend time thinking about the moves. It's a beautiful board with many possibilities, so it's a pleasure to examine the board while thinking about the next move.

Seems like with this many people, it's better to kick off final scoring as soon as possible, otherwise everyone gets a chance to minimize the score of the last person to play.

Started to clear the board before I recorded the score, so they're approximate.

Elements. This is a game prototype designed by Ian. It's a battling mage game, casting spells with energy from the elements. There is 4x4 square board on which the available elements are placed face up, and elements are flipped as they are used. The center elements are flipped up before each turn. Any available spells may be cast during each turn. Spells are chosen ala Robo Rally... three spells are chosen to cast in an order, and revealed simultaneously. Spells affect hit points of each mage, or affect the elements on the board. There are spells that cause a lasting effect on the opponent or remove the lasting effect on self. There are no healing spells, but there are shield spells.

February 9, 2002

Played Cheapass Games Very Clever Pipe Game with Nancy. The first game, we played conservatively, and I was able to snatch up more pipe than Nancy. Next game, I tried to make the longest pipe possible before scoring, playing clever moves with every forking pipe she lay. However, Nancy was able to capyure a small bit of pipe, opening my pipe up in a way that I couldn't play my master stroke connecting three pipelines at once... darn! Third game I played for the fun of seeing how long I could make pipes before having to cap them. But, I didn't get the good cards to keep going like last time, so I lost it too.

Final scores:

As an aside, someone looked pleadingly toward me as I walked by a group playing Top Secret Spies. "Save me," he said. Apparently playing the full version with the cards. I had visions of the movie Aliens in which captured marines begged "kill me" rather than face the horror of birthing an alien bursting out of their chests.

February 13, 2002

Nancy and I went to dinner and she told me she liked The Very Clever Tile Game most of all the games I introduced her to. (Go being her most favorite. Though, I enjoy the game she designed which is based on the Penrose pattern.) Well, I happen to carry it around because it's one of the few fun games that fits in my jacket pocket, so I carry it around for just such a gaming fix! :-)

Well, I get so greedy in this game. I love the way pipes sprawl out and the temptation to try to extend the pipes by just one more instead of capping them was too much for me, and I payed for it. But, what can I say? A good game is fun, even when I'm losing, and this is one of those games.

February 14, 2002

Went to Danger Planet and played 4-player Java, 6-player Family Business, and 6-player Kill Dr. Lucky. (I'm going to add game times so it'll be easy to see what real-world play times are like.)

Java. It was Tony, Cindy, Rob and me, with Cindy playing for the first time. You could tell Cindy was seriously thinking about all her moves, which earned her second place. This time, we took over all the reservoirs early on, going for the quickie points. Even Tony, who held back to build palaces, eventually couldn't resist the draw of water. Rob was ahead until final scoring. Tony kicked it off, leaving Rob to be last during final scoring round, which significantly crippled him. The game lasted about 1.5 hours, excluding about 15 minutes to explain all the rules to the newbie.

Family Business. It was me, Rob, Tony, Jason, Adam and Cindy playing this game, with most of us playing for the first time. It reminded us of Guillotine, in that we had to put other players' mobsters against the wall and start killing them when there were over five there. It's a game in which you'd have to get into the theme. Adam certainly did because he picked out specific mobsters to put against the wall, even though they all scored the same. Cindy was giggled maniacally when she singled one of us out. Tony and Rob liked to voice out gangsters. We developed such quirks in this game. Players select mobsters to put against the wall via action cards, and there's a chance to counter the action. If a counter is played, that player takes the next turn, otherwise play continues clockwise. After about 45 minutes, Tony won.

Kill Dr. Lucky. It was me Andy, Adam, Karl, Rich and Matt playing this game. All of us, I think, played it for the first time. It's a fun game if you get into the theme. People figured out how to stay ahead of Dr. Lucky around the mansion in order to get to be alone with him to knock him off. (When Dr. Lucky enters the room with a player, that player gets the next turn, otherwise play continues clockwise. Strange that Family Business had a similar mechanic as well.) After about an hour, Andy attempted to kill Dr. Lucky and we all ran out of cards to prevent him.

February 15-17, 2002

I visited a best friend, Paul, in Poughkeepsie, for a weekend of gaming fun. Paul is amazing... He "gets" games at the first go and beat me at every new board game we played. Played 2-player Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond..., 2-player Acquire, 3-player Settlers of Catan, 2-player Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit, 2-player Java.

Paul and I played Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond... (Better Edition) until we ran out of cards, instead of until someone reaches 33 points. This was the first time either of us played it. I picked up this game because Paul and I often talk about how stupid villains are in movies, not killing their opponents right away. This was fun for its theme, but the strategy is obvious: when you capture a spy, play taunts that have been played or when matching taunts are in your hand. Otherwise, kill the spy right away. We played three games. Each game was about 20 minutes.

Scores for three games:

Paul and I played Acquire, with a 100-50-25% variant for merging payoffs. We both played this before. I mirrored Paul early on in the game which kept us even at the start. Things started to diverge and I was holding out hoping to grow some corporations before merging them, but Paul created a merge that ended the game with a 41 tile corporation. This game lasted about an hour and a half.

Paul, his wife Jennifer, and I played Settlers of Catan. All of us played this before. Jennifer likes this game because the element of chance means she has a chance at winning against her husband. However, she and I didn't have good luck obtaining resources, while Paul had more than enough. He even held back winning, but eventually got bored and won just to end the game. Hah! This game lasted about two hours.

My favorite board game session was Avalon Hill's Star Wars The Queen's Gambit. This was the first time either of us played it. It recreates the final four concurrent battles at the end of the movie. Paul played Naboo and I played the Federation. I lost Darth Maul early on. But I was overwhelming the Naboo forces planetside. It was the palace that where the real battle was. But once Obi-wan started unleashing his Jedi greatness on the droids, it was a simple matter for the palace guards to block droid reenforcements from entering while Anakin took out the droid control ship.

Actually, I said it was a simple matter, but that's in hindsight. The first time we played through, it wasn't obvious what the outcome would be. Paul didn't think of gumming up the staging area with palace guards, so that droids couldn't get into the palace, until later in the game. I tried taking advantage of that, but I didn't get enough cards to deploy droids and move them into the palace fast enough.

In the end, Naboo won. We actually ended the game before the proper victory condition of Anakin reaching the droid control ship because Naboo blocked off the staging area and cleared the palace of Federation forces. At this point, it was inevitable that Anakin will reach the droid control ship with the Federation unable to achieve its victory condition of wiping out all Naboo forces.

The random element could have swayed the game either way early on. It was a lot of fun and tense to the end. It took us two hours to set up all the pieces for the first time and read through the rules. It took us about four hours to play through. Hopefully, this long time was because it was our first time, having to place stickers and separate cards, and read rules, and refer to the reference cards. Postings on the Net say it's about a two-hour game.

Paul and I played Java. This was the first time Paul played it. I caught a rule I missed earlier in the game but let it pass, that a highest ranking developer adjacent to a reservoir scores on it. This is why Paul won... yea, that's it. We were very aggressive scoring reservoirs early on. Anyways, Paul was ahead when I initiated final scoring. There, I shot past him on my turn. Paul, being the calculating sort, actually checked his final score before playing his turn. He found he'd lose by one point, so all he did was raise his rank at one city during his turn and ended up winning. This game lasted about two hours.

February 18, 2002

How many things can go wrong? This was a session with friends at my place. Played 4-player Settlers of Catan, 3-player Bausack.

Settlers of Catan. This was the first time Maggie, Mike and Teresa have played this game. Maggie was afraid of the game after Dante told her about it, but in the end, it wasn't that bad. No resource problems here. In fact, the game was going swimmingly, with myself, Mike, Teresa and Maggie. Then Mike bowed out in the middle of the game. Dante came back from work, so he took over for Mike. Teresa had to go because it was getting late, so we decided to end the game after an hour. We didn't roll 7's until towards the end, and by then, many of us had over seven cards.

Dante, Maggie and I then tried three games of Bausack with the Bandu rules I remember playing many years ago. The first two games, Maggie wasn't into it and and her tower collapsed after three pieces. Dante was trying unreasonable stack and collapsed after three pieces as well. A hollow victory for me each time.

The third game became interesting because Dante had a tall, narrow tower built up. He was taking oddly-shaped pieces from me and adding pieces himself. I found his tower fascinating. My own tower had a wider base and could stack more without being as challenging. (Maggie's tower collapsed early in the game, so she watched in fascination as well, helping Dante out.) The game ended abruptly with an accidental jar to the table. sigh.

February 20, 2002

Went to Your Move Games for their Looney Games night. Played 6-player Zendo, 5-player Thin Ice, 5-player Volcano, 5&6-player Chrononauts.

Zendo is a fun puzzle game in which one player who is the mediator ("Master") sets up Icehouse pieces ("koans") two different ways. One koan is an example of a set-up that has "Buddha nature" and the other koan doesn't. During each turn, each player creates his own koan and either asks Master if the koan has Buddha nature or asks for "Mondo," which is a round in which all players guess whether the koan has Buddha nature or not. Those who guess correctly, get a "guessing stone." Guessing stones are used by a player to guess what the properties are of a koan with Buddha nature. If a player guesses correctly, he wins. Otherwise, Master sets up a counter-example koan himself that has the properties the player specified, but is a contrary to the properties of a koan with Buddha nature. Played two quick games of this.

Thin Ice is a tower building game using Icehouse pieces. Each player has a set of pieces in one color. Each player in turn says which one or two pieces should be added next to the tower. No more than three pieces can touch the table, no more than two can be held in your hand, and tips of pieces may not touch. We played two quick games of this.

Volcano is a puzzle game that uses Icehouse pieces that required some thought. Pieces are set up on a grid, and some are capped with black pieces. Moving a black piece causes the pieces that were underneath to jump over to the successive pieces. Matching sizes are removed and kept for scoring. A point is scored for each piece kept, 5 points for each set of three different sizes making a "tree," 7 points if those pieces are the same color. This game took a while and took some intense concentration, but at some turns there were no advantageous moves.

Chrononauts is a card came in which players are time travellers who manipulate a timeline by inverting Linchpin events which causes a ripple of changes, then patching the resulting paradoxes. We played with the Lost Identities expansion which adds ID cards and mission cards. Each player has to achieve one of three goals: patching specific dates on the timeline which will bring the time traveller back to his own timeline, retrieving three artifacts, or holding ten cards in his hand. Thirteen paradoxes end the game with everyone losing. This is an interesting strategy game, but is strongly themed so part of the fun is reading the cards that are played, especially the artifacts, ID cards and mission cards. We played two games, one 5-player game went fairly quickly (with me winning) and one 6-player game seemed to drag, probably because we played long enough to reshuffle the draw deck.

February 22, 2002

Gaming at Danger Planet. Played 4-player Java, 5-player Carcassonne, 5-player Kill Dr. Lucky.

Java. It was Matt, Rob, Adam and me playing Java. Matt and Adam played for the first time. We went straight for scoring reservoirs right off the bat. Matt scored a nice ten point city with all hexes in a row, which I thought was novel. Rob duplicated the effort later on. Problem with this is that it's very easy to break off new cities from this pattern! Matt was ahead during the beginning of the game, even setting himself as a really high ranking developer before anyone moved in. Festivals petered out towards the end because people didn't want to buy festival cards unless there was nothing better to do. Game ended after about an hour and a half.

Carcassonne with River Expansion. It was Matt, Cindy, Andrew, Adam and me playing Carcassonne. This was Matt's game, and Cindy and I were new players. This game is a fun tile-laying game in which you place tiles and leave behind a developer, if you so choose, to score points on either roads, palaces, citadels or farms. Farms are trickier because those developers stay on board until the end of the game, unlike the other developers which are available for reuse as soon as they score. All I know is I ended up with a lot of citadels which didn't score during the game. I had fun playing the game, though. Looking back through the rules, we played two things incorrectly. A completed palace that's only two tiles big scores two points rather than the full four we played. And partial palaces during final scoring, shields score one point and palace tiles score two, as opposed to one/one as we played. (Wouldn't have helped my score at all.) Game ended after about an hour and a half.

[Scoring for incomplete cities in Carcassonne is 1 for each tile and 1 for each shield, so you did score that part correctly. --Sean ]

Kill Dr. Lucky. It was Eric, Andrew, Rich, Karl, and me playing this. Only eventful thing this game is my debating Karl whether it helps strategically to hold back failure cards. I think it doesn't matter, because when we cycle through a deck, all failure cards either have been played or are in hand, and all you really need to do is keep track of how many failure points are left to decide how to attack Dr. Lucky. (I didn't do it yet, but I'll have to count up the failure cards before the next tournament. :-) Karl has the right idea, that we explain, using colorful prose, what we're going to do to Dr. Lucky, and how those plans are foiled when failure cards are played. This makes the game more fun and creative.

Andrew won after about 45 minutes of play.

As an aside, considering how simple the strategy is, and the game becomes a waiting game, maybe game play will go faster with the following variant.

Failure cards may be played by the attacking player to counter failure cards played by opponents. ie: Failure cards may be played to fail failure cards.

February 23, 2002

Private 5-player game of Samurai Swords (also known as Shogun.)

Samurai Swords. We had a four hour session to review and play the game. This is a dice-oriented wargame set in Feudal Japan. Players were Tony, Matt, Rob, Jeff, and myself. All of us played the game before but a long time ago. I started out with a bang, consolidating my forces on the right-most coast and left-most island. Everyone felt threatened by this and proceeded to gang up on me. Tony was spread thin by the initial setup and took time to consolidate his forces. Bad luck and my Daimyo was weakened and later destroyed. Matt felt the nasty effects of unlucky die rolls in one exchange as well. After four or five turns, it was obvious to me Jeff would kill off my remaining Daimyo with two armies and a Ninja assassin, and everyone let it happen while pursuing their own battles. We ended the game once my third Daimyo was eliminated by Jeff because it's fairly certain that he would win at that point and because we had a four hour limit to our game.

As an aside, I created a Shogun/Samurai Swords Manual that presents the rules in a logical and sequential manner, while retaining all the information from the original rules, for your review. I'd appreciate feedback on it.

February 26, 2002

Private session. Played 2-player Triangoes and 2-player Quintillions.

Triangoes is a set of laser-cut acrylic tiles in the shape of triangles. They have one color on one side and two colors on the other. It comes with a leather-textured vinyl banner that is used as the game board.

Triangoes, like all Kadon games, is more of a kit for geometrical puzzles. It comes with a booklet of games. We tried one, To the Point, in which we place tiles on the game board such that edges do not touch. The last person who can do that wins. We also tried another game, Match, in which we place tiles (dual-colored side up) on the game board such that edges must touch and must match in color. We played three games in about an hour.

Quintillions is a set of laser-cut wooden tiles shaped in all the twelve arrangements that five squares connected on edges could be in. We played a game such that we alternately draw tiles, then we alternately place the tiles in the center of the table and score a point for each edge that touches an existing tile, then we spend six turns each shifting tiles around scoring the same way, then we remove tiles scoring for each edge that no longer touches the remaining tiles. The person who goes first gets a five-point start. We played two games for about a half-hour each.

Then the tricky thing. We actually had the Super Deluxe Quintilions which has additional shapes extending into the third dimension. (I can't wait to play a game using those!) Putting these pieces back into their rectangular shape took about another 45 minutes. :-)

February 28, 2002

Open gaming at Danger Planet. I played 6-player Elfenland, 5-player Lord of the Rings.

Playing the game: Adam, Cindy, Rich, Tom, Matt, and myself. Everyone was playing it for the first time. This game is played on a game board which is a map of different cities connected by roads over different types of terrain, and a few additionally by waterways. Turn starts by drawing modes of transport, the players place these modes on each of the roads, then cards that were shuffled out are spent to travel using specific modes of transport. The goal is to visit as many cities as possible within five turns. We didn't have a good grasp on the rules because Rich just wanted to play the game, but once we caught onto the rules, we played it properly. Looking it up on, I see there's two different rules (Amigo version and Alan Moon's version), and I think people were familiar with one or the other which just created more confusion and rules lookup. (I do see that this game would be fun with more players, rather than less.) I ended up in a bad place with the wrong set of tokens and cards. I wish I understood the game better because the first turn, I had great cards and tokens which I didn't take advantage of. Adam had a complete grasp on the networking path he needed to take and won the game.

