Saturday, January 26, 2008

Damascus 01/25/08

We had seventeen in attendance this past Friday...

  • David & Noreen Fair
  • Jason Cheng
  • Lance Slifka
  • Lance Jones
  • Doug Hoylman
  • David & Martha Briggs
  • Tim Rothenhoefer
  • John Stup
  • Dan Barnett
  • Bryan Snyder
  • Marshall Miller
  • Philippe Hebert
  • Rick & Linda Pasquale
  • Rose Byington
Kingsburg Box FrontFirst up was a 5-player session of a new Essen '07 release, Kingsburg. In this game, players roll dice, then in order from low to high, take turn claiming one of 18 characters to assist them with building their cities. You can use all your dice to choose one character, or split them up to choose multiple characters. The higher numbered characters are more generally powerful, but splitting the dice gives you more options at the low end. After three rounds of this, the city is attacked and you hope you did well enough in building to withstand the attack. You do this entire process for 5 cycles and the game ends. Whoever scored the most VP's for their buildings and roles selected wins.

All-in-all, a very decently done dice game. I wish it played a bit faster, but it was quite good as it was. In this game, David F. (39) won, followed by Lance S. (33), Jason C. (30), Doug H. (27) and Lance J. (25).

GemBlo 2-PlayerMeanwhile, some more gamers arrived, and while a couple of them setup and played another game, Marshall M. and Philippe H. played 2 games in quick succession. First was Alhambra, which Marshall won 133 to 130 (and "Dirk" the imaginary 3rd player used in 2-player Alhambra scored 87). A very close game! Next was a 2-player, 4-color version of GemBlo. They played an interesting variant of the game, in which players use all the pieces of 2 colors, and the rule for offsetting your pieces from each other applies to applies to both colors. They also played on the small 4-player area of the board. This all makes the game very difficult, as is shown by their scores, which was another victory for Marshall M., 37 to Philippe H's 42.

Tim, Martha, and David played the game of competitive casino construction, Vegas Showdown. This is one of the best games to come from the revamped Avalon Hill. In addition to the fine components, it offers excellent gameplay and some very interesting mechanisms. the game was very close, with Tim R. (64) edging out Martha B. (61) for the win, and David B. (60) very close behind.

Cathedral building seems to be a popular theme for game designers, and Pillars of the Earth is based off of the Ken Follett novel of the same name. One thing I always enjoy about the game is how closely it mirrors the events in the book. This time around, Bryan S. (53) managed the victory, with Rick P. (48) right on his heels. New player John S. (38) was not far back, followed by another first-time player, Dan B. (14 - he had to leave before the game ended.

Hansa is a game I personally find rather engaging, though some complain it is too dry and you are unable to do much planning. In this game players jointly control the movement of a trade ship around the Hanseatic League cities, where they acquire goods, build market stalls, and attempt to earn the most victory points by being more profitable than their opponents. This is a feat that Lance S. (44) managed tonight, followed by Rose B. (41) and Jason C. (39).

A quick-playing game that manages 6-players fairly well can be a challenge to find, but a group chose to give Diamant the nod tonight. A game more about luck, but with room for careful strategy, it is always fun to try and push your luck in the mines. Rick P. (43) proved to be the most adept and knowing when to stay and when to go, followed by Rose B. (32), Bryan S. (28), Noren F. (22) and Lance J. (5) and Jason C. (2) who, it appears, floundered about a bit.

We gave the Agricola Family Game a try. Unlike the regular game, this is played sans occupation and minor improvement cards. This makes the game faster, but also less volatile. It leads to some interesting play. We were playtesting a few options that may or may not make it into the upcoming Z-Man release. Some we liked, others not so much...

Scores are a bit lower in the Family game, as only the Major Improvements exist to give card points, and options are more limited. Martha B. had a very balanced farm, not scoring highly in anything, but only losing points for her 5 empty spaces. She also lost some ground by only have a 4-room clay hut and 3 family members in play. This gave her a score of 19, and 5th place.

