Friday, December 19, 2008

December 18, 2008 Session Report

With the Community Center being closed for the Holidays for the next two Thursdays, this week's session would be our final one for 2008. We had strong attendance once again, a total of eight, including one newcomer (Chris) who joined Don, Ron, Paul, Mike, Jonathan, Clayton and myself for the session. We played a total of five different games, one game twice: Mississippi Queen, Can't Stop, Ra (x2), Agricola and Ticket to Ride.

First up were Can't Stop and Mississippi Queen, which Don had brought. Mike, Jonathan and I were the Can't Stop game, joined by Clayton starting the second round of turns. The game turned out to be a tough one after three of us got two markers each to the top. Mike, who was behind, battled his way back into contention. Clayton was just one space away but missed rolled the needed number, and I finally won it by rolling a 12 when needed. A really close game.

I was keeping my on the Mississippi Queen game which finished just about the same time as Can't Stop. Ron had raced ahead to an early lead, but at some point he was slowed down by picking up a passenger, facing the wrong way, running low on coal, maybe all three, and Don came blazing back from behind to take the win. I believe it may be possible that Paul, who was trailing most of the way, may have nipped Ron for second. Don't recall hearing anything about anyone ramming into another paddleboat, but who knows, anything was possible.

We then resplit into two groups, with Mike, Jonathan and Don playing a three-player Agricola game that took up most of the rest of the session. Ron, Paul, Clayton and I played Ra, joking that we might finish the game before Mike finished with the Agricola explanation. Well, this didn't quite happen, but as I recall they were still looking at their cards (not the Family Game this time) when we finished scoring the second epoch. We were close to wrapping up when Chris (whose daughter was in a ballet class across the hall) wondering in, having looked at one of our flyers. In part because I was distracted talking to Chris, I lost track of whether I had been given a proper 5-point scoring token, which wound up being the difference in the game between Paul and myself, who had the top scores. So, I was credited with the points but was quick to think my win might be tainted.

Chris had been watching us for the last few plays of the Ra game, and we readily agreed to include him in a second game since it fit his time requirement. The second game also ended in a five-point win for me with Paul again in second, 43-38, but at least this time I believe we got the scores right. Clayton was third with 26, followed by Ron and then Chris. We hope to see Chris back at future sessions of the club!

Clayton, Ron, Paul and I then had a little more than an hour left for the final game of the evening, and we played Ticket to Ride -- another close finish between Paul and myself, Paul winning 115-112. It was Ron's first time playing Ticket; he did really well, finishing in third with over 100 points. Finally, that left the Agricola game that had been going on for two hours or so. I recall Jonathan and Don expressing dismay when Mike played the "Ratcatcher" occupation -- apparently there were a couple of interactive-type cards that worked their way into the supposedly "easy" deck. Anyway, it was a close finish, and the final scores of that one were Mike 37, Jonathan 35, Don 28.

Wish everyone a Happy Holiday season -- our next scheduled session will be Thursday, January 8th -- next year, of course.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11, 2008 Session Report

Total attendance of 10 tonight (despite some rainy weather): Jonathan was back for a second time, along with Doug, Paul, Nick, Ben, Ron, Mike, Clayton, Don and myself. We played a total of seven different games (one of them twice), and we had two tables going at once throughout the entire session. Games played this week: Can't Stop, Wasabi, Lost Cities, Power Grid, Ra (played twice), Dominion, and (for the second time in the club's history), The Amazing Labyrinth.

First game up was Can't Stop, played by Paul, Doug, Ron and Mike -- Paul won that one. Nick, Ben, Jonathan and I played Wasabi, which was played for the second week in a row. Final scores were Nick 26 John 23 Jonathan 19 Ben 11. Don and Clayton had arrived by this time, making it a literal three-ring circus; they played one hand of Lost Cities while waiting for the Can't Stop game to finish.

Next up was a five-player Power Grid, using the US map but with the new Power Plant deck. It came down to a three-way tie on money, with Don winning ahead of Doug and Ron, as all three of them powered 15 cities. Doug and Mike also played. Clayton moved to the other table and joined Jonathan, Ben, Nick and I in a five-player Ra game, won by Ben with a whopping 56 points while Nick and I (who tied for second) had just 22 points. We then played Dominion with the new club game brought by Ben courtesy of John Goon. I managed to pull out a win with just 25 points despite having only two Provinces to four for Nick (who came home second with 22). Clayton took third with 18 points, followed by Ben (14) and Jonathan (10). We then wrapped up the session with a four-played Amazing Labyrinth game -- Clayton and I played as teammates against Ben, Jonathan and Nick. Ben, Jonathan and Nick got their six victory conditions first but successfully blocked each other from making it back to base, giving Clayton and me a chance to catch up. We abandoned the game -- calling it a four-way tie -- with just a few minutes left in the session.

The other table, once the Power Grid game was concluded, played Ra -- final scores in that one, which barely finished by 10 PM -- were Mike 36, Ron 33, Doug 30, Don 23 and Paul 21.

A reminder that this coming Monday, December 15, is a scheduled Family Game Night from 7 to 9 PM at the Laurel public library. We have one more regularly scheduled session at the Community Center, next week, before the Holiday season which happens to occur on Thursdays this year, causing us to cancel on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 4, 2008 Session Report

Attendance tonight (7): Ron, Paul, Mike, Doug, Clayton, Rodney and myself.

Games played (7): Can't Stop, Daytona 500, Wasabi, Industrial Waste, We Didn't Playtest This Game At All, Dominion, Slide 5.

First game up was Can't Stop, played by four of us but Clayton subbed for Paul who wasn't doing very well, at least Clayton got one number to the top. Mike won after he and John had two each. Ron also played.

Next we split into two groups. Mike, John, Rodney and Paul took on the role of sushi chefs in Z-Man's new game, Wasabi. Final scores were Mike 27, John 21, Rodney 19, Paul 17. Meanwhile, Ron taught Daytona 500 and Industrial Waste to Clayton and Doug; no details, I heard Ron won both games, though.

Mike, Paul, Rodney and I played a couple of shorter games while waiting for Industrial Waste to finish. One of them, We Didn't Playtest This At All, ended real quickly, hard to say who won (either Paul or Rodney), as it depended on how you interpreted a particular card play. We threw up our hands and played Dominion, this one won by Rodney over Mike, 20-16, with Paul and I finishing far, far back with 4 apiece (and quite a few curses).

All seven of us participated in the final game of the evening, Slide 5, which lasted for five hands. Paul won with a score of 38. Ron, Rodney and Mike tried playing a hand or two at random, generally it didn't work too well, except for Mike, who managed to take zero points once.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20. 2008 Session Report

Last session before Turkey Day, and we welcomed back a couple of attendees who had been MIA for way too long -- Abe and Brandon, who joined Mike B, Ben, Paul, Ron, Greg and myself for a total of eight gamers in attendance. We played a total of six different games, a couple of which were played for the first time at the club this week: Ingenious (played twice), Le Havre, American Megafauna, Can't Stop, Citadels and Cloud Nine.

Started off with a four-player Ingenious, and Paul won with 16 after everyone else's colors got shut down. Final scores were Paul 16 John 14 Mike 10 Ron 9. Greg and Ben had joined the group and, after much discussion, we split up into two tables to try the two games that were new to the club: LeHavre (a recent Essen release) and American Megafauna (which Ben had brought). Mike and I played LeHavre, first time for Mike, second play for me; some hard lessons learned in my first game (also a two-player short game version) paid off as I managed to outbuild Mike for a 156-117 win. Brandon and Abe joined the group, and played a two-player Can't Stop while waiting for the other games to finish. I had Abe down as winning that one, 3-1.

The American Megafauna game was a close win for Ben, not sure how well received it was judging from the reactions on some people's faces. Paul, Abe, Brandon, Mike and I played a five-player Citadels, which got off poorly for Paul as his first three character selections got assassinated, and Brandon won with 26 ahead of Mike in second with 22. Greg, Ben and Ron played Ingenious (also won by Ben) and then a quick game of Cloud Nine that was abandoned with Ben in the lead.

Again, a reminder that the Community Center will be closed next week due to Thanksgiving. I do recommend the special day-after-Thanksgiving gaming session at Damascus Community Center, which starts at 2 PM and should last well into the evening. Our next session at the Laurel CC will be two weeks hence, on Thursday, December 4.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 13.2008 Session Report

After a week off due to EuroQuest, gaming was back last week with a strong attendance of 10, including one first-time attendee. Jonathan joined Clayton, Ron, Paul, Doug, Greg, Mike, Don, Nick and myself and we played a total of seven different games: Power Grid-China, Qwirkle, Dominion (x2), Say Anything, Aquaretto, Hoity Toity and Turn the Tide.

Qwirkle was a three-handed affair played by Doug, Paul and Mike while waiting for others to turn up. Then one group (John, Doug, Greg, Nick and Clayton) played a five-handed Dominion which seemed to work out well even though the game is designed for two to four. John won with 30, Doug edging Nick for second (22 to 21). Mike, Jonathan, Paul, Ron and Don tried the Power Grid-China map, and it came down to a tiebreak on money between Jonathan and Mike, and Jonathan won his initial game at the club. Meanwhile, the other group played the party game, Say Anything, brought and taught by Nick; Greg won a real close one, 15 to 14 for Nick. Still waiting for Power Grid to finish, we played Aquaretto, and this time it was John in first (26) ahead of Greg (16) and Nick (15).

The two groups then re-split into the final games of the evening. Another five-handed Dominion, a low-scoring game won by Mike (only 13) ahead of Don, Ron, Jonathan and Clayton. The other table played Hoity Toity, an old favorite, Nick holding on to win after losing three pieces to thieves on the final turn, while John (with a 14-card set) could only close to second. Turn the Tide was the final game, but we didn't get in enough hands to declare a winner before the clock struck 10.

Saturday it was National Gaming Day and some of us (Clayton, myself and Bill Duke) attended a special gaming session at the Laurel library from 12 - 5. We played some light favorites, including Lost Cities, Can't Stop, Cloud Nine, Coyote, as well as Dominion, Sorry, the quick-playing Settlers variant, and the donated game (Pictureka). We were joined by some young gamers for several of the games; the Cloud 9 game was especially competitive.

Hope to see everyone for the session on Thursday next week.

Friday, October 31, 2008

October 30, 2008 Session Report

One day before Halloween, a kind of a cold evening, we still had a total of eight gamers: Mike, Doug, Paul, Ron, Don and myself, joined a bit later by Nick and Ben. We played a total of six games, one game (a new one) was played three times, and there was one appropriately themed game given the time of year.

