Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December 17, 2009 Session Report

Attendance of seven for our final session of the year, with Mike, Patrick, Paul, Greg, Clayton, Ron and myself in attendance. We played a total of five different games: Power Grid - Factory Manager, Can't Stop (played twice), Lost Cities, Chicago Express, Winners Circle (also played twice).

First up was a game we started but didn't finish the prior week: Power Grid-Factory Manager. This time there were five of us, including all four from last week's game (Greg, Mike, Patrick and myself) along with Paul. I had a nice lead heading into the final turn and hung on to win, despite having a couple of players pass me on the income track. Final scores (with final turn income in parenthesis): John (216) 320, Paul (196) 314, Greg (272) 290, Patrick (232) 288, Mike (228) 229. Interesting game, as the player with the most income on the final turn only came in third.

Meanwhile Clayton and Ron had arrived and occupied themselves in some two-player games while waiting for Factory Manager to finish (and thus far the game has taken a bit longer than the 60 minutes advertised on the box). Clayton reportedly won two games of Can't Stop, then Ron got some measure of revenge winning his first ever game of Lost Cities (with some coaching from yours truly) by an overall score of 132 to 60 after three hands. Then some horse racing, with Ron narrowly edging Clayton, 2400 to 2300, in the first of two games of Winners Circle.

Then we re-split the groups, and I joined Ron and Clayton for three more races of Winners Circle, which again came down to Ron and Clayton, with Ron taking first with 2150 to 1650 for Clayton while I was far back at just 900. Last race both Ron and I put our 0s on the same horse, so of course the nag came in last.

Mike, Greg, Paul and Patrick played Chicago Express, and the game was fairly close, Mike (73) making up for his poor performance in Factory Manager with Paul once again a close second (69) followed by Greg (55) and Patrick (49).

Wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. We will re-convene (weather permitting, of course) on Thursday, January 7, for the first session of 2010.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 10, 2009 Session Report

We had a group of eight for this week's session. Patrick was back for the second week in a row, joined by another new attendee (Trent), along with club regulars Doug, Paul, Clayton, Mike, Greg and myself. We played five different games during the course of the evening, including three games that were played for the first time at the club: Power Grid (Brazil map), Power Grid (Factory Manager) and Sodbusters. Ticket to Ride-Switzerland and Ingenious rounded out the games played list.

First up we had two four-player games, Sodbusters (which Patrick had brought) and Power Grid-Brazil (which I had brought but where Greg took over the role of the "teacher" as I had committed to joining the Sodbusters group). Patrick taught Sodbusters to three would-be farmers: Paul, Doug and myself. Sodbusters is a relatively straightforward game put out last year by a Canadian company, where you start with a parcel of land and a mortgage that you need to try to pay off at some point. The game had quite a bit of luck in it, as Paul got wiped out by a tornado but got back into the game a few turns later with some successful "Prospecting." Then the rest of us got hit by some Indians, which reduced our income considerably. A couple of well-timed oil strikes and Paul was back in contention. We decided to pick up the game around the halfway point when the other game was finishing, and the count at that point had Doug winning with 1230 to 1180 for Paul, then 400-500 each for Patrick and myself. Not sure what would have happened had the game continued, as Patrick had invested alot in land and other infrastructure, but Paul had guaranteed income from a couple of oil wells. Interesting game that left me wanting to try it again, perhaps even buy it, even though there was alot of luck and randomness.

The other game, featuring Greg, Mike, Clayton and Trent, was Power Grid with one of the new maps, Brazil, whose special rule involved production of Biogas (which is the same as the yellow garbage plants in the base game). However, as I noted, the players used the new Power Plant deck although the rules specified the original deck. (I checked on BoardGameGeek where it says they are still working on rules for the newer deck.) Anyway, the game turned out to be a fairly close one, the win going to Greg with an asterisk as apparently the adaption of the game to the new deck led to a couple of anomalies. Anyway, there was alot of talk back and forth between the Power Grid game (talking about "Biogas") and the Sodbusters group (talking about getting into sheep) which was quite entertaining.

We re-split the groups and wound up with one table of three and one of four for the last hour fifteen minutes left in the session. One group (Paul, Doug and Clayton) played some familiar games, first Ticket to Ride-Switzerland and then Ingenious, both of these games were won by Paul. (Scores in the Ingenious game -- 6, 4, and 3 -- seemed really low.) The rest of us (Patrick, Greg, Mike and I) tackled the new Factory Manager which is like Power Grid in some respects, but supposedly alot shorter. Nonetheless, with some new rules and new mechanics we didn't manage to finish the game but I think everyone was willing to give it another try. Scores after three of the five turns had John ahead with 89, Mike at 80, Greg at 61, Patrick 43, but that is probably not very reflective of what the final scores might have been as turn order and double income in the final turn would play a big part. Hope to try the game again real soon.

Again, a reminder, one more session next week before a couple of weeks off for the XMas and New Year's Eve holidays when the CC will be closed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 3, 2009 Session Report

Attendance of eight for this week's session, with Mike, Paul, Doug, Ibrahim, Ron, Clayton and myself joined for the first time by Patrick. We played five different games during the course of the evening: Hollywood Blockbuster, Chicago Express, Can't Stop, Citadels and Cloud Nine. Some details follow.

The Hollywood Blockbuster game was a four-player with Clayton, Doug, Paul and John as the players, and the game was a very competitive one where all four of us had a chance to win. Final scores were Paul 80, Doug 77, John 75, Clayton 68. Paul won by having the most director points (13) despite the fact that he had no four-star directors and Clayton had three of them. Had Clayton won the Oscar for best directing, he would have won with 78 with Paul coming fourth instead of first. That's how close the game was.

The Chicago Express game was a win for Ron, scores reported as 68 for Ron to Mike (53), Patrick (48) and Ibrahim (40). Meanwhile, at the other table the four of us got in a game of Can't Stop with Doug emerging victorious ahead of Paul, John and Clayton.

At this point Ibrahim left and we played a seven-player game of Citadels that took most of the rest of the evening. Final scores were John 33, Patrick 26, Paul 20, Clayton 17, Doug and Mike 16, Ron (whose character got assassinated alot) wound up in the rear at 13. Final game of the evening was Cloud Nine, and Ron got his revenge, winning that one with a tally of 58 to 37 (John), Clayton and Paul tied at 31, Doug at 24 and Mike at 20 -- all of us who were behind had to gamble on a final balloon trip that didn't pan out.