Marshall M. lost points for insufficient plowed fields and no veggies, and scored quite low for the grain and animals, but did have more stables and fewer unused spaces to score 20 points, and 4th place.

Philippe H. had never tried a baking bread strategy before, and he found the going tough in this game. He lost points in all three animal categories, but had all of his family members in play, had a 5-room Stone house, and several Major Improvements to rack up 26 points and 3rd place.

David B. only lost points for unused spaces (3) and for never upgrading his home from the simple wooden hut he started with (though he increased it's size). He did manage 29 points and second place.

David F. lost points for insufficient plowed fields, no grain, no veggies, and 4 empty spaces, but he scored points for all 3 animal types, for both pastures and stables, for a 5-room Stone house, for 5 people, and for 4 Major Improvements, giving him 38 points and first place.

A second game of Vegas Showdown ended, this time 4-player, though Tim R. won again (with 75 this time) in the narrowest of margins over Doug H. (74), Lance S. (63) and Linda P. (58).

Whenever a newcomer shows up at Damascus, they somehow end up playing Tichu. Well, never fear, it happened again. this time with Lance J. pairing up with Noreen F. in a close victory (1185 to 815) over Rose B. and Jason C.

Our final game of the evening was another new Essen release, Hamburgum. It was also another cathedral-building game, though this time using a rondel for action selection, similar to Imperial. the game played rather smoothly and quickly after we grokked the rules. Players can spend an action to build one or more buildings (costing resources), can take goods (one per action, plus an additional good for each building of the appropriate type), can sell those goods (for higher prices if fewer buildings of that type have been built), can buy resources (for building or donating), or make donations to the neighborhood church (there are 7 of them).

The game offers a tight balancing act between taking actions now and waiting "just one turn", and many times over the game players found themselves regretting not moving further on the rondel when they had the chance. In the end, David F. (76) took first in a tight race over Tim (69 and the tiebreaker), Philippe (69) and Marshall (68). Waiting to score until you want to is a powerful option in this game, and it made for some interesting tactics. I can't wait to play this one again.

This coming Friday, February 1, is the first Friday in Feb, and we hope to see you at the center. Looking forward to a great time!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Germantown 01/21/08

A smaller group than usual gathered on Monday night to play some games. Our smaller numbers didn't daunt us, though, and a good time was had by all.

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Dave and Martha Briggs
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Ben, Bob and Carol Jones
  • Eric and Laura Reinhold

Doug and Eric arrived a bit early and so got in a round of Lost Cities. No scores were recorded, but Eric won.

As more people arrived, they broke out Carcassonne: The Princess and the Dragon. Before they could start, the Jones clan arrived so Martha and Doug split off, leaving Eric, Laura, David and Leslie to play Carc. Once again, no scores were recorded, but it was a very close game with Eric winning by one point over Laura with both David and Leslie within 6 points or so. There was apparently much Meeple-munching by the Dragon.

Doug and Martha, meanwhile, joined Carol and me for Drunter und Druber, the 1991 Spiel des Jahres winner. This was the first time the voting/tile-laying game had made it to the table in Germantown. The rules are very simple but offer a variety of tough choices each turn. Players lay tiles representing city walls, roads, and a river, trying to build over the type of buildings favored by other players with occasional voting when a tile is being laid across an outhouse. At the end of the game, the player with the highest value buildings left standing wins. In the first game, Doug was deftly moving the tiles around his buildings, so I set it up for a wall tile to cover Doug's highest point building. Unfortunately, Carol and Martha didn't catch on to what I was doing and moved the wall in a different direction. By the second game, everyone had caught on and the game was much closer. First game scores were Doug 12, Carol 7, Bob 4, Martha 0. The second game scores were Bob 11, Carol 10, Doug 10, Martha 8. I'll be bringing this game back to the table soon.