First up was Hoity Toity (aka Adel Verfplichtet aka By Hook or Crook), but the new Uberplay edition allows for a sixth player, and there were six of us (Ron, Don, Mike, Doug, Paul and myself) who took advantage of the opportunity to play. Don and Mike were new to the game, and Ron had played it before (years ago) so it took awhile for the cobwebs to wear off. Don proved being new to the game was not a handicap, winning with Doug second and Paul third. Ben and Nick had arrived and couldn't wait to try the newest release (which Mike had brought): Race for the Galaxy with the Gathering Storm expansion that added a number of cards and options to the regular game. Ben, who is somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert on the game, pulled out the win (24-20) and Mike (who had brought the game) was interested in joining them. Ben won the next game with Mike second, then finally Nick stopped Ben's winning streak with a close one point win in the third of three Race games played last evening.

The remaining five of us (Don, Paul, Doug, Ron and myself) hooked up in a five-player Vegas Showdown, which saw Paul experiment with a rarely seen strategy: no slot machines the whole game. Well, it probably won't be seen again soon, as Paul trailed most of the game and wound up last, with Doug taking the win, 67 to 56 for Don, followed by Ron (53) and yours truly at 51. Then we split into two groups of four for the final completed games of the evening: Car Wars, won by Ron with Mike in second -- it was Ron's first win in the two weeks he has been coming to the club! The rest of us tried (for the second time) an appropriately themed game brought by Doug called Wicked Witches Way which is a quick draw, guessing, bluffing kind of abstract game where you are trying to match nine different symbols that could form part of a formula based on a die roll. What was interesting about the game was how aggressive the two younger guys were about closing the box and making a quick play, while us older guys (Doug and myself) were more laid back. Well, the laid back approach paid off, as the final standings were in indirect proportion to who closed the box first: Doug (who won) closed the box zero times while I surprised myself with a second place finish, after having closed the box exactly once. Nick, who led most of the way, fell to third as Doug and I made a late surge. Ben, the trigger-happy one among us who was hell-bent on closing the box at just about every opportunity, was often wrong in his guesses and stuck at -2 until he got off the snide which let him exercise his box closing privileges as often as he liked. Final scores: Doug 29 John 28 Nick 20 Ben 11 (Doug wound up the winner after showing three bonus cards worth a total of 7 VPs while my two cards netted me just 3 VPs after I managed to cross the line first). Well done, Doug.

Doug and I hooked up for the final game of the evening, a two-player Dominion (probably the last time for my already worn-out prototype set as the "real thing" is expected to be available next week at EuroQuest). We didn't quite finish, calling the game at right before 10, so maybe next time ...

Speaking of EuroQuest, for next week's session, I (and several other club members) plan to be there on Thursday evening, Nov. 6th which means the club session for that week is up in the air. I plan to survey past attendees and, unless more people commit to show up, I may cancel next week's session. However, for those of you who live nearby, I plan to be at the Laurel Library at 7 - 10 PM on Monday, November 10th, for the first of two sessions designed to bring boardgames to the library. Feel free to join me then, although I will be looking for many of you at EQ next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October 23, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of eight gamers tonight, including an old gaming buddy of mine who happens to live in Laurel, Ron Rector, who was making his first appearance, thanks in part to Don who also talked Ron into joining us. In addition, Mike B. was present for his third session, and Don, Nick, Paul, Clayton, Rodney and I rounded out the group. We played a total of seven different games: Race for the Galaxy, Puerto Rico, Vegas Showdown, Lost Cities, Boomtown, Hollywood Blockbuster and, for the first time at our club, the new hit, Agricola.

First up was Race for the Galaxy, and it wound up being a three-player game with Mike, Paul and Nick after some musical chairs action when a couple of more people showed up. Nick, who still claims not to have an overall strategic approach to the game, won going away with 55 points to 33 for Mike, who was playing for the first time. At the other table, it was Don, Ron and myself playing a three-handed Puerto Rico. Don got off to a nice start, and I was kind of surprised to wind up tied with him at 41 points, with Don winning on the goods plus doubloons tiebreaker. While both these games were going on, Rodney and Clayton arrived and got in a couple of hands of Lost Cities, each winning once.

Another game that down to the tiebreaker was Vegas Showdown, this one going to Rodney over Clayton by a couple of dollars after both finished with 64 points, followed by Mike at 60 and Paul at 52. Nick sat out this game, waiting to join Don, Ron and myself in a game of Agricola that literally took up the rest of the evening, even though we opted for the family version without the Occupation and Minor Improvement cards. Nick won with a score in the 30s, gaining 10 VPs for four Major Occupations, after getting off to an early edge with a Family Growth action before the second harvest. After being initially turned off by the luck factor of the cards, I am kind of regaining interest in this one, particularly the so-called Family Version which seems to have a bit less luck in it, although the scores are likely to be alot lower.

Meanwhile, Paul, Clayton, Rodney and Mike kept right on playing two more games, first Boomtown -- won by Rodney (152) ahead of Paul (95) in second, and finally another favorite, Hollywood Blockbuster, which saw Clayton emerge victorious, 92 points to 87 for Rodney. So, all in all, a fairly good night for Nick, Clayton and Rodney who won multiple games this evening.

Hope to see everyone next week, and then the following week will be at EuroQuest, which starts on Thursday this year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16, 2008 Session Report

Seven attendees tonight (Don, Doug, Greg, Pete P, Clayton, Ben and myself) and we spent most of the time playing a couple of longer games. A quick game of R-Eco was won by Pete with an excellent score of 15, followed by Don and Doug at 9, me at 6 and Greg (who was new to the game) trailing with -1. By this time Ben and Clayton had arrived and we split into two groups for the rest of the evening; at one table, Pete, Ben, Doug and Greg played Arkham Horror (which Pete had brought) and, a few minutes before closing time, the players won on Doug's turn after Ben had gone insane (in game terms, of course). Sorry, don't know the game well enough to provide more details.

The other table had Clayton, Don and I playing a game which Don had brought, Wealth of Nations. It was the first play for Clayton, second for Don, and third or fourth for me. Well, so much for experience, as Clayton dominated the energy market and rode it to a decisive win, 149 points to 101 for Don and just 74 for yours truly, who was saddled with more loans and didn't have that much to show for it.

Just learned this past week that there will be a big push for boardgaming in the libraries as part of National Games Day, November 15. Locally, the library here in Laurel has a flyer out inviting gamers to attend on two Monday night sessions, starting 7 PM on November 10 and December 15. Those of you who don't live near Laurel are advised to contact your local library management to find out what may be planned as part of this promotion.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October 9, 2008 Session Report

Nine in attendance tonight: Clayton, Paul, Don, Doug, Nick, Mike B, Sarah, Rodney and myself played a total of eight different games (ten games total, as two games were played twice): Dominion, Power Grid (China map), Race for the Galaxy (2x), Wyatt Earp, Ra, Traders of Carthage, Qwirkle and Cloud Nine (x2).

First up was a Dominion prototype, this time played with the advantage of having the English rules which have been recently published on the web. We went for the Size Distortion setup, and what turned out to be distorted was the size of the final scores -- really low ones for everyone! In the first one of these games I can recall where noone bought a Province, the game was won by Nick with 3-4 duchies and a final score of 13 to 11 for John, 9 for Doug and, yes, believe it, a -3 for Clayton who couldn't get rid of those curses fast enough. There has been alot of buzz about this game which is due out in the US sometime in the next month or so.

Don, Mike and Paul got started with a three-player game of Power Grid on the China map, which Mike had brought; final scores were tied on powered cities and cash on hand with Mike and Paul sharing the victory, although the unofficial tiebreaker (highest numbered power plant in play) would have given the win to Paul. Meanwhile, Rodney and I locked horns in a couple of games of Race for the Galaxy, with each of us winning won; Rodney had the bigger winning margin. Doug, Sararh, Clayton and Nick tried Wyatt Earp, and Nick won after pulling ahead to an early lead.

Sarah left us, and we were down to two 4-player games. Nick, Clayton, Don and I tried a new game, Traders of Carthage, designed by Mr. Kawasaki, who is also the designer of the popular ecology game, R-Eco. Mike, Rodney, Paul and Doug played Ra at the other table, and Rodney won with Paul edging Doug on the tiebreak for second. Since our Traders game wasn't finished yet, the four of them played a second game, Qwirkle; final scores were reported as Doug 115 Rodney 114 Paul 99 Mike 96, a real squeaker of a win for Doug. By this time, the Traders of Carthage game had wrapped up with a win for Don, 15 points to 11 for Nick, followed by Clayton at 7 and yours truly, last at 6.

The final game of the night for most of us was Cloud Nine. While the Qwirkle game was finishing, Nick, Clayton and I got in a quick three-player game that was won by Nick. The second Cloud Nine game had a full table of six, and wound up in a tie between Paul and Mike B. at 49 as the clock struck 10 before we could finish. Nick, Doug, Rodney and myself were the other four players

Ecology will be the theme for another one of those special community outreach events in Beltsville this weekend. I will be demoing some games (featuring R-Eco and Power Grid) from 10 to 12 at this event, sponsored by the Prince Georges' County Government. The event, called "Greenfest," will be held at the Vannsville Elementary School at 6813 Ammendale Road in Beltsville, and it takes place from 10 AM to 2 PM. Hope to see some of you there.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October 2, 2008 Session Report

Pleased to report a real nice turnout tonight with a total of 10 gamers in attendance, three of whom (Alan, Mark and Mike) who were making their initial appearance at our weekly sessions here at the Laurel Community Center. Clayton, Doug, Paul, Ben, Don, Greg and I rounded out the attendance roster, and we found time to play a total of seven different games, with two tables going on at once for most of the evening. Games played were Parlay, Pandemic (2x), Tribune, Hollywood Blockbuster, Robo Rally, Ticket to Ride and Cloud Nine. Details follow.

Started with one hand of Parlay, won by Paul despite my winning the poker hand with a full house; Paul's six-letter word was alot better than my five-letter one. By then, the crowd started to arrive and we eventually split into two groups: One (consisting of Alan, Mark, Greg and Paul tackled the world of epidemic diseases and played Pandemic. Unfortunately, in both games the players lost tonight, although word was that they were within striking distance in game two. The other game was a personal favorite, Tribune, where I wound up being the "coach" for the three new players (Clayton, Don and Mike) against Tribune "veterans" Ben and Doug. When I left the table for another game, things were looking up for the newbies, but it turned out to be a win for Doug, but not until Turn 6 (!), making it one of the longer Tribune games in memory. Well, requiring four of the six victory conditions with five players does tend to make for a bit longer game than usual.

