I will probably do an official review...eventually.
Look, I know you've been conditioned to be cautious, wary of hype. When you've seen so many "second comings" heralded over the years (Caylus? BETTER THAN CAYLUS?!) I can't say as I blame you.
I mean, who wants anything to do with the latest Eurogame?
That's the problem....this ain't a Euro game. At least, as far as I can tell. It's a frickin' card game, with roots more strongly planted in Magic: The Gathering than Princes of Florence. After all, the game has just as much screwage and attacking as you'd like, and enough variance and randomness to make your head spin. That's what makes it great.
I know you're also wary because it plays quickly. Unlike what you may believe, length of a game...or absence thereof...is not a true barometer for a game being good or not. Twilight Imperium 3 is good irrespective of its monster playtime. And Dominion is good despite its relatively "light" playing time.
I don't blame you for feeling burned by the hype machine before. Who hasn't? I mean, Agricola is a serviceable game, but it didn't cure cancer. Neither does Dominion. I think.
You guys may hate on me all you like, but this is one of those times where the hobbyists of The Other Site have gotten it mostly right. Hell, a broken clock is right twice a day, innit?
Well it's that time of year again when I have to spend like 6 hours doing battle with the printer to get the Spawn's graphs and crap to print out, and then call Francie Pants and beg to borrow some glue or tape or anything that will stick stuff to the damn board. She always has stuff like that. I have tape and glue too, but I can never find it when I need it. When I call, Francie asks if I want to play something when I come over to get the glue, but I have to say no because of Fucking Science Fair.
This year I suggested the Spawn do something easy like, does poison really kill stuff, but she didn't buy it. These kids have the right idea: Science Fair Experiments
I was expecting to be playing Napoleon's Triumph at my game group last night, since it's the current hot ticket, but on a whim I took along The Fury of Dracula (the GW edition) instead. I'm currently reading a novel about vampires - The Historian - and it suited my mood. Lucky for me, only one other person turned up and he was keen to try it, so I got to play.
I took Dracula and he the hunters. FoD suits itself very well to "explain as you play" so we were up and running in no time. I started in Eastern Europe, as I usually do, and he began all his hunters in the west, so I thought I'd have an easy first part of the game. But it was not to be - an early draw of Newspaper Reports meant the good guys were on my tail right away. I crossed swords with Dr. Seward somewhere in central Europe - the combat was in the day and I played Trap to ensure I won the initiative and was able to get away. Good thing too since it turned out the good Doctor already had a stake!
The hunters swept in on my position, hemming me in to northern Germany. I started dropping my precious vampire encounters in the hope of using up any stakes the hunters might have a ploy which worked well, but cost me three of my precious undead! I bluffed a lot, moving right up close to the hunters and at one point even following Lord Godalming around in the presumption he wouldn't double back. It was a false presunption and I was caught again, but this time combat was at night, and the noble Lord got a vampire bite for his trouble.
I was still unable to escape the net when Van Helsing stumbled into a Szgany encounter in Prague. He was armed with a rifle and thought he could take it down but with his -1 initiative modifier against agents it was a serious miscalculation. The Gypsy inflicted serious wounds on the hunter and Van Helsing was eventually forced to flee, leaving the Gypsy in place. He ran northward right into a flock of Bats, which allow the Dracula player to move the hunter - so of course he went right back to Prague, and this time there was no escape. The Gypsy finished him off good and proper.
With one dead hunter, it was much easier for me to escape, and I wormed my way into Eastern Europe. I then got hit with another newspaper reports, and quickly had Dr. Seward on my tail. I escaped down into South Eastern Europe and the doctor followed me as far as Budapest where the trail went cold and, to my relief, he gave up and went back north. With the breathing space of no hunters nearby (with one dead, there's a lot of board to cover for just two hunters) I was able to pass and change my encountes a couple of times to get enough vampires for the win. And a supreme victory too, with one hunter dead.
