Archive for July, 2010

More Collecting, More Playing

July 25, 2010

I seem to enjoy always having something “new” slated to come to me.  Here is a view of the more recent stuff:

Freight Train – An older Alan Moon design.  I played it once a while back, and it didn’t really work as a 2p game.  I perhaps foolishly let it go.  When a first edition White Wind copy was offered to me, I decided to try it again.

Wind River – I probably shouldn’t have gotten this one.  But it looks worth a try.  Seems a bit straightforward, so I’ll be curious to see if it offers something more than I am gleaning from the rules.  I have enjoyed Hansa Teutonica so much, I was interested in trying the preceeding game from that publisher.

Panzergruppe Guderian – I finally snagged a copy of the Avalon Hill edition.  Unfortunately, I am unsure when I might have an opponent for this.  Fortunately it is regarded as a very good solitaire game.

On the playing front…

Hansa Teutonica continues to please.  It is shaping up to be my most played game this year.

Moongha Invaders has amused me.  Two plays so far and I want to play at least a couple more times.  Each time we have played I have discovered we made a mistake.  I want to get in a game where we use all the rules correctly.  While at a different scale, this game fills a hole that was left when I disposed of my old “The Creature that Ate New York” game.

Confucius – Just one play.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a solid hit.  The gift-giving and obligations thereby associated was great.  The kingmaking, low scores and lack of end-game bonus points was not as great.

1829 Mainline – I got in a 4p game of this recently.  I tweaked the rules a bit.  When we played before, I was disturbed by how few stock rounds we got in an evenings worth of gaming.  So I re-inserted a progression where we did just 1 operating round so long as no “3” train had been purchased.  We moved to 2 operating rounds when the first “3” train was purchased, and we moved to 3 ORs when a “4E” train was purchased.

This did allow us to get in more Stock Rounds.  But it had some consequences.  It elevated the importance of the private companies (probably a good thing), it reduced the need to fully invest in the opening stock round (just different), and it generally made the 2nd and 3rd stock rounds anemic, as we had not yet built much of a revenue stream (slightly bad).

1829 Mainline is turning out to NOT be the faster playing 18xx game I thought it was intended to be.  Each time I have played it multi-player, we have agreed to play a time-limit game.  This works, but is also somewhat frustrating.  We never get to the big engines, and so we feel like we didn’t really play the game.

I have also played Mainline as a solitaire game frequently.  In the solitaire game there is an unexpected wrinkle.  You build a “Patience” style card formation, where you move cards around to like columns and then can buy a single column of shares.  This is innovative and fun, giving a variable situation to navigate each time you play.  But once again, I never seem to get to the large trains before breaking the reduced bank.

So recently I tried an experiment.  I set up a mock 3p game and gave myself the full bank 20,000 pounds sterling.  Whew!  That is a BIG bank.  It took 2 evenings of solitaire gaming, but I saw many of the late game engines come out, and I saw how a corporation could leap forward after securing a solid route and train base.  Unfortunately this aspect of the game takes considerable time to reveal itself.


A Recent Game Day

July 18, 2010

I went over to a friend’s house yesterday and played a few games.  I took a bag of games I thought people might enjoy, but we never opened it up.  Instead, everyone wanted to play games they knew, or alternately not play games at all, but just socialize.

So I went with the flow.  I played San Juan, Power Grid, Puerto Rico and I finished out a position in Settlers when someone had to depart.  And I had a very nice time.  So I would definitely call the assemblage gamers, but I did realize that I was a bit of an odd man out.  I really enjoy trying the newer games, and sometimes forget the joys of playing games already known to everyone involved.

I had two great matches, too.  I tied for the win in Power Grid, losing by$1 on the tie breaker.  Then again, in Puerto Rico, I lost by 1 point.  Great fun – I love closely fought matches like that.


July 12, 2010

Two nights – two Train Games!

Sunday night was a 3p game of 1846.  Good game, very enjoyable.  Introduced it to one of the players as her first full introduction to 18xx.  Not sure she loved it, but she hung in there, and when we called the game (just a tiny bit early – I tried to break the bank, but a late train purchase extended it – we ended the game due to time with just 200-300 left in the bank – well, she won!  In fact, the spread between all three players was less than $40.  Close!