When the Pandemic game was being cleaned up, Greg suggested Hollywood Blockbuster, and I joined in along with Alan, Mark and Paul. Newcomer Mark won with 72, followed by Paul at 68, Greg at 64 and Alan at 62, a real close game until you got to yours truly in last with 59. Well, at least a new player won in one of the games tonight! Meanwhile, Doug, Don, Greg, Mike and Ben were shooting at each other in Robo Rally at the other table, a game that lasted most of the rest of the evening and was won by Don.

Clayton, Mark, Alan, Paul and I then played Ticket to Ride (normal game, US map, with the smaller tickets), and Paul scored the win, scoring a total of 116 points while getting all 45 trains on the board in one contiguous route, something I haven't seen before. Very impressive. I was second with 96, followed by Alan at 89, Mark at 73 and Clayton at 72 (both Mark and Clayton missed on one or more tickets).

Finally, to wrap up the evening, there was time for a quick 6-player Cloud 9, the group consisting of Mike, Mark, Alan, Clayton and Greg. Because of time constraints, we halted the game with a 25-point victory condition. I believe Alan got there first, but then it was a nice long balloon ride and several of us were in position to beat his score. Can't remember, I think I jumped out first, got to 31 and won after everyone else crashed.

Thanks to everyone for a memorable session this evening, keep coming every Thursday.

This Saturday there will be a couple of community outreach events where some of us will be demoing games. One will be at the Bowie International Festival, John Goon will be there and I heard Paul mention he expects to attend. I will be helping out with a Chili Tasting Event sponsored by the local Rotary club at the Behnke's on Route 1 in Beltsville, Jeremy from the Beltsville club is slated to appear as well. Looking forward to it. Festivities at both locations start around noon and will continue until some time around 4-5 PM. We expect to have a couple of tables going and will be teaching games to newcomers, similar to what we did last spring at the Main Street Festival in Laurel.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of six for tonight's session: Don was back for the third week in a row (making him eligible for Games Club of Maryland associate membership), joined by Clayton, Paul, Nick, Ben and myself. We played a total of six different games: Lost Cities, R-Eco, Pandemic (twice), Monastery, Vegas Showdown and Cloud Nine.

Paul and I arrived first and got in one hand of Lost Cities. Can't remember much about the game, it was reasonably close and kind of low scoring, I won by something like 35 to 26. Nick, Clayton and Don joined up so we played another quick game, R-Eco. Nick won with a high score of 10 compared to 7 for Paul, 6 for John then 3 each for Clayton and Don.

We then split into the two groups. I had a new game, Monastery, which was played for the first time. Nick, Ben and I had our monks running around gaining blessings, constructing buildings, praying, studying and toiling, winning abbot elections, and finishing out words that were part of the Lord's Prayer in Latin. Turned out to be a really, really close game, with Nick at 26, Ben and I at 27. We checked the tiebreaker, and it favored Ben (based on starting position) but this one has to have a big asterisk as we determine too late that one of Ben's tiles was illegally played. Kind of an unusual game that all of us had trouble getting our heads around.

Meanwhile, at the other table, the good guys (Don, Paul and Clayton) were busy saving the world from plague and pestilence, winning two successive games of Pandemic starting at the 4 level. Well done, guys.

The last two games of the evening were Vegas Showdown, won by Nick after Ben got off to an early points lead but never got his income up. Finally, we found an old favorite, Cloud 9, after much trash talking it wound up a tie (51 each) for Nick and Paul.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

September 18, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of seven gamers for this week's session: Doug, Don, Paul, Clayton, Ben, Sarah (welcome back to Sarah) and myself. We had two tables going for most of the time and played a total of seven different games: R-Eco (twice), Vikings, Settlers (using a new variant idea I came up with), Ticket to Ride - Nordic edition, Sticheln, Power Grid - Korea map and For Sale.

Don had brought Vikings and was itching to give it a go, and since Doug was familiar enough with the rules to do the teaching, four of us (Paul, Don, Doug and myself) played. It was a fairly close contest among three of us (Don, Doug and myself) until we got to the endgame scoring and realized how important getting those little blue guys was. Doug pulled away for a comfortable win, with 53 to 45 for me, 41 for Don and 27 for Paul as he was the only one to feed all his guys.

Ben, Clayton and Sarah tried out my new Settlers variant, which was to roll four dice (Can't Stop style) and then pair them together for two production numbers (with perhaps a robber or two thrown in). I was surprised by how quickly the game ended, perhaps because there was all that extra production. Ben won, getting a couple of cities up early. The game took around a half hour and there was very little trading that took place.

The Vikings group had started early and we played one hand of Sticheln which barely finished while the Settlers game was being cleaned up; Doug had high score of 11 and everyone was positive even though some took some tricks with negative scores. Sarah, Doug and Clayton played a couple of quick games of R-Eco (both won by Doug, although one was really close between Doug and Sarah) while Paul, Ben, Don and I tackled the new Power Grid-Korea map which I had just brought. Main feature of the map is two separate resource markets, one for North Korea, a different one for South Korea, you can only buy from one each turn. I managed to win by building to 17 when I had the plants and resources to power 15 while no one else could get to more than 14. Ben tried an interesting strategy of building all four of the cheap connections in Seoul on the first turn; he eventually got blocked in though, hurt by the fact he was going last in subsequent turns. Need to try the game some more to see whether or not this is a viable strategy; my guess is that it is not.

Meanwhile Doug, Sarah and Clayton broke out another new game, Ticket to Ride - Nordic Edition, which I had managed to obtain at the Family Game Store in Savage (big plug for them -- they are now an official GCOM location, hosting sessions every Saturday night). Another close game, won by Doug with 99 to 95 for Sarah. After this game and Power Grid finished, there were only about 20 minutes left in the session, and those of us still left played a quick game of For Sale to wrap things up. Final scores: John 60 Ben 55 Paul 53 Doug 39 Clayton 38. See everyone next week, and don't forget about Congress of Gamers this weekend.

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 11, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of seven gamers in attendance: Paul, Doug, Clayton, Nick, Rodney and myself were joined by Don Tatum, who was attending his first session here. Good seeing you Don and hope you can make it to future sessions.

I decided to unveil this out-of-print cycling game I got from Europe for a pretty penny. Name of the game is Maillot Jaune. It's a fairly heavy duty cycling sim, and it ran a bit longer than I would have anticipated. The protagonists (after a couple of dropouts) were Nick, Clayton, Don and myself. We each had a team of eight cyclists. The course was not an easy one, including three major climb sections which slowed most of the cyclists down. Nick tried a strategy of holding back, then coming on strongly at the end. Clayton had one of his guys in the lead, but he got caught by a large group and, by the end, we all had a chance to win after Nick failed a 50-50 roll on a late breakaway attempt. So, in the bunch sprint at the end, justice prevailed and Nick managed to win after failing his breakaway roll.

The other group of Rodney, Doug and Paul played Stone Age, which Rodney had brought. No details on the game, but I heard Rodney won. Stone Age was just added as Wild Card game at EuroQuest this fall.

There was still time for more games, so we played a four-player Hollywood Blockbuster and a three-player Ra. The Ra game (with Clayton, Rodney and Paul) was won by Rodney; the Hollywood Blockbuster game (featuring Don, Doug, Nick and myself) was won by Doug with a very impressive score of 101. I edged Nick for second while Don's excuse was it was his first time playing the game.

Once again, a plug for some upcoming events, Congress of Gamers in Rockville is weekend after next and EuroQuest is later this fall.

Friday, September 5, 2008

September 4, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of five gamers for last night's session, with Doug, Clayton, Ben and Greg joining me as we returned to the 6 to 10 PM post-Labor Day four-hour session times.

We played a total of four games. Doug and I arrived first and played a hand of Lost Cities. Low scoring game, I had 37 to Doug's 28 as none of our double-handshake colors panned out for big points. Ben and Clayton joined us and we played my playtest copy of Homesteaders. Ben continued his winning streak at this game, getting the Church when I was one action short but could have outbid him. Ben had the actions but was short on cash and had to take on much more debt that he would have liked. Fortunately, he had the Bank that let him retire one debt a turn (dipping into the till, so to speak). Final scores were 10 points top to bottom (a close game) with Ben winning with 53, I had 47, Doug 46, Clayton 43.

Greg wanted to learn a couple of games that were recently added to the club's collection, so we played Pandemic, a four-player game but Clayton and I played as teammates. Since it was a cooperative game anyway, we played with open hands and tried to fight the diseases. We managed to cure three of them but came up short as the unwanted final epidemic came out right before we had the cards to cure the fourth and final disease. Tough game.

Finally game was the new Cartagena II, which we finally worked into the schedule. Unfortunately, it we didn't quite finish the game by 10 although it looked like Greg and Ben were closest to winning. Clayton, Doug and I also played.

Hope to see more of you next week. A reminder that the Congress of Gamers game convention is coming up in two weeks, here's a link to the website:

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 21, 2008 Session Report

Before getting to last night's session report, here's an important notice: NEXT WEEK's SESSION, scheduled for Thursday, August 28, has been CANCELED. The Community Center will be closing early for some renovations over Labor Day Weekend this year. Our next session, which will return to the regular 6 - 10 PM time frame, will be Thursday, September 4th.

Last night we had a total of seven in attendance: Doug, Paul, Nick, Clayton and myself were joined by Mark Love, who was so inspired by our Decathlon replay effort that he even brought a nice prize for the winner. (Later we were joined by Rodney, who arrived a bit too late to get in on the decathlon, but helped "roll" during the 1500 meters so we could finish the event a bit faster.) We wound up dropping the Russian athlete, Kuznetsov, after his miserable first day performance (due no doubt to the person rolling the die, because I have a book at home quoting Track and Field News in 1962 talking about how Kuznetsov was "the most consistent Decathlete of them all.") Paul once again took control of Milt Campbell, I was Rafer Johnson, Nick once again tried to direct Jim Thorpe's efforts, while Mark took over with Bill Toomey, Doug was Bob Mathias, and Clayton did his best C. K. Yang impersonation.

Campbell pulled ahead with a strong effort (14.3 time) in the hurdles (which was equalled by Thorpe), but then gave it all back and more in the discus, where Johnson hit on a huge (187 foot) throw to pull out a 100-point plus lead in the overall standings. Then C. K. Yang did his thing in the pole vault, as he was the only decathlete to clear 15 feet. Mathias and Yang were the only two to go over 200 feet in the ninth event, the javelin. So it all came down to the grueling 1500 meter run where, with the help of Rodney's die rolling, we got through the event, with my man (Rafer Johnson) coming home last reflecting some tiredness due to taking an unnecessary eighth attempt in the pole vault and paying for it.

