Thursday, January 11, 2007

Monday night games

I usually show up to the Monday night group a little late, but this is starting to change as I start being the guy who brings games.

When I got to Dragon's Lair, five people were playing the old printing of Cloud 9 (BGG, BUY ME!) as a filler while waiting for others to show. Cloud 9 is a cute press-your-luck game with a bit of strategy to it. Do you trust your neighbor to be able to carry the hot-air balloon to the next level? Since it's basic colors, this would be a good one to bring to children, but there's still enough there to keep a more serious player interested. At about a half-hour, I think it's a little too long to be a great filler, but it and Diamant/Incan Gold (BGG, BUY ME!)scratch the same itch for me.

Tall Guy Jeff also showed at the same time I did, bringing a few games. He had just picked up a vintage copy of Booby-Trap (BGG, PUBLIC DOMAIN) at Goodwill, and we played a quick two-player dexterity battle against physics. I'm sure you've seen this game before- there are colored discs of various sizes that must be removed without causing the spring-bar of doom to move too much. There's a bit of interesting choice, since players have the option to pass. I would've liked to play with more than just two, but it was a quick and fun game with a fair amount of tension- both literal and actual. Ultimately, I'm cranky I didn't see it at the Goodwill for a buck. Oh well.

Since the other players were still playing their game, I pulled out Chase (BGG, OOP MAKE YOUR OWN), a two-player abstract strategy that uses dice in non-random ways. Jeff beat me in a very close game, as I recall. I think I made a few stupid moves, since I'm still learning the strategy. I've always enjoyed two-player abstract strategy games, and this one is no different. Play takes place on a hex board with nine six-sided dice per player. Each die can move exactly the number on its upper face. The super clever thing about this game is that as you lose pieces, you must keep the total showing on all of your dice constant. It's a trade-off that's sort of a death spiral, except for rules about exchanging pips and splitting dice. I picked this up as a trade, and I'm very glad I did. You can play online for free, if you like. Feel free to challenge me to a game, since I really enjoy this one. If you even remotely think this sounds interesting, you really should give it a play, or you're really doing yourself a disservice.

By this time, everyone else had finished Cloud 9 and folks were ready to start new games. Since we had eight people total, the group split into four and four. I would up teaching Coloretto (BGG, BUY ME!), another lighter game that fit the players and their mood. Coloretto is fundamentally a game of collecting colored sets, which might normally prove a problem with the colorblind. However, each color has a very distinct background pattern that solves this problem fairly neatly. The clever thing about this is one is that if you collect too many sets, some start to be worth negative points. I bought it after a single play. Lowell, Laura, Edie, and Astro (sp?) got into it pretty quickly, and I do believe that Lowell won, which doesn't surprise me in the least- I think he's a card shark underneath the pleasant exterior.

While I was teaching the one game, Tall Guy Jeff, White JP, and "No-Nickname" Ben were working on misunderstanding the rules to Carrousel (BGG, BUY FROM FRANCE). It didn't help that they didn't see the English translation at first, either. By the time I had the one group settled with the other game, I had to practically pry the French rules away from them to play and teach. Carrousel is a simultaneous puzzle game, sort of like Ricochet Robots (BGG, BUY ME), where players are competing to arrange the first three out of five colored horses according to cards; the trick is you only have a limited number of legal moves, and you may only make one move in order to score. There are no turns, and everyone is competing with the same configuration in order to score their separate chards. Unsurprisingly, there's a decent amount of chaos to this one and I like it lot.

I first played this a few times at BGGcon, thanks to a fellow named Carlos, and almost instantly wanted my own copy. Many thanks go out to Francois, who brought me back a copy from France. Carrousel almost instantly hit the table a second time (small wonder, since it plays in no more than fifteen minutes, even if you're slow), quickly hacked to allow for five players with the addition of Sarah.

After those two games, Lowell and Laura had to leave, putting us at seven players total. Since I had brought Cash n' Guns (BGG, BUY ME!), I wanted to see it hit the table, so I offered to teach it while sitting out so all six people could play. As expected, people enjoyed pointing guns and backstabbing each other for cash. As expected, people also pointed their guns at the moderator (me) and at themselves. Ben and JP both died, and Edie walked away with the bank, having more than $30K more than the person in second place.

Next, JP really wanted to give Sucking Vacuum (BGG, BUY ME!) a go. We split with Sarah and Astro playing Carrousel, and JP, Ben, Jeff, and myself playing Sucking Vacuum. I last played this about eight months ago, and it hasn't seen the table since. I recall enjoying it as a light beer-and-pretzels backstabby game, but I think my tastes have changed. Setup time was too long, the rules were confusing, and play just wasn't engaging. I want to like this game, but it just didn't fly. I can't help but think that a few tweaks and clarity in the rules would really make this one a lot better. I'd mock up cards to replace the chits, but the thin cardboard box doesn't have the room. I have this up for trade now, and I might give it one more play to see if it's more fun, but I really don't think this will get to the table anytime soon.

My last game for the night was Vegas Showdown (BGG, BUY ME!) with four. It was Jeff's first play and he nearly won if not for Sarah and the killer Theatre of mucho fame; he and I tied for second. I made some blunders at the start, bidding on Fancy Slots I couldn't build, and the lack of income hurt me at first; I staggered along and only scored as high as I did because the game ended quickly. I really need to get this to the table more frequently. Yall know how much I like bidding games, even if I don't grok them in fullness. This was another game that I nearly bought after one play- someone already owned a copy, though. I lucked out and bought it on sale. Good fun, bad marketing.

Rounding out the evening, Ben and Astro played a few rounds of Boggle (BGG, BUY ME!). I've played it before. Oddly, not very well- I really need to work on my word pattern-matching skills. Cat kicks my butt at anagrams.

I almost added a disclaimer at the top of this report about football, given the title, but I decided the gag would work better as an outro.

1 comment:

John Paul said...

Actually, we were playing Exxtra when you arrived. They played some other game which I sat out of after Exxtra. That might have been Cloud 9.

Sucking Vacuum had such a promising theme, and such mundane, poorly designed rules. It made me want to cry. That, plus I made a mistake early on which was impossible to recover from.

Thanks for writing this up.

JP