Lord of the Rings, with the Friends & Foes expansion.
Playing the game: Pilar, Tom, Nancy, Mike. The expansion was new to all of us. This game was extremely tough! We were playing with the advanced rules, which I think is bad because it's not in the spirit of the fellowship. The advanced rule means only one player may pay the cost to avoid events and buy favors from Gandolf. I think the cost should be shared unless the cost text specifically states that only the active player or ring-bearer should pay the cost.

Anyways, Sauron overtook us in Helm's Deep. We ended with a score of 37, adding in the slain foes pushed the score to 52.

After leaving Danger Planet, Nancy and tried a few games of our own. 2-player Quintillions, 2-player Super Deluxe Quintillions, 2-player Wiz War.

Not much to say here. Read the previous report about this game.

Super Deluxe Quintillions.
Finally got to play the 3D version of Quintillions. How fun it was to build up a tower of these shapes. We ended the game, without the shifting and disassembly phase because it was getting late.

Wiz War.
Finally played this game which was a gift from long ago. I made it a priority because it would be played at the upcoming tournament at Danger Planet. The rules are long, so I wanted to get a jump on them.

It turned out that it took longer to read the rules than it took to play the game. The rules are much simpler than the text lets on. The basic play is you start with 8 cards. Each turn, you draw two cards, but stop drawing if you'll end up with more than 8 cards. You get three movement points. You can play a number card to increase movement. During that time, you can pick things up and cast spells. If you cast a spell, you can add a number card with it if the card allows it. You turn ends when you run out of movement points or you give up your turn. That's it! That's all! Nothing more to see here! All those pages of rules are there to resolve questions about nit-picky details!

After a quick game, Nancy won by making off with my treasure chests, taking time to give my wizard a punch, even. Fourty minutes to read the rules and play the game, but the game was really, really short!

As an aside... Did I read it right? Someone who wrote a review on took 12 hours to play this game?!?!

March 2, 2002

Tournament at Danger Planet. This was a fun time because I got to try a new game and introduced other people to games I knew, and met some new people. (A Rochester NY connection, even... where I'm from! :-) I played 5-player Carcassonne, 6-player Guillotine, 4-player Settlers of Catan, 5-player Honor of the Samurai.

Additional Games played at the Tournament:

Playing this game: Rich, Eric, Deborah, Patti, and myself. Eric, and Patti were playing for the first time. This game was very co-operative, but limited to the luck of the draw. People had opportunities for quick points, and for long-term scores which either worked out or didn't by the time the tiles ran out. The game ran for about an hour and a half.

Playing this game: Nancy, Rich, Eric, Deborah, Patti and myself. Nancy, Eric, Deborah and Patti were playing for the first time. The Carcassonne game ended fairly quickly, so we pulled this game out to fill the time before our lunch break. This is an easy game to pick up and everyone seemed to get into the theme. This game lasted about 20 minutes.

Settlers of Catan.
Playing this game: Sandy, Pilar, Niel and myself. Sandy and Niel were playing for the first time. This game was made hard by the fact that no one could get a decent supply of oar. They were on extreme numbered tiles, which seldom showed up. We were getting a lot of sheep among us, which would've been great for trading in for needed resources, but 7's were being rolled. Pilar was most hurting for resources for most of the game. I pulled out some excellent development cards to get longest road and largest army, but Niel pulled one on me to get back longest road and eventually win the game after about two hours.

As an aside, we played on the original edition of the game. I like this version because photographs were used for the tiles and resources.

Honor of the Samurai.
Playing this game: Tony, Ian, Sandy, John, and myself. Tony, Sandy, John and myself were playing for the first time. This was a new one for me. I'm generally not big on card games, so the fact that this game dragged on wore on me. The idea is that you're a Samurai attached to a Daimyo. You build up an army, collect worthwhile objects, bring in honorable wives, and build fortresses, all to collect ki (which gives you more actions per turn), strength (which gives you more dice to fight in battle), and honor (which you need to collect to win the game.) Honor is also spent to launch surprise attacks, steal things and avoid bad things happening.

Tony sat quietly, never seeming to amass enough points to be a threat. I kept launching attacks in revenge for attacks launched on me. Ian kept amassing points which kept making him a target. Amazingly enough, the game ended with close scores, with Tony winning. After all, everyone kept spending points to pick on the other players, but Tony avoided all that and didn't spend as much points, retaining points for 2nd place. Ian amassed enough points early enough, that he could just wait out the ensuing few rounds, before time ran out. This game lasted about two and a quarter hours.

And what were the final standings at the tournament. I'll tell you if only because the names have all been mentioned in past session reports.

Andrew was first and won the nifty trophy with Danger Planet's logo. Ian was second after playing a tie-breaker round of Geister with Tony, who ended up third.

As though I didn't get enough gaming, I continued with a Private session. I played 2-player Tri-Color Penrose game, 3-player Bausack.

Tri-Color Penrose.
This is a prototype puzzle game designed by Nancy. As a happy coincidence, Kate Jones at Kadon games liked the game idea enough to start producing high-quality kites and darts pieces for the Penrose pattern, though the rules haven't been published yet.

Here's a summary of the rules: Start with a blank Penrose pattern for a game board. Place the starting island pieces. Then play pieces such that the same colored pieces don't share an edge. As soon as a color is forced, play is passed to the next player, unless no one catches the forced color. Play continues until the entire board is filled in. The winner is the person who placed the most pieces. The real fun is to observe the colored pattern emerge over time. There are rules for play when mistakes are caught.

And mistakes will be made... there is some kind of fatigue that happens when staring at this board. Niether Nancy nor I caught a few mistakes at a few points until later in the game. Nancy won by 13 points after two hours.

Playing this game: Nancy, Dante, and myself. Nancy played for the first time. This game continues the theme of pattern development, with the added bonus of adding a balancing act. Played with my variant.

As an aside, I actually found the Bandu rules at Hasbro's website, and it is different than my variant, but I like my variant better because it's a direct implementation of the spirit of those rules. After all, you'd want to keep the piece you select, and get specific people to suffer with unwanted pieces.

It's amazing when those pieces get used! Nancy won this time, while Dante and I were being unnecessarily tricky.

March 4, 2002

Got together with Nancy to test the Tri-color Penrose Game on a new board, as illustrated in Kadon's 2000-2001 catalog. Ran into a "Ko" situation using her rules, so we declared that a "Ko" situation allows you to execute a patch play that branches, following one branch at a time. Also tried a dynamic setup rather than the original fixed setup notion.

That board played faster, being a smaller board. Also, because it has more symetrical patterns, a run for each player lasted longer.

March 7, 2002

Gaming at Danger Planet: 6-player Robo Rally, 4-player Munchkin, 3-player Elements.

Robo Rally.
Players were: Tom, Matt, Andrew, Neil, Sharron, and myself. Neil arranged to have Robo Rally and its expansions available this evening. I selected two boards at random (as I usually do--two boards make for a satisfying time length.) They turned out to be a board from the original game and a board from one of the expansions. Then I arranged them randomly, then added two checkpoints (out and back which makes for a good length of time, and lots of interaction.) We started with four people, and early in the game, it's easy enough to add more people and still have fun. There was a lot of chaos at the first checkpoint because of all the twisty conveyor belts, and we had a winner after two hours of play: Matt.

Players were: Ian, Tom, Sharron, and myself. Munchkin is a heavily themed card game in which players are adventurers exploring a dungeon together. Well, that's where cooperation ends, because the winner is the person who gets out with the most treasure. The game lasted about 45 minutes to an hour. Ian had an impressive start which made the rest of us gang up on him. My elf got experience for helping other players so I was helping Tom and Sharron by fighting monsters and trading away items my character couldn't use.

Ian's Elements.
Players were: Ian, Tom and myself. Played Ian's prototype game of Elements. This time, I got to try a three player game which had interesting dynamics, being played on a different board, in that one of the center elements that must be played to cast spells was unavailable. Didn't get to finish the game after about 20 minutes before the store closed.

Private session: 2-player Icehouse Volcano, 2-player Icehouse Zendo.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Nancy and myself. I brought out my newly bought Icehouse pieces to play this puzzle game a few times. I knew Nancy would like it because she's into these sorts of thinking games.

Icehouse Zendo.
Players were Nancy and myself. We really should play this with more players but I wanted Nancy to get familiar with the rules so we can draw other people into the game later on. This is a fun game of deduction, maybe even induction if you believe the full document of the game. I had a killer puzzle that I'll share with you, if you need a hard one: A koan has Buddha nature if any red pieces are played, the number of pips on the red pieces is the number of pieces in play.

March 8, 2002

Private session: 2-player Killer Bunny Needs a Ham.

Devil Bunny Needs a Ham.
Players were Nancy and myself. This is a fun little filler that both of us played for the first time (before going to see "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" at the Coolidge Center Theater, both the movie and the theater both worth seeing.) This is a Cheapass Game that's a good filler if you need a gaming fix and don't have much time. It's easy enough to figure out the winning strategy, so the game comes out as a die-rolling fest. We actually didn't have enough time to finish the game, after 20 minutes of play.

March 11, 2002

Private session. 2-player Very Clever Pipe Game, 2-player Agora, 2-player Carcassonne.

Very Clever Pipe Game.
This a favorite of Nancy's and mine because it's very simple to play, and requires some thought and some tactics to play. Played three games, each lasting about 20 minutes. Most of these games ended with quite a few tiles left on the table. Is that because we're getting better at it and keep the opponent from scoring?

This is a brand new game, and Nancy and I played it for the first time. It's another clever tile-laying game that's enjoyable. You draw a tile, check if any rewards (festivals) or disasters (fire and flood) strike, then place the tile representing shops divided up in different ways, and buy one if you'd like. Income is based on access to shops and you and opponents spend time cutting off shops, or expanding shops. Expanding shops could be detrimental because disasters strike only the biggest shops. Overall, we caught on that it's better to keep a tie for shop sizes to prevent disasters and create shops with the highest scoring opportunities. We played a game for twenty minutes.

Carcassonne with River Expansion.
This is my brand new copy of the game, and Nancy and I played it to keep with the tile-laying theme. It was a pleasant game and very cooperative, but I don't recall anything noteworthy happening short of one square that could never be filled because of the oddball tiles adjacent to it. It's very frustrating that the scorecard wraps around so many times, with only spaces for 50 points and our scores going over a hundred! Is there a better scorecard out there or shall I create my own? We played the game for about and hour.

March 13, 2002

Private session. Game played: 2-player Java.

Les and I played Java. This was Les' first time playing it. Les learned that scoring reservoirs early on is a good thing. After all, it's the best deal for the action points you spend. We ended up going for the big, clever scores when creating villages, so the board developed in two big chunks on each side of the board. This meant that a lot of small villages weren't even touched for the easy scores. We each gained a lot of altitude in our attempts to expand villages and upgrade palaces. Most of the festivals were lost by the person initiating them. Game ended after about one hour and 45 minutes.

March 14, 2002

Danger Planet. Played 4-player Zombies, 4-player Tikal, 3-player Entdecker.

Players were Cindy, Rich, someone whose name I didn't get, and myself. This game was just a filler game, and it was fun for the 20 minutes I spent on it, though the game was far from over. The idea is to build up the neighborhood in which zombies chase you and the other players. Two of us were in a dead-end, and I could see this game dragging to become no fun if that situation remained. Reading reports on the Net, there are some rules that need to be tweaked to keep with the spirit of the game, like the rule that when a player dies, he comes back with health and bullets at the town center. This seems to reward the player for dying, and the spirit of the game should be that players are doing all they can to escape the horror. Anyways, this has 100 soft plastic zombie miniatures, which in itself is a cool thing, so it'll be nice to find variants that make it worthwhile to play the game.

Players were: Matt, Tom, Adam, and myself. Tom and I played this for the first time. This is a game in which archeologists explore an area for temples and treasure. We tended to set up guards on temples early on, splitting off on our own as the board developed to create separate areas.

Afterwards, I read the rules off the Net. Some rules weren't adhered to which made the game less satisfactory after the fact. We didn't know that there were no restrictions to creating a base camp, except that a hex was empty of treasure and temples. I thought we needed explorers in a hex to create a base camp. We didn't restrict the number of guards, so I ended up setting them up at many temples. We didn't have any temple markers above level 8 in the draw pile. The game ended in two and a half hours (including the time to go over rules) with the most points going to the players who went after the treasure. Tom was a regular Indiana Jones in his treasure-hunting priorities.

Players were: Adam, Mike and myself. We all played this for the first time. This was the original German edition, and we played with the Entdecker (Discoverer) Soeding Variant. This is a game in which player explore uncharted islands. They get points for discovering the entire island and for whatever treasures are found on the island. The points go to the highest ranking explorers on an island in case many explorers are at the same island, with decreased scores for each and every explorer on the island. It was a fun game with interesting patterns as we went. The game lasted a little over an hour, including going over the rules. There's no number scores, so I noted the relative scores.

March 17, 2002

Private session. 4-player Robo Rally, 4-player Chrononauts.

Robo Rally.
Players were: Doug, Jean, Shawn and myself. Everyone played before, though Shawn needed a refresher. I set up a two board and two checkpoint game, Jean selected the boards at random to use. The other players were confused as to how robots interact with the board. Jean and Doug played for fun while Shawn and I played to win. Turned out that I had cards that let me go straight to each checkpoint. The most confounding move came when Jean and Doug went for a wrench for repairs and Jean had the highest priority. I won after an hour of play.

Chrononauts with the Lost Identities Expansion.
Players were: Doug, Jean, Shawn and myself. I was the only player who played before. People played the card that let us swap hands twice. Each time, I was regretful because each of those hands had a card I wanted. Shawn played the "Your Parents Never Met" on Jean. When we found out she had the cockroach, we all sighed with relief, even Jean, because it's hard to achieve and because it messes with everyone's goals. I kept seeing other people with the artifacts I needed for my mission. Everyone paniked when I caused 12 paradoxes (because thirteen will end the game with no winners) so that was quickly addressed. In the end, Shawn won because he needed any four artifacts to win. The game lasted about an hour.

March 19, 2002

Private session. 2-player Crokinole.

Players were Dante and myself. We never played before. I ordered a Crokinole board off eBay from Sawdust Jim, after reading many positive reports about the game on the Net. The board itself is a nice piece of work with a base and rail made of pine and the 23 1/2 inch playing surface made of laminated birch. The ditch is stained a cinamon color.

I like variety, so I'm on the lookout for different types of games that seem to be played by different groups of people. After all, there seems to be the German designer strategy games, puzzle games, role-playing games, dexterity games, collectable card games, and I'd hate to limit myself to one slice of the pie.

I practiced flicking the discs and I was surprised at how fast the discs zipped across the board. Dante and I played a game without scoring just to get a feel for the game. He was very impressed with the look of the board and the physics of the game.

We played three games for real. I felt relaxed and flicked discs without really trying, which meant that many of my shots came short of the 20 point target and made shots difficult for Dante. He eventually gave up in frustration calling me a "sore winner," citing that parlor games like this were created (around 1860) at a time of syphilus and people withdrew to play games like this to get away from it all. Um... What's the connection? :-)

One rule we didn't play was that all discs that were hit when a player misses an opponents disc get removed. We just removed the disc that was shot. I thought it would be ok because it meant a weaker player would still have discs on the board. Though it meant the board was crowded with pieces from the stronger player. This wasn't a problem until one of the hit discs actually went in the 20 point target. We removed that without scoring.