Reminder that there will be just two more sessions for the rest of the year, as the Community Center will be closed on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) and New Years Eve (Dec. 31).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 19, 2009 Session Report

Attendance was back to more normal levels this week, as we had a total of eight gamers present: Paul, Eugene, Greg, Ron, Mike, Ibrahim (who was back for his third session and whom I had called Abraham in some previous reports -- my apologies), Rodney and myself. We played a total of five games: TransAmerica, Cheeky Monkey, Automobile, Stone Age and Wits and Wagers.

First up was TransAmerica, we got in maybe one or two rounds before more people showed up. Final scores were Paul 0 (winner), John 1, Ron 2, Ibrahim 4, Greg 5, Eugene 10 (!). Eugene had to leave early but we congratulated him for his strong performance at EuroQuest where he finished sixth in the Wild Card tournament there. The six of us who were left (which included Mike at this point) played Cheeky Monkey, which was a three-way battle won by Ron (37) to Greg (24) and Ibrahim (23). The rest of us didn't get any bonus points for most animals, and Mike in fact, had zero animals in his stack at the end of the game. Paul with 2 and yours truly with 5 were also in sad shape.

Rodney arrived, so we were at seven and split into two groups. Greg wanted to learn Automobile, so Mike, Ron and I joined him for a four-player game. Final scores: John 4790, Ron 3860, Mike 3550, Greg 3520. The Stone Age game was won by Rodney, who should know the game fairly well as he GMs it at WBC. Final score count: Rodney 233, Paul 167, Ibrahim 107.

Ibrahim and Ron decided to call it a night at this point, so we wrapped up the session with a five-player Wits and Wagers, which I somehow managed to win (43) to Greg (11) and Mike (3), while Paul and Rodney gambled away whatever chips they won on some wrong answers. I remember there being one sports question in there, something that is usually to my advantage.

A reminder, no session next week due to Thanksgiving. Will need to check, but I suspect the Community Center will also be closed on Christmas and New Years eve (December 24 and 31st), need to check for sure, so it looks like three more sessions for the rest of 2009.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 12, 2009 Session Report

I was at EuroQuest and missed this session, as did several other Laurel club regulars. As a result, this session was rather sparsely attended, with just four (Clayton, Don, Mike and Paul) in attendance. Two games were played: Puerto Rico and Stone Age.

As expected, Mike (who was the defending Puerto Rico Champ from EuroQuest) won the Puerto Rico game, which is kind of ironic because at the same time the club session was going on, the Puerto Rico tournament at EQ was getting under way. Final scores of the Puerto Rico game were Mike 48, Don 43, Paul 37, Clayton 29. Also, should add I am not surprised to see Don do well since he had advanced to the elimination rounds at WBC earlier this year.

Stone Age game final scores: Don 166, Mike 136, Paul 130, Clayton 76.

For anyone interested in tracking any of the EuroQuest action, here's a link to the BPA Website which lists the winners:


If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there's a link to over 350 photos taken during the convention. In addition, there's a link to a GeekList posted at the BoardGameGeek website by yours truly, but here's the direct link:


There were a few notable performances by supporters of our Laurel club at EQ. I managed to finish fifth in the Settlers of Catan tournament (to my great surprise!), just missing the final. Greg Shirah finished sixth in the Princes of Florence tournament, also just missing the final. (Greg also served as the Assistant GM for the event this year.) Helen Powell, who has been to the club on a couple of occasions, did reach a final and was runner-up in the Dominion tournament. And then there is Eugene Yee, who scored over 100 points to come in sixth place in the highly unique Wild Card event where you need to do well at a variety of Euro games. Nice going, Eugene ...

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 5, 2009 Session Report

Very pleased to see a huge jump in attendance this week, which was greatly appreciated after the decline in recent weeks. We had all four of us from the prior week (Mike, Paul, Clayton and myself) plus Ron, Jonathan and Sarah (all of whom I hadn't seen for awhile) in addition to Greg, Don, Doug and Ben for a grand total of 11. We played the following games: TransAmerica, Pillars of the Earth, Age of Steam, Hoity Toity, Days of Steam, and R-Eco, and this doesn't count a couple of games that Sarah played solo while patiently waiting for one of the longer games to finish.

TransAmerica was a quick warmup, just one round, while waiting for people to arrive. Mike won the round, with Jonathan, John, Paul, Greg and Ron also participating. Then we split into two groups for longer games that we kind of the feature event of the evening. At one table, we had Jonathan, Ben, Ron, Greg and Don playing a five-player Age of Steam and the report I got was the game ended in a tiebreak between Ben and Ron. The Pillars game, also a five-player used the expansion which tries to balance out some of the luck factor in the game. This, too, was a close finish (at least for three of us), final scores were John 48, Mike 45, Doug 43, Paul 31 and Clayton 20.

In the middle of these two games Sarah arrived, and while I tried to offer her the chance to team up with one of the players in our Pillars game (and, judging by the score, it looked like Clayton could have used her assistance), but she bided her time by playing a couple of solitaire games (card and Can't Stop played solo). We then got her in a game as Pillars wrapped up, which wound up being a four-player Hoity Toity which was won by Doug; Paul and I were the other two players (Paul came second while I had a miserable game and came last). Then the Age of Steam game finished and the players tackled the simpler and shorter Days of Steam, which Ben had brought. Unfortunately, that game didn't finish. Clayton returned to the other group and we played a five-player R-Eco, which wrapped up the evening with another win for Doug, as usual a low scoring affair: Doug 10, John 7, Paul 6, Sarah 3, Clayton 2.

Next week, of course, will be EuroQuest, but I left a couple of scoresheets for those in attendance to track results in my absence. Hope to see many of you at EQ and hope everyone else will stop in at the club on Thursday.

Friday, October 30, 2009

October 29, 2009 Session Report

Starting to get alarmed about the low attendance recently, as this week we had another dip to just four of us: Mike, Clayton, Paul and myself. We played a total of four games: R-Eco, Automobile, San Juan and Vegas Showdown.

R-Eco was won by Mike, who was the only player to reach double figures with 10 points. All four us had to "dump" at some point in the game, so no ecology points awarded. Next up was Automobile, I managed to win with 5020 to Clayton who was second (4310) followed by Mike (3660) and Paul (2940). Then came San Juan which Paul won with a City Hall and some nice purple buildings for a grand total of 35 to my second place score of 29, featuring a Guild Hall and seven mills, with Clayton (21) and Mike (20) bringing up the rear. We wrapped up the evening with a club favorite, Vegas Showdown, and this time Mike ran away with the game -- not even close -- lapping the board with 93 (!) points to 61 for me, 56 for Clayton and 55 for Paul.

