Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gaming in New Orleans

Hoo boy! Many games to report here. I had asked the gang back home to pass to any specific requests, plus I intentionally brought a few titles I knew they hadn't seen. Over the course of several evenings during the long holiday weekend, we played the following:

Villa Paletti (BGG, BUY ME!)

This crowd-pleaser came out first. It's large and colorful, with a huge fun factor. We played a few rounds, and I'm never happy with the scoring rules. I'll have to see if the 'Geek has a decent variant listed. I know that I destroyed the tower at least once out of hubris. Ah, life. In this picture, you can see Simon watching Bennett, and Daniel's midsection, plus my cheekbone. One game ended very quickly, with the tower collapsing before the third level, but after several games we hadn't made it to red. I still want the super-size version of the game. Well-won, Villa Paletti took the Spiel des Jahres 2002.

Ticket to Ride (BGG, BUY ME!)

I didn't get a chance to play this, but Mike, Leslie's Kat, Leslie, Becky, and Alison are rocking the house. I've only played the game once, with three players. I should give it another go with more than three, especially now that I've got an idea as to the basic gameplay of connecting cities. It seems like rail games have one of two foci: connecting destinations or transporting cargo of one kind or another. I've played only a sampling of the various rails games, but I know that I have a certain threshold where the rail simulation doesn't make for an enjoyable boardgame for me. There's a certain point where the housekeeping becomes too much of a chore for a game.

Wheedle (BGG, BUY ME!)

This went over extremely well; I'm getting a little better at explaining it, and a "practice round" definitely helps everyone to understand how the game plays- a little luck, a little chaos, a little begging and pleading and threats. In the first game, Cat kicked the pants off the lot of us, and in the second, I think I took the lead, with Leslie and her friend Kat tied. Daniel was in the middle, as was Erin, and Cat had barely made it into the positives- quite a reversal! Another friend really liked it after having not liked it more than two years ago- the introduction and the company can make or break this one, sadly.

ImaginIff (BGG, BUY ME!)

This is a light party game that you can play with missing friends, or anyone the group mutually knows- actors, politicians, etc. Players roll to pick one of the potential people on the dry-erase board, then pull a card. Cards propose a situation "Imagine if so-and-so were a dessert..." or "Imagine if such-and-such chose their own death..." and follow it with six choices- look to this image for actual sample cards. Players gain points by matching their guesses with others and choosing the most popular answer. Even though this game pretends to be a light party game, I think it acts as a strong barometer for how well you know the rest of the company, or how well you read people; either Becky or Kat won. Sadly, I came in last place, and felt rather badly about it- I've been out of touch.

For Sale (BGG, BUY ME!)

New game, old friends. Cat and I played a few rounds with Bennett and Leslie, I came in either last or third pretty consistently. B & L both won a round, I believe, as Bennett quickly started to savvy the strategy. I really like this game, and I would rule if I could do sums in my head faster. I really should make up better improvised screens to hide players' money, a la Modern Art, but it seems as though other players already have. So I should really just get me to a printery.

Halo 2 (NOT A BOARDGAME, BUY ME!)

The simple joy of killing your friends, enhanced with a shiny new projector. Mmm, Halo on a six-foot wall, er, screen. I still don't like the controllers for the Xbox, but what are you going to do? Ask Bill Gates to change a few things? I've only played multiplayer; I still haven't played through the game on the disc as I own neither the console nor the game itself. I don't loose any sleep over it, and I know that playing over the net with strangers isn't as fulfilling as talking trash and beating down my fellows in the next room. Rachael, Germaine, Carl, and Mike here kept the electronic death a-blazin' for us.

Apples to Apples (BGG, BUY ME!)

Okay, now this is funny; after the initial fragging finished, some folks had to leave and others wanted to go back to boardgames. We wound up in two groups, with the girls here all playing Apples to Apple and the boys playing RoboRally. Clockwise from Cat you can next see Ani hiding behind a stool, Alison, Leslie, Becky, and Kat. After a time, I do believe that PixelKat joined the game. As I was engrossed in an epic battle of RoboRally, I don't know who won- I just know that their half of the gaming area was filled with laughter and joy.

RoboRally (BGG, BUY ME!)

This was a specific request from Daniel- he had never played, but had heard me extol its virtues and we settled in for a four-player game: Myself, Daniel, Bennett and Simon. Since it was just the four of us and the night was young, I elected to play on one board (the Vault, regular scenario). I also play a house rule where everyone gets two option/upgrade/candy cards to start with- I think it makes the game more fun. Simon, who allegedly had never played the game before, beat us all and won. (Maybe I should stop playing Twonky.)

Wiz-War (BGG, MAKE YOUR OWN)

Ah, Wiz-War, the sport of kings. Bennett specially requested this, and we pulled it out after Simon finished his victory dance on our smoking robotic corpses. All of us but Simon (again, allegedly- he skunked us) had played before. I know that I'm getting much better at explaining these rules simply as a result of it getting more spotlight time. As to the game, this was one of the bloodiest four-player games I've seen in a while; Bennett and I both had less than five life points at game end (did I die?), Daniel had a little more, but Simon had managed to get to TWENTY-ONE hit points with the luck of Gift from Above and one of the stones to suck life points. I'm sure the other players could tell more stories about how this went down, but it was an epic battle. For the record, this picture shows Bennett about to hurl the die at the board as part of the Thumb of God spell. (He hit both me and himself.)

Arkham Horror (BGG, BUY ME!)

I have a blurry cameraphone picture of Simon bringing us chips and a watermelon to nosh on while we play this game, but I won't waste your bandwidth. This was the first time I had played Arkham Horror, and I had heard many things about it, so I was eager to play. A brief description: Arkham Horror is a cooperative horror boardgame, where each player plays an investigator trying to prevent an Ancient Evil from the Mythos from waking up and killing everything. It's unusual to play a cooperative game, as much of the enjoyment from other games comes from competition. In Arkham Horror, however, players are competing with the game itself, sort of like a solo RPG module. Relatedly, this boardgame can be played solo. The onus of creating obstacles and adversity lies with the designer in the form of game events. Interestingly, we all acted in concert, not competing with each other to get to a certain square first, say.

Arkham Horror is a long game with many high-quality bits. We played for at least two hours, then Kat and Simon both had to pumpkin out as it was a school night and they had to work the next day. Bennett and Leslie and myself agreed that we should end the game. I would like to play this again, but it falls squarely in the list of "start early or schedule play" games.

The game functionally reminded me a bit of Descent (BGG, BUY ME!) in the sense of its strong roleplaying roots. Descent feels more like a RPG reduced to a boardgame, whereas Arkham Horror feels more like a boardgame with RPG trappings. I've said before that Descent makes me ask "Why aren't we just doing this dungeon crawl with an RPG system, or just playing Nethack?" Arkham Horror did not prompt me to ask that question- it stands on its own as a boardgame.

What a list! Did I miss anything?

3 comments:

catzmiyow said...

Didn't we play Squint at some point? Or am I suffering from drive-thru daquiri delusions?

Candidly Caroline said...

Wow! Looks like y'all had quite a bit of fun!!

ShavedDioxide said...

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