Crokinole links:

March 20, 2002

Your Move Games, Looney Games Night. 2,3-player Aquarius, 2,3-player Icehouse Pikemen, 5-player Fluxx, 8,9-player Werewolf.

Played two games of 3-player Aquarius with Kat and Racheal, and a game of 2-player Aquarius with Kat. I was the new player.

This is a tile laying game using colorful (60s psychodelic art) cards. A card will have one through four patterns which have to match, on a side, a pattern already in play. There are additional cards that affect the cards in play, hands, or goals. Each player gats a pattern as a goal and has to create a run of seven cards in play matching that pattern.

This is a simple game that plays fairly quickly (about 15-20 minutes per game.) It's fairly straightforward to win except the action cards that cause players to swap hands, swap goals, reshuffle and redeal goals, move played cards and pick up played cards. These cards were a good way to thwart someone who's ahead and to turn around a bad hand.

Icehouse Pikemen.
Played two games of 2-player Pikemen with Dennis, and a game of 3-player Pikemen with Jason and Dennis. I was the new player.

This is a game using Icehouse pieces setup on a chess board. Upright pieces defend, otherwise pieces move and attack in the direction they're pointing for any distance, ending a turn by changing the way it was pointing. With an upright piece, you can only tip it and point it in a new direction. Any tipped piece can be captured, but defending pieces can only be captured by bigger pieces.

I like this game because it's simple enough, but there's a strategy that I just couldn't see right off the bat, having lost every game. The last game, both players seemed to gang up on me, Dennis leaving a three point pikeman open for capture threatening my piece, and Jason deciding to follow up on capturing my one point piece and leaving Dennis' three point piece alone.

Each game was about 15-20 minutes.

Played a 5-player game of Fluxx with Jason, Rob, ???, and Ronald. I was the new player.

This is a game in which you draw a card then play a card. From this point, any and all rules can change with rules printed on the cards. There is no goal until someone plays one. There are action which let players fiddle with played or unplayed cards, and keepers which are played in front of players to meet some goals.

The game is fairly chaotic, and feels like it slows down when cards are played to throttle back the chaos. Ronald won by taking advantage of a played goal card by stealing a keeper card he needed to win.

This game was about 30 minute.

Played three games of Werewolf with eight or nine people, with the ten people who retired to Redbones after Your Move Games closed.

This is a game in which cards are dealt out face down so that players can play the role on the card. There is one moderator, one seer, and two werewolves. The rest of the players are villagers. The moderator sets the mood, each turn, telling everyone to close their eyes as they go to sleep for the night. Then the werewolves open their eyes and choose a character to tear to bits, then they close their eyes. Then the seer opens his eyes and points to a character to find out if that character is a werewolf or not, then closes his eyes. Then players open their eyes, and begin a debate to figure out who to lynch as a werewolf. The twist is that the seer knows the status of each additional character each turn, but will surely have the werewolves turn on him if he reveals he's a seer. The werewolves will try to throw suspicion off themselves onto the other players. Characters nominate a character to be lynch, and after a defensive argument, vote whether to lynch him or not. Once lynched, he reveals what character he was playing.

I think the werewolves won every game except the first. (The first game, I was a werewolf so, of course, people had to gang up on me, after eliminating my werewolf partner without much ado. :-)

Players couldn't weed through who was playing what role in subsequent games and ended up letting the werewolves win.

This is a game that's more fun with more people, and you need at least eight people to play. We had some misunderstanding about how many characters needed to be alive during each turn, and how many characters needed to be alive at the end of the game to declare a winner. Each game lasted about 15-20 minutes.

March 21, 2002

Danger Planet. 4-player Tri-color Penrose, 3-player Chaos Tiles, 2,3-player Nexus, 2-player Fluxx.

Actually, while we were waiting for other players, Nancy and I played a bit of The Very Clever Tile Game. We didn't get to finish the game.

Tri-color Penrose.
Players were Cindy, Ian, Nancy, Vitas. This was Cindy's first time playing the game. Nancy was eager to try out some changes to the rules based on feedback from previous playtests at Danger Planet. (Ian being one of the people giving good feedback.)

A quick recap of the game, players add Penrose pieces to a Penrose board making sure the same colors don't share an edge. If a space is forced a color because two edges have two different colors, another player can call "Penrose" to take a turn laying tiles starting with the forced space.

As new rules, players are allowed two free plays during the game, and can call "dibs" on inevitable forced plays. We used the smaller board because Ian was on a time limit.

Ian and I called dibs at incorrect points in the game so we lost a chance to get a turn when a real forced move came up. Ian left before the game ended, so we played on without him (not even adding to his tile pile when we entered patched play.) Cindy was very meticulous in playing her moves, and won the game after an hour of play.

Scoring is relative. The lowest score (meaning the player who played the most pieces) wins.

Chaos Tiles.
Players were Cindy, Nancy and myself. We all played for the first time.

This is a tile-laying puzzle game with two different-sized pieces, 40 Kays (which contain a concave angle) and 50 Veks (which contain convex angles.) We played the first variation of the game (Chaos Omelet) which allows us to start with 5 points of tiles. Kays count as a half-point and Veks count as one point. The first tile is laid and the game begins. A Player lays a tile touching the side of any played tile. Players may make additional free moves if a tile can touch other tiles on three sides. A restriction that a 20 degree angle is not allowed. Points are scored when a clump of tiles with the same colored dots is expanded by by multiplying the sum of like-colored dots on tiles.

This game was hard. We created a blob that was hard to keep adding to it. Cindy drew all Kays, and that made it difficult to find good moves for her. We only played a free move twice the whole game.

In the end, I won, after abut an hour, because I made one of two plays that actually created a product.

Next time I want allow transfers (variation 2) which may make the game quicker and easier.

Players were Cindy, Nancy and myself. This was the first time any of us played the game.

Nexus is a tile-laying game in which players try to claim nodes by playing a card, scoring completed nexuses, and laying a token on a node in an incomplete nexus. The highest rank via tokens scores a complete nexus. Add unoccupied nodes to the highest rankers score.

Cindy had to leave the first game early, so Nancy and I continued playing three games. What seems surprising is that players should place a token on higher scoring nodes, which don't count for a score, but increase rank. This is an interesting balance, added to the fact that many scoring possibilities develop during the game, and a player has to choose which to pursue and which to ignore. We don't play for a high score so the score seems to slowly increment or quickly swing. It was about 15 minutes per game.

An interesting dynamic is that a tie in rank means no one scores. This means with more than two people, additional players could close off scoring opportunities for two players competing for a particular nexus.

Players were Nancy and myself. This was Nancy's first time playing the game.

I liked the game enough to try it some more. I suspected that this game is more fun and chaotic with more players, but doing is knowing. The game slowed down because we ended up with empty hands and had to play everything we drew. After fifteen minutes, just as the store was closing, I played a goal that allowed Nancy to win with the five Keepers she accumulated. (Have to shuffle a new deck better next time! :-)

In conclusion, I have to add that it's satisfying to play games that create a pattern on the table. Even if I lose, there is a sense of accomplishment, and the sense of seeing something new.

March 23-31, 2002

I took a trip to my hometown of Rochester, NY, to visit friends and family. I got a lot of board gaming in. I'll just note the gaming highlights during this trip. I ended up playing a lot of Crokinole because I wanted to show off the beautiful new board.

March 23, 2002

3-player Crokinole, 3-player Mage Knight: Talisman.

Players were Dan, Christa and myself. Dan and Christa played for the first time.

Mage Knight: Talisman.
Players were Dan, Christa (when she wasn't distracted by her infant :-), and myself. We all experimented with this for the first time. For an interesting twist on an old favorite, this is a variant I played with combining Mage Knight: Dungeons (MKD) rules and the Second Edition Talisman board game. At minimum, use a Mage Knight Starter pack for two players and an additional booster pack for every additional player.

We played with a time limit of an hour and a half with no winners. Dan thought the game would last longer with this variant. I didn't think that would be possible.

As an aside, Their son seems to have a taste for the Chrononauts rules. We stopped him before he swallowed the cover!

Mage Knight: Dungeons links:

Talisman links:

March 24, 2002

2-player Entdecker, 2-player Fossil, 2-player Crokinole, 2-player Nexus, 2,3,4-player Crokinole.

TomP is an easy-going, laid-back gamer. He likes to try different games and doesn't get overly uptight about winning because the game play is the fun.

Original German Entdecker.
Players were TomP and myself. TomP played for the first time. Our game lasted an hour. Scoring is relative.

Players were TomP and myself. I played for the first time.

This is an interesting abstract strategy game in which tiles representing a collection of nine piece fossils are laid on a grid. Each player places a pawn on board and takes the tile. Each turn, a player moves a pawn horizontally or vertically as far as he wants to another tile and takes the tile. You score by completing fossils and scoring the number of points on the tiles.

I didn't catch on to the strategy initially and let TomP collect up high scoring tiles while I tried to get a complete fossil. Game lasted a half hour.

Players were TomP and myself. TomP played for the first time.

Players were TomP and myself. TomP played for the first time. TomP wasn't particularly interested in this sort of game.

Players were (at various times) Cherie, Jason, Kerry and myself. Cherie, Jason and Kerry played for the first time.

As gamers go, Jason is very emotional and feels the ups and downs of winning. Kerry is somewhat sensitive, bowing out of one game because Cherie was intent on competing with me. Cherie is very competitive.

March 25, 2002

2-player Crokinole, 2-player Settlers of Catan, 2-player Nexus, 2-player Fluxx, 2-player Entdecker.

Players were Don and myself. Don never played before. Don was a good sport.

Players were Jackie and myself. Jackie player for the first time. Jackie had a real problem hitting the discs and spacial games make her ill.

Settlers of Catan.
Players were Jackie and myself. Jackie played for the first time. This game is always a good standby, I thought, and Jackie got into it. It was a close game, too, with us competing for longest road and getting enough resources to keep building at a fairly even rate.

Players were Jackie and myself. Jackie played for the first time. This is another spacial game that didn't work for her. Game lasted about a half hour.

Players were Jackie and myself. Jackie played for the first time. We played three games for 45 minutes. This game would work better with more people, but it's a nice low thought activity. I won the first and third game. Jackie won the second.

Original German Entdecker.
Players were Jackie and myself. Jackie played for the first time. Jackie did enjoy this game. Game ended after an hour and forty-five minutes.

March 26, 2002

4-player Crokinole, 5-player Apples to Apples.

Players were Shawn, Doug, TomW and myself. Shawn, Doug and TomW played for the first time.

Apples to Apples.
Players were Jean, Shawn, TomW, Doug, Vitas. I was playing for the first time.

Apples to Apples is a silly, subjective game. We were playing with all the expansions. There are two decks of cards. One deck contains a word and a list of like words. This deck is passed from player to player who'll act as arbitrator. The other deck is a word or phrase with an associated quote. Each player has a hand of seven of these cards and choose one to be judged by the moderator. The moderator shuffles and reveals all the cards passed to him at once and judges which card best matches the card he drew.

So, this is a game of word association and knowing something about the player judging the cards. One anecdote is that one arbitrator drew "Mechanical." Of the cards passed to him to be judged, one was "My Love Life."

We played two games. Jean won both of them. (She's the biggest fan of the game. :-)

March 27, 2002

2-player Crokinole.

Players were Frank and myself. Frank was a new player.

March 28, 2002

2,3-player Crokinole.

Players were Allen, Jeff and myself. Allen and Jeff were new players. Allen was a very aggressive and competitive player.

Then, players were Chris, Whitney and myself. Chris and Whitney were new players. Whitney was a very intense player. Afterwards, she looked up the game on the Internet. Chris is into woodworking and now considers making a board himself. This game is amazing in how it gets people's interest.

March 29, 2002

2-player Java, 2-player Entdecker, 2-player Stephenson's Rocket, 2-player Chrononauts, 2-player Icehouse Volcano.

Players were TomP and myself. TomP was a new player. TomP was driving me nuts because he didn't even take time to make good moves... just any moves would do. Great for short down times, though. Game ended in about an hour. (A record?)

Original German Entdecker.
Players were TomP and myself. TomP requested to try this again.

Stephenson's Rocket.
Players were TomP and myself. Both of us were new players.

This is an interesting strategic game. During the game, you can do two things from any combination of three choices: extend a railway (getting stock in it), take a resource token, build a train station. Connecting to a city means the player with the most tokens from the city gets money, second place gets half that. Connecting to a railway town means the player with the most stations on the railway line gets money, second place gets half that. Connecting two railways merges one into the other, meaning a cash bonus and stock trade.

Starting the game is bewildering because it's not obvious what we should be doing beyond just diving in. Then a strategy forms as we figure out what to do in reaction to what the other player does.

Game lasted about an hour and a half.

Players were TomP and myself. TomP played for the first time.

This had to be the shortest game of Chrononauts ever. TomP ended up winning the mission in about ten minutes, playing four artifacts, three of which he needed, two of which I needed to win my mission!!!

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were TomP and myself. TomP played for the first time. I set up the game with the alternate pattern I found on the web.

March 30, 2002

2-player Stephenson's Rocket, 4-player Crokinole.

Stephenson's Rocket.
Players were Harry and myself. Harry was new to the game.

Did it help start the game knowing how the game plays? Nope. Still seems overwhelming and I can't even suggest good things to do, until we're into the game a bit.

Players were Donna, Shannon, Shannon's mother (M) and myself. Donna, Shannon, and M were new to the game.

Shannon learned to relax and just play, though she kept hitting the pieces too hard. Donna and M were very competitive, but didn't reach that state of becoming one with the discs that is so necessary to win. :-)

Deathmatch (winner of one round... it was getting late)

April 1, 2002

Private session. 2-player Chez Dork, 2-player Stephenson's Rocket, 2-player Primordial Ooze.

Chez Dork.
Players were Nancy and myself. I played for the first time.

Chez Dork is a fun, themed card game in which players play characters who are obsessed Chez Dork is a fun, themed card game in which players play characters who are obsessed collectors of stuff like miniatures, dice, role-playing games. Characters have permanent obsessions and advantages and disadvantages. During the game, players can buy stuff from their hand, scoring more points if the stuff is something they're obsessed about. They can change obsessions as well--their own or their opponents. Players can play special cards which are twists to the game to benefit their characters or hinder their opponents.

Nancy and I played two games. It's obviously a better game with more people because then players can trade and auction off stuff. The game played quickly, perhaps because of the special cards. During the first game, Nancy was able to boost her income many which gave her enough money to buy enough stuff to win. During the second game, I was able to double the value of the expensive stuff I was obsessed over to win the game.

I wonder, though... Nancy played a card that allowed her to auction off any stuff in play to gain money... She played it on my stuff! I couldn't find any wording on the card to prove this wasn't allowed, but it seems to go against the logic of the game. What do you think?

The first game was about a half hour including time to get familiar with the rules. The second game was about 20 minutes.

Chez Dork Links:

Stephenson's Rocket.
Players were Nancy and myself. Nancy never played before.

Let's see if I come up with a new way of looking at this game...

Stephenson's Rocket is a nicely themed game about developing the first railways in England to acquire the most money. The idea is to connect railway lines to cities and railway towns. Cities have resources, so connecting to them scores if you have dibs on those resources. Railway towns have passengers, so railways with the most stations scores for connecting to them. Play continues until all the tracks are laid or all the railway lines have merged.

We played a close game ending with a single railway line after an hour and a half of play. Nancy skipped a few scoring opportunities in her eagerness to merge lines which is why she lost, but it seems games are often close so it's best to grab every little bit of scoring possible.

Stephenson's Rocket Links:

Primordial Ooze. ("Primapradis gyvybes saltinis")
Players were Nancy and myself. We both played this for the first time.

I snatched up this import from the most unlikely of places, a catalog from Lithuania called "Balandis Zaidimu." It has the most unusual components I've seen. Each player gets a container of clay and a container of that Nickleodeon goo in their color. Each player gets two actions per turn from three choices. 1) Lay down two cubic centimeters of clay which becomes the bed (game board) on which play continues, 2) Use a divot (chosen from two sizes, requiring one or two action depending on size) to make an impression into the clay bed of a size of one or two cubic centimeters, 3) Pour five cubic centimeters of goo onto the clay bed. The first player to fill a certain combined size of impressions wins. (We played to ten cubic centimeters for a quick game.)