Hey, it's time we saw a boost in attendance. Hope to see many of you next week. Two weeks to EuroQuest, Nov. 12-15th, pre-registration deadline is Sunday.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 22, 2009 Session Report

Just six for this week's session, as Eric S. joined Clayton, Doug, Mike, Paul and I for an evening of gaming at the Community Center. We played a total of seven different games: Owner's Choice, Endeavor, Thurn and Taxis, Anno 1503, Stone Age, Vegas Showdown and Ingenious.

First up was Owner's Choice, a relatively new Z-Man product that I had picked up recently after trying it a couple of times. Quick playing, stock market manipulation game, this one was won by Eric with 1150 followed by John (1070), Mike (850), Doug (480) and Paul (470). A couple of the players were hurt when one of the companies went belly up and thus ended with less money than they started.

By this time Clayton had arrived and we split into two groups of three for the rest of the evening. One group (consisting of Doug, Paul and Eric) got in a total of four more games. One was Thurn and Taxis, which Doug won by a huge margin over Paul with Eric far, far behind. Then it was Anno, where Eric turned the tables with Doug second. Then a really tight Vegas Showdown game came down to the money tiebreak and Doug prevailed over Eric. Then Eric wrapped up his mini-winning streak by taking Ingenious, 13 to 11 (Doug) to 9 (Paul).

The rest of us (Mike, Clayton and myself) played another recent Z-Man release, Endeavor, which has been getting alot of favorable comment recently. Clayton and Mike, both playing for the first time, managed to beat me with Clayton coming out on top (52 to 45 for Mike and 44 for John). We then played Stone Age, which took the rest of the evening, and it turned out to be a mirror image of the T&T game at the other table with wide gaps opening at the end. Final scores on that one: John 298, Mike 178, Clayton 59. My highest scoring Stone Age game ever!

Anyway, I have been a bit disappointed by attendance recently which has fallen into single digits. Hopefully, some of you who have been no-shows recently will return to boost our club's attendance next week as there are plently of cool new games to try out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 15, 2009 Session Report

Seven attendees this week: Neil, Greg, Doug, Paul, Mike, Clayton, and myself. We played six different games: For Sale, Power Grid (Korea), Railways of the Eastern United States, Chicago Express, San Juan, Too Many Cooks.

For Sale was the warmup gaming while waiting to see if more folks showed up. It was six players, and I emerged victorious. Final score count: John (51), Greg and Neil (46), Mike (42), Doug (35) and Paul (33). We then split into two groups for the rest of the session. One group (Mike, Paul and Neil) played Power Grid-Korea (won by Paul), Chicago Express (tie between Neil and Paul, with Mike, the teacher of the game, finishing far, far behind) and finally San Juan (another tie for first, this time between Mike and Neil).

The remaining four of us (Clayton, Doug, Greg and I) played the new version of the Railroad Tycoon, called Railways of the Eastern US. It was a very close game throughout most of the early stages, but Greg pulled away to become the big winner. Final scores: Greg 69, Clayton 57, John 54, Doug 49. We had time for another game, Too Many Cooks, which Greg brought and Greg (who had played it the most) won with 30 ahead of Doug with 25 well ahead of Clayton and I (who had played it the least, it was my second play, Clayton's first) but Clayton still put me in last, 8 for Clayton to 7 for John.

Hope to see a bigger turnout next week as the rainy weather may have kept some people away this week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 8, 2009 Session Report

Back for this week's session after being away the prior week, and we had a total of eight in attendance: Alan was back for a second week in a row, along with Paul, Mike, Doug, Clayton, Don, Greg and myself. We made good use of the time, playing a total of seven games: Global City, Steam, For Sale, Ticket to Ride - Switzerland, Hollywood Blockbuster, San Juan and TransAmerica. Some details on the games follow.

Global City was first up, it is a privately-published game I had brought based loosely on scoring points for developing various cities in the world. Alan wound up the winner with 78 points, ahead of Doug (58), Paul (38) and Clayton (36). I would have played but then a second group formed, and four of us tried another newer game, Steam, which was a reworked version of a couple of earlier games that can probably best be described as a cross between Railroad Tycoon and Age of Steam. Greg won the game with a score of 45, followed by Don (40), John (38) and Mike (34).

The scoresheets suggested there were two games of For Sale, both won by Paul, one with Alan coming second and then a second game with Clayton as the runner-up. Doug, Paul and Clayton played a three-player Ticket to Ride-Switzerland which turned out to be a big win for Doug (111) ahead of Paul (92) and Clayton (61).

By this time the Steam game had finished, and we reconstituted in two groups. Four of us played Hollywood Blockbuster, and Doug romped to a runaway victory after scoring and completing a 22-point movie just before the end of the second lap around the board. Final scores were Doug 109, John 80, Don 59, Clayton 49. We barely got this game end before closing time.

Meanwhile, a couple of three-player games, both won by Mike who made up for his less than stellar showing in the Steam game. One game was San Juan, and the other was TransAmerica, and in both games the other two players (Greg and Paul) tied for second.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 1, 2009 Session Report

I missed this session due to an out-of-town gaming event; however, with the aid of some diligent note-taking, I am able to recreate a brief session report. Looks like the total attendance was nine, with two new attendees (Alan and Ryan) who had attended the prior weekend's festivities at the Congress of Gamers. Others in attendance were Clayton, Paul, Doug, Mike, Jonathan, Don and Ray. Games played were Vegas Showdown, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and Agricola.

Scores of the games are presented without commentary.

Vegas Showdown: Doug 42 Paul 36 Jonathan 35 Mike 33 Clayton 25

Settlers of Catan: Alan 10 Ryan 4 Clayton 4 Paul 4

Ticket to Ride: Alan 160 Paul 92 Ryan 60

Agricola: Jonathan 51 Ray 42 Mike 36 Don 32 Doug 26

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 24, 2009 Session Report

A bit of an abbreviated report this week because I am saving up my energy for Congress of Gamers this weekend, hope to see many of you there. A final reminder, the event takes place at the Bauer Drive Community Center in Rockville and it only costs $5 a day. Here is the link to the website:


Attendance total of seven this week, it was good to see Ben back after a hiatus, also Ray and Eric S. as well. Eugene, Clayton, Don and I rounded out the list of attendees. We played a total of six games: Civil War Express, Big City, Railroad Tycoon, Ticket to Ride-Nordic, Roll Through the Ages and Can't Stop.

