Monday, March 27, 2006

A Gamut of Games (part 1)

No, not the Sid Sackson book.

I played a lot of games over the weekend. Friday was regular open games night at Great Hall. Saturday, Dan, Ryan, and I drove down to San Antonio to catch a small local con for gaming. Sunday after brunch, John, Jennifer, Cat and I played a few light games.

The Friday roster included: A six-player game of DungeonQuest, one four-player game each of both Bohnanza and Cosmic Encounter, a five-player Colossal Arena, and a five-player game of RoboRally.

A quick recap: DungeonQuest (BGG, OOP - EMAIL ME TO BUY!) sucked. Now, I mean it was the kind of bad game that you get a bad feel for as soon as you take it out of the box. I'm trying to explain it to folks and I have that sinking feeling that we shouldn't play. Unfortunately, the game has more bits than you can shake a stick at, and by the time I realized the low probability of fun awaiting us, we had already had it set up to the point that we might as well give it a go. The manual admits that playtesting revealed a 15% survival rate for characters, so we finally gave up and just rolled for it. That version of the game was fun enough, relatively speaking, that we played it twice. With as many bits as the game has, I'm sure it's tweakable into something fun- but, you know, snakes on a plane.

After the aborted game, the group split into Bohnanza (BGG, BUY ME!) and Cosmic Encounter (BGG, OOP, GOOD LUCK), both of which went over well. Scott dropped by, and we got in a five-player game of Colossal Arena (BGG, BUY ME!). I managed to goof up early in the round and lost horribly and totally- in other words, solidly in last place. Finally, we ended the evening with a five-player game of RoboRally (BGG, BUY ME!). Interestingly, Kelly didn't initially care to play- but we had her randomly controlling a fifth bot in as a crazy factor. Within a few rounds, she wanted to play for real. We had to end early because the game store closed around us.

Dan had also picked up a game for me (see below for details) called Coffee (BGG, BUY ME!), which has a similar feel to the newly revamped Caffeine Dealer and is vaguely reminiscent of the PJ's game, but not having played it yet, I can't say for certain. It reads like it plays totally differently. I also took a page from Scott and picked up a weird little impulse item called the Answer Deck from a local megabookstore. I plan to use it as a creative tool for gaming.

Saturday found Dan, Ryan, and myself at Chimeracon in San Antonio. One of our primary goals had us make a pit stop at a very unlikely store- Christmas Discount and Games, as featured on this thread over at the 'Geek. They had many games for 50-75% off. I made several purchases, spending just under $40 for six or seven games plus a Slinky for work. Score! More on these when I play 'em. Er, except for the Slinky. I think we all know how that works? Yes? It's fun, it's physics, it rolls down stairs, alone or in pairs!

My standard con game, now that Clay-O-Rama has fallen out of favor, is Carabande (BGG, OOP - GOOD LUCK) the racing game where you flick your cars around the track. It's big, it's easy, it's quick, it's not common, it's colorful, and I can state the rules in three sentences. (Flick your car around the track and try to make three laps first. If your car flips or goes over the edge or you hit the obstacle or someone else does that to you, you lose a turn to flip your car. If you're too close to the rail or whatever, you can space it out a little.) We probably played five or seven games of this. Kids love making their own tracks, and it's easy to draw people into a brief five- or ten- minute game. My favorite is a toss-up between luring the HeroClix guy away from setting up his demo or the fiftysomething matronly type who played a round. I desperately want more tracks off eBay or something, but this game wasn't cheap when it was new and it's less cheap now that it's out of print. Finally, Dan had sent me a link to a small DIY site called Pimp My Carabande. Rock!

I bought some gaming stuff, then we set up RoboRally (BGG, BUY ME!), and got in a full five-player game, including some dad and his eight-year-old. Ryan kicked gear and won. We broke for eating dinner in the scary abandoned mall/convention center called Crossroads. You know the kind of mall that's slowly dying with empty storefronts and signs for rent? This was that mall. There were three, count 'em, three places to eat in the food court plus a smoothie kiosk. On a Saturday night the place felt like a Tuesday afternoon with no sales during final exams.

I'll leave yall with that semi-ominous cliffhanger.

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