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Gaming In The Doghouse - July 2015

C Updated
Gaming In The Doghouse - July 2015
There Will Be Games


This month in the Doghouse we played Merchants & Marauders, March of the Ants, Lords of Waterdeep, and a few others.



There were two doghouse sessions this month, but due to scheduling issues we weren't able to continue our Imperial Assault campaign. Everyone involved was unhappy about this so it will definitely hit the table again soon. Actually I would say its been very light on FAT games overall, but we did play some good stuff.





Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation


 The Tramp came over early to help me move some stuff. Then while we were waiting for Lady to show up I introduced him to Knizia's Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. The second best LotR setting game there is with only War of the Ring topping it. He of course immediately compared it to Stratego upon seeing the pieces. I played the Fellowship, which I'm usually better with than the dark side. I knew of course that being a new player he would put the Balrog at Moria and showed him how awesome Pippin is right away. The trick with this game as the Fellowship is to avoid moving forward until the dark pieces have to spread out and maybe leave some openings. But you can't wait forever because I've found, as happened in this game, if you don't time it right and hang back too long the dark player will pick at your pieces until too few remain to effectively hide Frodo. When I failed a battle against Shelob late in the game and she went back to her lair I knew I was done for. It gave him just enough pieces left back there so that I couldn't get Frodo down that side of the board, which was the side he was already going down. We were finishing just as Lady showed up to remark how the game looked like Stratego.




Merchants & Marauders


 After we grabbed lunch, Lady left as she only came by to eat with us. Snoopy showed up though so we still had three. I finally got to try Merchants & Marauders. A game I've owned for a while and been interested in playing, but other stuff was always getting the table time instead. I rarely, if ever, suggest what games we play from my collection. I'm happy to play any of them or I wouldn't own them so sometimes I get one that doesn't hit the table right away. I read the rules while the other two worked on setup and shuffling. One of the reasons I've been interested in this is that I've played a lot of Sid Meier's Pirates on different platforms. It has also gotten comparisons to Firefly The Board Game, which I'm a fan of. Let me jump on those points right now. The game reminded me A LOT of SM's Pirates in the best ways possible. However, this game is absolutely nothing like Firefly. I guess technically they both get listed as a “pick up and deliver” mechanic in an online database, but even that feel completely different. One is mission based where you can only go to specific locations and the other is buy low/sell high with several options. Most definitely there is room for both games in my collection.


 We played some Bob Marley music as that was the best I had on hand to match the Caribbean setting. I knew I wanted to play as a pirate and my captain worked well with that. The other two also wanted to play as pirates, but their captains did not work so well at it. I feel that is the one thing I didn't care for in the game was the lack of flexibility with the captains. Would be better, imo, if each captain had a merchant and a pirate version on the same card. Anyways, I tried to do a bit of everything to test the waters. Possibly the most important thing I did was actually put a little treasure into my box several times. I used it as a sort of savings account where I think they planned to dump a bunch in later in the game. I also picked up on both what could be done and when to do it thanks to Sid Meier. Ultimately I totally crushed the other players who weren't even close to catching up to me. Everyone enjoyed the game though, which is the most important part, and my opinion is that it's awesome-ness in a box. Snoopy was already asking to play it next time when I talked to him a few days later. Also, as a side note I really liked that the start player was determined by random captain card draw instead of the last person at sea or something equally stupid. Good job, Christian!




March of the Ants


After M&M we played this other game I hadn't tried before. Again I read the rules while the other two handled setup. I didn't like the rulebook at all, but its hardly the worst I've read. To be honest I'm still not sure we played the game exactly right. One of the things that interested me in this game was the short playtime. Now that I've played I actually feel like that is a detractor. We never explored past the inner meadow and hardly any cards were played. I get that a game can be tight with too much to do and not enough actions to do it all, but honestly this kind of felt like we played half a game with no chance to really strategize. Or maybe its like those dreaded German Efficiency games where you have to play an exact way from your first action. At least that's what I'm blaming for losing by a lot. It was a learning game though and I saw enough to give it another shot sometime. We called it a day after this.





 Snoopy wasn't going to make the next planned session so he and I played some Crokinole when we got together to finish watching The Wire. This is probably the only game that if my house were on fire I'd run in to rescue it. So simple and so fun. I crushed him in the first match, but he won a close second match.




March of the Ants


 A couple weeks later with Snoopy unable to make it we once again couldn't continue our Imperial Assault campaign. The Tramp wanted to give this another shot and introduce it to Lady. This time went much smoother starting out as I actually just went off the player/ant board for refreshing myself on the rules and teaching the game. So kudos to the designer for a well-made player aid. Maybe because I was more conscious of the short length so each and every action had to be calculated as best I could from the start. That alone means this game is probably hitting the sell pile even if I did warm up to it a little more. It still just feels too short and too little of anything happening. Tramp ended up winning by almost twice my score with Lady between us. Next time we'll try the flipside ant boards and see how that plays out, but I suspect it won't save the game for me. Pity because I like the whole ant civilization setting.