My opponent - a seasoned Eurogamer - really seemed to enjoy himself and was interested to play again with more players, to push up the collaborative aspect of the game. What interested me most about his reaction though was the mixture of delight and disbelief he showed when some of the more thematic rules would come up. Like Szgany only appearing in Eastern Europe, for example, or the text on the "superstitious characters" card. There were no paralells in his usual gaming experience and in spite of appearing genuniely surprised that you really actually got rules like that in games which were actually platable and didn't have 30-page rulebooks he got really immersed in the narrative of the game and had a great time.
The other reason I took FoD along was because I've been toying with the idea of buying a copy of the FFG edition. I'd tended to think of the GW version as superior, but I hadn't played it in a while and wanted to make sure. I certainly had a great time playing, but it made me think - most of the exciting stretches in the game were when the hunters had some idea where I was, which is more the case in the FFG edition, but then again it was Van Helsings' death which really made life difficult for them as they were unable to search properly. I also wondered about the possibility of using victory conditions more like those from the FFG version in order to solve the turtling Dracula "problem" and make sure a lid was kept on game time. I'm pretty sure that would be a viable variant. Anyway, there's a 2nd hand copy of the FFG reprint going here in the UK at the moment, but after last night I think I'm pretty comfortable with this old favourite.
I hosted our game group's Saturday game day for the first time since the fire. Francie Pants finally kicked me in the tush and made it happen. This kick also forced us to deal with finally getting the big-ass table up to the game room. Fortunately Joey Joe Joe the drummer stopped by Wednesday as Engineer Al and I were puzzling over how to get this table up two flights of switch-back stairs, and declared that that it would be a piece of cake compared to hauling around 90 inch TVs, which is something he does on the regular as an AV guy. With his direction, he and Al were able to man handle it into the game room in a matter of minutes. So as a bonus to playing games on Saturday, we are now seriously on our way to finally converting my home office from a store room back to an office.
Last night I was playing War of the Ringswith my glasses off. I was putting dudes in a region, and the Man asked me why I was doing it. I told him I was defending the region so that he couldn't take it and get points. He laughed at me and said, "You 're defending a rock."
I think I may get game glasses this year. I've always had to do close work with my glasses off - like sewing and reading. Whenever I talk to my eye doctor about getting progressive lenes, she laughs and says it's silly, since I don't need a correction for reading. I just need to take my glasses off. What she doesn't understand, is that when you play a game with cards with tiny writing, and a really big board, you have to keep taking your glasses off and putting them back on and then take them off again.
And War of the Ringsis hard enough without defending rocks.
We had a good sized turn out on Thursday, which meant that were able to get three games going at once. Sometimes, especially during the winter months, we only get 4 - 6 people, which is kind of lame. If there are only enough people to play one game, and most of them are hot to play Turnips and Taxis or Cleopatra and the Society of Accountants , it's pretty much the bone. Either play or leave.Notre Damned was tossed out as a suggestion. My heart leaped with joy when among the chorus of eager I'll plays, I heard a couple of emphatic Noes. Red had brought Top Race, which he had just received in the mail and was eager to play. I was dubious at first, as I tend to find most racing games tedious. However, the cars were cute, you got paid in Ass Dollars, and Red assured me that there was no downshifting, so I decided to give it a try.Top Race turned out to be good fun. There was much blocking and moaning. I'm now tempted to get a copy of Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix, which Red tells me is essentially the same game. I think this is one the band boys would like and it is easy enough for a drummer to learn.RoboRally was next. We had two newbies and one veteran RR lover. My house rule with RR newbies is that if they decide they hate the game, or feel that it has gone on too long, or they are getting frustrated, they can quit. No questions asked. That's the beauty of games with player elimination. Typically someone can quit without significantly impacting the game. A lot of people don't know what they are getting into with RR, and having someone be miserable for an hour or more is not the point of gaming. The RR veteran pointed out that RoboRally was the kind of game that if you liked it, you could happily play some arcane course for 5 hours, but if you don't like it, the game can't end soon enough.The RR veteran set up the perfect course of his own design. The course was challenging enough, without being frustrating. There was some strategy involved in making decisions regarding when to archive. There were plenty of opportunities for power ups, which makes the game fun. And finally it lasted exactly the right length of time. Although one of the newbies caught some bad breaks, and was rather frustrated, he didn't quit or moan about the game. The other newbie totally got into the game, adding sound effects when moving and shooting. It was such a pleasure to play RR with folks who really like it.That's the real key to a good game session. Playing with people who are enjoying themselves.