Civil War Express is a prototype of a quick-playing two-player Civil War game that I have agreed to help playtest; the game can be played with Settlers pieces and a deck of playing cards. Clayton and I tried it out, Ben joined us for the last few turns. I won as the South player despite losing Richmond. Initial impression was that the game has play balance issues, as it seems fairly tough for the Union to win but later on I found a rule we misplayed, so I would like to give it another try soon before finalizing any playtesting comments.

Eric asked that I bring Big City which turned out to be a three-player with Eric, Eugene and Don. I heard (big surprise) that Eric won the game. We then worked Ray and Ben into the rotation for the next round of games, which turned out to be (1) a four-player RR Tycoon (original US map) that Ben, Eric and Don and Ray played where Ben nosed Eric for the win on a second-level tiebreaker (the RR Tycoon lasted the rest of the session) while (2) the rest of us (Clayton, Eugene and myself) worked in three games in the same time frame, Ticket to Ride-Nordic which I won by completing the most tickets and then Roll Through the Ages and Can't Stop, both of which were won by Clayton who once again proved the master of the die-rolling magic.

I will not be at the club next week but left some attendance and game record sheets in the bin with the club notebook that I hope someone will fill in for me next week.

Finally, for those of you who have not heard, Days of Wonder is sponsoring a Worldwide Ticket to Ride Tournament and the first regional qualifying event in the US will be none other than this fall's EuroQuest in Timonium, MD. See the following link for details:


Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 17, 2009 Session Report

A bit better attendance this week, nine total: Tom, Neil, Doug, Paul, Mike, Don, Greg, Clayton and myself were the group. We played a total of five different games, getting into some longer games to take advantage of the later closing times.

One group (Tom, Paul, Doug, Clayton and I) played Kingsburg using a couple of modules from the recently-released "To Forge a Realm Expansion." The one concept that seems to be generally well-received is the use of chits to add to strength versus the enemies in winter, with the remaining chit worth its value in VPs. Generally speaking, this variant allows for more predictability in the battles but also makes them tougher to win. I managed to pull away to a nice win with the "Embassy Rush" strategy, but it was a very close race for second. Final scores were John 40 Clayton and Doug 27 Paul 25 and Tom 24. Good job by both Clayton and Tom to remain fairly competitive despite having to rebuild some burned-down buildings (courtesy of those nasty Goblins). Tom had the misfortune of rolling 1-1-1 with three dice, then using his re-roll option with the Statue, and rolling another 1, odds of 1/1296.

The other group of four (Greg, Don, Mike and Neil) played the learning version of 18EZ, where each player operates one RR with the objective of building to $1000 in cash. The game is a modular learning game for 18xx type games. Some of the players commented this version has a bias toward whoever goes first, since you aren't guaranteed an equal number of turns.

This same group played a competitive game of Puerto Rico, and my notes say Don got the Guild Hall, Mike got 2 large buildings, and Greg had the customs house. Final scores were 51 for Don, 49 for Mike, 48 for Greg and 30 for Neil. Nice win by Don versus Mike, who won the Puerto Rico tournament at EuroQuest last year.

Two more games to report: one hand of Slide 5 while waiting for the Puerto Rico game to finish, scores ranged from lows of 5-8 (Tom, Clayton and myself) to a high of 27 (Doug) who took the most penalty cards. Then the entire group (or what was left of it) played some Wits and Wagers. Paul started as the reader but took over the purple position when Mike took a bathroom break. Final scores were John 32, Tom 21, Greg 19, Doug 13, Neil 10, Clayton 9 and the Mike/Paul duo, 0. I don't know how I won, since I had no clue on most questions, I just generally bet on answers where there was either a good payoff or a nice gap to the next answer.

Finally, a reminder that weekend after this is Congress of Gamers, a relatively new (fourth year) event that is one of the most economical gaming conventions out there at $5/day. As last year, it will be at the Bauer Drive Community Center in Rockville, MD. I will be running the EuroCaucus event there but there are other cool events like the racing series (featuring McGartlin) and a new series of games called "America First" organized by Mark Love, who has been at our club a few times. Greg, Eric S, Mike and Rodney from our Laurel group and Marcy and Lee from the Columbia group are planning to be on hand to help me with various games in the Euro event, so it should be alot of fun.

Here's the link to the website listing all the events with links to more details on some of them:


Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 10, 2009 Session Report

Another dip in attendance this week, down to just six despite the fact we had an added hour of playing time due to the switch to the longer, non-summer closing time of 10 PM. Greg, Doug, Clayton, Eugene, Don and I were the attendees. We played a total of seven different games, one of them twice.

First up was Stone Age, a game that Eugene was particularly interested in. It was a four-player with Don, Clayton and Doug being the other players. Everyone but Clayton had played before, and the final scores reflected this. Eugene had developed a large number of farms and got all 10 workers in play but he needed another turn or two to score more points. Don triggered the game end and won a real close game, 212 to 197 for Doug and Eugene who wound up tied for second, with Clayton a distant fourth at 108.

Greg had arrived, and he and I played a series of two-player games (all the while hoping that more people would arrive, which wound up being a forlorn hope). We played three hands of Lost Cities, this one I wound up on top, 183 to 54. Then Greg took a two-player Ingenious, 9 to 8. Then, in the "rubber" game, it was Greg besting me at Can't Stop, in what was actually a whitewash, as he got three numbers to the top before I even got one.

Greg and I had each brought Container, and we persuaded Don to join us for a three-player game. The Container game took most of the rest of the session and, after Greg had taken out two loans (the max in a Container game), he got caught in what he called a "nutlocker" situation where he was at the mercy of the other two players. This played into Don's hands, as he won by a wide margin to go undefeated for the evening. Final score count was Don 80, John 52, Greg 20. (20, by the way, is what you start the game with in Container).

Meanwhile, the other table played two games of Settlers. The first game, using the standard rules, was won by Doug with 10 to 7 for Eugene and just 3 for Clayton. It was a fairly quick game, so for the second game the players tried a variant where the player whose turn it was rolled two pair of dice (a la Can't Stop) and paired them up for production. This game was a bit closer, Eugene getting to 10 ahead of Doug (9) with Clayton last again at 5.