Carcassonne: The City


 Next we pulled out my favorite version of Carcassonne. I love tile-laying games although the original Carcassonne got too bloated with expansions for me to ever agree to playing it because then we have to agree on which expansions to use. I started out pretty good in this and had a nice lead when the wall pieces started getting added. Then the Tramp knocked over a full glass of iced tea onto the game. I just saw this wave of iced tea washing over the tiles before me. We grabbed some cloths/paper towels and began our attempt at salvaging it. My hat is off to Rio Grande Games for the high quality pieces they used for this. Not a single tile absorbed anything as far as I can tell. We just wiped them clean one by one and that was that. I didn't feel like restarting so we put it away. I checked on it the next night to see if any moisture damage had set in and didn't see any. I still may buy a sippy cup for the Tramp as a joke.




Space Beans


 I hadn't played this game in probably over a decade. If you've never heard of it, and you probably haven't, its an old Uwe Rosenberg game that is basically Bohnanza with card drafting instead of trading. With the different beans being sci-fi based so instead of a Red Bean you have a Vader Bean and so on. Lady and the Tramp had never played it before and both liked it. I've always though it was perfectly fine but not outstanding in any way. It mostly stays in my collection because its such a small box and probably not worth anything to sell anyways.




Lords of Waterdeep


 Usually Snoopy requests this, but Lady said she wanted to play it. We've all played this game a bunch of times together and honestly its good to have some go-to games where everyone knows the rules and can play at a similar level. I had the Lord where I'd get 3 points for every completed quest so decided to just try and complete a lot of easier ones. This actually gave me quite the early lead, but then the 40 point quests started coming out and I was worried of being left behind. We each ended up completing at least one 40 point quest and Lady who had completed two of them won. I had completed nine quests for my bonus, which helped me take a close second place.




Level X


Next I wanted to play King Of Tokyo, but Lady has an unnatural dislike of that game. So we played Level X which may be my favorite dice game anyways. Instead of a push-your-luck game you roll 4d6 and make the best combinations you can out of them to move your piece on the board to score points. I'm a fan of making the best of what you've got type of mechanics. Plus I can never be too drunk to make dice combinations. Say you rolled a 6, 4, 3, and 1. The board has tracks for 5,6,7,8,9,10. With that roll I could move 7 twice, or 9 and 5 once each, or 6 and 8 once each, etc. Once you get your piece to the end of a track you score everytime you make that combo, but only one person can be at the end of the track at a time so others can try to bump you off. I don't want to get off on a “repeat the rulebook” tangent though so I'll stop there. I won the first game with my uncanny ability to roll combos of 10 a lot and then Lady won the follow-up game.




I'm looking forward to next month's game sessions. Will continue to try and blog about them.




There Will Be Games
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Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #206845 23 Jul 2015 18:18
Conflict level makes Merchants 180 degrees from the type of game Firefly is, IMHO. Merchants and Marauders is dick to dick combat whenever you're near an enemy. And the combat is no fucking joke. If you get caught by a pirate and it's more powerful than you it is incredibly unlikely you'll get away given the flee mechanics.
iguanaDitty's Avatar
iguanaDitty replied the topic: #206872 23 Jul 2015 20:55
The board in Firefly is too freaking big for dick2dick combat. (Roll 1dDick)

Level X sounds sort of Can't Stop-y and I will definitely look into it. March of Ants sounds too euro-y and I will stop looking into it.

mikecl's Avatar
mikecl replied the topic: #206954 24 Jul 2015 13:58
I love Merchants and Marauders and the expansion Seas of Glory improves it even more. I traded away LOTR: the Confrontation because it's two player and my wife doesn't like it, but I agree it's a fine game with lots of subtle strategy. Instead we'll play Carcasonne: the Castle another great little two-player game.
VonTush's Avatar
VonTush replied the topic: #206956 24 Jul 2015 14:13
March of the Ants has actually raised on my interest list. There are traits that remind me of Eight Minute Empires: Legends in that they seem to have taken their respective genres and really distilled them down to their essence. "Too short and too little happening" also sums up 8ME:L well but that isn't a bad thing for me because of my current play group dynamics the games that get played are the ones that are quick and easy to digest.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #206973 24 Jul 2015 16:19
Merchants and Marauders is the perfect captain on a vessel adventure game. XIA is close but not quite there and Firefly never came close for me.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #206989 24 Jul 2015 19:07
Firefly is definitely more of a chilling out type of game for me. I'm not looking for combat or any visceral feeling when I play it. I'm looking to mosey around the verse. The game's tagline of "Find A Crew, Find A Job, Keep Flying" is what I'm playing for. The show didn't exactly have ship battles every episode so I don't take low amount of combat as a knock on this particular game. It is what it is. I do think the pirate/PvP jobs aren't worth the risk for the return though. Particularly when as iguanaDitty said the board is too big for crossing swords easily. Bounty Hunting is fine and we always play with those cards as an option so that half of that expansion was worth it.

M&M I obviously have only played once, but I would expect and desire for combat to be more frequent and more lethal. It fits the setting and is one of the reasons I don't feel one of these games will ever replace the other for me. I can be in the mood for either one.
Motorik's Avatar
Motorik replied the topic: #206995 24 Jul 2015 19:17
M&M is a game I've warmed up to over time, but my favorite game of that ilk is still AH's Blackbeard, which was kind of the O.G. board game version of Sid Meier's Pirates before people started clamoring for a board game version of Sid Meier's Pirates. Great, great solo game. Never played the GMT remake, though I've heard it's something of a misfire.