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.