Our last game of the evening, which we didn't quite have time to complete, was Cloud Nine. Eugene was playing for the first time, and he had some tough luck a couple of times when he was the balloon pilot. I believe I was ahead, somewhere in the 30s, when we had to pick up the game. Eugene, Clayton, Doug and Greg were my fellow balloonists as Don retired early with an undefeated record for the evening.

Hope to see more people at next week's session.

Friday, September 4, 2009

September 3, 2009

This was our last session before returning to longer hours post-Labor Day, and we had a total of seven attendees: Mike, Paul, Ron, Clayton and myself were joined by Abraham and Gabe, whom we had not seen for some time. We played a total of six games: TransAmerica, Winners Circle, Ticket to Ride - Switzerland, Ra: The Dice Game, Vegas Showdown, and Snow Tails.

Abraham, Mike, Paul and I played one round of TransAmerica while waiting for others to arrive. I got all my cities connected before everyone, and we agreed to proceed to other games.

One group (Clayton, Mike and Paul) played Ticket to Ride - Switzerland followed by Vegas Showdown. Final scores for the Ticket to Ride game were Mike 84 Paul 75 Clayton 60. Clayton ended the Vegas Showdown game by filling all his spaces, but the winner in that game was Mike (again) with 65 to 44 for Paul and 41 for Clayton.

The rest of us tried Winners' Circle, but we only completed one race. Abraham romped away with the win after having bets on the top two horses (one with a big bonus). Gabe finished second while Ron and I tied for third (last) sharing a bet on the nag that came home third. Then we played Ra - The Dice Game, which ran a bit longer than expected (so long that Abraham had to leave and Mike filled in). Final scores were Ron 51 John 34 Mike/Abraham 30 Gabe 29.

Final game of the evening was Snow Tails, which we barely finished. It was a challenging course with a bunch of trees, a tight turn or two, and some snowdrifts that forced you to make some unwanted lane changes. Gabe navigated his way around the course for the win, I was in second when the race was called, and Paul, Ron and Mike were a bit farther back.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August 27. 2009 Session Report

After an unusually high attendance the prior week (mostly thanks to the Sokolowsky family), a drop in attendance was expected for this week but, with 10 total attendees, we did manage to hit what has now become the first-double digit average attendance in the club's history. Eugene and Tom were back to our club for the third time, joined by Ron, Jonathan, Mike, Paul, Clayton, Ray, Neil and myself. We played a total of 7 different games: Winners' Circle, Lost Cities, Ra: The Dice Game, Ticket to Ride - Switzerland, Vegas Showdown, Ticket to Ride - 1910, TransAmerica.

Some results and session highlights follow.

Winners' Circle was first game played, and Mike came out on top with Ron, Jonathan, Paul and Eugene also working behind the scenes to manipulate the horses. Meanwhile, Clayton and I got in a couple of hands of Lost Cities, one hand was close; final count was John 114 Clayton 27. Eugene had to leave early, missing out on the opportunity to play Stone Age which I had brought at his request. Maybe next time.

We then split into two groups for the next round of games. One was 3-player Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, and Clayton ended the game but Paul turned out to be the winner. Ron was the third player. I had just bought Ra - The Dice Game, which was played for the first time. Mike, Jonathan and I were joined by Ray who we hadn't seen for awhile; final scores were John 48 Mike 40 Ray 36 Jonathan (who focused on monuments) 32. Some might think I had the edge having played the game once before, but I credit my victory to lucky die rolls.

Neil and Tom had arrived, and they joined in the final couple of games. The train theme continued at one table, as a four-player Ticket to Ride using the US map with the 1910 cards was played. Final scores on that game were Paul 137, Neil 116, Ron 111, Tom 45. The same four players then locked horns in TransAmerica, and this time Neil was the winner in a close game with Ron second, Tom third, with Paul (who could not repeat his Ticket to Ride success) bringing up the rear.

The other table tried to finish a five-player Vegas Showdown game (with two new players) in just over an hour. Well, we almost made it. One stack emptied out, but we had to call the game before the finish. Final scores were close, Jonathan (one of the two "newbies" to the game) was the winner with 45, everyone else was within 5-10 points in the 35-40 range (sorry, didn't get the scores down as we were busy picking up the game by the 9 PM witching hour). Clayton, Mike, Ray and I were the other players.

Anyway, next week will be our last session at the summer hours and, a week later (after Labor Day) the sessions will resume with the 10 PM closing time, and extra hour of gaming. Hooray!

Friday, August 21, 2009


The next GCOM Alphabet Soup gaming Session will be held on August 23, noon - 6
pm, in memory of its founder, Hal Haag, who passed away on August 12, 2009.

We don't know how much gaming will actually be done, but everyone who knew Hal
is invited to join with us to remember him and celebrate his life, whether you
knew him through Gaming, SF Fandom and conventions, or in any other way.

We will provide refreshments, and we are asking for everyone's help with that.
If you would like to contribute to a potluck, please see the attached list of
suggested items that you can bring, or bring your own specialty. It would help
if you would respond to us at one of the email addresses below and tell us what
you plan to bring, so we can augment where necessary. The BSFS Building does not
have a kitchen, so what you bring should be ready to go. We may be able to plug
in a few crockpots or similar. We will have refrigeration available, but not

For those wishing to speak a few words in celebration of Hal's life, we will set
aside some time at about 3:00.

Alphabet Soup is held in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Building, at
3310 E Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD, 21224, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each
month, between noon and 6 pm.

Directions are at http://www.bsfs.org/bsfsdrct.htm

There is on-street parking, and while the neighborhood may look a bit dodgy, we
have not had any significant problem with security issues. But please, don't
tempt people, leave electronics, cash, and other bait out of sight, and please
lock your car.

Bring your games or just your memories, and join us then.

Please forward this on to other friends of Hal.

August 20. 2009 Session Report

We had a huge turnout at this week's session; our numbers swelled considerably, mainly due to Eric bringing several family members, including a couple who were perhaps a bit on the young side but future gamers nonetheless. However, based on those who actually participated in games played tonight, I counted a total of 14: Ron, Paul, Clayton, Doug, Eugene (back for a second week in a row), Don, Christie, Alex, Eric, Eric's son Ryan, Sarah, Eric's wife Mary Jean, Mark (who came in a bit late but got into a couple of games) and myself.

Games played: For Sale, Can't Stop, Winners' Circle, Vegas Showdown, Scrabble, Ticket to Ride: 1910, Snow Tails, RoboRally, Lost Cities. Details follow to the extent available.