Ben then joined us for another dragon game, the treasure hunt that is Emerald. Hearty adventurers explore a dragon's cave, looting gold and jewels while avoiding the patrolling dragon. There was actually not much dragon chomping as the players chose to pay off the dragon rather than be eaten and keep the treasure. This resulted in some big point losses, only to have the Dragon snack on the spared adventurer the very next turn. Ouch. Final scores were Doug 23, Bob 16, Carol 15, Ben 14, and Martha 11.

As Carc and Emerald ended at about the same time, we mixed up and started two new games. Ben was eager (very eager) to play Star Wars: Epic Duels again, so Leslie, Eric and I indulged him. Leslie and Ben teamed up as Mace Windu and Emperor Palpatine, respectively, while Eric and I were Obi Wan and Luke. Ben did a great job at keeping cards out of my hands which rendered Luke pretty powerless. In short order, Luke made a rather foolish assault on both Mace and the Emperor and was slaughtered. My minor character, Leia, fell soon afterwards, leaving Obi Wan at a huge disadvantage. The disadvantage didn't last long as Leslie and Ben made short work of the Jedi.

The other four brought out Blue Moon City with the expansion tiles which hasn't been played for a few sessions. Apparently, the group's BMC skills were rusty as Carol pretty much walked to victory, leaving a whole bunch of crystals, up to two cubes worth each, in Dave and Martha's hands. Final scores were Carol 4, Doug 2, Dave 1, Martha 1.

Having rebuilt the city, the same four brought out another popular game that hasn't been seen lately, Einfach Genial. The final scores don't indicate how close this game was, as Carol had all 18's but for her final color. Still, Doug had an impressive victory, Genialling (yes, it's a word) every color. Final scores - Doug 18, Dave 12, Martha 12, Carol 10.

For the final game of the night, Leslie and Eric joined me for the great three player trick-taking game,
Flaschenteufel. Eric started out strong, scoring a mighty 55 points in each of the first two rounds while Leslie ended up with the bottle and negative points both times. But then, the tide turned and Eric made a couple of disastrous plays with the yellow 3 and ended up with the bottle in the fourth and fifth rounds, while I scored big and passed him for the win. Cumulative scores after each round were Bob (22, 53, 47, 116, 193), Eric (55, 110, 132, 126, 120) and Leslie (-8, -13, 10, 34, 44). I hope to play this game more often.

Thanks to everyone for coming out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Damascus 01/18/08

On the start of a very cold weekend, we had 23 brave and hardy souls join us:

  • Tim Rothenhoefer
  • Bill Trac
  • Ruben & Melinda Carbonell
  • Marshall Miller
  • Jason Cheng
  • John Stup
  • Rose Byington
  • Lance Slifka
  • Luke Conte
  • David, Noreen, Corwin, and Andrew Fair
  • David & Martha Briggs
  • Rick & Linda Pasquale
  • Bob, Carol, Rachel & Ben Jones
  • Tham Nguyen
First up was a close 5-player game of Puerto Rico. It appears that seating order was not recorded, and we have no word on what sort of strategy was employed, but final scores were: Lance 55, John 51, Jason 48, Tim 44, Rose 40

Next was a 4-player game of Ticket to Ride: Europe. Rick led the way with 134, followed by Linda 112, Martha 99, and David 97. The board looked very congested by the end.

There were three Tichu battles through the night, first was a 1015 to 185 win for Ruben & Bill over Melinda & Marshall. Ouch.

Ignoring the cries of "But Qwirkle only plays Four!", there was a 5-player game started. Ruben took the win with 108, followed by Bill 95, Tham 81, Marshall 75, and Melinda 47.

Racing at the Daytona 500 is a popular spectator event, but tonight, 4 players stepped up and made it a participatory undertaking. Rick won the series with $910,000, followed by Martha with $870,000, Linda with $830,000, and David with $770,000.