The real fun of the game comes from stacking clay and making impressions such that when the goo runs over the first impression, it fills another impression. We keep track of how much was poured from the markings on the goo container (rounded down), but all the goo must be poured because part of the gameplay is managing the limited supply of goo, so it's a good thing we had a piece of plastic that acted as a tablecloth.

We played best two out of three. Each game lasted a half hour.

April 3, 2002

This is not really a session report, but an interesting gaming-related account that I'd like to put in this journal.

Chaos Tiles.
I gave my dear friend's nine year old daughter Chaos Tiles for her birthday. We first tried to put together the suggested pattern in its vinal container. She found that very satisfying. Then we played a game without scoring, though I later found she could multiply, so scoring would have been an additional learning experience. But she got frustrated over the rules for free moves. I should have kept it simple for the first time out and let her appreciate the developing patterns, which she liked in just solving the suggested pattern.

I also gave her Wedgits, which are construction toys. I wasn't sure she'd be interested at her age in such a thing (but my friend who works at Learning Express highly reccomended it.) She loved it, stacking the toys to amazing heights in the interesting ways that the toys fits together. It surprised me to see she put it away neatly stacked, rather than just dumping the toys in the box. I'm thinking that there's a nice Bandu/Bausack variant that could work with Wedgets.

April 4, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming session. 2,3-player Icehouse Volcano, 4-player Carcassonne, 4-player Beer, 3-player Chez Dork.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Ralph and myself, then Ralph, Andrew and myself. Rich and Andrew played for the first time.

Interesting that this style of game was new to Rich and Andrew, and it was nice to expand their board gaming horizons with multi-purpose gaming pieces. The two-player game went fairly quickly, and the three-player game slowed down with the additional consideration of benifitting oneself while minimizing benefits to the other players.

Carcassonne with River Expansion.
Players were Rick, Andrew, Ralph and myself. We all played before.

This ended up being an interesting game in that the board remained fairly rectangular towards the beginning of the game. Also, the farms were broken up a lot more than the previous games we played where there was just one big farm.

Beer: the Card Game
Players were Rick, Andrew, Ralph and myself. Ralph brought the game and taught it to the rest of us newbies.

This is a game in which five bar cards get dealt face up in the center of the table. These cards are beer and various bar items like pool tables, dart board and ATM's. Each player gets a hand of patron cards which basically enhance a player's turn or hinder other player's turn. Game is played until a last call card is drawn. The bar cards are reshuffled with the last call card removed and a bar closing card added (which will end the game after another round of play when drawn.) The person who ends up with the most beer cards wins.

The first game we played lasted about five minutes and ended in a tie. between Ralph and myself. (Can you say luck of the draw? :-)

The next game, we divided the shuffled deck in half, and shuffled the last call card into the bottom half of the bar deck. This definitely lengthened the game but didn't change the arbitrary feel of the game. Andrew won with a tie broken by having more money.

Chez Dork.
Players were Jimmy, Nancy and myself. Jimmy played for the first time.

Since the store owners stayed late to play their own miniatures game downstairs, Jimmy, Nancy and I took advantage of it by playing this game.

Nancy played Carson again. (Is it because she's obsessed over collecting lots of different stuff herself? :-) I played Matt and Jimmy played Gilly (which wasn't such a good combination in a three player game since they can't play bad cards on each other, so we ended up ganging up on Nancy.)

Somehow, Jimmy won with a lot of stuff.

April 5, 2002

B20 session. 4-player Tri-color Penrose, 6-player Royal Turf, 4-player Puerto Rico, 3-player Icehouse Volcano, 4-player Chez Dork.

Tri-color Penrose.
Players were Kelli, Nancy, Terry, and myself. Kelli and Terry were new players.

Kelli grasped the game quickly and was making the most of her turns. I was sloppy having played the games enough that I didn't think I had to be careful, except that Nancy and Kelli were good. Terry had a problem seeing the patterns. (There is a class of people who don't grasp the patterns in puzzle games, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's all just for fun.) However, Terry entered patch play which let him make a comeback.

Scores are relative.

Royal Turf.
Players were Phil, Greg, Terry, Paul, Kelli and myself. I was a new player.

Royal Turf is an engaging horse racing game. The mechanics are interesting in that, for each race, each horse gets a new movement card which matches up symbols on a die with the number of spaces to move. This gives players an idea of the odds for a horse. Players have four bets they make on horses. The bets are made face down in each of the values: 2, 1, 1, 0. The 0 bet is to fake out players about which horse he's supporting. The more bets on a single horse, the smaller the payoff when he wins, places or shows. Bets to the horse in last place are paid to the bank. If the lead horse at the half-way point wins, those players will get an extra 100.

Each player takes a turn rolling the die. Then the player picks a horse to move. After moving the horse, its movement card is shifted so that it can't be moved again until all the other horses get to move.

The game lasts for three races of one lap each, and the last race pays double.

Interesting that the horse with the poorest odds won the first race. Phil was the only player to bet on the horse and it turned out to be a bet of 0. But he made up for it in the end.

In general, this game seems like it'll be more fun with more players, who can get into the theme of the game and cheering for their horses. Strategy is as simple as The player may move his own horse to help him win, or move an opponents horse on low rolls to keep him from making a lot of progress. Otherwise, it's a die rolling fest, which is fun in its own way.

Puerto Rico.
Players were Phil, Kelli, Greg, and myself. Kelli and I were new players.

Puerto Rico is a game about developing plantations and trading products. The rules are fairly involved, so I'll keep to describing the high points of the mechanics.

Players have a choice of six roles to play during their turn. Everyone will take on that role, but the player who picks the role gets a bonus that the other players won't. The roles are Mayor (attracting colonists to work on plantations and in buildings), Settler (which allows players to develop new plantations), Builder (which allows players to build), Craftsman (which allows player to develop goods from their plantations), Trader (which allows players to sell a good to the trading house), Captain (which allows players to place goods on a trading ship), Prospector (which only offers the player who selected it extra money). At the end of each round, role cards that weren't selected get money for the player who selects it next round.

Buildings give benefits to players. They can: develop a resource from a plantation into goods, give a discount when obtaining a building, give extra colonists, on so on. Better buildings being beyond cheap.

Victory points are earned by putting goods on a trading ship. The winner is the person who has the most victory points at the end of the game, with ties broken by amount of money left. The game ends when there are no more colonists to come to work for the players.

There's more embellishments to the game, but that's a good brief working description.

The other players picked buildings which kept a high supply of colonists coming in. Without colonists, I kept creeping along at a slow pace. At the end, everyone, but me, could afford a large building which gave a good amount of victory points. I should've picked the right buildings and spent all my money doing it early on.

Overall, this game has a lot going on at the same time, so it'll be interesting to try different strategies each game.

Our game lasted about two hours.

Here are other takes on the session with the games I played.

Here are additional first impressions from the session.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Brian, Nancy and myself. Brian was a new player.

Chez Dork.
Players were Greg, Brian, Nancy and myself. Greg and Brian were new players.

April 6, 2002

Mike & Teresa's open house. 2,4-player Icehouse Volcano.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Donald, Chris, Anaka and myself. Donald, Chris and Anaka were new players.

Chris threw the game, collecting all the colors after getting frustrated with finding good moves in the game. Like in life, she's very impatient. :-)

Players were Donald and myself.

April 11, 2002

Danger Planet. 4-player Siesta, 4-player Stephenson's Rocket, 4-player Tri-color Penrose.

Players were Karl, Ralph, Nancy and myself. We were all new players.

Siesta is a pleasant abstract game in which you place three different tokens on a game board, a sun, rooftop and shadow. Each shadow cast by a sun across rooftop(a) scores a point, and there's a bonus for casting from both sides exclusively. Overall, very engaging. Each game lasted about 30 minutes.

Stephenson's Rocket.
Players were Karl, Ralph, Nancy, Vitas. Karl and Ralph played for the first time.

This is the first time I played with four players. The game's dynamic changes with more people. I ended up taking less turns before the game ended. Tokens were taken and stations were placed much faster. Karl, Ralph and Nancy ended up getting good leads by placing their stations in the more lucrative south. I ended up placing my stations on the other side of the map and didn't get to merge the railways in the north with the railways in the south.

Nancy bowed out about two-thirds into the game to playtest her own game.

Game lasted about an hour and a half.

Tri-color Penrose.
Players were Nancy, Karl, Jimmy, and myself. We all played before.

Even with pieces added to Karl's pool during patch play by Jimmy, Karl recovered with his own patch play to win.

Game lasted about 45 minutes on Nancy's smaller (standard) board.

Scores are relative.

Players were Nancy, Karl, Jimmy, and myself. Jimmy was the new player.

We gave this another shot with only a little time left. We ended the game short (after 15 minutes) when the store closed.

As an aside, another group was playing a marathon game of Munchkin with the expansion "Unnatural Axe." Lots of laughs coming from that direction! :-)

April 14, 2002

Miniatures paint party. 3-player Carcassonne.

Players were Mike, Teresa and myself. Mike and Teresa played for the first time.

This game is nice because it's fairly co-operative, in spite of the competition for the highest score. Every game I played, people would point out possible plays. I thought this would be a good one to try with Mike because he dislikes competitive games.

Teresa had the highest score towards the beginning. Mike made a strong comeback during the middle of the game. I came in from behind at the end of the game scoring farms. I'm especially pleased that I played a move that blocked Teresa from scoring the full points on a citadel and a town.

Click here to see how the board looked after scoring. We used meeples to keep track of which towns were scored for farming, and removed the rest as we scored partials.

April 15, 2002

Private session. 2-player Starbase Jeff, 2-player Entdecker.

Starbase Jeff.
Players were Nancy and myself. We both played for the first time.

I enjoy tile-laying games, as does Nancy, so I was looking forward to trying this one. The game is about connecting modules to open ends of a starbase. Each player has a deck of modules in his color. Each module has a cost, except the caps which have a payout. Costs and payouts go into and out of a pot. Connecting a module though other players' modules to one of your own requires a payment directly to the other players.

Each round of the game went fairly quickly, so we played about five rounds. We used tokens to represent money, and I ended up with more tokens, though I didn't keep an exact score. I can see this being a quick filler game in the future.

Click here to see how the final board looked after scoring.

Entdecker, the original German version
using the Soeding variant.
Player were Nancy and myself. Nancy played for the first time.

I was ahead for most of the game, scoring a few small islands and a large sized island. Nancy scored many small islands but built up a moderately sized island for herself. This pushed her ahead of my score. Then she ended up with more treasure tokens than me which pushed her score even higher (starting on a second lap on the score track, which I never saw happen before.)

Click here to see how the board looked after scoring.

April 17, 2002

Looney Games Night at Your Move Games. 6-player Zendo, 5-player Volcano. Using Icehouse pieces.

Icehouse Zendo.
Players were Julie, Ben, Karl, Jeremy, ???, and myself. We all played before.

I came up with a hard one that sumped everyone for many turns. For each color in the koan, the sum of the number of pips on the pieces of any one color is the total number of pieces in the koan. Julie pulled out a very good example koan and solution, a set of two three-pip pieces in three colors. That stumped me for a counter-example. The sum of the pips on all the pieces divided by the number of colors is the number of pieces in the koan. Her rule was a superset of mine. Now I know that I could've provided a counter-example of taking her koan and swapping one color for another. Julie got that one, because I couldn't come up with the counter-example quickly (and the owner of the pieces wanted to leave. :-)

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Karl, Ben, Jeremy, Julie and myself.

Except for me, this was a fairly close game, though Karl made a good impression early in the game by getting many pieces at once.

April 18, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 4-player Abduction, 3-player Chez Dork, 4-player Elements.

Players were Cindy, Rich, Ralph and myself. Cindy, Rich and I played for the first time.

This is a game in which players play characters who wake up in a holding cell on a spaceship. Players play cards and move through the ship to get to the exit. Only one character will escape. Rooms, items and events make up the cards. Players get to take three actions per turn, and they can play events on other players' turns.

Cindy was able to pull out a win. Click here for a photo of the end game.

I like the concept. However, it was easy to get through the entire deck, which meant that all those cards that hinder any player winning keep get put back into play.

Abduction link:

Chez Dork.
Players were Chris, Cindy and myself. Cindy was new to the game.

Cindy won with a score of 25 playing Gilly, by collecting up extra money that had her rolling in stuff. I played Carson and Chirs played Igor. Click here for a photo of the end game.

Ian's Elements.
Players were Nancy, Jordan, Ian and myself. We all played before.

Ian made some minor tweaks to the rules, and we played as teams to reduce the chaos Ian noticed in four-player games. I still fins the game engaging because the strategy isn't obvious. It pivots on second guessing what the other players will play and playing spells that would take priority. When Ian and Jordan teamed up, they seemed to have a single mindset and their play complimented each other.

First, it was Nancy and Ian against Jordan and me. Team members played across from each other. Nancy and Ian won.

Second, it was Ian and Jordan against Nancy and me. Team members played adjacent to each other. Ian and Jordan won.

Though we experimented to see if adjacency made a difference in game play, it wasn't clear that it did.

April 19, 2002

My best buddy, Paul, visited for the weekend, so we got a lot of gaming in.

Private session at Papa Razzi. 2-player Button Men.

Button Men.
Players were Paul and myself. We both played for the first time.

Button Men is a quick and simple game that was a fun dice-fest. Each player gets a button that has a list of five numbers. Each number represents a die with that many sides. Each turn, a player uses a die try to match or exceed a value of another die in a one-on-one battle to capture it. Alternatively, a player uses many dice to match one die in a many-to-one battle to capture it. Dice used to capture a die must be re-rolled, then the next player gets a turn. A round is played when all dice of one player are captured, then players score the number of sides captured plus half the number of sides remaining.

I got this game with the Zombie game set from Cheapass Games which I received as a gift. Since it was there, we gave it a shot and had fun. I played Hannah and Paul played Kublai. We forgot to score the half sides for dice that weren't captured for the first three games.

After the first game, Paul realized that, not only should he consistently capture more sides, but he should keep an eye on keeping me from capturing higher numbers with many-to-one captures.

Button Men links:

April 20, 2002

Private session. 2-player Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit.

Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit.
Players were Paul and myself.

Another close game! This one lasted three hours. I played the Naboo forces and Paul played the Federation forces. Things were tense early on because each of us focused on different things. I generally went after Darth Maul and pushed Anakin along, while Paul generally went after the palace guards and the planetside forces.

Qui-gon and Darth Maul bit it by mid-game. Obi-won was seriously hurt so he only made hit-and-run attacks in the palace. The Naboo forces planetside bit the dust. Then it was a tense, if fairly quick, palace battle while we watched Anakin get closer to his target. In the end, all Naboo's forces but Queen Amadala and her decoy were wiped out giving the Federation a victory.

Found out we missed two rules. (Should've reviewed them quickly before playing.) MMT's and AAT's went through the shield even though they shouldn't have, and we didn't draw bonus cards for defeating the Jedi/Sith.

Overall a very satisfying game. We're in awe of how finely balanced the game is that keeps it exciting until the end.

I found a summary sheet on Board Game Geek that'll help us keep track of these things for the next game. I just noticed a rule we missed both times we've played, in that Anakin may continue to try to move after a starfighter card is cleared. Maybe that's why our games last so long!

Danger Planet open session. 3-player Roundominos, 4-player Super Deluxe Quintillions, 4-player Parts Unknown.

Players were Karl, Paul and myself. Paul and I were new players.

This was an interesting game using Kadon Games Roundomino's pieces. We played a game such that we choose and place a piece. For each circle that touches an existing circle, the player scores a point. Pieces of the same colors must not touch. A game lasted thirty minutes.