As expected, Thorpe and Toomey dominated the 1500 meters, but it was not enough for them to claim the Gold after factoring in the handicaps. Here's a summary of the final results:

Rafer Johnson 8205 (0 Handicap) 8205
C. K. Yang 8010 (+190 Handicap) 8200
Bill Toomey 7935 (+240 Handicap) 8175
Milt Campbell 7905 (+120 Handicap) 8025
Bob Mathias 7810 (+95 Handicap) 7905
Jim Thorpe 8240 (-345 Handicap) 7895

So, Thorpe pulled ahead on the raw scores with the last event but wound up sixth of six after factoring in the handicaps we agreed to use. Looks like an even closer finish than the 1960 Rome Olympics where Johnson and Yang -- who were teammates at UCLA -- finished 1-2. I decided to award Mark's "prize" to Clayton, who made up alot of lost ground after taking over Yang for the second day of the competition.

I am going to probably put this game away for about four years now but will try going through the game once this weekend during the final few days of the real Olympics, using more athletes (like Bruce Jenner and Daley Thompson) with new files and charts downloaded from the game's page at BoardGameGeek. I will try to post a session report there with the results, for those interested. And, as I said, for those who don't care, the good news is you won't see me bringing the game to a session for another four years.

We still had time after the Decathlon for several other games. Rodney, in particular, made up for lost time by going undefeated the rest of the evening, winning a three-player Race for the Galaxy with Paul and Mike, and then besting Paul in a two-player game. At the other table, Clayton, Nick, Doug and I played a certain prototype card game with alot of shuffling, which I won after several of the players seemed "cursed" alot. The real version of the game is scheduled to come out later this year. By then Mark had left and Clayton was taking a break, so we ended with a five-player For Sale game, also won by Rodney who as I said was undefeated for the evening.

Once again, no session next week so see everyone in two weeks' time (Doug wanted me to remind everyone that next week the Rockville-South group will meet for gaming at the Dream Wizards store, 7 -11 PM).

Friday, August 15, 2008

August 14, 2008 Session Report

Wow, a great crowd tonight, perhaps no small credit due my co-host Nick, who had a group arrive with an after-session party for birthday boy, Abe, who was also among those present. Also, good to see Pete coming from Pennsylvania which also helped boost our numbers. Final attendance count was 13, our best session attendance since last February and one of our best Thursday night sessions ever. The total group included Paul, Clayton, Doug, Ashley, Gabe, Nick, Ben, Abe, Brandon, Brian H, Mike S, Pete P, and myself. We played a total of six different games: Decathlon (the old AH/SI game), Race for the Galaxy, Tumblin' Dice, Kingsburg, Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix and Kingsburg. We had a bunch of nice-looking games on display, as Nick brought his Tumblin' Dice and Heroscape while I brought some of my highly prized out-of-print cycling games from Europe that I am still trying to figure out how to play.

First up, in honor of the Beijing Olympics, we played a suitably themed game, Decathlon (which was originally a Sports Illustrated/3M game from the 1970s that was re-printed by Avalon Hill). The game uses features several all-time Decathlon greats and performance numbers (through die rolling) roughly based on actual results. To get through the game quickly and to maintain excitement, we only ran through the first five events and plan to wrap up at next week's session with the final five events with the medals at stake. Standings after five events (final number in parens is the handicap to be added or subtracted to that athelete's final score):

1. Rafer Johnson (John) 4425 (0)
2. Milt Campbell (Paul) 4405 (+240)
3. Jim Thorpe (Nick) 4280 (-345)
4. C. K. Yang (Brian) 4275 (+190)
5. Bill Toomey (Ashley/Gabe) 4190 (+240)
6. Bob Mathias (Brandon) 4175 (+95)
7. Vasily Kuznetsov (Pete) 4010 (-90)

Factoring in the handicap, right now the favorite would be Paul (Milt Campbell). Jim Thorpe, who should be running away with it, distinctly underperformed, perhaps due to some poor strategy calls by his coach, Nick. Yang and Toomey are still in it, as they have some good events coming up (Yang briefly held the world record in the pole vault) and good handicap numbers. Can't same the same for Pete's athlete, the Russian Kuznetsov, who suffered an injury and is pretty much out of it at this point. Next week people can reclaim their athletes, and it will be first come first serve for athletes for those who don't return.

Other games, don't have a report except for Kingsburg, which I taught to Pete and Ashley (with Gabe's help). Final scores were John 43, Pete 34, Ashley 33, Paul 28, Gabe 19. Gabe got nicked by the Enemies right after building an early Farm (which then burned down and had to be rebuilt). I won by moving on the Embassy Row, but a very low help from the King die roll would have given the game to Ashley, as it was much closer than the final scores indicate.

I know Doug, Ben, Clayton, Brian, Nick and Brandon played Det-Cleveland Grand Prix, Ben, Doug and Clayton played Race for the Galaxy, and just about everyone but the five-player Kingsburg group was involved in Heroscape, which saw two different scenarios being contested.

Looking forward to wrapping up the Decathlon and more fun and games next week. Only a couple of more sessions in August, then after Labor Day we will return to the 10 PM closing time.

Also, want to wish one of this week's attendees, Brian Hahn, well. In a week or so, Brian is scheduled to ship out for his second tour of duty in Iraq.

August 7, 2008 Session Report

This was a session that several of us missed because of attendance at the WBC in Lancaster, PA.

Three attendees for this session: Clayton, Doug and Paul. Games played: GemLock (brought by Doug, first time played at the club, Doug won the game); Qwirkle (Paul won the game); Pandemic (cooperative game; the players lost); Ticket to Ride (Paul) and finally Target (two-player, Doug and Paul, not sure who won). All other games except Target included Clayton.

Thanks to Doug Hoylman who kept track of the attendance and games played.

For those interested, here's a link to my personal recap of WBC activities:

Will follow up with last night's report shortly.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 31, 2008 Session Report

Attendance this week dropped to six, as Nick was back, along with Greg, Ben, Eric S., Clayton and myself. We played a total of five games: Can't Stop, Modern Art, Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, Mission Command -- Land Game, and Vegas Showdown.

Only have some details on a couple of the games. Three of us (Nick, Greg and myself) started out with Can't Stop which we abandoned when others arrived. Then we split into two groups of three; Greg, Eric and Ben played Modern Art, while Nick, Clayton and I played Ticket to Ride-Switzerland. Nick won the game by completing 10 (!) tickets.

Then Nick and Ben tried the two-player Mission Command game, which saw Ben do quite well in the opening game while Nick did better in the second game (and they may have played more than these two). The rest of us were engrossed in a four-player Vegas Showdown, which wound up with the two newcomers to the game (Eric and Greg) finishing 1-2 over Clayton and myself.

Next week, I will be at the WBC so I hope someone who is there will send me the results so I can post them here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 24, 2008 Session Report

For this week's session, we had nine gamers in attendance, including one newcomer to the club (Brent), Paul, Doug, Clayton, Eric S., Greg, Sarah, Ben and myself.

Here's some details on who played what.

Doug and Paul arrived first and played a two-player Qwirkle.

I introduced another new acquisition, the Catan Dice Game, to the group. Clayton came from behind, scoring 33 points in the last three turns, to take the win with 73 to 68 for Brent 67 for me and 62 for Doug.

Greg, Eric, Ben and Paul played Power Grid using the Central Europe map with the new deck. The game ran smoothly, taking around two hours, and Ben won on the tiebreaker (most money).

Clayton, Doug, Brent and I played a game which Doug had brought, called Chronology. It came down a close contest between Doug and myself and I got lucky with some easy sports questions while Doug got some toughies at the wrong time. Interesting game.

Sarah arrived and four of us played one of her favorites, Ingenious. The game was a real close finish between Doug and Sarah, with Doug winning. Brent and I rounded out the game.

Ben, Paul, Eric and Greg played For Sale after finishing their Power Grid game. No word on who won this one.

Final game of the evening was Cloud 9, which barely finished on time. It had an exciting ending, though. I was leading and jumped out at the first chance when I got to 50. Then Brent bailed when he saw he could collect 15 points and pass me, getting to 51. But Doug stayed in the balloon, along with Clayton, and took it up another level, passing all of us. Sarah also got to the 50-point level.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 17, 2008 Session Report

Once again, there were nine gamers for tonight's session: Doug, Gabe, Paul, Clayton, Ashley, Nick, Ben, Sarah and myself. We played a total of five different games, two games were played twice.

When I arrived Gabe, Paul, Doug, Ashley and Clayton were contesting a five-player Tribune game. No word on who came out on top on that one.

Ben was next to arrive and he and I played a quick two-player game, Hive, which he had brought and he proceeded to trounce me.

Then Sarah and Nick had arrived so we played a new game that I had brought, Surf's Up Dude, which went well except when we got to the endgame and I couldn't remember the right rules (had left them at home). Anyway, Nick won a really close game, with 71 points to 68 for Sarah and 67 for Ben with me firmly entrenched in last.

After that, we mixed up the groups and Doug and Paul joined Nick and me for another game of Surf's Up Dude with Clayton sort of watching/playing as my teammate. After a slow start, Doug's surfers pulled out the victory with 56 points to 50 for Nick.

The other group of Ashley, Gabe, Sarah and Ben played Toledo; I have in my notes that Ben won but no other details on the game.

Finally, we wrapped up the evening with two simultaneous games of Cloud Nine. No report on the results, except that Ben was showing off by playing in both games at once and trying not to get too confused.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 10, 2008 Session Report

Another good turnout last night with nine gamers in attendance: Nick, Paul, Gabe, Greg, Ben, Sarah, Val, Clayton joined me and, once again, we had two games going on for most of the session. Games played: For Sale, St. Petersburg, Toledo, Turn the Tide, Bohnanza and Sticheln.

We opened with a six-player For Sale game, which was won by Paul (52,000) with Val not far behind in second (48,000); Nick, Greg, Gabe and I also participated. By this time everyone else had arrived and we split into two groups: one playing St. Petersburg, and another trying a new game, Toledo, which Gabe had brought. St. Petersburg wound up with another win for Paul, who was the only one who had played before. Greg finished second, ahead of the Ben/Clayton duo with Val in fourth. The Toledo game was a close three-player contest, won by Nick (19) ahead of Sarah (18) and Gabe (17). I was fourth and last, but hey -- I was only five points back of the winner!