The latest game from Alea is always looked forward to with interest by many gamers, and In the Year of the Dragon is no exception. In this 3rd game from Stefan Feld (Notre Dame, Rum & Pirates), players take on the roles of Chinese rulers around the year 1000. Every month you try to protect yourself and your subjects as best as you can against disease, hunger or attacks from the Mongols. Good planning is key here, as every month new perils come again. An interesting game I look forward to trying again. Final scores were: David 94, Carol 87, Bob 85, Luke 82.

Another Tichu game, another big win, this time for Rose & Noreen (1040) over Linda & Rick (360).

John and Lance faced off in Memoir '44, though they neglected to mention which scenario. Lance earned 2 flags to John's 5.

Bob taught California to David, Martha, Tim, and Jason. This game has been grabbed up for cheap on Tanga by many gamers of late, so this gave folks a chance to give the conspicuous consumption game with an interesting pricing/income mechanism a try. in the end, final scores played out as follows: bob 15, Jason 13, Martha 12, David 12, Tim 10.

Another Tichu match, another big win, again for Rose & Noreen (1045) over Linda & Rick (455). Combined winners vs losers in tonights Tichu games were 3100 to 1000. Ouch!

Vom Kap Bis Kairo is one of the "Games of the Moment", and Bob taught it to Jason and Tim. In this game, players are racing trains from the Cape to the city of Cairo. Tim (8) managed it best, and was followed by Jason (6) and Bob (6) who tied for second.

Luke and Carol joined Dave for the game of building towers in Rome, Capitol. An interesting game where you have to time your actions carefully, and always watch your opponents to make sure you can guess what they are up to, the game turned out to be very close, though David (53) managed to take the win over Luke (41) and Carol (41) who tied for second.

See you next week!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Damascus 01/11/08

A good night for gaming, we had 20 people in attendance...

  • David, Noreen, & Corwin Fair
  • Jason Cheng
  • John Stup
  • Raphael Lehrer
  • Howard Wagner
  • Ruben & Melinda Carbonell
  • Rose Byington
  • David & Martha Briggs
  • Bill Trac
  • Rick & Linda Pasquale
  • Luke Conte
  • Ben, Rachel, Carol, and Bob Jones
  • Bryan Snyder
First up was a quick 3-player game of Race for the Galaxy, in which Jason was able to out-consume my settling/developing. Final Scores were Jason 43, David 39, Marshall 25.

Ruben and John joined Marshall and I for a game of Carcassonne with the River, River II, Mini, and Abbey & Mayor expansions. It was a good game, with some interesting twists added by the new expansion. Final scores: John67, Dave 110, Marshall 111, Ruben 137.

Bryan joined Raphael and Jason for a game of Conquest of Paradise. This is a new title from GMT Games that I know little about. Would one of the players leave some comments to let us know what you thought? Final scores: Raphael 27, Jason 21, Bryan 10.

A six-player game of Alhambra can be a bit chaotic, but we gave it a shot. Bob had an impressive wall early on, but only managed 6th place with 61 points. I had almost no wall the entire game, and got 5th place with 67 points. Ruben had a nice lead in two colors, but in the end got 4th with 69 points. Marshall snagged 3rd with 71 points. Luke, in his first game, managed to tie for the win with Carol, both with 74 points.

Ticket to Ride was played by the quartet of Rick, Linda, Rose, and Noreen. They played the standard game, with the USA 1910 expansion. This was Linda's first playing of the game, and she came away with 74 points. Noreen took third with 113, Rick had second with 139, and Rose scored an impressive 169 for the win.

The same foursome then played, what else, Tichu. Noreen and Rose won over Rick & Linda 1065 to 335.

Another game with the same 4 players was Qwirkle. Again, this was Linda's first play of the game. Rick came in fourth with 92, Rose third with 97, Linda second with 109, and Noreen won with 115.