I had a brain burning day at work, and almost decided to skip game club. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and went. This meant that I didn't even get a chance to change out of my work clothes, which makes things a little difficult. Peep toe pumps and old basement steps are not a good combination, especially when carrying a crate of games. I managed to neither break an ankle nor a heel. That was my big win of the evening.I was too beat to play anything requiring much thought. Another guy was in the same mood, although for a different reason. He had dental work done this morning and got the good meds. So how bad do you suck when you lose to the guy on pain killers?Anyway, we played a few card games, which I can't even remember. One had fashion designers, one had people with weapons and one just had ugly green numbers. We also played one game of Mordred. Mordred won. Red gave me a hard time about taking too long on my turns tonight , since we were playing such light games. He was right, and I deserved the taunting, but I was so fried I kept forgetting what the hell I was doing. Oh yeah, we also played Rumis, which is a form of torture for the spatially challenged.
ETA: Now that I am more awake a few reflections on the games played, especially now thatI remember their names.
Esculation, Take 5 and Trendy all had a familiar feel, as if I had played something similar with a standard deck of playing card as a kid. They were nothing special. I didn't much care for Take 5. I might have liked it better if the cards weren't so ugly. The pictures on the Esculation cards were funny. I liked Trendy'd fashion designer theme. If I still taught summer camp, I would probably toss a copy of Esculation and Trendy into my duffle bag as something to keep the older kids occupied and out of trouble.
Mordred is faster, easier and lighter than it appears.
It should probably more correctly be called gamer-dar: the ability to recognize a fellow gamer. But what do you call that awkward moment when gamers hesitate a moment while trying to decide exactly how much gamer cred this stranger to whom they are talking has, and just how much they should say?
Tonight we were playing Pompeii in a hotel lounge just outside of Boston - me, my dad, the Man and the Spawn. A guy who looked like he was maybe a college student or there abouts spotted us, came over and asked what we were playing. Typically I would chalk a question like this up to mere curiosity and just tell the person the title of the game, but how many guys in their early 20s approach a family, which obviously includes a grandpa, out of mere curiosity about the colorful little bits on the table. So I decided that he was a gamer and answered him as one. Told him not only the name of the game, but also offered him the rule book and pointed out a bit of how the game played. He didn't have time to look at the rules, and said he had a lot of games (establishing his gamer cred?) but had never seen Pompeii before.
I asked him what games he liked, and there came that moment of hesitation. Was I one of those home school moms who was playing some educational history game with her kid? Maybe the only other game I knew was Scrabble? How much should he say? Should he play it safe and go with the most well known game he had? Or take the plunge and mention something less familiar? There was a little stutter as he started to say Settlers, then changed his mind and said Dominion.
I smiled and nodded and picked up the box lid to show it to him pointing out it was a Mayfair game. He commented that it was the same company that made Settlers, and mentioned that he also liked Ticket to Ride. I told him that if he liked those, he'd probably enjoy Pompeii. He had to go, but said he'd look for it.
It is too easy to bore a non- gamer with game talk. To easy to talk over the head of a casual gamer. Too easy to sound patronizing to another gamer. Balancing on that thin edge while trying to make polite conversation with a stranger and determine what to say and what not to say about our hobby makes for a strange and cautious little dance.
This month in the doghouse we played Imperial Assault, Merchants & Marauders, DungeonQuest, and more.
This month in the Doghouse we played Merchants & Marauders, March of the Ants, Lords of Waterdeep, and a few others.
My attempt at a new gaming blog that I will be making a serious effort to keep up with monthly. This month in the doghouse we played Imperial Assault, Lords of Waterdeep, and RoboRally.