These games didn't end at the same time, so the Paul-Clayton-Val-Ben-Greg group wound up playing Turn the Tide, which was a shared win for Paul and Val and Bohnanza, which had to be picked up at the 9 PM close time with Ben winning that one. The other table of Nick, Gabe, Sarah and myself got in three hands of Sticheln before the witching hour, with Sarah winning by a wide margin to make up for the narrow loss in the Toledo game.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 3, 2008 Session Report

We had fairly good attendance this week, as the three-day weekend enabled some folks we haven't seen for awhile to attend given Friday was a Holiday instead of a workday. Therefore, we welcomed back Neil and Val to the club, joining Sarah, Nick, Ben, Clayton, Paul, Greg (for his third session in a row) and myself for a total of nine in attendance. We played a total of seven different games, with two tables going at just about all times throughout the evening.

I had brought my brand new copy of Tribune, which I taught to Neil, Val, Sarah and we played a five-player along with Paul, who had played before with my hand-made copy. I managed to pull out the win after four turns, although Sarah did quite well and was close to achieving the victory conditions as well. It was a long wait for the English edition of this fine Essen game from last fall to come out, and I'm glad I got it.

The other four attendees (Greg, Clayton, Nick and Ben) played San Juan, the scores show a very high-scoring, competitive game, won by Greg with 47 followed by Ben with 42. Then the same group played Ra, and this turned out to be a really close game requiring a check of the rules to look up the tiebreaker (which as I recall, is the highest sun total). Final scores on the Ra game were Nick 35 Clayton 35 Ben 34 Greg 25, with Nick prevailing over Clayton on the tiebreaker.

The Ra and Tribune games finished at roughly the same time, so I moved to the other table to play another favorite, Hollywood Blockbuster (the remake of Traumfabrik), with Greg, Nick and Ben. I managed to do something I have rarely done, complete the highest possible value movie (a 22) and went on to win with Greg in second. Well-played game by Greg, who was playing it for the first time.

The other group of Paul, Val, Sarah, Clayton and Neil opted for the regular Ticket to Ride game (a break from the newer 1910 and Swiss versions we have played in recent weeks) -- Val was the winner with Paul in second. The final two games of the evening were Wits and Wagers, won by Ben, and an abbreviated version of Cloud 9 which had Clayton winning until the final balloon trip where he gambled on Greg's piloting skills after the rest of us had bailed out.

Hope to see everyone back for an exciting session next week. I just obtained a copy of a rare out-of-print game that I hope to have on hand.

Friday, June 27, 2008

June 26, 2008 Session Report

We had seven gamers for this week's session, as Greg returned along with Clayton (who had missed a couple of sessions), Nick, Ben, Paul, Sarah and myself.

First game up was the Ticket to Ride card game that I had won in a contest, and I wound up winning a four-player ahead of Nick, Paul and Sarah. Meanwhile, Ben and Greg had arrived and challenged Clayton to a three-player game of Can't Stop -- turned out Clayton had not lost his touch as he rolled his way to the top while the conservative approach did not work out for Greg and Ben.

At this point we reshuffled the players and played a couple of more games. Modern Art (which Greg brought) was featured in a four-player game which Nick won, and Ben and I also participated along with Greg. The other group of Clayton, Paul and Sarah played Carcassone-Discovery which was won by Paul. Sarah, who was new to the Carcassone series of games, enjoyed it and finished second her first time out.

We wound up the evening with a couple of hands of Slide 5. Nick and Ben, convinced there was no strategy to the game, decided to play random but it didn't work out as they got stuck with a bunch of negative points. Paul, with a total of 11 from the two hands, was declared the winner once we saw the 9 o'clock witching hour was approaching.

Hope to see some of you at the Picnic this weekend, if not at next week's session. Just got word that a couple of new games I have been waiting on for some time (Wealth of Nations and the English edition of Tribune) have arrived so I hope to have them on hand next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 19, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of seven gamers tonight, including one first-timer (Greg) and one long-time absentee (Eric). Doug, Paul, Ben, Sarah and myself rounded up the attendance list.

We started off with a game of Parlay while waiting for everyone to show up. The game started with just three (Doug, Paul and myself) but we later added Greg and then Eric who were trying it for the first time. All I can remember was losing out on the poker hand to Doug, who nailed me with a flush for the poker bonus and then flipped over a really great word featuring the X or Z card plus the length bonus for Sextant, worth something like 230 points. Nice going, Doug.

Eric had brought Power Grid with all the expansions so we tried a six-player Italy game joined by Ben, using the new Power Plant deck. I enjoy playing Power Grid with the new deck because (1) it tends to make the game go a bit faster; (2) the resource market is less likely to be stripped of resources) and (3) generally, the effects of Power Plant market jams are alot less. This game clocked in at just under two hours, and it turned out Greg (who had demonstrated his Power Grid prowess in a game at Games Days this year where he beat the current EuroQuest champion) wound up the winner in a highly competitive game, with Eric nosing out Paul for second in the tiebreaker.

I managed to bring up the rear in the Power Grid game, but I had a great excuse. Sarah had shown up a little after 7 and I had promised to get her in a game. So I played some two-player games with Sarah, first Can't Stop -- which Sarah won in a close game -- then Ticket to Ride -- Switzerland (played for the fourth week in a row making it the most popular new game in the club's collection) which I managed to win after getting four tickets covering virtually the same route -- connecting Lugano and Italy to France.

The last half-hour of the session was spent playing several hands of Slide 5, the skiing-themed Category 5 re-make. I missed a hand or two while finishing up the TTR game, but for the two hands where we kept score, Greg was the winner -- making him undefeated in his initial appearance at the games club. Greg, who lives nearby in Columbia, says he will be coming back and we look forward to his return.

Notice: The Community Center will be open in two weeks, Thursday July 3rd, the day before the Fourth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008 Session Report

A smaller group tonight, such that we only had one game in progress at any one time. Doug, Paul and I were joined by Ben and Nick; later on Sarah stopped in but didn't have the chance to get in any games with us. We played just four games: Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, Carcassone-Discovery, Hoity Toity and Igel Argern (the Hedgehog Racing game).

First game was another brutal Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, played with the newer 1910 cards. I got blocked on one of my routes by a one-train tunnel placement by Paul, but turned out not to matter as I managed to pull out the win in a very close contest, 115 to 108 for Doug, in which the 10-point bonus for longest train proved crucial after Paul and Doug each garnered the 15-point bonus for most tickets.

Then we broke out the new club game, Carcassone-Discovery, where you only get four meeples and can place or pick up (and score) but not do both in the same turn. Ben and Paul shared the win in this one, I was two points back in third, followed by Doug and then Nick in last.

We then played Hoity Toity, and this time Nick emerged as the winner with a strong front running strategy, ignoring the thieves on the last show. I came in second with a good final show, but was too far back to catch Nick. Paul was third, followed by Ben and Doug.

Final game was Igel Argern, which we barely got in. Somehow things worked out for me as Ben and Doug, the two perceived early leaders, faded in the end. Or maybe I just got the right die rolls at the right times.

Friday, June 6, 2008

June 5, 2008 Session Report

There were a total of six gamers in attendance for this week's session: Clayton, Paul, Nick, Doug, Helen and myself. We added four new games to the club collection (the second wave of games from the recent PG County grant). Three of them were among the games played, which included For Sale, Anno 1503, Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, Moose in the House, Slide 5 (a new version of Category 5) plus another run at the prototype I brought from last week.

First game up was one of the new ones, For Sale, and it was a four-player with Doug, Paul, Nick and myself competing -- final scores were John 67 Doug 60 Nick 52 Paul 40. By then Clayton and Helen had arrived and we split into two groups of three. Helen, Doug and Nick played Anno 1503, and my sources later informed me that Doug won a close game with Helen in second. That same group then also played Moose in the House, sorry no report on who won that one.

At the other table, Clayton, Paul and I also got through two games. First, it was Ticket to Ride-Switzerland and I just kept drawing tickets, not completing all of them but enough of them to wind up first (with the bonuses for most tickets and longest train) at 134 with Paul (who completed all seven tickets) second at 111 followed by Clayton with 79. Then we played that prototype game from last week with a different set of action cards that kept the score down considerably. The game turned out to be a well-deserved win for Clayton, with 19 to 16 for John and 3 (!) for Paul, who was figuratively and literally "cursed" through the whole game.

We ended up with Slide 5, the latest version of Take 6/Category 5 with a skiing theme. All six of us participated and we managed to sneak in three hands before the nine o'clock witching hour. Final scores (remember low numbers are best) were Paul 21 Doug 33 John 40 Helen 43 Clayton 44 with Nick bringing up the rear at 72.

Friday, May 30, 2008

May 29, 2008 Session Report

This was our first 2008 session with the shortened summer hours, and our second session with the expanded games inventory. A total of eight gamers were in attendance: Sarah, Clayton, Paul, Ashley, Gabe, Ben, Nick and myself split into two groups for most of the evening. We played a total of six different games: Cloud 9, Blackbeard, San Juan, a handmade prototype game, Executive Decision and Ticket to Ride-Switzerland. (Because we were pushing it on time, the last two games did not get completed.)

First up was Cloud 9, and the balloonists were Sarah, Clayton, Paul, Nick and myself. Turned out to be a three-way tie as Paul and Sarah reached 50 and then I bailed out at 35 for 15 more points with Nick left holding the bag as the pilot with a bad die roll. Oh, well ...

The Blackbeard game was a four-player using the game with the new GMT edition. Ben (whose two pirates were Lowther and Tew) won the game, which used the shortened victory conditions. Ashley had the colorful "Calico Jack" Rackham and Quelch as her pirates: Gabe had Conant and Taylor, and Nick had De Lusan and Roberts after losing his initial pirate (Bonnet) to a first-turn mutiny ... gosh, I hate when that happens.

The four of us at the other table played a hand-made prototype game that I had put together based on a recent playtest; final scores on this one were John 35 with Sarah a close second at 32. (Sorry, can't post more details here, the final version of the game is expected to be released some time later this year, however.) We then played San Juan, and Clayton ended the game by building to 12 with a Smithy, Guild Hall and bunch of mills. Paul had all purple buildings, and I got lucky and got three bonus "6" buildings down. Turned out I needed all three of them as the final scores were really, really close: John 30, Paul 29 Clayton 28 Sarah 21.

The final two games of the evening were Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, with Clayton and me playing as a team versus Paul and Sarah. When we had to clean up, Sarah had a huge lead with like 45 in completed tickets so we declared her the winner. The other game, Executive Decision, and old 3M/AH classic, barely finished one or two "months" activity before being called with no winner.

Friday, May 23, 2008

May 22, 2008 Session Report

We had another good turnout for this week's session: Doug, Ashley (back for her second session), Paul, Clayton, Gabe, Sarah, Nick and myself were present and, with great fanfare, we added around 15 games to the club's collection which had just arrived courtesy of a grant from your PG County Government. We had two games going for most of the evening, and my notes show we wound up playing nine different games, many of which were the newly-opened copies played for the first time at this week's session.