Setting off to explore ancient ruins is the theme of Thebes, a fun and light family game. this time we had 4 players, and Bill claims it was exceptional luck that led him to his 57-point victory. He was followed by David with 52, Howard with 41, and Martha with 31.

After conquering Paradise, they set about building in Arkadia, or so the legends go... Rapahel proved adept at building the king's castle, managing a win with 124 points, followed by Jason with 84 and Bryan with 76. This is a game I am eager to play soon.

Caylus was next up, and Howard said he has been studying the game like a university exam... It showed as he won with 50 points to Carol's 46, newcomer Luke's 43, and David's 33.

Bob taught Medieval Merchant to several new players, and it appears they got almost all of the rules right. Maybe next time we can make it 100%... Either way, Bill managed the win with 56 points, followed by Bob with 45, Martha with 40, David with 35, and Marshall with 34.

Jason and Raphael were left to their own devices while the above games were finishing up, and so they played a trio of 2-player games: Agricola (Raphael won, 50 points to Jason's 36), and 2 games of Race for the Galaxy (both wins for Jason, 47 to 39 and 44 to 26).

Rose & Marshall paired off against Bill & Noreen in Tichu, and lost 770 to 1030.

Finally, Bob taught Union Pacific, a classic stock collecting game with tense action choices throughout. Final scores were Raphael 109, Bob 106, Jason 101, Carol 98, Howard 91.

An excellent game session, hope to see you all next week.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Germantown 01/07/08

On this first session of 2008 in Germantown, attending were:

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Aubrey Bell
  • David and Martha Briggs
  • Dave Fair
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob, Carol and Ben Jones
  • Carol Loman
  • Ken McAuliffe
  • Eric Reinhold
  • Bill Salvatore

First up was the ever-popular Showmanager with Dave Fair, Leslie, Eric, Carol Loman, Doug and Bill. Dave tanked his Wolf in NY and used the money to maximize his other three shows, a risky strategy, but he still ended up in 4th in NY when others did even worse at their Wolf shows. This, and the last-minute pull of the final remaining "9" in the deck (which he got for free when Carol flushed) gave him the oomph needed to push his King Lear to the top. While usually not an issue, the rule that says a player may have "only a single card left over on the last show" burned several people when they were forced NOT to take a more valuable card than one they already had. Eric, for example, was unable to take a free 9 to replace the 5 in hand. The 4 point difference in the show value likely would have won him the game, as he would have moved up two places in Ballet, and Dave would have moved down one place. Final scores were Dave 46, Leslie 43, Eric 43, (same money amount as Leslie as well), Carol 40, Doug 32, and Bill 18.

When I arrived, I joined David Briggs and Martha teaching Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition to Aubrey. Before we started, Ken McAuliffe arrived so he joined us for this first game at GCOM Germantown. For the longest time there was no passenger action, but when Aubrey launched his first passenger for lots of points, the rest of the passengers quickly followed. I made some poor choices in my initial tickets and when Aubrey and David both cut me of from Switzerland and France, I was doomed. Final scores Aubrey 124, Dave 118, Martha 111, Ken 90, and Bob a pathetic 62.

While waiting for Showmanager to finish, Carol Jones and Ben played a game of Battleship. Alas, poor Ben was the one to utter "You sunk my battleship!" and Carol won. (Note: Ben did not literally say this, but metaphorically experienced it.)

After Showmanager, Carol Jones brought out her favorite game, Dragonland, and faced off against Doug, Carol Loman and Leslie. Doug proved the most adept at saving the dragon eggs and jewels and won a very close game. Final scores were Doug 44, Carol J 43, Leslie 42 and Carol L 33.

Dave Fair, Eric and Bill played a good gateway game that hasn't gotten much play in Germantown lately, Thurn & Taxis. Bill missed the chance to end the game on his turn, costing himself at least 6 points, and Eric ended it at the right time, as both of Dave and Bill were poised to score. Eric 15, Dave 14, and Bill 10.