For Sale was the first game, played by six of us while waiting for others to show up. Winner by a narrow margin was Doug (54,000) ahead of John (52,000), Clayton and Eugene (43,000 each), Paul (35,000) and Ron (25,000). Eugene and Ron I believe were playing for the first time.

Can't Stop was a four (actually a five player) affair, with Ryan and Mary Jean sharing one of the seats. It was a close game, three people getting two numbers before Christie got the roll she needed to win. Alex and Eric also played.

Winners' Circle, the horse racing game, was played by Ron, Don, who were joined by Sarah then later by Mark. Final scores were reported as 2150 for Ron, 1850 for Don, 1650 for Sarah and 750 for Mark who I don't believe participated in all of the races.

Eugene was interested in playing another one of his favorites, Vegas Showdown, and the game was a five-player, another close game. I managed to win with 53 to 51 for Doug, a reverse of the first game. Eugene was not far behind at 50, followed by Clayton at 42 and Paul at 36. Very well-played as everyone had played before and was familiar with the game.

Next game I have reported was Ticket to Ride, the 1910 version, turned out to be another good game for Doug who scored 148, including both bonuses (most completed tickets and longest connected set of links). I came in second at 124 despite not making two of my seven tickets. Others were Paul (112), Eric (106) and Eugene (80). I'm thinking Eugene was new to the game or this version of it.

Alex and Christie did a search and found an old Scrabble game in the club's games and it expanded as Sarah (helping Christie) and Clayton (helping Alex) joined in as teammates. They found a second board and played with more tiles, just about filling out both boards when the tiles ran out. The girls beat the boys, 430 to 322. One of the big words with bonus points I saw was ozone, very impressive. Thanks to Doug (our human dictionary) for helping out with some of the rules questions.

Doug, Eugene and Eric started a game of RoboRally that didn't quite finish by closing time. Eric had touched two flags to just one for the other two players when the game was called just before 9 PM.

Three-player Snow Tails was won by Ron (I guess this means Ron was undefeated for the evening) ahead of Don and Mark. I think Mark was new to the game.

Paul and I, who were not excited about the game choices, played three hands of Lost Cities. All three were very close, particularly the third hand when we both turned in some really high scores, I had 159 and Paul 158, each of us had different colors (I had three, Paul had two) and we each had an eight-card set. Overall scores for the three hands were John 252, Paul 240.

Hope to see everyone next week although rumors not everyone will be back for awhile. Have a good year at school in Florida, Christie.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

August 13. 2009 Session Report

Received some very sad news yesterday about the passing of Hal Haag, whom many of you may have known and played games with. Hal was a GCOM host at the Alphabet Soup location in Baltimore, a co-host at other locations, and a fellow GCOM Board member. He attended our club once or twice a few years ago. He was also very active in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. He will be sorely missed among those of us in GCOM who enjoyed his company and gaming with him over the years.

Tonight's session saw a dip in attendance to seven, although we did welcome one newcomer (Eugene) to the club. Others in attendance: Ron, Paul, Doug, Clayton, Greg and myself. Eugene said he had only half an hour so we played a game he was familiar with, Ingenious. Eugene won that game over Doug, Paul and myself so right now he is undefeated.

Ron brought a horse racing game called Winners' Circle which he played with Clayton and Greg. Final score count was Ron 1850, Greg 1400, Clayton 750.

Doug, Paul and I played Ticket to Ride - Nordic which Doug won with 134 to 109 for Paul and 58 for yours truly. Paul managed to score the 27-point Murmansk link while Doug concentrated on getting alot of tickets, plus he drew a couple of tickets he already had to earn the Globetrotter (10-point bonus). I had a miserable game and kept spinning my wheels, picking up tickets I couldn't get done.

The six of us shuffled up for the next round of games. Doug, Clayton and I wound up playing Dominion-Intrigue with one of the pre-set hands. Close game, Doug won 54 to 52 for John and 37 for Clayton. Doug collected three Duchies, then Dukes, which meant his Duchies scored as much as Provinces.

Greg, Paul and Ron played Modern Art, which Greg had brought. Paul won the game, 472 to 357 for Greg and 298 for Ron. Wonder if the game is as good with three as with four or five because of the heavy bidding element.

The Dominion game ran a bit long (believe it or not) so Greg, Ron and Paul played Can't Stop. Ron came away the winner just ahead of Greg who had numbers at the top.

Final game was Cloud Nine. I got to 50 first but turns out I should have stayed in the balloon a bit later. Greg moved past me for the win on the final turn of the game. Final scores: Greg (58) John (57) Doug (37) Paul (25) Ron, who handed over to Clayton at the end (19).

Hope to see everyone back next week, along with a few of you who have been missing recently.

August 6, 2009 Session Report

I wasn't there, but thanks to Mike, Paul and whovever else took notes, here's an inabsentia session report:

Attendance (9): Clayton, Ron, Doug, Jonathan, Mike, Alex, Christie, Neil, Tom

Games Played (4): Wits and Wagers, Power Grid, Can't Stop, Vegas Showdown.

Scores (sorry, no details available):

Wits and Wagers: Doug 17 Jonathan, Christie 14 Mike, Clayton, Ron and Alex 0

Power Grid: Mike 15, Jonathan 14, Christie 11, Alex 10, Ron 10 (no report on what map was played)

Can't Stop: Neil 3 Clayton 2 Tom 1 Doug 0

Vegas Showdown: Neil 55 Doug 54 Tom 49 Clayton 45 (sounds like a really close game!)

Anyway, I was at WBC almost all week and posted this report on BoardGameGeek for anyone interested:


Others have done the same, there's a Mega-List cross-referencing them here:


Friday, July 31, 2009

July 30, 2009 Session Report

We had a total of eight gamers for this week's session; Mike brought a newcomer to the club, his daughter Gillian, and the two of them joined Clayton, Greg, Sarah, Alex, Christie and myself for the gaming festivities. Games played: Cheeky Monkey (x2), Ticket to Ride, Ingenious, Ra, Spoons (more often than necessary), Wits and Wagers, Blokus and Cloud Nine. Details on the games (where I have them) follow.

First up was Cheeky Monkey, a game I had learned about at the Main Street Festival. Everyone liked it so we played two games in succession. First game was won by Greg (28) ahead of Gillian (20), Mike (16) and John (7) and Clayton (6) brought up the rear. Second game, Gillian turned the tables on everyone and won with 31 to 27 for Clayton. Mike was third with 17, followed by Greg (11) and I brought up the rear with just three animals at the end of the game.