Roundominoes link:

Super Deluxe Quintillions.
Players were Karl, Paul, Nancy and myself.

We played a full version of the game with all the pieces. However, I caused the unstable structure to collapse during the third part of the game. So we scored what had so far.

Super Deluxe Quintillions link:

Parts Unknown.
Players were Karl, Paul, Nancy and myself.

Players are retail store owners who supply body parts to the local mad scientists. Viktor, a mad scientist, goes around window shopping. Whenever he stops to look at a particular type of parts, a demand for that type of part is created; all the parts at the cheapest price get sold. If there is still a demand, all the parts at the next cheapest price get sold. This continues until demand is met. If parts sold exceed demand, a surplus is created, which may put an extra townsfolk back into the population. If the demand is not met, a shortage is created which will be filled by removing a townsfolk.

Each turn, players get a part from their gravediggers, and can pay for more parts. Players can buy store shelves, and stock those shelves with parts, setting them to a specific, fixed price. If parts don't sell. the may be shuffled off to the "parts unknown" pile, which will automatically sell at cerain times at a highly discounted rate. There could be, at times, a monster on the loose which scares off shoppers, getting them to buy parts only at the cheapest price, ignoring other available parts. Also, villagers might riot, which causes parts from the gravediggers to be more expensive. Play with the most money at the end of the game wins.

This game turned out to be three hours long. That was unexpected from Cheapass Games which are usually short and quick. Besides that, the game was mostly a mix of randomness and strategy. One striking moment was when I bought up and stocked brains at a certain price, thinking brains will eventually sell and no one would be able to meet all the demand. As it turned out, Viktor created a demand for one brain, and Paul had the cheapest, completely undercutting my stock at the next cheapest price. Argh! Game ended at the end of the calendar loop. :-)

Click here to see how the mid-game board looked.

Private session. 2-player Magic: the Gathering.

Magic: the Gathering.
Players were Paul and myself. We played nine games.

It's been a long time since we played this. We stopped playing around the time 5th Edition came out, so all those nice old cards came into play. I'll just mention the colorful names of our decks and thier scores along with any interesting events during the game.

Paul played Righteous Fire (red and white) against my Decaying Death (black.) During the first game, Paul was able to get his direct damage cards out fairly quickly, foiling anything I could try. The next two games, Paul had mana problems, and conceded when I sloly, but surely, kept coming out with painful attacks. I won the next game.

Then Paul tried his Armageddon (black and red) against my Decaying Death (black.) I got the first victory. We mutually annialated each other the next game. The Paul won. I had a problem playing a few cards that benefitted black cards (like Bad Moon) because he had cards that would benefit as well. I had to count on Pestillence to get some damage in.

Then Paul tried his Nightmares (green and black) against my Deck of Life (green and white.) Paul was getting his Thalids out, but I was able to overwhelm them before they could spawn.

Then Paul tired his Sea's Bounty (blue) against my Deck of Pain (white and red.) Even though I was damaging him slowly, he was able to get enough creatures out to damage me at a faster rate for the win.

Magic: the Gathering links:

April 25, 2002

Private game at English Muffin Restaurant. 2-player Uno.

I have a special edition Uno with a Harry Potter theme. I played two games with my dear friend's nine-year-old daugter while waiting for food.

Uno is a game in which a player matches either the number or color of a card, in an effort to get rid of all his cards. There are additional cards, to reverse the turn order, skip a player, cause the opponent to draw cards and a wild card that can be played on any card and set a new color.

This edition has Harry Potter artwork, and "Draw 3" cards instead of "Draw 2" cards. It has two extra cards: Invisibility and Howler which seem to replace two of the "Wild Draw Four" cards. We didn't play with those because I didn't have the rules for them with me.

The rules were easy for her to grasp and she had enough fun playing it that she wanted her own deck.

Danger Planet open gaming. 3-player Tantrix, 7-player Citadels, 4-player Carcassonne, 4-player Entdecker.

Players were Karl, Cindy and myself. I was the new player.

In this game, players have a hand of four hex tiles. Tiles have three lines connecting two sides of the tile in any of four colors. Each line on a tile is a different color.

Each player is one of four colors. Players lay down a tile for their free move, touching at least one side of an existing tile, matching the color of the lines. Players must fill all forced moves (an empty space that would have a tile border on three sides.) Players draw a tile after placing a tile. Players score when tiles run out: one point per tile for the longest line or two points per tile for the longest loop.

There's a bit of luck involved in that a player has to make the most of the tiles he drew. Otherwise, the strategy is straightforward in that one tries to make a long line of his color with the potential of creating a loop while either forcing the next player to help with this goal, and depriving the next player of good moves with forced moves.

Like many puzzle games, the real treat is to watch the emerging patterns as the game goes on. This game lasted about a half hour.

Click here to see how the mid-game looked.

Players were Jimmy, Rich, Jason, Eric, Cindy, Karl and myself. Rich and Jason played before.

This is a game in which players pass around a set of cards to pick a role from the card. Roles have some kind of bonus outside the normal play. On a player's turn, he may draw two gold, or draw two cards and keep one. Then he may build, spending gold to lay down a card. The game ends when a player lays down eight cards, and the highest score, counting the values of cards built, wins.

It seemed like Jimmy, Cindy and I were threatening to finish the game with high scores toward the end. So it was a battle of persuasion. Karl and I ended up goofing around with our gold bits which threw off the game and helped our scores. The game ended after about an hour and a half. This game felt unique because even if we didn't goof around, I was ahead and people didn't gang up on me! :-)

Click here to see how the game end looked.

Carcassonne with river expansion.
Players were Karl, Jimmy, Eric and myself. We all played before.

This was one of those games where nearly all the towns were connected to common farms, and three of us tied for them.

Click here to see how the game end looked.

Entdecker, the original German version
using the Soeding variant.
Players were Karl, Jimmy, Eric, and myself. I was the only one who played before.

This game ended early (after about 45 minutes) when the store closed. We just took a score at the time and Karl came out ahead.

Click here to see how the game left off.

May 2, 2002

Open gaming at Danger Planet. 5-player Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 2-player Volcano, 2,3-player Lunch Money, 2-player Go.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Players were Cindy (as Buffy), Karl (as the evil forces), Rich (as Oz), Eric (as Xander), and myself (as Willow.) Karl, Eric and I were new players.

We played the first scenario in which good must destroy the Master, and evil must destroy Buffy to win. Even though the rules are a bit involved to handle special cases, the gameplay goes fairly quickly per turn. It playes like an unmoderated role-playing game in which each player controls one of the good guys, and one player controls all the evil guys. Basically, each character gets to move, draw a card if on the proper space on the game board, search for an artifact on a proper space, and attack an opponent (which ends the character's turn.) A die roll shows how many evil characters may have a turn during the evil players turn. Phases of the moon give benefits to certain characters: new moon lets evil characters draw two cards instead of one, full moon transforms werewolves, and sunrise damages vampires. Different cards add benefits to the character: research, weapon, and help for good characters, and evil for evil characters. Each player can only have about five cards depending on the character.)

Willow was killed early on because I was aggressively attacking the Master. Unfortunately, once a player is eliminated, there's nothing for him to do. So, I went off and played another game as the original continued. I should have been more conservative or I should have rallied the other players to stand together so that we could all remain in the game together.

Click here to see Karl roll the killing blow.

Good ended up losing the game after an hour and fifteen minutes (not including the 15 minutes to go over the rules.)

Overall, I enjoyed the game and look forward to trying the other scenarios. I think I'd find a two-player game satisfying because one player plays all the good characters, and the other plays all the evil characters, so there's no problem with a character's early elimination. however, it was fun interacting with all the players in a five player game.

Players were Nick and myself. Nick was new to the game.

Nick is another one of those folk who has trouble seeing patterns, and he gave the game a shot. I was really in control of the whole game as a result.

Lunch Money.
Players were Cindy, Nick and myself. Cindy and I were new players.

This is a simple card game with a dark theme of little girls fighting over lunch money at school. The cards have blurred and interestingly framed photos of girls which mixed with the theme make one believe they're actually fighting and teasing.

The cards have different values of attack, and there are cards that cancel the attack. If you don't attack on your turn, you can discard cards and draw back up to five cards. There are additional cards with special abilities but the abilities are printed in the rules rather than on the cards which is very inconvenient.

Overall a good filler game. The first game took about 20 minutes because we kept referring to the rules, but the subsequent game took less time. (Cindy had to leave.)

Players were Karl and myself.

We played the game on a distorted 9x9 board just to be different. Karl missed a critical capture mid-game, and I messed up giving him many pieces on a corner.

After a half hour game, I won by three points.

Click here to see the end game on the funky board. You can make your own funky boards by printing the pdf's from here: The Martian Chessboard Section

May 3, 2002

B20 gaming session. 5-player Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3-player Hack, 3-player Groo, 6-player Carcassonne.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Players were Ralph (playing Oz), Tom (playing Xandar), Kyle (playing Willow), Nancy (playing Buffy) and myself (playing Evil.) I was the only one who played before.

This game was fairly nasty game playing the first scenario. Good players ganged up and killed off two evil characters, though I summoned two more evil characters to replace them. I didn't play aggressively enough, so Buffy didn't get much damage. Eventually, Willow summoned The Master into a room with her and Buffy in such a way that he couldn't escape. They were able to do kill him off at that point.

The game lasted two hours and the forces of good prevailed over evil.

Players were Nancy, Ralph and myself. Ralph played before.

This is a card game in which we each play a character. We draw cards from our own decks and lay out a dungeon that we try to escape from. We find items and throw encounters at other players which can only be defeated by die rolls on different stats. Part of the fun is reading the flavor text for each card.

Ralph ended up escaping the dungeon.

Click here to see how the game looked when Ralph won.

Here's a link for the game:

Players were Nancy, Ralph and myself. Ralph played before.

This was fun for me because I enjoy the artwork of Sergio Argones. Groo is a wanderer that causes trouble. We roll dice to play cards that build towns, hire guards to protect them, and send Groo to destroy the other player's towns. I was frustrated because most of the time the dice rolled in a way that the other players could use them and I couldn't. It was a fun game, though, and I'd play it again.

After 45 minutes, Ralph won.

Click here to see how the game looked. Notice the lack of card in front of me (at the bottom of photo.) :-/

with new expansion
but not the river expansion.
Players were Brian, Alison, Kyle, Nancy, Richard and myself. We all played Carcassonne before, but the new expansion was new to some of us.

We tried to play a speed game by drawing tiles at the start of the game and redrawing right after playinga tile. (The idea is that we'd have time to think about where to play the tile before our turn came up.)

The inns and cathedrals made for some interesting twists because they give players a bonus if they're part of completed tiles, but cause the partials to score nothing at the end of the game.

The excitement in the game came from trying to score or prevent scoring on the towns with cathedrals, because that's what really makes of breaks the score, it seems, at the end of the game (just like the farms did before the expansion.)

Even though we get a new scoreboard with the expansion, it's still not big enough for the high scores we end up with. I missed the river expansion, though. I think I'd like to switch between all the variants at different times when I play Carcassonne.

You can tell who got in on the high scoring cathedral from the final scores. Game lasted about 40 minutes.

Click here to see the end game.

May 6, 2002

Private session. 2-player Foreign Exchange.

Foreign Exchange.
Players were Nancy and myself. I was new to the game.

Nancy picked up this old Avalon Hill game at Scholar's because it has a money theme. Basically, each player divides up all cards with the home offices in many different countries. The players gets to trade these cards. Then, with starting cash, players buy the home offices, and convert the cash to assets on the balance sheet.

The game works with a die roll, moving along a track on the game board. When a token lands on another player's home office, he pays that player an amount that depends on the number of home offices owned in that country. There are spaces in which currency exchange values adjust the value on the player's balance sheet. There is also an additional token that moves along the track, and causes an event when it makes a complete lap. This is the time to purchase more offices in each country, and to hedge cash in order to protect it from potential currency exchange fluctuations.

The game is a practice in accounting, and I learned a little about using foreign exchange to make money. But the game is fairly light for the investment of time it takes, and the amount of accounting (literally) it requires. It's probably better with more people, so that the foreign exchange fluctuations affect more people with an uneven distributions of home offices.

Nancy was on a time schedule, so the game ended after an hour, which was enough time to make the timer counter make a lap around the board. I was in the lead because she kept having to pay me when she landed on my home offices.

Click here to see the game when we left off.

May 9, 2002

Open gaming at Danger Planet. 5-player Web of Power, 5-player Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 5-player Hack, 2,3-player Diceland.

Web of Power.
Players were Rich, Cindy, Matt, Ralph, and myself. Cindy and I never played before.

This game uses a board which is a distorted map of ancient Europe, divided into regions. Each region has a place for a monastery. Monasteries are connected by an asymmetrical network of roads. In this game, each player starts the game with three cards and a set of tokens in one color. Each card has a choice of two regions on the map. A player gets to place two tokens in one region per turn. There is a monasteries token and a councelor token. Instead of placing a token, a player may discard a card to draw another. There is a face-down deck as well as two face-up cards to draw from.

The trick of the game is keeping track of how the tokens can be placed and how scoring works.

A player places a token in the region represented by the cards he plays. Additionally, instead, he may play two cards of the same color to place a token in any region. A region cannot have more councelors than the highest number of monasteries in any one color in that region. A player draws back to three cards at the end of his turn.

There are two scoring rounds. Once when players go through the deck once. The deck is reshuffled and another scoring round occurs when this deck is gone through. For each region, the player with the most monasteries in that region gets to score all the monasteries in that region. The player with the second most monasteries in that region scores the monasteries of the first place player in that region, and so on.

At the end of the second round of scoring, there is a final scoring round. Players score for each two regions with a connection if that player has the most councellors in those regions. That player scores the number of all councelors in the two regions. Players also score each of their monasteries if they are connected to each other in a string of at least four.

I enjoyed this game because it involves some thought, and it didn't last too long to get boring when I started realizing when I made mistakes. It worked great with five players.

Click here to see the end game.

The final scores were probably: (considering people may have counted spaces incorrectly. :-)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Players were Cindy (playing Buffy), Matt (playing the evil characters), Rich (playing Oz), Ralph (playing Xandar), and myself (playing Willow.) Matt was new to the game.

We played the second scenario, which meant the evil characters had to find the Judge's arm and revive the judge to kill all the good characters. Good characters had to destroy the arm or the Judge.

Fortunately, Oz found the arm and passed it on to Xandar before he turned into a werewolf (when he'd lose everything he was carrying.) Evil characters kept dying. Willow researched the spell that would allow her to destroy the arm. Willow and Xandar got together and cast the spell successfully allowing Good to win the game.

Click here to see the game in progress.

Players were Rich (playing the Game Master), Ralph (playing El Ravager), Cindy (playing Thorina), Jason (playing Knuckles), and myself (playing Teflon Billy.) New players were Cindy and Jason.

The first game lasted quickly, because I found the Hand of Vectra, and took it straight to the adjacent Inner Chamber of Vectra and attached it to my bloody stub. So, I won.

The second game was not as quick. We passed our decks to the left to play different characters. Rich left before the game ended, him being on a time restraint. Players could only get two rooms away before getting killed and returning to the starting room. This made the game drag. (I even put an Inner Chamber of Vectra near the entrance to encourage the end of the game!) Eventually, Cindy became powerful enough to resist our attempts to stop her from reacing the exit and winning.

Click here to see the game in progress.

Diceland, by Cheapass Games.
Players were Ralph and myself for the first game. Then players were Jason, Ralph and myself for the second game. (We set up a square playing environment for the second game and played on three sides.) We were all new players to the game.

Note that there are two games out there called "Diceland."

The game is played with five eight-sided dice per player. The game kit comes with five sets of dice to choose from. Each die represents an action character, and has a point value. Each face of a die has different power, block, life and abilities values. During a turn, a player can do one of three things.

Keep playing until a player scores 50 points.