Ben joined Carol Jones, Doug and Leslie for his favorite game, Star Wars: Epic Duels. For a genre-based game, Epic Duels has a really good set of rules and is extremely well balanced considering how many characters there are. Ben was Obi Wan Kenobi, Doug was Yoda, Leslie played Mace Windu while Carol played Count Dooku in an all-against-all brawl. Obi Wan came out immediately after Yoda who was the first to die. Obi Wan's aggressiveness got him pretty banged up however, so in the end it was down to Count Dooku against a virtually unscathed Mace Windu who won the day. Well done, Leslie.

Eric and Bill were looking for a two player game and ended up with the excellent Alhambra. Unfortunately, they ran out of time before they could finish.

Finally finished with Ticket to Ride, Bob taught Aubrey, David Briggs and Martha, the ultra-quick filler Escalation! where players are neighbors trying to escalate the, well, violence against each other. We played three rounds, and I proved the most adept at suburban warfare. Scores (low score wins) were Bob 7+9+13=29, David 17+12+9=38, Martha 16+12+11=39, Aubrey 15+22+19=56.

Thanks to Ken for coming out to his first GCOM session. Hope we'll see you again soon.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Damascus 01/04/08

First session of the new year... In attendance:

  • David & Noreen Fair
  • Jason Cheng
  • David Raley
  • Philippe Hebert
  • Tim Rothenhoefer
  • Rich O'Brien
  • Rose Byington
  • David & Martha Briggs
  • Scott Fox, Judy & Kayla Trent
  • Howard & Nathan Wagner
  • Helen Powell
  • Rick & Linda Pasquale
  • Bob & Ben Jones
First up was Race for the Galaxy. it was a very close game in which David F. (41) was able to build slightly faster than Jason (40) could ship. Philippe (28) held his own in his first game. David R. (25) was unable to get a 6-point development, which hurt his score greatly.

Ben (7), Bob (20), Rick (20), and Linda (14) played Gemblo, with young Ben besting all of the adults. Kayla then joined in, while Ben went to play with my boys, and the scores came out Rick (4), Bob (16), Linda (19), Kayla (23).

Showmanager is one of those rare games that plays best with 6, and so we gave a shot at being the best broadway producer for a season. David F. (49) took top honors (I'd like to thank all the little people), followed by Scott (44), Helen (41), David R. (38), Judy (36). Philippe (13) was also playing, not that you can tell from that score (last place in every city, it might be a record of some kind!).

Next was a game we like to call Crack Tichu. Tim and Jason paired up to crush Rose and Noreen 1010 to 990, and 1030 to 770. Ok, both games were close, but it's more fun to call it a crushing.

David F. taught Martin Wallace's latest game, Brass, to Scott, Judy, and Philippe. In this game players build networks of business in Lancashire. Experience payed off, as it tends to do in economic engine games, and David (128) won, followed by Philippe (107), Scott (106), and Judy (99).

Tikal is a classic game of exploration, and one of our favorite older titles. David R. (107) proved to be best at managing his expedition, followed by Rick (90), Bob (90), and Helen (84).

Setting out to build the best farm is not the most excited theme for a game, but Uwe Rosenberg has made Agricola a very engaging game nonetheless. Howard (42) is an experienced player who did quite well, followed by Martha (33), Rich (28), Nathan (27), and David B (27).

The final game for the night was Ticket to Ride with the USA 1910 expansion. Helen (126) managed to complete a very complementary set of tickets to take the win over Noreen (120) and Tim (48), who lost several tickets when the game ended more quickly than he expected.

Friday, January 04, 2008

We've Been Nominated!

Our blog has been nominated as "Best Game Club Site" for the 2007 Boardgame Internet Awards sponsored by! The list of all nominees can be seen here.

Thanks to Marshall for nominating us! The final results will be posted soon at Boardgamenews.