Sarah, Alex and Christie had arrived by this time and played a very close 3-player Ticket to Ride using the original game components, Christie was the winner (125) to 118 for Sarah and 102 for Alex. Next up for this group was a series of games using the regular card deck called "Spoons," which involved not being the last to collect a spoon after one player went "out" by collecting a set of four cards of the same rank. Lacking plastic spoons, the game was played with plastic knives instead. Meanwhile, at the other table, it was a five-player Ra, a very close game won by Greg over Gillian on the tiebreaker. Each had 39 points, I was one back but third with 38, Clayton had 30 and Mike brought up the rear with 28.

Christie, Alex and Sarah also fit in an Ingenious game, and Christie managed to win that one with a score of 15 (after getting all her other colors to 18). It was close for second, Sarah had 10 to 9 for Alex.

Then everyone got in the act for a Wits and Wagers game, with Mike and Gillian acting as teammates. Alex, Christie and I seemed to be the only ones making any money with correct answers and winning wagers for most of the game. There was an easy basketball question involving Larry Bird and Magic Johnson that put me ahead, and I hung onto win through the last question. Three of the seven players ended with no money.

We juggled the groups for the final two games of the session, with four of us (Gillian, Greg, Christie and I) playing Blokus while Clayton, Mike, Sarah and Alex played Cloud Nine. Greg and I tied for the win, getting all our pieces down except for the four-piece square. Don't have the scores for the Cloud 9 game, but rumor has it that Clayton "dominated" all the way.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 23, 2009 Session Report

We had a good week attendance-wise, total of 11 gamers, with two (sometimes three) games going on at once. Those present included one first-time attendee, Alex, along with Mike, Doug, Ron, Christie, Jonathan, Paul, Sarah, Clayton, Greg and yours truly (John). We played a bunch of different games, I noted a total of 11 games but may have missed some and was not able to track all the results for those of you who want more detail.

First up was a game Mike brought called Curse of the Mummy that had a double-sided board. Partially due to some confusion about the rules, the game got off to a slow start and a couple of us (Paul and I) elected to join a game we understood a little bit better (Ticket to Ride). That left Doug, Ron and Jonathan to contend with the Mummy (Mike) and apparently the game ran a bit more smoothly although I am sorry to report that Mike, as the Mummy, won that game. The Ticket to Ride game used the 1910 cards and was won by Paul (139) over John (123), Sarah (106) and Clayton (score withheld to prevent further embarrassment). Greg, Christie and our newcomer (Alex) had arrived by this time and played a game of Zooloretto, won by Greg by a single point over Alex with Christie not far behind.

The next series of games included Snow Tails, a four-player (Ron, Doug, Mike and Jonathan) that ended so quickly I didn't get the scores or the winner. Meanwhile, seven of us played Wits and Wagers, Dominic Crapuchettes' excellent trivia/betting game and it came down to the final round and my knowledge of explorers (Ferdinand Magellan in particular) helped me nose out Greg in a very close game.

At this point, all the games finished at around the same time and we reshuffled the groups. Five of us (Ron, Greg, Mike, Jonathan and I) spent the rest of the evening playing Container, which unfortunately we had to call before reaching the final victory condition. Based on the partial scores, we declared Jonathan the winner with an asterisk in his first game. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game (which Greg brought) so hopefully, next time the game can be played to completion.

The other group played at least three games while the rest of us were puzzling over Container. I have Doug down as the winner of a five-player Boom-O, Christie winning a six-player Hoity Toity, and finally Doug was the high-flyer in a six-player Cloud Nine.

Somewhere in there I have in my notes that Alex and Christie played a hand of lost cities, and also that there was one round of a TransAmerica game but can't find the results.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

July 16, 2009 Session Report

Highlight of the session was the appearance of Corey Kliewer, a local area game designer who brought his card game PowerMage 54 which was played in the second part of the session. We were also pleased to welcome back Sarah to the group. Greg, Paul, Doug, Ron, Clayton, Neil and myself were the other attendees, for a total of nine.

PowerMage 54 is a card game where cards come in four suits, either Health, Attack, Defense or "Thump" cards. Thump cards need either a leader (one of 12 face cards) or a joker to take effect. The object is to knock down the other player's health to zero or less while avoiding that result. We had a large group of eight playing the game (everyone but Clayton) so Corey added some cards from a second deck. First out was guess who, me, guess I attacked the game designer one too many times, and he wiped me out with a strong attack. Next to go was Greg, who was teetering on the brink with just four health for a long time. Then Corey and Sarah got knocked out in quick succession, and then it was a four-player game that went back and forth while several runs through the deck meant everyone's health was cut in half then halved again, speeding the game along to its inevitable conclusion. In the end, Doug emerged the winner and promptly purchased the game. Second was Neil (who had already bought the game), followed by Ron and Paul.

In addition to PowerMage 54, we played Can't Stop (won by Sarah over Clayton, Greg and Doug) and Roll Through the Ages (won by John over Ron and Paul, close game 20 for John to 18 for Ron). Next round of games saw Wasabi, another close game and another win for John (25) to 23 for Sarah and 21 for Doug. The other game was Carcassone-Discovery, the light blue box game which limits the number of meeples in play. Ron won with a score of 50; Neil, Clayton, Paul and Greg also played and finished in that order, scores not available. This same group of five got in one round of TransAmerica, which was won by Ron.

The final game of the evening was Qwirkle Cubes, which could also be called the "PowerMage losers' table." Greg, Sarah and I competed for the consolation prize and the game was won by Greg who came from behind after Sarah had built an early lead. Final scores were Greg 131, Sarah 111, John 104. (The only way I got over 100 was the six-point bonus for ending the game, putting me out of my misery.)

Big thanks to Corey for bringing his game, he also made a few sales as well.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 9, 2009 Session Report

Attendance in double figures (10) this week, as Mike, Ron, Paul, Greg, Ben, Don, Clayton, Christie, Neil and I took part in the gaming festivities. Ron had brought the newer Avalon Hill version of Risk, Risk 2210 AD I believe it's called, and played a three-player game with Don and Christie that took most of the evening. Winner was Christie (20 territories) ahead of Don (12) and Ron (7). Later Christie told me she could have wiped the two guys off the map, but of course she had the win well in hand, and hey, that wouldn't have been very lady-like, would it?