After spending a few minutes unwrapping, bagging, punching and labeling the new games, we started off with Can't Stop at one table, featuring Gabe, Ashley, Sarah and Clayton -- Clayton was victorious. The other table of Doug, Paul, Nick and myself tried Zooloretto, aptly described by Paul as "Coloretto on Steroids." Doug, who seemed to know the game fairly well, wound up the winner with 26 to 24 for Nick and myself (Nick second on the most money tiebreaker) with Paul at 20 bringing up the rear. A close game, one I enjoyed and am looking forward to playing again.

Meanwhile, the Sarah-Ashley-Gabe-Clayton group got in two more quick games, Hey That's My Fish, another close one won by Sarah with Clayton and Gabe not far behind. Then it was Moose in the House (another one of the new games to the club's collection), and Gabe was the winner.

Then we split into different groups for the next group of games. At one table, it was Nick, Gabe, Doug and Ashley playing Nexus Ops, a game that Nick brought and -- no surprise -- Nick was the winner. The other table of Sarah, Clayton, Paul and myself played Ticket to Ride with the new cards from the 1910 edition, and -- after complaining about being blocked out on two of my tickets -- I drew a bunch more, made them, and managed to edge out Sarah for the win. Whew -- usually when I miss on two tickets and take a -21 point hit, that doesn't happen! Sarah got her revenge in the very next game, Hollywood Blockbuster, winning with a solid score of 91.

Then Clayton took a break and the rest of us played Boom-O, the card game of the ticking time bomb. Sarah, who seemed eager to play, was eliminated first, then Doug, Paul and I were eliminated and it came down to Ashley, Gabe and Nick. I didn't write down the final result -- but I believe Nick won.

The final game of the evening -- Cloud 9 -- saw Nick and I wind up tied at 35 when the session time ran out. I believe there may have been a game going on at the other table, but us balloonists were really focused on our piloting efforts -- in particular Nick, who made an impressive solo flight to move from the 12 cloud to the 25, putting him in contention after the rest of us had bailed out.

It was great to have the new games arrive -- everyone should plan ahead though, because starting next week, the CC's summer hours will be in effect -- we will close an hour earlier, at 9, not 10.

Friday, May 16, 2008

May 15, 2008 Session Report

Attendance this week was up to a total of nine -- one first-time attendee along with a couple of people we welcomed back after not seeing them for awhile. Ashley was the one newcomer, and we also saw Sarah and Val who had been missing in action for the last couple of months, along with "regulars" Clayton, Ben, Paul, Gabe, Nick and myself.

We started off with a game of Can't Stop that was abandoned after a couple of rounds when more people arrived. We then played a seven-player Boom-O, and people who were knocked out early joined the new arrivals for more Can't Stop. I had Gabe down as the final survivor in Boom-O, with Ben second and Ashley third. Nick, Paul, Sarah and myself also participated.

The Can't Stop group included Sarah, Val, Clayton and myself. We wound up playing a total of two games, I won the first and Sarah won the second. The other group of five (Ben, Nick, Paul, Ashley and Gabe) played the "Zombie" game, Last Night on Earth which Ben had brought. Ben was nice enough to play the Zombies and, in the initial play, went down to defeat in what I was told was one of the "easy" scenarios for the good guys. (Any excuse for Ben losing as the zombies.) In the second game, with a more difficult setup, Ben was able to pull out a win as the zombie player.

In the meantime, the other group of four (Clayton, Val, Sarah and myself) got in two more games, first Ingenious, which was a really close game, won by Sarah with 14, John 13, Clayton 9, Val 9. Next up was Quiddler, this time Val and I were battling it out until one hand where Val got no vowels -- and a -57 (ouch!) for the hand. Needless to say, that put the end to Val's chances. Final scores were John 273 Sarah 230 Clayton 193 Val 157.

We still had around 25 minutes left so we brought out an old favorite, Category Five, that all nine of us could play. We got in only one round, but this time Val (2) was the winner, followed by Paul (7), Gabe (9), Ashley (10), Clayton (15), John (16), Ben (22), Nick (24), Sarah (30).

A good time was had by all and hopefully we can keep up the strong attendance next week, which will be our last session before Memorial Day, when the CC closes an hour earlier.

Also, some new games for the club's collection have been ordered, so hopefully they will be making an appearance soon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May 8, 2008 Session Report

Finally, getting around to this week's session ... six of us (Doug, Nick, Clayton, Paul, Ben and myself) wound up playing just three games.

First up as an "opener" was an out-of-print, privately-produced simulation of drag car racing, the Vallco Professional Drag Racing, autographed by game designer and former drag race competitor Greg Zyla. After a series of elimination round races in which everyone got to try out the game (averaging like one or two minutes per race), it came down to a final between Doug (who was Connie Kalitta) and Paul (Don "Big Daddy" Garlits). In a real close race, Doug managed to get the measure of "Big Daddy."

Next up -- and kind of the main event of the evening -- was Merchant of Venus, a game I have owned for a long time but not played much recently. We played with a full table of six, maybe a mistake as the game seemed to drag a bit at times. We called the game at about a half hour before closing time. A few of us (notably Doug, Clayton, Paul and myself) were nowhere close to victory, but Ben needed less than 500 bucks and Nick was not too far behind. Ben had the "Jump Start" relic that seemed to be really strong with four teleports out there once Ben traded for the four-dice spaceship, the clipper.

That left just enough time for some Cloud 9 action, with the #1 trash-talker Ben having to take his leave to get up for some Mothers' Day Weekend travel commitments. Nick selectively chose the right time to bail out to grab the early lead, and, in the end, only Doug was in a position to challenge. Finally, Nick pushed it to over 50 and Doug was victim of a balloon crash with Paul at the pilot. I got off to a terrible start, crashing three out of four voyages and never recovered. Final scores: Nick 51, Doug 38, Clayton 27, Paul 26, John 22.

Final reminder -- Main Street Festival rain-or-shine this Saturday, starting at 9 AM. Our booth location is 512-B-and-C. Hoping for good weather.

May 1, 2008 Session Report

Thanks to Paul Sabol, who kept track of attendance and games played while the rest of us were at Games Days, here is the report from last week's gaming action:

Roll Call: Paul, Clayton, Tucker, Bob and one newcomer, Beverly.

Games played: Carcassone (x2), Coloretto (x2), Ticket to Ride, Lost Cities, Hearts (!), Ingenious.

Carcassone game one: Paul 100, Clayton 56, Beverly 44.
Lost Cities: Paul 108, Clayton 16.
Ticket to Ride: Paul 122, Tucker 101, Clayton 80, Bob 61.
Hearts: Paul 0, Tucker 27, Bob 45, Clayton 58.
Coloretto game one: Clayton 29, Beverly 27, Paul 26 -- a really close game!
Coloretto game two: Paul 53, Beverly and Clayton 30
Carcassone game two (no scores available): Paul first, Tucker second, Bob third, Clayton fourth.
Ingenious: Tucker 14, Bob 12 (5), Paul 12 (4), Clayton 3 (!)

Main Street Festival This Saturday!!

Sorry, but I missed out on last week's session because of Games Days which started on Thursday night, May 1. I saw many of our regular attendees there, including Nick, Ben, Doug, Neil, and others. I expect to get caught up on attendance reports and the like after tonight's session.

An update on this Saturday's Main Street Festival in Laurel: We will be at Booth Location 512-B and C, which should be on the South Side of Main Street between 5th and 6th. The festival starts with a parade at 9 AM, will last until the booths close at 4 PM. We will be handing out flyers and have several tables set up with games. Stop by and join us, particularly since the weather forecast for Saturday looks good.

For those of you who haven't heard, here's another piece of good news: Our games club, along with three other nearby clubs (including Beltsville and Greenbelt) has received some funds to purchase additional games, courtesy of the Princes Georges County Government. Nick and I have submitted a list of games to John Goon, who is coordinating the effort. Games are expected to be ordered in the next week or so.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008 Session Report

Well, it was just four of us in attendance this week as Clayton, Gabe, Paul and I played a total of four games: R-Eco, San Juan, Kingsburg and Empyrean.

First up was R-Eco. An environmental/recycling game seemed appropriate for Earth Week, but it turned out to be counterproductive as each of us (myself being the last) managed to visit the illegal trash dump more than once. Final scores were Gabe 14, John 9, Clayton 4, Paul 2.

Still thinking more people might show, our second game was another quickie: San Juan. I managed to build out to 12 buildings with the Guild Hall/City Hall combo giving me 17 bonus points for a total of 36. Gabe, who had the other Guild Hall, finished second with 29, followed by Paul (27) and Clayton (16).

At this point it was around 7, so we just decided to opt for a bit longer game -- Kingsburg. We played with the standard rules and, with some good "aid from the king rolls," noone suffered a defeat in the winter battles (making the game too easy perhaps?). Gabe was plagued by some low die rolls early in the game, while Clayton raced to an early lead with Gabe and I not far behind, with Paul trailing early. Then Clayton and Paul filled out the Embassy (bottom) row and started to catch up. I went for some good defensive buildings and, by the end of the game, three of us had a Wizard's Guild (plus 2 in battle) but noone had the Farm for the extra die but -1 in battle. Gabe was behind in buildings, but benefited from the extra die in the spring and use of the Envoy. The die rolls seemed to even out in the end, as Clayton's good luck turned sour, and Gabe got some better rolls. In the end, it was a really close finish: final scores were Gabe and John 45, Paul 40, Clayton 37. Gabe and I had to check the tiebreakers -- most cubes (still tied, we spent them all on soldiers and had none left) and finally, most buildings, so I came out on top.

We finished Kingsburg in just under a couple of hours and had time left for another game, so Gabe taught us Empyrean, Inc. which proved to be an interesting set-collecting card game with some different twists. The taxation phase is a great equalizer and, along with turn order considerations, proved to be a decisive factor in our game as I got a set started that Gabe really wanted for himself. The game came down to the wire with Clayton one card away from winning when I got the two cards I needed to fill out my sets and win the game.

Next week, a few of us will be at Games Days but the club will be open. We dropped off some flyers and will be promoting the club both at Games Days and at the Laurel Main Street Festival the following week.

Also, some good news ... there will be some funds available for purchase of new games, but we need to prioritize the list as not all the requested funds were approved. Please post suggestions here or forward them to me -- I plan to submit a list to John Goon (who is the key contact person) by Wednesday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008 Session Report

Once again, we had a total of six for tonight's session. Gabe, Paul, Nick, Doug, Ben and I split into two groups for a good part of the evening. Ben wanted another test of his fishing game, Open Water, and Paul and Doug obliged -- Doug wound up the winner, as apparently some recent changes with some smoother mechanics while providing players with choices were the primary added new features.

