Archive for December, 2009

Really Nasty

December 30, 2009

We played The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game at the Bistro this week.  This is a game we play once every year or two, and since we had exactly 6 players, it seemed like an opportunity.  Response was lukewarm from Jason, but most everyone else seemed to enjoy it, with Michael beeing especially happy with it.  As the name implies there is a a lot of direct hosage in this game.

Briefly – each player has a stable of 6 horses.  He will field one of those 6 horses each race.  The horses are ranked from 1-6, with the higher ranked horses having some advantage in the race.  There are 6 races, of varying purses to be run.  Players can make money by finishing in the top 3, or by betting on the winning horse.  A LOT of money can be potentially won on bets.

You are under no geas to run your horse effectively.  If you want it to lose (because you bet on a different horse), you can run your horse in an ineffective way.  In addition, each player has 3 cards they can use during the game.  These cards have various effects, mostly bad effects, which can cause a horse to fall and leave the race.  The potential for wrecking any given horse’s run is ample.

The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game is mostly an experience game.  There isn’t too much strategy available.  You make a few decisions, and watch them play out.  I enjoy the game, but am never surprised when it doesn’t please someone.

We had a late arrival, so when Really Nasty finished, three Bistro players pulled down Tinners’ Trail.  Michael, Chester, Chris Anderson and I played Web of Power.  Great little game.  We finished it quickly.  Michael departed, and so Chris, Chester and I played it again.  I think Web of Power is best as a 3-player game.  In the first game I neglected placing cloisters concentrating on placing advisors.  This did not work out and I finished in 4th place.  For the second game I swapped to trying to get cloisters down, and only dabbled with Advisors.  I was able to get two chains, which was just enough for victory.

I like Web of Power quite a lot.  (Although I would decline a 5p game – too much chaos.)  For a game that plays in 30 minutes or less, I feel like a lot of decisions are offered.

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Holiday Party @ the Bistro

December 23, 2009

Tuesday night was the last game night session at the Bistro prior to Christmas.  In year’s past I have hosted elaborate parties, including big potluck dinners and gift exchanges, etc.  Over the past few years I’ve been scaling back.  This year Peggy and I baked a few cookies, and I made some non-alcoholic Wassail.  Kenneth, making his annual appearance, had baked a pumpkin pie, and assorted other goodies were brought in by other Bistro players.  Altogether there were ten of us, making for smaller but fun party.

I set up Carabande as a socializer to get us started.  Nine of us played it over two different 1-lap heats.  Somehow Michael Wester managed to win both times.  Carabande had not been played for a couple years, and a lot of the new folks had never played it (or Pitchcar) previously.  We enjoyed Carabande for the two heats and by then Bob Mueller had arrived so we broke into two tables of gaming.

I made a point to play with Karen, who came with Ed, as this was her first time to come to gaming.  Ed suggested keeping it light, so I proudly brought out my latest “silly game” acquisition, Tanz der Hornochsen.  This is a game about avoiding stepping in cow poop!  There were five of us, Ed, Karen, Amy, Michael and myself.  This was the first time this game had been played by the club.  It’s hard to take this game seriously, which is why I selected it.  We laughed our way through it, and Tanz der Hornochsen garnered some good ratings.

Amy decided she needed to rescue her small children so she could get them to bed somewhere close to their bedtimes, so with her departure we were four (the other table of 5 being in the middle of their El Grande game).  Michael and I thought Tonga Bonga would fit the light but fun desire expressed by Ed, and indeed, Tonga Bonga was a big success.  I am very pleased with Tonga Bonga.  While there is a lot of luck, there are several interesting decisions every turn.  The turns are fast, and the fun is generated.  Tonga Bonga is a bright cheerful looking game, and one I cannot effuse over enough.

As we finished Tonga Bonga, the El Grande game also came to a close.  We took this opportunity to mix things up a bit.  Ed, Karen and Michael hopped into a game of Der Untergang von Pompeiji – probably better known as The Downfall of Pompeii.  I visited the table briefly to help with the rules, but other wise I sat down to a game of Shark with Chris Anderson, Tiffany and Jason.  Jason has taken an interest in Shark after I had introduced it to him earlier this year.  This was Tiffany’s first exposure to it, and she was less sure about it.  We used the rule of 7, which is a rule not found in the rulebook, but one that the author has expressed on the internet.  I think it improves the game. 

I had a fine time, and I think everyone who attended also had fun.  Thanks to all the Bistro Players who come out every week for gaming!

Monday Night’s Endeavor

December 23, 2009

This past Monday was our annual Christmas gift exchange between Rick, Chris and I.  Gary is away for the holidays, and had excused himself from this and future gift exchanges.  I gave Rick an expansion track for Formula D.  We have plenty of the older Formula De tracks, but the Formula D track had another “urban” course included, which was enough enticement to gift it to Rick.  For Chris I gave him a copy of Endeavor, a newer game about exploration.

I had played Endeavor earlier this month with some other friends, and thought it merited additional play.  Briefly, Endeavor is about European great powers expanding across the globe.  You track your power in four attributes, which directly affect which builldings you can build, how many workers you have to use, how many workers you can re-use, and how many region cards you can hold.  Chris popped it open and we soon were set up and ready to play.  I cruised through the rules, and braced with my previous experience was able to lead the game.  Since our game was a 3-player affair, it felt a fair bit different than my previous 5-player experience.  There was much less pressure, as the same number of buildings and distant lands are available.