It took a while to get the hang of how to play the game. I felt like there should be more to it, but the length of the rules is deceptive -- going into special conditions. The first game, I kept rolling off the table, so I lost my ability to do well right off the bat.

The second game, we all got the hang of it, and the game lasted a little longer. (Was it because we were using strategy, because we had a third person playing, or because I actually had dice in play?) It was close and tense at the end because it came down to who could get the last bit of damage in.

Click here to see a game in progress.

Overall, it had a quick and fun feel to it. It's almost like a miniatures game with a novel twist for variety.

As an aside, click here to see a completed game of Tri-Color Penrose that I keep talking about.

May 16, 2002

Danger Planet gaming session. 5-player Dragon Delta, 5-player Fabrik der Traume, 5-player Lumberjack, 6-player Star Wars Epic Duels, 3-player Frag: Deadlands.

Dragon Delta.
Players were Cindy, Karl, Adam, Shawn, and myself. We all played for the first time.

This game is played on a board with villages separated by a body of water containing small islands. Players have a limited selection of actions to choose from (printed on cards.) The actions are: lay down a stone, lay down two stones, lay down a plank, lay down two planks, remove a stone or a plank, move pawn once, move pawn twice, hop pawn over another pawn, prevent a player's move. Players choose five cards and lay them face-down in front of them in the order they want to play them. Then, one card at a time, players flip over their card, and play their move in order starting with the first player then proceeding clockwise. After all cards are played, the player to the left of the first player becomes the new first player. The goal of the game is to cross the water by laying stones on islands and laying planks on the stones to get to the village on the opposite side.

This game played fairly quickly. The strategy is straight-forward except for he chaos that I had to contend with as all the other players who intentionally or inadvertently foiled my attempts to get across. I was frustrated because I didn't get off my village the first turn which was a strategic error on my part, and people just .made better progress. I was trying to be clever, thinking I could do something different than everyone else and ramp off their efforts, but that's not effective the first turn because I needed a stone and ramp off my village to get going and no one would do that for me. We were focused on preventing Adam from getting one move to his destination. Karl snuck by us and won after 35 minutes of play.

Players were Cindy, Karl, Adam, Shawn, and myself. Adam played this before.

This is a game played with small colored, stunted logs. The logs are randomly stacked as a tower with a hexogonal circumference. Each player then removes a log and places it in front of himself.

We played the pyramid variant, in which each player builds a triangle in front of himself, with a base length of five. The goal is to get as many logs with the same color touching. Scoring is double the number of blocks with the same color touching, then adding those scores together.

The game lasted 15 minutes, and is a light filler.

Fabrik der Traume.
Players were Cindy, Karl, Adam, Shawn, and myself.

In this game, players try to score points by making movies. Players go through many bidding phases to get valuable directors, actors, cinematographers, special effects, and agents. Payment for them go to a pot that is divided up by the players who didn't get them. Points are scored for completing movies.

I like trying new games, so this was interesting. Bidding games, though, are not very compelling, so I can't say I like this. It would make a good filler if it lasted one round, instead of four rounds.

Star Wars Epic Duels.
Players were Cindy (as Anakin Skywalker and Princess Amadala), Karl (as Boba Fett and Greedo), Adam (as Han Solo and Chewbacca), Nancy (as Count Dooku and droids), Shawn (as the Emperor and guards), and myself (as Luke Sywalker and Princess Leia.) We all played for the first time.

We played as three players on the side of good, and three players on the side of evil. Princess Leia started off by destroying the Emperor's guards, leaving herself open as a target for the forces of evil. She was eliminated next by the Emperor's forceful attacks. Luke went around to attack Count Dooku, and became the next target. When Luke went down, I was eliminated from the game, so I went off to play a game of Frag.

When I checked in, it looked like a stand-off between the Emperor and Chewbacca and Anakin. At about two hours of play, evil finally won.

I found the pacing of the game fun. The game had surprises in the form of power combat cards and special cards, but not in the sense that anyone can get overwhelmed before the game ended. Surprises came in short spurts, with a lot of maneuvering and skirmishes along the way.

Frag, Deadlands.
Players were Jason (playing Black Duster), (the other) Adam (playing Mad Scientist), and myself (playing Saloon Gal.)

In this game, players go around on a map board grid representing an Old West town picking up gadgets and weapons, and shooting other players. gadgets are good for offense and defense.

After an hour, Adam won.

It feels like this expansion weighed down a good game with things that drag out the game. It was fun pulling surprises that increased damage unexpectedly, but frustrating to have a lot of damage foiled. Plus, there are cards that unbalance the game so that it becomes obvious who has and will keep the upper hand.

Also, with the map being as big as it was, we needed more players for the game to be engaging. A smaller board would've been more fun.

May 18-19, 2002

Visited my best buddy, Paul, and engaged in some gaming and a viewing of Attack of the Clones (if only to figure out who the new characters are in the Epic Duels board game! :-)

May 18, 2002

Private session. 2-player Star Wars Epic Duels, 2-player Acquire.

Star Wars Epic Duels.
Players were Paul and myself. Paul was a new player.

Played many games. I'll just list the playing time, setting, characters played, and the scores. If there's anything interesting to say about a particular game, I'll mention that before the scores.

Ten minutes. Carbon Freezing Chamber. Vitas (playing Yoda & Clone Troopers) won. Paul (playing Darth Vader & Stormtroopers) lost.

25 minutes. Emperor's Throne Room. Vitas (playing Obi-Wan Kenobi & clone troopers) won. Paul (playing Emperor Palpatine & royal guards) lost.

Ten minutes. Geonosis Arena. Vitas (playing Jengo Fett & Zam Wessel) won. Paul (playing Luke Skywalker & Princess Leia) lost.

Two minutes. Kamino Platform. Chewbacca, being a minor character, has a surprising amount of punch with his crossbow. Vitas (playing Darth Maul & battle droids) won. Paul (playing Han Solo & Chewbacca) lost.

15 minutes. Kamino Platform. Yoda pulled his Force Lift to knock down Zam, then Dooku. Dooku recovered quickly. Eventually, Zam recovered as well. Droids are underpowered as minor characters, I think. Vitas (playing Count Dooku & super battle droids, and Jengo Fett & Zam Wessel) won. Paul (playing Yoda & clone troopers, and Mace & clone troopers) lost.

Star Wars Epic Duels link:

Players were Paul and myself. We both played before. We played the 100-50-25% variant.

Paul started off getting three corporations going before I even got one. I think this game was the luck of the draw, with me ending up with many tiles that could only benefit Paul mid-game. The game lasted an hour and fifteen minutes.

May 19, 2002

Private session. 2-player Stephenson's Rocket, 2-player Magic: the Gathering, 2-player Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.

Stephenson's Rocket.
Players were Paul and myself. Paul was a new player.

After I whined about luck being a factor in our Acquire game, I wanted to try this game being like Acquire but pure strategy. He trampled me and I had no excuse except that I should've done my merges a lot sooner. The game lasted an hour.

Magic: the Gathering.
Players were Paul and myself.

I wanted to try out my new Red & Blue deck made up only of Invasion, Planeshift, and Apocalypse commons that a friend gave me. After all, I haven't collected Magic cards since Ice Age. Paul disassembled all his decks in preparation of making new ones, so I gave him my Decaying Death deck. My Red & Blue deck was very effective. It makes me rethink whether I need power cards in a deck at all. The game lasted 18 minutes.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.
Also, Paul and I got in a game of AD&D, but I'm not going to get into that here.

May 21, 2002

Online session. 2-player Acquire.

I found an online version of Acquire here. I played a game against a strong player, and got beaten severely. My score was 55,000. My opponent, "Peter Parker," logged off so quickly, I didn't see the final score, but it was easily double what I had. Ouch!

May 23, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 4-player Dragon's Gold, 5-player Web of Power, 4-player Star Wars Epic Duels, 3-player Diceland, 4-player Carcassonne.

Dragon's Gold.
Players were Cindy, Rich, Vitas and Adam/Ralph. We were all new players.

In Dragon's Gold, each player has three characters: Two knights with a strength of 4 and 3, a thief with a strength of 2, and a wizard with a strength of 1. There are four dragons revealed. Each with a toughness between five through eleven, and various amount of colored treasure known and hidden. Each turn, a player adds a character to fight a dragon until there is enough characters with a strength total matching or exceeding the dragon's toughness. At that point, the dragon is defeated, the hidden treasure revealed and the treasure is divided among the players participating in that battle. There is a minute time limit to divide the treasure, else all the treasure is forfeited. Additionally, a single wizard will automatically get all the red treasure, a thief will steal a random treasure from a character participating in the battle, and a wizard & thief combination will steal a specific treasure from a participating character. Certain colored treasure are worth points, and other colors are worth points only to the player who collected the most of that color.

The game ends when the last available treasure is collected. (The rules say the game ends when all the dragons are slain after all the treasure has been placedr. However, we ended up with two dragons with hidden treasure in the end, and since there were no treasure left to fulfill the hidden treasure for those dragons. We decided it'd be silly to continue to attack the dragons to fulfill that part of the game rules.) The player with the most points wins.

Also, there are advanced rules that add spells to the game, and change the way treasure scores.

This game seemed to flow fairly quickly and was fun for it. The artwork is very engaging and suitable, which made the game more pleasing. Division of treasure was extremely civil, which may owe to the fact that everyone was new to the game and (except for Cindy) didn't grasp the weight of collecting specific colors. I grabbed the only black treasure early in the game before players realized it was worth a lot of points, but it didn't help against Cindy who collected the most colored treasures of nearly all the colors. I thought I had an impressive stash while I was playing though :-)

The game lasted about an hour. Click here to see the game in progress.

Dragon's Gold links:

Web of Power.
Players were Tim, Ralph, Rich, Cindy and myself. Tim didn't play before.

Tim thought this game went surprisingly fast. I think this is the general reaction for the game which seems like it should be longer for its complexity. I didn't do well with the cards I drew because I didn't get matching pairs nor the chance to use many wild cards, so I ended up placing one token per turn when I needed to place two. Also, I tried to place advisors instead of monastaries early in the game, which was a disadvantage for the first round of scoring.

Tim was able to make an impressively long chain of monastaries.

The game lasted about an hour and 25 minutes. Click here to see the game in progress.

Star Wars Epic Duels.
Players were Rich (playing Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amadala), (the other) Adam (playing Boba Fett and Greedo), Cindy (playing Han Solo and Chewbacca) and myself (playing Jengo Fett and Zam Wessel.) Rich and Adam were new to the game.

Zam was the first casualty at Amadala's. Chewbacca's bowcaster was especially impressive at finishing off Greedo. Jengo kept after Chewbacca because I was afraid of Chewie's bowcaster. Boba kept after Anakin in order to finish off a main character. In the end, the forces of evil collapsed, and good suffered no fatalities.

The game lasted about 25 minutes.

Diceland, by Cheapass Games.
Players were Rich, Cindy, and myself. Rich and Cindy were new players.

This time, we played the rules properly, and fired weapons after throwing dice. This led to more dice being thrown during the game. Rich had to leave early. I ended up dropping all my dice on the floor which ended the game early. Game lasted about a half-hour.

Carcassonne with river expansion
and the new expansion.
players were Ralph, Demitri, Tim, and myself. We all played various versions of the game before.

Ralph and Tim were counting on a supercity that was building up. Demitri and I kept foiling the city by placing the cathedral and hard city pieces there. I put my bets on farms, but the fields ended up not favoring me. Ralph seemed to be placing his meeples in all the right places.

Interesting that this English edition had 50 point tiles (100 pts printed on the back) to help keep score on the undersized scoreboard. This is unlike the German edition which has a bigger (up to 70 points instead of 50) board which is still undersized.

The game ended after about an hour. Click here to see the end game.

May 24, 2002

Private session. 3-player Cranium Kid's Cadoo.

Cranium Kid's Cadoo.
I played this with my dear friend and her nine year-old daughter. I gave this game to her as a Christmas gift, and she pulls it out enthusiastically for us to play. I like it because it fosters creativity. In this game, a player rolls a die to determine what kind of card to play. There are solo cards which contain puzzles, and miniature scavenger hunts. There are combo cards which contain challenges of charades, drawing pictures and sculpting. Scoring is done on a 4x4 board, but that's mainly to let players know when to stop, because all the fun is in the actual playing of the game. The game lastest 30 minutes.

Click here to see the end game. (The low light gave everthing an orange tinge.)

May 25, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 2-player Star Wars The Queen's Gambit, 5-player Frag.

Star Wars The Queen's Gambit.
Players were Karl (playing the Federation forces) and myself (playing the Naboo forces.) Karl played for the first time.

This seemed like the quickest game I've played of The Queen's Gambit, even though it was a two and a half hour session (including time to go over the rules.)

Anakin cleared one space, so he wasn't close to the droid control ship at all. The planetside battle was close to over with an overwhelming Federation victory. The Federation forces wiped out the majority of the Naboo forces in the palace, even before Darth Maul emerged from his battle with the Jedi.

Click here to see the game in progress (but very close to the end.)

In the end Karl won.

Players were Jason, (another) Jason, Karl, Chris and myself.

I had to leave early after a half-hour of play. By that time, Jason got one frag.

Still seems like there's too much downtown for what happens.

Perhaps a decent variant would be to exchange gunfire until one player passes, which means the encounter is broken off. Also, players have to pick up ammo for their weapons, instead of the weapons coming fully loaded. Ammo tokens could be picked up instead of gadgets. For a fast game, any ammo could be used in any weapon. For a more thoughtful game, a deck of ammo specific for weapons can be used. Ammo is drawn from a face-up deck. There would be enough ammo to fill every ammo space of every weapon in play -- no more, no less. Ammo tokens/cards load the appropriate weapon automatically, but count against a ammo hand-size limit if unloaded. (You might not want to load a weapon automatically, to keep your weapons a surprise until used.)

May 30, 2002

Open gaming at Danger Planet. 4-player Siesta, 3-player Big Cheese, 4-player Diceland, 3-player Agora.

There were two games of Siesta. Players for the first game were Tom, Cindy, Karl, and myself. Tom and Cindy played for the first time. Players for the second game were Cindy, Nancy, Karl, and myself.

The first game was pretty close. The familiar diagonal of suns surrounding rooftops and shadows developed. Tom decided to break out of this pattern and defy strategy by placing his pieces outside this corridor at one point. He paid the price for his creativity. :-) Game lasted about 18 minutes.

The second game, somehow Karl placed some clever moves and kept the lead. Cindy had to leave just before Karl decided to end the game while he was ahead.

The Big Cheese.
Players were Cindy, Karl and myself. We were all new players.

In this game, we start with twenty flunkies (tokens.) We bid them on projects that come up (in the form of cards.) If a player outbids the other players, the player gets the project and puts all the flunkies he bid onto it. Then all players remove a flunky off their projects (except for the one that was just won.) When the last flunky is removed off a project, the player rolls the die indicated on the project, and adds that number to his score. First player to score 40 points wins. There are also Big Cheese cards which lets a player re-roll, and Veto cards which remove a project from bidding.

This game was very engaging, though it seemed longer than it should have been at 25 minutes for its low level of mental activity. Because of the randomness of the die rolls, strategy was low -- try harder to get high-rolling projects, and let the low-rolling projects go unless you don't have any projects going. Then again, I think Cindy was actively calculating the cost-benefit of each project.

Players were Karl and Nancy on one team, and Cindy and myself on the other team. Nancy and Karl played for the first time.

I thought this would be a simple team effort with players alternating turns. However, people on each team had intense discussions about what the best move would be each turn before taking it. I found this aspect entertaining. Each team took one side of the table to throw from. Even though Cindy and I lost two dice from play, we ended up winning in just under an hour. This was because we had nice world effects or abilities going most of the time: confuse and protection.

Players were Nancy, Karl and myself. We all played before.

This felt like it was off to a bad start for me because on my first turn, being the last person to play, I drew a festival which gave everyone an extra income before I even got started! I had hope soon after as a fire threatened to burn down shops Karl and Nancy were in, but there was a tie for biggest shop so no fire developed. Later in the game, though, a fire burned down shops that Karl and Nancy were occupying, which evened the playing field at last. In the end, a final festival pushed Nancy's score to the win.

