Thursday, August 10, 2006

Last week's gaming

Some old favorites came out this last week, plus some new ones. Note that Board Game Geek is down as of 8/9/2006. I've got my fingers crossed for Aldie, the site admin.

I had gotten Battlebots: Kickbot Arena (BGG, BUY ME?) as part of a trade for something that I really wanted. I chose this one out of some others because it looked like it had a high fun factor, not to mention it involves robots beating each other up, a common theme in my game library. I brought it along to get it some table time, and I'm pleased I did. I arrived late, since Nick needed a ride, so he and I played this quick filler. Truth be told, this is not a very deep game- you basically throw various offensive and defensive dice in a cardboard arena at each other, trying to get "Hits" or "Super Hits" and not have "Damage!"
There's a fun factor here, but it's really a kid's game. Cat calls it "Yahtzee with window dressing." Oh, and evidently there's a show on the television.

The true way to have fun with this one is posturing and talking like a wrestler announcer- "And now it's the VILLAGE IDIOT against the TOE-CRUSHER, stepping in to avenge the capture of teammate TAZBOT.... but up next, the VLADIATOR will crush the T-Wrex!!" I might wind up taking this to game design Tuesday night and seeing if we can pull a good game out of it. Unfortunately, it feels like a game done more about marketing than play. I might be able to steal the "fighting die" mechanic for an RPG, though.

At least two games of Carabande (BGG, OOP) happened. And get this, we played with tournament rules — sort of. The rules refer to how to play like a "Pro," which includes shooting for pole position. Typically, when I bring out Carabande, I have players simply pull their cars randomly; since most of the players had played previously, everyone was amenable to a more skill-based racing start. I also taught the new players that if your car goes off the track, you place it back to the start of your turn. (This is also more in line with the published rules.) At the same time, I also suggested the "third time's the charm" rule for the ramp. This one greatly reduces frustration.

I sat out and didn't play any games of Carabande this past night, basically acting as a caller. The game only supports eight racers, and I really think the track gets crowded with that many players. I contented myself with looking at all of the games that had been recently marked down. Of course, I came away with a long list of look-up games. It is really nice to play on large tables with stabilizing plastic underneath, though. I also know that I'd buy another copy of this as soon as I see one at a reasonable price- say under $75 USD.

Next, I finally got a chance to play FBI (BGG, BUY ME!). It's a quick bidding game from Wolfgang Kramer of El Grande fame. Dan, Ian, and new guy Keith (I think) all had a great deal of patience as I read the rules. Normally, I try to read the rules before the box hits the table, but I had just put this off. The game went well about halfway through the first round as everyone caught on to play. Each player is trying to catch criminals with their field agents, avoiding arrested innocents (which are worth negative points). The five colors are different crimes: murder, theft, fraud, etc. Criminals are worth +1 to +5 points, innocents are worth -5 to -1 points. Each round, you bid on turn order by releasing someone from your slammer; you then commit two agents to arrest duties. There's a clever Settlers-like mechanic for turn sequence. In a four player game, you have: Player 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, then 4, 3, 2, 1. So there's a distinct advantage and disadvantage to each position. Now that I have the game down, it'll come out again.

Nick owns Hex Hex (BGG, BUY NEW VERSION!)- It's a good thing. Vicious, backstabby, quick, tactical- this is one of the few games I rank at a 9. I've wanted my own copy of this since pre-Katrina, and now that the publisher has the new version out, this is a no-brainer.

Hex Hex is basically hot potato with occult trappings. You don't want the potato, and every card you have gives it to someone else. It's impossible to be nice in the game, and a hand lasts about five minutes, and you play number of players +1 hands. The truly clever thing has to do with the reward for winning. The winner of a game gets to add a new rule to the game, which stays with the deck. Nice and evil and highly recommended, if your group goes for this sort of thing.

Last game of the night was Mag Blast (BGG, BUY ME!). Introduced two new players, Matt and Keith, and got to play four-way space explosions. Some deride this game because of its famous rule about players making sound effects or their shots miss. If you'll pardon the pun, this game is a blast. I still think it offers a good amount of play for as light as it is. Some might find the luck too much to handle, though.

Huzzah! Last week's writeup done in time for this week's play!

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