I did not play particularly well.  I never did expand my ability to build the highest level of colonial buildings.  I also was weak in my ability to re-use placed workers, which meant my colonial buildings were clogged part of the time with previously placed workers who refused to vacate the premises until they were paid.  I did set out to aggressively ship to distant lands, but with fewer players in this game, I found I had very little help opening up lands early on. 

I suspect Endeavor will be a game that shines better with 4-5 players.  I can understand why it has gained good reviews and vibrant attention.  I look forward to playing again, especially once Gary is back and we have our usual foursome at the table.

Bistro Gaming

December 16, 2009

We had a lively crew here on the 15th for a fun night of gaming.  Games I was not involved in included:  Princes of Florence, Power Grid, Dominion, and Can’t Stop.  The games I did play were:  StreetSoccer, Pandemic, Auf Achse, Ave Caesar, and Call My Bluff.  We had twelve people playing at three tables, and it appeared everyone had a fun time.

Alex showed up just a bit early and we decided to play a game of StreetSoccer.  This is a roll and move game that often is discounted by a lot of people.  But I am a big fan, and Alex was open to playing.  We had a tight match with no score for the first 20 turns.  Finally Alex got a goal, and I had to start pressing my luck.  This backfired and as the clock started running down Alex scored a second goal.  With no hope left for the victory my team finally scored 1 goal as the buzzer sounded.  Great game with lots of excitement – and it only takes 15 minutes.

Our game of Pandemic was a tight affair.  We defeated the game on the very last turn.  Tiffany had suggested we start at the easiest level, which meant there were two other outbreak cards that could have been added to the deck.  Clearly even one more would have tipped the balance and we would have lost the game.  Of all the cooperative games I’ve tried, I like Pandemic the best.  I’m still not sold on the genre, but I can agree to play Pandemic once in a while and have fun doing it.

I suggested we play Auf Achse, which was received reasonably well.  Zack did his classic “poor me” routine, which pretty much tipped off TG and I that he thought he had won.  I’m not sure what Tiffany thought of his antics, but she learned by game end to assume Zack is winning once he starts complaining.  I really like the new edition of Auf Achse, and hope it will get a few plays by the club.

As we finished Auf Achse, the Princes of Florence game was also finishing.  So we took this opportunity to mix things up.  After some trash talk against Ave Caesar, I decided it needed to be defended.  I pulled down my copy (the Ravensburger edition) and TG, Alex, Chester and Char joined me for a quick chariot race.  Char soon took over the lead and proceeded to open up a commanding gap on the field.  But soon enough she was clogging her hand with unplayable cards, forcing her to wait for the field to catch up.  We didn’t have too many antics in getting to Caesar’s alley to pay our dues, and by the start of the third lap we had closed up to a fairly tight field.  Rounding the last turn I was able to pass Char, and when she was unable to cross the finish line I rushed past for the victory.  This was a good crew for Ave Caesar, garnering 2 ‘good’ and 3 ‘excellent’ ratings.  It is a simple game, but oh so fun to cut your friends off and force them to take the longer routes around the corners.

The same crew finished up with a rousing game of Call My Bluff, the most played game in my collection.

Monday night games

December 14, 2009

I game over at my friend Rick’s most every Monday evening.  We are usually four, but I knew Chris was out, so I brought God’s Playground.  It was not to be.  The 49ers were on the tv, and Rick was mightily distracted by the game.  So with the proviso that I pick something familiar I was tasked to bring a couple possibilities to the table from Rick’s collection.

Merchant of Venus was also dismissed, as too much work to set up and taking too long.  I disagree, but didn’t fight.  That left us with a choice between Medieval Merchant or Anno 1503.  With no decision coming from Rick or Gary, I picked Medieval Merchant.

Medieval Merchant was one of the earlier Euros I encountered.  I still like it, although it occupies gaming space mostly taken over by Power Grid.  I rather like Power Grid, but have played it more than I probably have ought to.  I’m currently weary of Power Grid, so a return to Medieval Merchant seemd like some fun.

I was reminded how Medieval Merchant demands how you parlay a successful money-making venture into a unprofitable real estate holding portfolio.  This game has a real arc.  You start building a viable network, ramping up your income, and attempting to reach profitable cities which have opened for trade.  You quickly encounter the other players, and have to contend with the need for cash vs. the threat to your real estate portfolio the other players represent.  Eventually you have to give up the revenue in order to secure title to the city discs which provide much of the available victory points.

I moved too fast to secure my real estate, and finsihed in a tie, a distant 2nd.  But it sure was fun.  I hope I can get the Tuesday night gamers to give this game a chance.  It’s not new, so it isn’t a game people are clamoring to try.  But I’m frequently able to get a “golden oldie” on the game table on Tuesday nights.

Hello world!

December 13, 2009

Thanks to Pati Nagle and Chris Krohn for this spiffy new blog.  I have not maintained any sort of web site in years, but it is time to try again!  Tune in to this blog for details of my continuing exploration of boardgames and card games.  Comments welcome!