After about 40 minutes, the score was:

June 1, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 5-player Chez Dork, 5-player Drakon, 3-player Formula De.

Chez Dork.
Players were Karl (playing Matt), Chris (playing Igor), Adam (playing Ken), Nancy (playing Carson), and myself (playing Bill.)

Adam started off with a bang playing two cards that gave him extra cash. Then he bided his time, silently playing stuff until he won. In the meantime, we all picked on each other not really noticing Adam's potential. I just had bad draws -- not enough stuff.

Click here to see my view of the other players playing the game.

Players were Karl, Chris, Adam, Nancy, and myself. Karl played before.

I was looking forward to playing this game because I like the idea of a dungeon exploration board game. In this game, a player has a hand of five tiles and has a character on a starting tile. During his turn, the player either places a tile adjacent to an existing tile, making sure that arrows don't point toward each other, or moves his character. Some tiles have a special ability printed on them.

I was disappointed that there's a strategy that shortcuts the fun of the game. By placing a room with a key next to a room with a gold pointing toward the key room, a player can just go back and forth to quickly get the five gold needed to win. (A teleporter room works as well as a key room. In our case, Karl and Nancy picked up on this and the rest of us had to work together to keep them from benefiting from that arrangement, but we didn't have a decent setup to effectively foil both of them, and prevent Chris from getting to the teleporter which would get him his fifth gold. Game lasted about 50 minutes.

Click here to see the end game.

Formula De.
Players were Karl, Nancy, and myself. Karl played before.

We played a basic two lap race on the Nederland Zandvoort track, which has a nice straight-way and easy turns.

Basically, a player chooses a valid gear, and rolls the appropriate dice (not numbered normally, but with an appropriate range of numbers for the given gear) and moves that number of spaces on the track. The track is huge. Then, taking turns, players must stop the appropriate number of times on them, or bad things happen.

Nancy started conservatively, and paid the price, never catching up to Karl and me. I pulled out ahead in sixth gear at one point, and felt confident I'd win, but I had to slow down for a couple turns or risk blowing out. Karl, didn't have to shift down to take the turns and ended up with good rolls, which meant he sped past me for the win.

Click here to see Karl cross the finish line.

June 2, 2002

Private session. 2-player Red Dwarf The Card Game.

Red Dwarf The Card Game.
Players were Nancy and myself. We both played for the first time.

I found this game on the Net. Being Red Dwarf fans, Nancy and I decided to try it. I printed the cards to regular paper, and cut them out. I used Ultra-Pro Deck Protectors to hold the cards. This proved awkward to shuffle because it didn't have the right stiffness. Also, the cards print small, so it took up a small portion of space in the deck protector sleeve. I may tray laminating the cards instead to see if that gives me better results.

Basically, players draw from a face-down deck of tasks, travel cards, and re-cyc cards, or from a common face-up area of episode cards and a Holly card. Then players play a card. Re-cyc cards are played anytime and replaced immediately, so players always have seven cards (or eight at the star of their turns) in hand. Players give characters tasks to perform. Players then play travel cards to execute a task and score the points on the task. There are additional cards that either benefit the player or hinder the opponent.

The game itself is simple but engaging. I thought the game would be a straightforward screw-the-opponent game, but the deck is large enough that a player may not have the right cards at the right time. Part of the fun is seeing the screenshots from the show and recalling the episode.

After an hour of play (including going over the rules) I won.

Red Dwarf The Card Game link:

As an aside, I was working on a 3-D, glowing Ice house Volcano board. While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I tried out the Magic: the Gathering Online game. Magic: the Gathering is my favorite card game, but I fell out of it when I moved from Rochester in '97 and lost contact with my gaming group. It's in beta test right now, and will go live on June 24. But for the beta, players can pretend to buy decks and boosters (these virtual cards will cost real money when the game goes live) and play games of Magic with people from all around the country and the world. The computer makes sure the rules are strictly adhered to, and makes sure only the cards owned by the player are played.

I'm not going to keep track of these sessions, because of its addictive nature. I tend to play game after game just trying different tactics and decks. The fun here is that I can find other skillful players at any time, which makes this the best online game I've ever played.

Magic: the Gathering Online links:

June 6, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 4-player Conquest. 5-player Formula De.

Players were Nancy, Cindy, Karl and myself. We all player for the first time.

Conquest is a pure strategy game. There are different tokens with different movement rates and abilities. A soldier moves two spaces and captures any piece but the elephant. Elephants can hold up to two soldiers and move six spaces. A knight can move up to six spaces and move through friendly pieces. A chariot can hold a elephant and move six spaces. Shups move six spaces over water and can hold another piece, as can a galleon which moves eight spaces over water. Except for the soldier, any piece can capture any other piece. Securing certain positions on the map serve to restrict opponent's movements. Each player has a twenty moves to distribute over the pieces. Players are not allowed to discuss strategy during the game. (That last rule is a real bummer, and made me more interested in the nearby game of Star Wars The Queen's Gambit.)

We played a game of two teams of two: Cindy and myself against Nancy and Karl. Karl made a run for the center island, which would restrict our movements. Cindy and I quickly overpowered Karl and dominated the island, causing Nancy and Karl to concede. The game ended after two hours, with Cindy and myself victorious.

Click here to see the other players. Click here to see the game board.

Conquest links:

Formula De.
Players were Nancy, Cindy, Karl, Ralph and myself. Cindy played for the first time.

This time we played a two-lap race on the track: South Africa Kyalani Circuit.

I ended up crashing my car before the first lap, making a bad judgment around a corner. Cindy left early so I took over her car. Karl stayed in the lead but pushed himself around the same corner after the first lap where he ended up crashing.

I played Cindy's car more conservatively, having run out of leeway, so I couldn't catch up to Ralph who maintained a decent lead. Nancy played conservatively the whole time and ended up last place, when the game ended after an hour.

As an aside, Rich bought Star Wars The Queen's Gambit and tried out a four-player game at the next table. It was a rip-roaring good time from all the enthusiasm I could hear. Next to us was also a game of Puerto Rico, which was more contemplative, but not as much as Conquest was.

June 7, 2002

B20 open gaming. 4-player Goldland, 5-player Fruit Fight, 2-player Looney Tunes, 2-player Grave Robbers from Outer Space, 12-player Werewolf.

Players were Richard, Ralph, Greg and myself. Richard played before.

This is a tile-laying game. Players start with some supplies which they can use to get additional supplies. These supplies will be needed to complete adventures. The more a player carries, the less he can move. The goal is to get to the temple and remove its riches. Additional points are scored for setting up camps at the most of each type of adventure. During a player's turn, he can move, get more supplies and explore an adjacent area.

I very much enjoyed this game because it has a good sense of exploration. Greg ended up on the wrong end of the board, though he was diligently collecting treasures at adventures. The rest of us headed for the temple. I was doing well setting up camp, but Greg was able to get ahead of me. I got stuck in the temple, not having enough supplies to leave.

The game ended after about an hour.

Click here to see the other players. Click here to see the end game.

Fruit Fight.
Players were Craig, Max, David, Ralph and myself. David played before.

This is a prototype game. It is about picking and planting fruit: apples, plums, pears and cherries. Players have a set of cards which are placed face down in the order to be played. The person with the most apples gets an extra picker. The player with the most cherries gets to choose what order he'll get his turn. (Turn order is determined randomly at the beginning of each round.) The player with the most plums send the raven to eat half of the available fruit, plus one of the same fruit from one of the players. The player with the most apples gets the scheduler which is used to decide what order to play his cards during his turn (rather than pre-setting the order ahead of time.) When a player has ten fruit, he buys a score card from a stack with sequentially decreasing scores.

I was ahead, with an extra picker and a scheduler, until I had to buy a score card with my fruit. Then I couldn't get enough fruit to stay ahead. Being last, it seems like I had no luck picking fruit that was still available. If I had better luck and picked fruit that was actually there, I could've been in second place. Overall, this is an interesting game, but it takes longer than it feels like it should, at about an hour and forty-five minutes.

Looney Tunes.
Players were Ralph and myself. We were both new players.

This is a simple two-player card game. There are four scenes with a score value and a character value. Players have to play characters with character values to steal a scene, coming as close to the required value without going over. Additional special effects can be played to add extra twists to the game.

This is a quick game, at twenty minutes. I like it because of the Loony Tunes artwork, but it's really meant for gamers new to the collectible card game scene.

Grave Robbers From Outer Space.
Players were Ralph and myself. I was new to the game.

Ralph brought this game out because Looney Tunes reminded him of this game. Players set up characters for movies, and opponents try to send creatures to ruin the movie.

This game lasted fifteen minutes. Ralph thought it's dumb luck that the card games we play tend to have the game finishing card towards the beginning. I enjoyed the silly theme. (Just like Beer, Abduction and Hack.)


It's fun when people get into character. It throws off figuring out who's playing what. This time, one werewolf was eliminated early. We also lost our seer early on. Brian kept aggressively accusing everyone, and I finally decided to be suspicious of him. But when it came down to three of us, I was accused of being a werewolf. The werewolves won.

Click here to get a different take of the session.

June 13, 2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 5-player Geeks, 3-player Cube Farm, 4-player Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3-player Web of Power, 4-player Chrononauts.

Geeks: the Convention.
Players were Tom, Jason, Cindy, Rich and myself. We were all new players.

This is a card game which basically parodies Magic: the Gathering, game conventions, and the games played. The premise is, there are all these geeks at a convention. Each player has an entourage of six geeks. They want to eliminate the geeks from the other players. This is done by playing cards that target a specific opponent, or all opponents, or (double the damage) both, or return a geek to play. These effects are played in the form of blue Game cards, light gray Geek Break cards, and red Uh-Oh cards. Players can counter these ill effects to themselves (and perhaps turn the table) by playing the specified card.

The fun of this game is the delightful artwork, and the word-play on various existing games. The play itself went slowly, perhaps because it's our first time. I think it's more that we had to cross-reference the rules to match words with icons. (Why not pick one or the other and be consistent?) And because the card text required a few rereadings to figure out ambiguities, of the type: do the rules in one paragraph apply to the other under the certain condition? Does "you" mean me or my opponents?

Cindy won after an hour and fifteen minutes of play.

Geeks links:

Cube Farm.
Players were Chris, Rich, and myself. We all played for the first time.

We played a quick round of this game. Essentially, players lay down ties representing floor space in an office complex. Cubes are occupied such that they have access to the elevator and too good stuff, like photo copiers and coffee machines.

One round took 20 minutes, and we should normally play one round per player. I forgot to score the actual cubes, but only scored the bonuses.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Players were Rich (as evil), Chris (as Oz), Cindy (as Xandar and Willow) and myself (as Buffy.) Chris played for the first time.

We played scenario two, preventing The Judge from obtaining the arm artifact. Cindy ended up finding the needed artifact and found the spell to destroy it in 20 minutes, letting good win. Being an unsatisfyingly short and quick game, we tried again.

The second game lasted about an hour. Buffy gets the artifact. The Mayor was able to sire her, then Willow. Good luck prevailed in that good was able to destroy the artifact in Buffy's possession. Good won.

Web of Power.
Players were Chris, Rich and myself. Chris played for the first time.

I'm warming up to this game the more I play it, though the strategy eludes me. This game lasted a half-hour.

Players were Chris, Rich, Kevin and myself for the first game. Players were Rich, Kevin, Sara, and Vitas for the second game.

First game lasted about 45 minutes. Second game was cut short because the store was closing.

Chrononauts link:

As an aside, a gaming celebrity dropped by: Josh Rachlin, who wrote the Mason ID in Chrononauts Lost Identities expansion. This is right up there with Scott Kimball who created Honor of the Samurai and is one of the owners of Danger Planet.

June 27,2002

Danger Planet open gaming. 5-player Mag Blast, 4-player Java.

Mag Blast.
Players were Chris, Nancy, Julianne, Karl, and myself. Karl played before.

This is a card game in which players begin with a captain of a starship with a special skill. His ship is protected by four additional ships, one on each side. Each ship has certain types of weapons. During a player's turn, he fires weapons on from ships on one side to attack other player's turn, he fires weapons on from ships on one side to attack other player's ships on the same side, call reinforcements, repair damage, or generally screw with the other players.

We played with house rules which strengthed one card and weakened another for the sake of game balance. We strengthened the captain who can choose one from the next two reinforcements, to be able to do that anytime he draws a reinforcement. We weakened the captain who can take three cards from any player any time three times during the game, to be able to use this ability on any one player only once.

I found this game fun, but it's an elimination game, so when I was the first to be eliminated, I sat out for a long time (playing a sample game of Brawl while I was waiting.)

I started by attacking Julianne, who had some aggressive words to say. My captain's ship was destroyed first by Juliane. Karl kept getting surrounded by minefields and asteroids which kept him from both attacking and being attacked. Julianne's captain was the second destroyed by Chris who took advantage of the damage I did. Once Karl's defenses came down, Chris destroyed his captain. Nancy, all this time, collected fighters which kept attacking Chris at a devastating rate, finally destroying him.

In the end, Nancy won after about an hour and ten minutes of play.

Players were Chris, Ralph, Demitry, and myself. I played before.

Chris wanted to try out his Christmas gift. Since I was the only one who played before, and I'm excellent at explaining rules, I did so. It's important to emphasize how to get points, to explain when rank matters, to explain what kicks off final scoring, to explain scoring during final scoring (because half a player's points could come from that), in addition to going over the items covered on the reference card. All else can be explained during the game because it isn't going to frustrate players not know that stuff, and to keep people from burning out on all the rules.

In previous games, we played with developers allowed to go through palaces. But the rules say this shouldn't happen, so we played with that rule. I didn't notice a big difference with this rule enacted.

This turned out to be a typically intense game, magnified at the end because everyone understood the importance of final scoring. Ralph was behind at the start, as everyone learned the wonders of reservoirs.

I noticed, for once, that reservoirs were put in the game to break up the game board and make it harder to place the three-hex tiles later in the game, when it becomes increasingly important to raise developers' ranks.

Chris, Demitry and I stayed fairly close in score through the game.

In the end, Chris lost ground because he couldn't pull off any good tricks for final scoring. Same with Demitry. When Chris kicked off final scoring, I was the last one able to participate. Even though I positioned myself well, I didn't save any personal tiles and action tokens which could've helped eek out a few more points.

Overall, this game was as satisfying as previous games. (Though, I must admit, there was a lot more laughing at the next table where they were playing Munchkin and Junta, or Vinci. Java makes for a very serious session.)

Ralph won, to even his own surprise, after two hours of play.

As an aside, the day before, I finally presented my new board game to my dear friend's daughter. I designed a board game for her so that she would have something fun, educational and personalized. She had dubbed it "Max-Ax" (a play on the words "math facts") after hearing the rules: Roll three dice; add, subtract, multiply and/or divide them together to make a new number; place a token on that number, a path of five tokens wins. I was inspired to make a beautiful design based on the hexagon. I'll write up the steps to make the board on my web page later on. This link shows the rough artwork for it. This link shows the final artwork.

July 6, 2002

Private session. 2-player Crokinole.

Players were Paul and myself. Paul played for the first time.

Paul wanted to try out the Crokinole board, seeing it hanging on my wall. We played two games so he could get a feel for it.

July 7, 2002

Private session. 2-player Deluxe Illuminati, 2-player Zombies.

Deluxe Illuminati.
Players were Paul and myself. We both played before.

We played three games of Deluxe Illuminati.

The first game, Paul played Society of Assassins, and I played Discordian Society. I was able to screw with his power structure early on... especially with a card that caused him to lose his turn (Senate Investigating Comittee.) My power base was bulding fast while his was floundering, so Paul conceded. This game lasted about a half-hour.