Nick, Gabe and I played Airships, a relatively quick-playing dice game that I had brought. Nick came out on top, 11 points to 7 for me and 4 for Gabe, who had some bad luck with his die rolls. In spite of the heavy luck factor, I kind of like the relatively quick-playing mechanics. Gabe had brought Parthenon, which I hadn't played in a while, and the three of us spent the bulk of the evening going through the ups and downs of perilous seas and random events in this risk management game. I won by finally getting my second Wonder completed with one season left in the game. Nick had all his buildings save for the second Wonder, while Gabe got both wonders built but was short two or three of the acropolis buildings.

Ben, Doug and Paul got in two games of For Sale, resulting in one win for Doug and one for Paul, Ben finishing second in both games.

Finally, all six of us hooked up for a couple of quick games of Cloud Nine, which is rapidly replacing Category Five as the end-of-the-evening favorite. Ben got through the first round of balloon trips unscathed to score a 65 to 62 win over Gabe in a game where I was the only one not to reach 50. Second game, which put us right up against the 10 PM close time, had Paul the winner with 58 points.

Nick has worked up some nice looking flyers for our club which I hope to get copied and have available in the next week or so. We hope to hand these out at events like Games Days and the Laurel Main Street Festival in an effort to bring in some new blood to the club.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of six for tonight's session: Paul, Nick, Clayton, Doug, Ben and myself. We wound up playing only four games, as one game that was new to most ran a bit long (sorry about that).

First up was Olympia 2000, which was a five-player as Clayton had not yet arrived. Ben and Nick were new to the game. Nick's athletes prevailed by a narrow count of 10 to 8 for Doug and 7 for Paul as Ben and I brought up the rear.

Second game was Cloud 9, and this time we had a full complement of six amateur balloon flyers. Paul emerged the winner when he accompanied Clayton on a 25-point journey to the top of Cloud 9, after Ben and Paul had succeeded in an earlier effort after Nick bailed out at the 20-point level. Final scores were Paul 50+ to win, Nick 43, Clayton 42, Doug 32, John 30, Ben 28. Kept stats on the crashes, too -- Nick failed three times and I didn't have the rest of us crashing more than once.

Next we tried a longer game mainly because it played with all six and we weren't prepared to break into two groups. I brought Falsche Fuffziger, an older Friedemann Friese design that is now pretty much out of print (got it second-hand through a private sale on BGG last year). The theme of the game is about counterfeiting, and the game has some interesting but possibly flawed mechanics regarding who goes first. I started out well with the coin auctions but warned everyone that -- while I was in good shape for the short-term, long-term things may not work it. This proved prophetic as I (along with a couple of others) didn't anticipate the 100 presses going away so quickly after the 50 presses in what proved to be the penultimate turn. The six bonus coins for most "real" money put Nick over the top for the win, with 20 to 17 for yours truly, followed by Doug at 14, Clayton 12 while Ben (8) and Paul (5) tried some things that didn't seem to work out.

Finally, for the second week in a row, we tried Ben's invention, a fishing game with the working title of "Open Water." We managed to get in a few turns to get the mechanics down when all of a sudden it was closing time. Next time, hopefully we can start it a bit sooner (apologize for the length of the prior game) so we can finish a complete game.

A couple of announcements: 1. Nick Schroedl has agreed to serve as Co-Host for the Club.
2. In cooperation with Games Club of Maryland, we will once again be operating a booth at the Laurel Main Street Festival on Saturday May 10th. The plan is to have TWICE the space we had last year, more room for folks to stop by and learn games. It will be a great opportunity to try to attract new folks to the hobby, so I am hoping for good weather. More details once the event draws closer (and we have specific booth assignments) ...

Monday, April 7, 2008

April 3, 2008 Session Report

I was out of town last week, but -- once again -- Nick Schroedl has produced an excellent session report describing last week's festivities. Can't wait for this week's session. Here's Nick's report in full:

Nine of us battled the rain, sleet and traffic jams to play this past Thursday night. First game of the night was Target between Gabe, Doug and Paul. It appeared to be a mix of poker meets rummy, I was unable to tell who was winning or losing as the game progressed and all were surprised when Paul won out (even Paul). Final scores were Paul 25, Gabe 22 and Doug 18.

After the game of target Clayton, Doug, Gabe, Paul and I (Nick) played a game of Beowulf. Having never played before I found it to be an interesting mix of auctions, card collection and gambling. Strangely I can't recall any of these being in the book or movie, ah well. Clayton displayed nerves of steel risking more often than most and it paying off quite frequently (to my determent). I did well until getting shafted on bonus squares I didn't plan for. Doug got the worst of it by far, and was mercilessly scratched and wounded though out. After all scores were counted, Gabe eeked out the win with a 26, closely followed by Clayton and myself with 25, Paul 20 and Doug -1.

While the game of Beowulf was going on Ben, Abe, Brandon and Mike showed up. Ben started setting up the prototype to his new game he's designed tentatively named "Open Water". While they waited for Beowulf to end and after much deliberation Brandon, Mike, Abe and Ben played a quick game of Transamerica which ended in a tie between Brandon and Mike, then Ben and finally Abe.

After Beowulf, Ben sat down with Paul and Abe to teach his fishing game "Open Water". From what I've heard each player is a captain of a fishing boat that sets crab traps, nets and avoid disasters. Reminded me of that show on the Discovery channel 'The Deadliest Catch'. The game lasted the rest of the night. Ben got plenty of feedback and ideas for how to tweak the game. I'm looking forward to trying it out!

At the the other table we had a six player game of The Great Space Race going. It's one of my goofy games with ties to Roborally. Clayton, Doug, Gabe, Brandon, Mike and I set off on a one lap race with mines and ramming galore. The last turn yielded two major events that set everyone's speed down to one and one that sent a hail of asteroids all over the track. I was able to cross the finish line first closely followed by Gabe. The rest of the contestants called the race since they were slowed so much by the event and it would've taken several turns to get back up to speed again.

After that we finished up the night with one of Gabe's card games, Car of Cthulu. Playing was Doug, Mike, Gabe, Brandon and myself. Plenty of passing and damaged cars. Doug seemed to have an endless supply of cancel cards that made him untouchable. The dice viciously turned on me as I lost every single pass attempt. I still think my car was the coolest, The Satanic Pushcart. After all was said, Gabe won with two successful laps. By far its one insane, crazy, random game.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of eight gamers in attendance tonight: Clayton, Ben, Paul, Nick, Sarah and myself were joined by Joan (Sarah's mom) and Abe, both of whom we had not seen in awhile. A total of eight different games were played, some more than once: R-Eco, Ingenious, San Juan, Ticket to Ride, Kingsburg, Gin, Can't Stop and Cloud 9.

Started off with a five-player game of R-Eco, which wound up being quite messy as all of us wounding up opening illegal trash dumps and, in the end, only Nick and I avoided negative scores. Final results were John 11, Nick 6, Clayton and Paul both at -1 with Ben bringing up the rear with a -3.

Sarah arrived and we split up into two groups. I played Ingenious with Sarah and Clayton, and Clayton wound up the winner when he successfully blocked any opportunity for expansion in orange, which happened to be the weakest color of both Sarah and myself. Final results: Clayton 9, Sarah 8, and I was last with 6. The other group, consisting of Ben, Nick and Paul, played San Juan, and Nick wound up winning with two "6" bonus buildings and a purple building strategy that netted him 41 points to 32 for Paul and 27 for Ben.

We split into two groups for the next series of games which lasted for the bulk of the evening. Ben, Nick and I were joined by Abe for a four-player Kingsburg, which we played with a variant that rendered "aid from the King" on a 1-3 range instead of the 1-6 in the rules as written. As a result, the winter battles with the enemies became much more vicious (and each year we seemed to be facing the more destructive and vicious enemies), and Abe lost three times and I lost twice, including a four-point building. As a result, the game evolved into a contest between Nick and Ben, with Nick coming out on top with 41 points (amazing -- the same winning score he had in San Juan) while Ben was second with 37.

The other group of Clayton, Paul and Sarah completed two games of Ticket to Ride in less time that it took the rest of us to finish Kingsburg. Sarah won the first game with a score of 104 with Clayton (92) not that far behind. Paul bounced back strongly in the second game, managing to get all his 45 trains on the map as part of the longest route, covering a loop throughout the US map. He also completed all of his tickets for a total of 121, with Sarah second with 99.

By this time Joan had arrived (ostensibly to deliver a set of car keys to Sarah) but of course we persuaded her to join us for a couple of games. She and Sarah played some two-handed gin while the Kingsburg game was wrapping up -- no report on who won. Then Sarah and Joan joined Abe and Clayton in a Can't Stop game which apparently ended with no victor although it observers suggested Clayton might have been in position to win had he stopped after getting one number to the top. In between games, Clayton also demonstrated his skill at card tricks which, as usual, had all observers left shaking their collective heads in amazement.

Nick, Paul and I introduced Ben to Cloud 9 at the other table. After multiple crashes and much "trash talk" about who was the best balloon pilot, Paul won the first game with 51 while Nick came back to win the second game with a score of 57.

I regret I will miss next week's session due to a long awaited vacation but I trust Mr. Nick Schroedl will serve as acting host in my stead, and I look forward to reading his report on ... could it be another record-breaking session?

See y'all in two weeks time.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of eight gamers in attendance for tonight's session: Doug, Sarah, Kim (who came with Sarah as a first-time attendee), Clayton, Nick, Gabe, Neil and myself. We played a total of ten different games: Lost Cities, Ticket to Ride, Ingenious, Blokus, Cartagena, Age of Empires III, Quiddler, Boomtown, Skip-Bo and Chrononauts (the Early America edition).

Doug and I arrived first, finishing up a quick hand of Lost Cities before everyone else started to arrive. We split into two groups of four. One group (Gabe, Nick, Neil and myself) chose a longer game, Age of Empires III, in which Gabe came out on top. Final scores were Gabe 121, John 92, Nick 83 and Neil 68. This same group then followed up with a shorter game, BoomTown, won by Neil, and we spent the last 15 minutes trying out the Early American version of Chrononauts, which Nick managed to win "just in the nick of time" before the 10 PM closing time. Since I had won the initial Lost Cities games, it turned out each in our group of four won one game over the course of the evening.

It turned out to be a different story for the other group (consisting of Doug, Kim, Sarah and Clayton) which played a series of six shorter games -- Ticket to Ride, Ingenious, Blokus, Cartagena, Quiddler and Skip-Bo -- all six of which (it was later reported) were won by Doug ! (Don't keep stats, but winning six different games in one session must be some sort of record for our game club.)

