Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Damascus 06/08/07

Twenty-Three seems to be our "glass ceiling". We have hit that number several times, but never gone over. We hit it again this week with the following gamers in attendance:

  • Kevin Bealer
  • Martha & David Briggs
  • Rose Byington
  • Ruben Carbonell
  • David & Noreen Fair
  • Bert Feliksik
  • Scott Fisher, Calvin and Carly
  • Scott Fox
  • Philippe Hebert
  • Dan Hucker
  • Raphael L.
  • Marshall Miller
  • Rick Pasquale
  • Scott & Liz Percival
  • John Stup
  • Bill Trac
  • Judy Trent
  • John Weber (host of the GCOM-Laurel CC location)
I did a better job of keeping track of the order things got played. Still, no camera this week. I should have photographic evidence again next week...

The first game finished was a 2-player game of Rat Hot, played by John S. and Marshall. This is an interesting little tile-laying game based on the board game, Dschunke. Players take turns laying down planks showing goods and rats, trying to stack and arrange the goods so their own goods are on top, and their rats are buried, while burying their opponents goods, and exposing his rats. they played 2 games, and they each won one.

Next up was a game of Notre Dame, which I described here last week. This game involved newcomers Bert, Raphael, and John W., and veteran players Philippe and David F. After a quick rules explanation, we got underway. Bert had trouble betting his park manned, and there was early competition for Notre Dame, meanwhile the carriages started picking up the "4" tiles, and rats started overrunning the 5 sectors of the city. After the third scoring we found out how close we had all been: David F. 54 points, Raphael 53, Philippe 44, John W. 40, Bert 26. the Park's bonus VP's can really add up.

Next up was a game of Gemblo involving Scott Fox, Judy, and Ruben, Scott Percival, Liz, the last three of which were playing a game of Tichu with Dan at the same time. WTF!? Ruben managed to play all of his pieces for the win, Judy and Scott Fox both had 4 cells remaining, Scott P. had 8 remaining, and Liz had 20 left over. I wonder if his victory here will affect the outcome of Tichu...

Rick brought his beautiful new Ravensburger copy of the racing classic Ave Caesar, and he played 2 races with Martha & David, Marshall, and Bill. This is a great game with lots of chances for evil screwing over of your opponents, which Bill said he really enjoyed. Knowing how to manage that and how to avoid it is key to winning, and Martha and Rick both did well, scoring 8 points each over the 2 races for the shared victory, while Bill scored 5 for third laurels, david scored 4 for 4th, and Marshall took 5th with but 3 points. One of my favorite games, a real classic.

The aforementioned Tichu game ended, with Scott P. and Liz winning over Ruben and Dan 1000 to 700.

Scott Fisher, Calvin, and Carly arrived, and played Yspahan with Kevin. Another new classic, this gets a lot of play around these parts. Calvin and Carly had not played before so Scott taught the game, and they began. The dice were kind to Kevin, who did well, winning with 65 points to Scott and Calvin's 57 points each, and Carly's 50 points.

Calvin and Carly, Ruben, Dan, and Kevin then played a game of "6 Nimmt!". In this fun little card game that accommodates up to 10 players, there are 104 cards numbered from 1 to 104. Every card has at least 1 small ox-head on it, which will score against you. The deck is shuffled and players are dealt 10 cards each. 4 more are dealt up on the table to form the start of 4 rows.

When each player has chosen a card from their hand, these are revealed and put on the ends of the rows starting with the lowest card. As the rows get longer, the danger grows, because if you place the 6th card in a row, you pick up the other 5 cards in the row, and your 6th card goes to the front to restart the row. The cards you pick up do not go into your hand, but sit in front of you to score against you at the end of the round. Play continues until someone hits 66 and the player who has taken the least negative points wins.

The game is a lot of fun, and the strategy changes dramatically based on the number of players in the game. Calvin won with -34 points, followed by Carly with -39, Ruben with -46, Kevin with -57, and Dan with -70.

While Tichu is the most commonly played climbing game in our repertoire, it is not the only one. Frank's Zoo offers it's own challenges and strategy, along with Doris Matthäus' delightful artwork. Martha, David B., Bill, Marshall, and Rick played, and it was new to everyone except Rick, who reported that the game was enjoyed and liked by all. And who can truly not like a game where the mosquito is feared by almost everyone? Rick won again, with 12 points, followed by Bill with 9, Marshall with 8, and David B. and Martha with 7 each.