The second game, Paul played Bavarian Illuminati, and I played Servants of Cthulhu. With the Bavarians, Paul was able to accumulate money fast. Then with the Federal Reserve, he was able to shift money around where he needed it. It's amazing how a small difference in money can decide a game. Paul destroyed my power structure. This game lasted about an hour.

The third game, Paul played Bermuda Triangle, and I played UFO's with the secret goal to destroy eight groups. I tried to build up a power structure that would be effective in attacks, but we had enough groups in play with multiple alignments so that Paul was able to collect all he needed. Especially helpful was the Orbital Mind Control Lasers which helped him win ever sooner by completing his goal. This game lasted about an hour.

Click here to see the end-game.

Players were Paul and myself. We played for the first time (if you don't count the partial filler game I played before.) We played with the Quick Play Rules.

With the quick start rules, there's no starting back at the beginning; players lose zombies instead. Movement is based on the higher of the die roll or life tokens. Otherwise, we're fighting through streets full of zombies to get our quota or to get to the helipad.

We had only two spots where the map could expand when the helipad was found. At that point it was a mad dash to the helipad. Paul was so low on life that he needed to make it to the town square before heading to the helipad. (The way the streets were laid out, he didn't have a choice anyway. Since I was closer and had good movement rolls, I plowed through the zombies and reached the helipad for a win, after an hour of play.

Click here to see the end-game.

I like the quick start rules because it's true to the zombie horror theme (no matter how damaged and tired you are, you have to keep going or the zombies will get you.) Also, it does seem to play quicker. The partial game I played seemed like it would drag on, especially with the many long dead-end streets.

I see that Danger Planet had a tournament with a new expansion, and the bag o' glow-in-the-dark zombies as prizes. I'm looking forward to the extra goodies.

As an aside, my friend Paul, and my dear friend's nine year-old daughter played a couple games of Max-Ax, a couple games of Cranium Kid's Cadoo and a couple games of Chaos Tiles. Max-Ax is a game of my own design, and my friend's daughter appreciates having helped in the design. Games are fairly quick, and encourages learning math. Paul won one game and my friend's daughter won the other. Cadoo is a game that encourages creativity. My friend's daughter stacked the combo deck so that we'd always get to sculpt things and guess what they are. These games go quickly, and she is always up for more when the game is over -- doesn't matter who won or lost. She won one game and I won the other. Chaos Tiles takes a grueling amount of time with the basic rules, though it's fun to see the patterns emerge. We gave up playing each game before finishing. I think the game would be more fun without the free moves allowed in the rules -- at least, it won't take as long per turn which would make it fun.

Here are images of each game.

Also, Paul and I got in a game of AD&D, but I'm not going to get into that here.

July 14, 2002

Private session. 3-player Icehouse Volcano.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Jackie, Erika, and myself. Jackie and Erika were new players.

They both needed some guidance, because they're not into puzzle games like this. I could've won sooner, but they wanted to let the game go on so that they could have a chance to get more points. The game ended after about 45 minutes.

Click here to see the other players posing with the end-game.

July 17, 2002

Private session. 2-player Tri-Color Penrose, 2-player Tri-Color Penrose Diamonds, 2-player Lord of the Rings The Search.

Tri-Color Penrose.
Players were Nancy and myself.

Nancy is continuously refining the rules for her game. Now the first player starts an island. Players get three additional islands to start during the game.

Nancy recognizes a lot of patterns that I don't because she plays the game so much, and recognizes good moves and bad moves better than I do. (She's been practicing with Karl who sees the patterns even better. :-) Even a bit of patch play didn't save me from a blunder early on that just gave away a large number of forced moves. Game lasted an hour.

Click here to see the end-game.

Tri-color Penrose Diamonds.
Players were Nancy and myself. I played for the first time.

Nancy bought a set of Penrose diamonds to see if the rules worked with those pieces as well as the kites and darts we've been using.

This is new to me, so I missed some patterns/plays and Nancy took advantage of them. This time, the game was quicker and the score closer. Game lasted about 25 minutes.

Click here to see the end-game.

Lord of the Rings: The Search.
Players were Nancy and myself. We both played for the first time.

In this 2-player game, players lay tiles representing Middle Earth, and move their hobbits (Frodo or Sam) to find help, fight enemies, find Mt. Doom, and eventually get to Mt. Doom hopefully with the ring and Gollum.

We missed some rules, like needing a boat to go into the water regions, and placing encounters in two-tile regions only. It was a fairly straightforward game, that's quick to play and didn't take too much thought.

We spent about 12 minutes going over the rules. It could be organized better. We spent an hour playing the game. Though, I can see it'll take less time once we're confident with the rules.

It did bother Nancy that we opposed each other in order to find the ring and reach Mt. Doom. That little details takes a lot away from the theme.

I can see that the game would be more interesting if, as one comment on puts it, all tokens were played face-down, and are not revealed when picked up (except for the ring.) The ring must be found before ending the game. Score +5 for finding the ring, and +5 more for getting the ring to Mt. Doom.

Click here to see the end-game.

July 18, 2002

Danger Planet gaming session. 4-player Zombies, 6-player Star Wars Epic Duels, 3-player Formula De.

Players were Karl, Julia, Matt and myself. I'm the only one who played before. We played with the Quick Play Rules.

This game felt like it went a lot slower with four people instead of two. We actually ran out of Zombies and had to resort to tokens for Zombies. (Looking forward to the Bag o' Zombies.)

Matt was distracted between his turns, but was close to winning until I played a "Where Did Everybody Go" card which moved his character away from the helipad. Julia was at the wrong end of the board when the helipad was placed. (I should explain that it's best to be in an area that still has open-ended roads when I explain the rules. This always turns out to be a disappointing aspect of the game.)

Karl made it to the helipad after about an hour and 13 minutes.

Click here to see the end-game.

Jason actually had the expansion from GenCon, so he mixed in the cards without adding the tiles. They do add to the fun. The cards in the expansion are actually a little bigger, so you can find them easier to remove when you don't want to play with the expansion. (The tiles seem to have a darker hue, so you can find them that way.) I wish they were more clearly marked as part of the expansion, but maybe I'd modify the Quick Play rules to reduce the number of tiles to a specific number depending on the number of players, to make sure the game doesn't drag.

To make the game go faster, I would reduce the number of Zombies needed to win, and the number of tiles to draw from. These numbers would be related to the number of players. Ideally, I'd like a game to last 30-45 minutes, otherwise, it'll feel like the game is dragging.

Even though the game was decided by who made it to the helipad, I'll record the number of Zombies each player had so that I'll be able to better tune the number of Zombies needed to win.

Star Wars Epic Duels.
Players were Karl (playing Luke Skywalker & Princess Leia), Matt (playing Darth Maul & droids), Julia (playing Yoda & troopers), Andrew (playing Boba Fett & Greedo), Cindy (playing Han Solo & Chewbacca), and myself (playing Jengo Fett & Zam.) Julia, Matt and Andrew played for the first time. We played the Carbon Freezing Chamber.

Well, Jengo and Greedo were the first out of the game. I think Andrew threw the game because his heart wasn't into the game and he quickly booked when his characters died. I lost Boba Fett, and lacked any cards for Zam. Next, people ganged up on Darth Maul with some devastating attacks. In the end, the light side of the force won after about an hour of play.

Click here to see the board after Boba Fett and Greedo's demise.

Formula De.
Players were Karl, Julia and myself. Julia played for the first time. Karl spent about 10 minutes explaining the rules. We played a two-lap race on the Silverstone track. This track doesn't allow players get to sixth gear.

I was in the lead the first lap and a half, but I used up all my gas, brake and tire points because I had to handle a three-stop curve when I thought it was a two-stop curve (ooops), so I had to play conservatively after that. Karl and Julia were generally even, rolling for collisions almost every turn. At this point, Karl pulled ahead for the win. Julia passed me once right before I crossed the finish line. Game lasted about an hour.

Click here to see Karl gleefully playing the game. (Sorry, I didn't get a good picture of the board.)

By the way, Danger Planet is having a Formula De tournament the next five Saturdays. I won't be able to make it, but it's gonna be a fun one.

July 20, 2002

Unity Games IV event. 2-player Crokinole, 3-player Java, 2-player Icehouse Volcano, 15-player Werewolf, 8-player Catch Phrase, 5-player Formula De, 2-player Proton, 4-player Lumberjack, 3-player Samurai.

Players were Andrew and myself. Andrew was new to the game.

We played the Grey Owl board, and it surprised me because the discs really zip along on this board compared to my own. Andrew surprised himself by getting the center a few times.

Players were Andrew, Phil and myself. Andrew and Phil were new to the game.

This game was strange in that people went for reservoirs (of course) but also for a few high scoring palaces. Andrew was disappointed along the way, thinking he was far behind. Phil intensely concentrated on making the most of final scoring. I set myself up well early on, but kept getting bested as the game went on. The game lasted a little under two hours, even with the interruption waiting on the prize table.

Click here to see the end-game.

Icehouse Volcano.
Players were Karl and myself.

We played a ten minute game. Karl was able to get a few trees and and the game when I had one tree and a few pieces.

15 players. Some new to the game some not.

Interesting that our seer was clever in his accusations of the werewolves, saying that he heard the players stop making noise during the game and that's why he accused them. That threw the werewolves off. Lamely, the werewolves attacked villagers who would easily have been suspected as werewolves, being too noisy or too quiet, leaving us to be easily persuaded by the seer.

Villagers won.

Catch Phrase.
Players were Bill, Rob, Sean, Mark, Kyle, John, Brian and myself. Many of us were new to this game that Mark had.

I was new to the game. It basically consists of us passing around an electronic device that displays a word or phrase. The player holding the device has to get his team to say the word or phrase by acting out or saying words besides the words on the display. If the team gets the word or phrase, the device is passed on and a new word is displayed. If the timer runs out, the opposing team gets to guess the word without any more hints. The game continues until one team scores seven points.

The highlight of the game was when the hint was "first two people on the planet" and John guessed "Niel Armstrong." Maybe the hint wasn't specific enough. :-)

Team Rob, Mark, John and myself won after 20 minutes.

Formula De.
Players were Dave, Sean, Joe, Karl and myself. Sean and Joe were new to the game. We played a two-lap race on the Nederland track.

Mid-game, Joe, tried to be aggressive and crashed 1.25 laps into the race when he didn't make a turn. Dave, who was behind, upshifted when he shouldn't have and crashed 1.5 laps into the race. Sean, completely surprising us, crossed the finish line with absolutely no marks on his record sheet. game lasted about and hour and fifteen minutes.

Click here to see the mid-game.

Players were Karl and myself. I was new to the game.

When we went out for dinner, Karl pulled this game out. It's a sliding tile game in which players have to connect pipes of their colors to their ends.

Karl won.

Click here to see the end-game.

Players were Doug, Joe, Bill and myself. I'm the only one who played Pyramido before.

We played two games: Pyramido and the standard game.

The last time I played Lumberjack, we used the Pyramido rules. Joe was able to collect a huge run of 13 black pieces, easily beating the rest of us. (Though, now that I try the numbers, I can't calculate how he got his score.) Game lasted 15 minutes.

Basic game.
This game was interesting in that each player takes a piece from the stack, and either creates a tower (up to three towers at a time), or sets aside the piece and everyone scores the towers with that color on top and removing that color from the top, or (instead of taking a piece from the stack) caps a tower so that it can't grow anymore but will score double.

Joe stacked up on black pieces... practically betting his whole score on it. The rest of us tried to get in on the deal or prevent the deal. In the end, Doug jumped ahead by scoring his color. Game lasted about a half-hour.

Players were Joe, Bill and myself. Bill and I never played before.

We decided to go with this game to finish up the evening quickly. Joe spent about seven minutes explaining the game. Samurai has an interesting tile-laying mechanism, but a strange scoring mechanism. The game is played on a board of Japan assembled in sections depending on the number of players. Then, towns are randomly stocked with items (Bhudda, rice, tower) needed to win the game. Players take turns drawing back to five tiles from their face-down stash and playing them to surround items. Each tile has a score, and when the item's surrounding land hexes are populated with tiles, the player who has the most points on the tiles gets the item. Tiles them selves can attack specific items, generic items, attack genericly from water, swap items, and swap their own tiles. Scoring is... whoever has a majority of one item score their other two items. In ties, count all items. the game ends when all of one item is captured.

With hidden information, I didn't feel much tension during the game. Ignorance is bliss. I just played tiles where it was advantageous at the moment. Players tended to compete with my placement so it was never easy to get more than the few items I got. In a serious game, I'd do a lot more book-keeping to see what was played and what was left, which is not fun. Otherwise, I'd rather play with the winnings open, so that I could have a serious game without the bookkeeping.

Click here to see what it was like close to the end-game.

Game lasted about a half-hour.

July 24, 2002

Private session. 2-player Button Men, 2-player Nautilus.

Button Men.
Players were Nancy and myself. Nancy played for the first time.

Nancy enjoys Chez Dork, so I picked up a pair of Dork Tower Button Men at Unity Games IV. Nancy plays Carson in Chez Dork, so she took him, and I took Bill. After a quick into to the game, we were off.

Bill is at a disadvantage once he starts losing, having only three d20's, and twin d10 (as my choice for the twin "V" dice.) With Carson's small dice and one speed "V" die for which Nancy used a d12, even if I captured most of Carson's dice, I could still lose. That's the way it actually happened in the first game, Playing best three of five. (Unlike last time I played in which I played one round at a time.) This set lasted about 25 minutes.

The second game, I switched to twin d6's in hopes of minimizing Nancy's score, though it didn't help enough, even though I captured all Nancy's dice every time. This set lasted about 20 minutes.

Click here to see the final end-game.

Players were Nancy and myself. Both of us played for the first time.

This game, for two to four players, is about creating a deep sea station, exploring the deep sea and making discoveries. This is done in three phases: adding pods to the station, moving explorers, moving submarines. Without going into too much detail, you want to add pods to the station and populate them with researchers to give you a boost in abilities and in score and to send off submarines to make valuable discoveries.

Scoring is a rather involved description, but is actually pretty simple. The person who has the most points in making Atlantis discoveries gets the higher-scoring Atlantis token; second-highest gets the second higher token, and so on. This token is added to all the discovery points. The discovery tokens that correspond to your secret mission card, give an extra point for each token if you spend a Nemo for each point taken. Separately, add the pod scores together. The score from the discovery tokens is then multiplied to the pod score. Then add the number of Nemos left.

I was very excited to get this game. From its description, it's much like the kind of game I was hoping to play when I first got into this hobby -- a strategic exploration game. Playing the game didn't disappoint me. Even Nancy, who was on the verge of petering out so late at night, found the game engaging enough to push herself to play longer.

This game takes a lot of space (much like Star Wars The Queen's Gambit does.) The board itself took three-quarters of my card table, and I had to spill over to extra space to hold the scorecards.

This game has a nice design and nice plastic bits in the form of researchers, submarines, and pod markers.

Nancy pursued sea discoveries aggressively, while I pursued expanding the station and exploring the crevice for more lucrative Atlantis discoveries.

Click here to see the end-game, and all the space it took.

Click here to see a closer look at the end-game.

We cut the game short after two and a half hours, including the time to go over the involved rules. I think we were close to the end of the game. Because of the way scoring works, if Nancy just occupied more of the same type of stations, she'd have done better, but I ended up with the majority in all but one units. That offset my low discovery score. Also, I had more Nemos. Once we got into the rythym of playing the phases of each turn, the game moved fairly quickly. I'm sure a second playing of the game would take closer to the documented 100 minutes.

Even though we didn't reach the end-game condition, here's the score when we quit. (research pods x sea discoveries + Nemos) [Score adjusted since Unity Games SR posting to take into account proper scoring of Atlantis tokens.]

Looking at session reports on BoardGameGeek, I see we played incorrectly. We only payed once to occupy each other's research pods [but, it turns out, paying once is the proper way to play], and we didn't pay at all to pick up discoveries. We didn't move researchers with the extra two movements on finding Atlantis discoveries.

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