Anyway, hope everyone had a good time and will return next week for more fun and games.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of eight gamers for this evening's session. Clayton was first to arrive, and Paul, Gabe, Nick, Ben, Sarah, Neil and myself rounded out the group. Started off with a couple of quick games, first a four-player Can't Stop, which Clayton was well-positioned to win had he stopped after hitting his second number. But he couldn't stop rolling and this opened the door for Gabe, who won the game while Nick and I brought up the rear. Ben and Sarah arrived while we were playing, and they contested a single hand of Lost Cities which Ben won, reportedly a close game where both had positive scores.

Once everyone had arrived, we split into two groups, playing a couple of games with some strong alien/space invader type themes. Nick had brought a new game, Estimated Time to Invasion, which wound up with Clayton winding up as the victor, playing the aliens and succeeding in the final round of attacks after it turned out Gabe was revealed to be the "Judas" character. Neil and Sarah joined in, and everyone seemed to have a good time playing the game.

Meanwhile, at the other table, Paul, Ben and I played three games of Race for the Galaxy, which Nick had also brought. Paul, who had done well in a couple of games at the Beltsville club, couldn't seem to get the right combination of cards and finished last in all the games. Ben won the first two, but each games I came closer, losing by four and then losing by one in the second game. Finally, in the third game, I got the strong Military world and parlayed it to a five-point win over Ben with some nice bonuses for my Alien and Rebel worlds.

We then split four and four for the final two games of the evening: Queens' Necklace and Tribune (with my hand-made copy). I had Gabe down as the winner in Queens Necklace, ahead of Clayton, Sarah and Neil. In the Tribune game, I managed to get to the fourth required victory condition in turn four, while Paul narrowly edged Ben for second on a tiebreaker but neither could fulfill more than two victory conditions. Nick, who had done well in his one previous Tribune game, was unable to get the cards he needed to control the Vestal faction which probably would have put him in second instead of fourth of four. I like Tribune because it's relatively quick for a meaty type game.

A couple of announcements: This Saturday there is going to be a special gaming event at the Family Games Store in Savage, MD. And, looking even further into the future, GCOM has once again applied for booth space at the Main Street Festival in Laurel, which will be Saturday, May 10th (an open-air, rain-or-shine event).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 6, 2008 Session Report

We had a total of nine gamers for tonight's session, which these days equals our average attendance. Clayton, Doug, Paul, Sarah, Nick, Ben, Neil, Tom and myself were in attendance. We played a total of six different games: Parlay, Masons, Munchkin, Ticket to Ride, Kreta and Target.

The evening opened with a six-player Parlay game, which we picked up after just a couple of hands, after Sarah pulled into a commanding lead with a 195-point score using "Clumpy" for a nice length and poker bonus. We then divided into two groups, four of us playing Masons, which Neil had brought; Ben won a close game by just two points. The rest of us played Munchkin, which Sarah had just bought, and Doug and Nick handled most of the rules explanation. Clayton was the first to get to within one level of victory and thus, had the bulls eye on his back. This enabled me to sneak in with the win after most of the increased combat value cards had been played, mostly to stop Clayton.

The next set of games were also played with two groups: Ben, Nick, Sarah and I tackled Kreta which wound up in a close battle between Nick and myself that concluded in a tie. Ben's farmer strategy (he wound up with seven farm tiles) did not pay off as he wound up a distant third. The other table played Ticket to Ride (won by Paul) and Target (also won by Paul).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 21, 2008 Session Report

Unfortunately and perhaps not unexpectedly, there was big dropoff from last week's record attendance as we were down to a more "normal" core group of seven, including Neil, Nick, Clayton, Ben, Sarah, Gabe and myself.

We started off with one of my favorite games, McGartlin Stock Car Racing, and Nick was all set up for the win when he lacked a pass card for a crucial yellow flag crash just five laps from the end. Nick dropped to the rear and finished there. Neil inherited the lead and eventually won the race, with Ben in second and Gabe third. This game will be part of a special event, TrashFest, at Maryland Games Days during the first weekend in May -- everyone who reads this should note the Early Bird Pre-Registration (with a special discount in addition to a discount for GCOM Supporting Members) is coming up soon (March 8). For details see:

After the McGartlin race we broke into two groups: Clayton, Ben and I played Coloretto which was won by Ben with Clayton not too far back with me in last, much farther back. Nick, Sarah, Gabe and Neil played a couple of rounds of Tumblin Dice, both of which were won by Sarah. Then Ben joined the dice group while Neil joined Clayton and me for more Coloretto action. I have Nick down for ending Sarah's streak at the dice game, and Neil and Clayton finished 1-2 putting me in last (again) in Coloretto; although I had a much higher score than the first game, so did everyone else.

The seven of us re-organized once again, and Ben, Nick, Neil and I became Indian tea collectors in Darjeeling. We decided not to play to a full game but declared the winner after someone hit 70 points. That someone turned out to be Ben, who won with 69 (suffering a -1 penalty for an unfinished half-crate). I was second with 67, ahead of Nick (59) and Neil (57). Interesting game with alot of leapfrogging over each other -- no telling what would have happened had we played to 100.

The other group of Gabe, Sarah and Clayton played Hey That's My Fish and TransAmerica (both won by Gabe) and then started the Artifacts variant of Chrononauts that was not completed. (Heard from the next table over that there may have been some rules controversies in this one.)

Final game of the evening was a five-player Fairy Tale; final scores were Gabe 49 Ben 44 Nick and John 37 Sarah 36 but hey, I had five mischievous fairies at the end.

Hope to see more of you next week, including some of the folks who were here last week that I didn't have the chance to welcome to the club.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

February 21, 2008 Session Report

As many of you already know, I wasn't there last week. But that apparently did not stop people from attending -- indeed, a record crowd for a Thursday night in the brief two and a half year history of our club.

Thanks to Nick Schroedl for the following entertaining report on this past session. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did, and reading it makes me very enthusiastic about next week's session and the future for our club.


Without further ado, here is Nick's report.

"I believe we had the biggest turnout ever at Laurel game night this past Thursday night, at least since I've been attending. I was fortunate enough to bring along five friends to play some games, including old timer Abe but introducing for the first time my buddy Brandon, Dustin, Mike and Mandy. Already playing games when we arrived was Paul, Gabe, Sarah, Ben, Bob, Neal, Tom, Clayton and Tucker for a grand total of 15 for the night. So many in fact, that we had to get another table to accommodate everyone.

I'll do my best in recalling all the games played and their winners, perhaps others can help me with anything I'm missing. All games were recorded and are in the club binder. I believe there was a total of 9 different games played.

First game played was Princes of Florence brought by Neal, it was Ben, Neal, Paul and myself (Nick). Both Ben and I were new and as it turned out we badly botched some major rules involving the amount of money and the number of points awarded after turning in a work of art. It was pretty comical seeing myself being lapped on the scoring track as Ben ran away with the game racking up over 90+ points (and with over 8k in his coffers) causing us to concede and declare him the winner in round 5. I want to try this game again but next time with fewer "house rules" wink, wink.

On the other table a big game of Atlantic Star begun including Brandon, Gabe, Sarah, Bob, Tucker and Clayton. Unfortunately I don't have the score for this one on hand but the game lasted quite a while.

New comers Mike, Mandy and Dustin were taught Kingsburg by Abe on the new table. All said they enjoyed the game and were only starting to get the hang of the strategy when the game ended in a tie between Mike and Mandy both in buildings and victory points. Mike only just eeked out the win by having more goods stored up.

A game of Transamerica started after the Princes of Florence game with Ben, Neal, Tom and myself (Nick). It was a quick game but only because my train simply plummeted off the chart after the fourth round. We crowned Neal the winner then Ben then Tom.

A game of Wits and Wagers followed the Alantic Star game and Transamerica game. Players included Brandon, Mike, Dustin, Neal, Sarah, Paul and myself (Nick). It was a good game with plenty of big bets in the final round. Neal was able to increase his already substantial lead in after betting correctly in the final round to be declared the winner. I took away from the game a strong urge to go study up on the Boston Tea party, sheesh I was waay off on that answer!

Gabe taught Bob, Ben and Tucker his game of Beowulf which looked very interesting but unfortunately I don't have the scores for.

In the meantime Clayton taught Mandy how to play Lost Cities. They split two games. Afterwards Clayton entertained many with some of his amazing card tricks.

After the game of Wits and Wagers, Sarah, Brandon, Dustin and myself (Nick) played Ingenious. After Sarah taught us the rules we dove in. It was a very close game. Sarah took a strong lead and Dustin surprised everyone in his last turns, I was unable to get yellow symbols even after turning in my tiles twice. And although we had to cut the game short because of time we were very close to filling the board so after one final round Sarah edged out Dustin by one point leaving Brandon and myself tied in third.

A fantastic turnout this week which drew lots of attention from passersby, four or five people stopped in to ask what kind of club this was and what kind of games we were playing. A few even stayed to watch a few turns of Transamerica and Wits and Wagers. Great atmosphere, hope to keep it going strong next week!"


Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008 Session Report

Attendance: down to 6 this week, as Doug, Paul, Nick, Sarah, Ben and myself were present.

Games played: 7 (Lost Cities, R-Eco, Hoity Toity, Imperial, Anno 1503, Qwirkle, Guillotine).

Some details: Paul and arrived first and we completed one hand of Lost Cities (won by Paul, 127-99 who scored the 20-point bonus). Nick arrived and we played another short game, R-Eco, which resulted in another win for Paul (19 to 9 for me and 1 for Nick; all three of us dumped). Ben, Doug and Sarah joined up as we played a 6-handed Hoity Toity and, in an incredibly close game where all six of us were in the running at the end, Doug pulled it out by putting together an 11-card set for best in final show. I nosed out Nick for second on the best collection tiebreak after Nick had triggered the endgame after trailing in the early going.

We then split into two groups of three. Following on the heels of Hamburgum last week, Ben, Nick and I tried another rondel game, Imperial, which took up most of the remaining session time. Ben won going away by pushing Russia to the end of the chart first. Nick did well, too, good enough to put me in last. Final scores were Bem 217 Nick 156 John 146.

The other table got in three games: Anno 1503, won by Doug with Sarah a close second. Paul then took the Qwirkle game, 137 to 127 for Doug and 122 for Sarah -- sounds like another close one. Guilltoine went to Doug, followed by Sarah and Paul.

I anticipate being at the PrezCon convention next week, so I will probably not see everyone until Thurs. the 28th. I left some attendance and games played sheets in the notebook that is packed away with the club's games, so I am looking forward to someone posting here or emailing me with the information from next week's session.