Monday night was a time-measured game of 1829 Mainline.  Four of us played, and I once again came close, but not quite a win, getting nosed out by $50 or so.  1829 Mainline is amusing for all the normal protocols of 18xx it breaks.  The train progression remains, but lay as much yellow track in a turn as you like, upgrade any tile to any color as you wish, shuffle the share cards and deal them out to the players as a “hand”, allowing them to be purchased whenever that player finds convenient…  However, I did insert a variant rule – last time we played this game, I was horrified by how few share dealing rounds were played.  So I monkeyed with the progression.  Normally 3 Operating Rounds are to be played between SDR’s.  Instead we played that we did 1 OR until the first 3 train was purchased.  Then 2 SDRs until the first 4E was purchased, and then 3 ORs from there on.

This variant meant we got in at least 2 more SDRs in our time-limit game.  I liked that, as the SDRs are a real highlight of the game.  But the reduced ORs meant we had less cash to spend.  In 1829 a pass means drawing a random share from the deck, and refusing to buy it.  This meant we flipped a lot of cards due to low funding.  Not a flaw in the variant, but definitely a ramification.

So after two evenings of 18xx sorts of games, I am still eager for more!

Invaders from Moongha

July 9, 2010

This week we finally got Moongha Invaders: Mad Scientists and Atomic Monsters Attack the Earth played.  It was great fun!  The game is a bit more serious than the whimsical title would lead you to believe.

Theme:  Plenty present.  Each of the four players is a mad scientist.  At the beginning of the game we each are assigned a couple of cities of the world where we base our secret HQ.  We would prefer that these cities not be reduced to rubble.  But the rest of the world…  utter annihilation is our goal!  And we have a large stable of Atomic Monsters to deploy.  Every monster has a “OO” spelling – The MOOGRE, the BLOOB, and several others I am having trouble recalling at this late hour.

Some of these monsters are able to destroy cities, while others, like KIDOO are relatively minor.  Some improve you ability to move around on the board, others are wimps in battle, but worth lots of points if able to skulk in the lonely shadows of the rubble.  In fact the monsters have so much chrome, it took us most of the first game to get a feel of how you might use the various monsters.

Moongha Invaders uses a liberal amount of dice – so it reminded me of old Milton Bradley Gamemaster games in a small way.  But there is also an area-majority game, trying to deploy your rubble markers for maximum points.  One of our players was threatening to end the game early as she leveled block after block of the world’s cities.

Our initial reaction was good, with hopes that this game might even improve with more plays.  Right now, this is a game that I am eager to play again.  The novelty factor is high, and I am amused.

Games to go

July 1, 2010

I need to pack my bag tomorrow for a little trip to Pagosa Springs.  I will be vacationing with friends, but sadly, not with my wife.  She will stay home to help her father (who lives with us) continue to recover from his recent knee replacement surgery.  But we had made some commitments around this trip which drive me to still go.

So, as the bona fide game-guy of the group, I will be expected to bring some boardgames.  My fellow vacationers include 3 other couples.  One couple are hardcore gamers, where Settlers, Power Grid, and other medium weight strategy games are welcomed.  Another couple are mildly gamers, more comfortable with Bohnanza and other lighter games.  Both of these couples are energetic roleplayers and computer gamers.  But the third couple are not really boardgamers at all, although one of them is a big role-player and computer gamer.

Picking a few games to fit this crowd required considering a few points:

  • How many can play?  Is it fun if fully staffed?
  • How complex is it?  Does it have a good theme?
  • How long does it take?

The Three Musketeers comes to mind.  Plays up to five, which seems a likely number of willing players.  Great theme, mild complexity, and quick playing.  The toy factor is good too.  Also, I recently discovered I have been playing it wrong, making “Milady” too powerful.  So I’d like to play again – correctly.

Timber Tom – Only plays 4, which is a downside.  But the lighter play coupled with the fantastic presentation should make this a nice event.

Fast Food Franchise – A favorite of one of my friends, and it plays a larger number of people if needed.  Not especially fast – but since it is loved that is less of a factor.

Kaleidos – Easy rules, fun “non-game” activity for folks who don’t necessarily like boardgames.  But well-loved by those of us who consider ourselves gamers.

Spice Navigator – Just cause I think it might be fun.  I have rewritten the rules for a variant version.

Carcassonne – A classic that I haven’t played in person for a long while.  I recently started playing the iPhone app, and it has whetted my appetite to play again.  Very easy game to play and easily scalable.

And that is clearly too many games for a weekend of vacationing where boardgaming is not the reason we are getting together.