We have way too many games, and I often want to get rid of some, but there is a couple of issues that prevent me from doing so.
I live with two other gamers. To get rid of a game we all have to agree upon it. It seems like whenever I pull something off the self and say "We should get rid of this", someone disagrees. Even when I do get everyone to agree, and I put the game up on my for trade list, when I actually get an offer, someone has second thoughts. Just this past week I put a few games up on a math trade that we had all agreed to sell.trade several moths ago. One game that we hadn't played in at least 4 years actually traded. When I announced the good news, The Spawn was all like, "You traded that away! Noooooo." And then there was pouting.
Selling used games doesn't make sense to me anymore. Shipping costs have gotten so high that it simply isn't worth it. It costs like $10-$12 to ship the average game. My time is worth a lot to me, so if I'm not getting at least $25 for a game, it just isn't worth the time or effort to put it in a box, drive over to the post office, stand in line and mail it. If a game only costs like $35 new, it's totally not worth it for anyone to pay $25 plus shipping for a used copy. I think a game would have to cost at least $45 or $50 new for anyone to even consider paying $25 plus shipping for a used copy.
So, assuming that I have actually gotten the family to agree to get rid of a game, and the game costs under $45 new, that means trading it rather than selling it. My criteria for what I trade for is that we have to really want it, and the game we are getting has to be worth my time to pack up the game I'm getting rid of plus the cost of shipping it.
Looking over the games we have agreed to trade/sell, I've decided that most of them can not reasonably expect to sell or trade for anything worth $10 plus hunting down where the hell we put the bubble wrap and that box I was saving and the tape, and then standing in line at the post office. Therefore I've started moving games from our trade/sell pile over to a give away/donate pile. You would think it would be easy to give stuff away, but it isn't. I've tried giving some of them to KingPut, Francie Pants and other gamers I know, but they are all like, "No way. My shelves are crammed. I have too much of my own shit that I need to get rid of."
Fortunately I recently made a new 'friend.' Actually she is The Spawn's friend. She's a 13 year old geek girl with a voice like Daria who slouches around my house wearing a rumbled school uniform bumping into shit because her face is always about 2 inches away from her Kindle. The Spawn is always like, "Let's do make-overs and listen to music." And Kindle Girl is like, "Yeah, whatever. [Kindle still two inches from her face]." Followed by, " Hey, what are you doing. Cut it out. Stop pulling on my hair."
A few weeks back I suggested the girls compromise and play a boardgame. I opened the door to the old wardrobe where I store games, and Kindle Girl dropped that Kindle like it was hot. She stood mouth agape in awe and wonderment as if I had just thrown open the wardrobe door and revealed the passage to Narnia (geek girl, remember, she's read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe like 6 times).
So we've been playing boardgames together most Friday afternoons. Last time, when her parents came to pick her up, she asked them if she could get a copy of one of the games I had just taught her, her parents replied, "We have plenty of games already. We have Sorry and Life and Clue..." The girl just rolled her eyes said, "Whatever."
The only reservation I have now is just how much her parents will hate me if their daughter starts showing up at home with our played out family games, wanting her family to play with her. I also haven't yet been able to assign a monetary value to the goodwill of The Spawn's friend's parents.
Back in October I blogged about Getting Rid of Games. I decided to give a couple of our under played games to Kindle Girl one of The Spawn’s friends. Kindle Girl is over my house about 4 days a week, and ever since she discovered my game cupboard, we’ve been playing board games when time allows. We taught her Settlers of Catan, which she loved, so I gave her our copy of Settlers Gallery Edition (the version with the fixed map). She tried to teach it to her parents, but the Mom told me they spent about 2 hours struggling with the rules before they gave up. This story was accompanied by much eye-rolling by Kindle Girl out of Mom's line of sight.
Repo hosts a film festival featuring the movies included on the "Hayao Miyazaki & Studio Ghibli Deluxe 17 Best Movie Collection" set of DVDs.
"Play with me or I'll break your arm."
"Life, as they say, has its ups and downs."
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