Around this time, Power Grid finally came to an end. We were playing on the Central Europe map, with all sections in play, and playing to 17 cities instead of 15. We also used the prototype Expansion Deck. these factors all combined to make a wonderfully tight game. Three players all built to 17 cites on the last turn, with only $8 separating first and third place. Scott Fox managed the win by powering all 17 cities and having 8 dollars left over. David F. came second, powering all 17, but with only $2 (and 2 excess trash barrels that had he not bought, would have allowed him to win) followed by Bert who powered all 17, but had no money remaining. Fourth place went to Judy who had $2 remaining after powering all 15 of her cities, and fifth to Philippe who did the same, but had no money. Rose was one plant auction behind at the end, but powered all 14 of her cities and had $56 remaining. Excellent game, definitely among the best PG games from recent memory.

You may be wondering why there has been no mention of John W. or Raphael thus far. Well, after Notre Dame, they settled into a 2 player game of last Essen's hot game, Through the Ages. They played the Full Game (the longest of the three variations) and while this is a long game, it is usually very rewarding to play. It has development, economics, war, and all the other elements you'll find in a civilization game, but ultimately the goal is to develop your own civilization, not to destroy the other ones. The military strength is just one aspect of your nation, as well as population, production or science. It is up to you which one you will concentrate more or less, but you have not to underestimate any of them to build an efficiently working nation. There is only one measure of success at the end – the amount of culture your nation produced during the entire game. However, there are many ways to produce culture: through religion, literature or drama, by building wonders, by utilizing cultural persons etc. Considerable amount of culture can be gained even by wars or other aggressive actions.

Raphael managed to secure Michaelangelo as his leader for ages I & II, setting the pace for early VP's, but when he was forced to switch to Shakespeare, he was unable to keep the pace up. John used a few aggressive actions early, then Used his leader, Ghandi, to ensure no more military actions were staged. Neither of them upgraded their governmental system past Despotism, and John won, 251 to 237. Sounds like a great game. I can't wait to get one of these for myself, and have the chance to play more often.

Marshall, Kevin, Carly, Calvin and Scott Fisher all played Notre Dame next. Marshall was the only one who had played before, and he taught the game. Fisher commented several times that he thought the game was enjoyable, and a nice game on par with Louis XiV. Calvin managed to gain the most prestige for his city management skills, earning 69 VP's, followed by Kevin with 53, Carly with 50, Marshall with 44, and Scott Fisher with 43.

Winds of Plunder is the long-awaited new pirate game from GMT and designer Al Newman. Scott Fox, Philippe, Rick, and Bill all sailed the Caribbean together, with old sea dog Rick teaching the landlubbers the difference between port and starboard. He seems to have taught them well, as he scored 48 points but still came in 4th, preceded by Philippe with 54, Scott Fox with 55, and Bill with 56. Arrrgghh.

Marshall, Kevin, Raphael, and Noreen set off for China, playing Z-Man Games' new Knizia release, Dragon Parade. Noreen had played before, but Raphael proved most adept at manipulating the dragon to end near his stalls, scoring 28 yuan, followed by Marshall's 24, and Noreen & Kevin's 23 yuan each.

the last game of the evening was a 4-player game of Leonardo DaVinci, with David F., Rose, judy, and Bert playing. Judy and David had played before, and they taught the game to the other two, then set about making some of Maestro Leonardo's greatest works.

David tried an unusual opening strategy that worked very well, avoiding conflict early, taking money to start, and upgrading both labs before starting any inventions. This proved to work very well, as he claimed 9 inventions by the end of the game, winning 114 ducats to Judy's 82, Rose's 64 and Bert's 39.

I had a wonderful time, and I hope you all did as well. It was great to have Scott Fisher back. I hope to see you all again this Friday. Good gaming!

1 comment:

John Weber said...

Want to say how much I enjoyed my first session at this location; I hope to be back sometime before too long. After finishing last in my last two games of Through the Ages, I relished my win over Raphael, who is a very strong player, but have to admit I'm not sure how I pulled out the win as he was really piling up those points in midgame with the powerful Michaelangelo/St Peters combination. I think Raphael and I now agree that the Full Game is more balanced than the Advanced Game, and I guess our game proved this as Raphael surely had the edge through the end of Age II which is when Michaelangelo went away. Too bad the game takes so long to play, one reason why it might not come out at many shorter gaming sessions.

Regarding Notre Dame, sorry to say after two plays I am not as enthralled by this game as some. But at least the game is relatively quick.

Thanks to Dave and Noreen (who works at the Damascus CC) for hosting. Although a bit out of the way for some, this is an excellent location for gaming.