The other table saw a variety of different games being played. Five of us who were there early played a quick 5-player R-Eco which I won with a really high score of 25; don't think I have had a better game or even seen as high a score, either; I got three colors that counted with no minuses, although I did dump once (bad Ecology karma there). Mike, Ben, Paul and Greg were the other players but I am not reporting their scores to save them the embarrassment. (No one else got into double figures.)

Then six of us played a game that Ben had brought, called Doodle Dice, that was supposed to take about 15-20 minutes but seemed to drag on a bit longer than necessary. The idea was to collect six different colors of cards, but there was this rule that Ben strictly enforced that you had to draw a card before rolling the dice or you forfeited a turn. This rule hit just about all of us except Ben and Clayton, who of course were sitting next to the draw deck. Anyway, it should be no surprise that Ben won the game after Paul, Mike and I all got close but then blocked or "stole" from each other or, in my case, simply rolled the dice before flipping a card.

With the Tour de France underway, I brought a cycling game called Giro d'Italia, which is essentially Leader 1 (a new game from last year) with some more bells and whistles (and sturdier cyclist pieces!!!) that was re-issued in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Giro d'Italia (the Italian equivalent of the Tour of France). Greg, Ben and I had some fun with the game, setting up a variant of a pre-made course from BoardGameGeek using some surrogates for some all-time great cyclists. Ben had an all-American team of Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie but he used up Leipheimer early and then Hincapie, instead of helping out his team leader Lance, went on to take the third podium position for himself. Greg did a masterful job of setting up his team leader, "Master Jacques" Anquetil to the win, powering his way through the last downhill session to blow past the field to the finish line. I managed a second place with "The Cannibal," Eddy Merckx, who as cycling aficanados know, is the greatest cyclist of all time. Ben took third, fourth and fifth and would have won a team prize had there been one.

Unfortunately for me, the cycling game meant I would miss out on playing one of my favorites, Vegas Showdown which was played at the same time. This was a four-player game that was fairly close and won by Neil (74) ahead of Paul (56), Mike (56) and Clayton. This same group played a game of Power Mage, which (according to my latest information) we may be getting a visit from the game designer at next week's session on the 16th.

Finally, there were a few minutes left after we cleaned up the cycling game, so Ben, Greg and I played another card game called Stone Soup which Ben won. I think Greg and I are still trying to figure the game out, at least I am.

Hope to see everyone next week, including some of you who haven't been there in recent weeks ...

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 2, 2009 Session Report

We had a total of 11 in attendance for this past week's session, with Neil (a former club regular whom we haven't seen often since he moved out of the Laurel area) joining Christie, Ron, Paul, Jonathan, Mike, Doug, Greg, Clayton, Don and myself. We played a total of five different games: Parlay, Can't Stop, Automobile, Powerboats and Snow Tails.

The starting game was Parlay which only lasted a couple of hands as more people showed up right after we started. Paul had the high score of 190 after two hands; Mike and I tied for the first hand bonus and we checked the rules to confirm that both tied players received the bonus.

One group played Can't Stop, which was a four-player game won by Christie, ahead of Greg while Clayton and Ron were also-rans. Don, Mike, Jonathan, Paul and I played a game of Automobile which unfortunately didn't get finish and was picked up after finishing just three of the four turns. Scores were tallied at that point, which saw Don (4650) holding a commanding lead over Mike (3290), John (3130), Paul (2760) and Jonathan (2420).

The other group found time to get in a couple of race games, first of which was Power Boats, won (again) by Ron after Christie who appeared close to victory faded to second in the final few turns. Doug, Greg and Clayton rounded out the field. Then it was dog-sled racing with Snow Tails, and Neil emerged victorious in his only game of the evening, with Christie finishing second ahead of Doug, Greg and Ron fading to last proving he should stick to power boats.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009 Session Report

Well, attendance was down this week. There were just four of us (Mike, Paul, Clayton and myself); although others were expected (including a game designer), we were the only ones to show. We played a total of four games (San Juan, Dominion, Vegas Showdown and finally R-Eco). Mike was the big winner for the evening, taking first or a share of first in all four games.

First up was San Juan; three-player game which we finished in about 30 minutes. Very close game, final scores of 29 for Mike and myself, 27 for Paul. Mike and I also tied on the tiebreaker, with no cards in hand or goods. I had the Guild Hall and needed a couple of more bonus points; Paul had the Palace and Mike, amazingly, tied for the win without the benefit of any bonus buildings.

For the next game, Clayton joined in and we played Dominion selecting 10 Kingdom cards randomly but tossing the 6-cost adventurer for the 2-Cost Chapel. There were Spies, Thieves, Bureaucrats but no Moats. Clayton said, "You can't have enough thieves" in this game. Turns out, Clayton's thieves did not win out in the end, as Mike won with a huge score of 64 (getting a fifty card deck with like eight Gardens), followed by Paul 44, John 42, Clayton trailing at 20.

We then played an old favorite, Vegas Showdown. Mike claimed it was only his second play, but he played a strong game, building up a strong income stream and benefiting from some nice in-game and endgame bonus scores. I got the early Nightclub but kind of stalled out around mid-game. Clayton got his standard five Lounges, but he only had two of them in play when the Lounge Lizard card came out. Paul did lots of renovating but I don't believe he even got a connection bonus or any diamond points for his efforts. Final scores were Mike 69, John 49, Paul 40, Clayton 38.

Final game of the evening, with about half-hour left, was R-Eco. All four of us dumped over the course of the game, so noone earned the ecology bonus. Paul and Mike collected the most chits, and Mike kept his winning streak going, winning with 8 points to just 2 for Paul and myself; Clayton brought up the rear with a -2 count which isn't as bad as it sounds in this game, where high positive scores are difficult to achieve.

Hope to see more people next week. The Community Center will be open Thursday July 2 for its regular hours and we will be gaming again next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009 Session Report

Attendance of nine this week: Ron, Don, Doug, Paul, Greg, Clayton, Eric, Christie and myself. We played Ingenious, Ticket to Ride - Nordic, Grand Prix Circus, Snow Tails, Power Grid (Benelux map) and Cloud Nine.

Greg, Doug and Paul played a couple of games while Ron, Don and I were busy for most of the first hour with Grand Prix Circus. They played a couple of three- player games, Ingenious, followed by Ticket to Ride-Nordic, both of which were won by Greg.

The Grand Prix Circus game was the first race of a season-long series where Don, Ron and I are controlling Formula 1 Grand Prix race teams based on real-life results in 2001. Ron did well in the first race of the year at Australia, with a one-two finish for Hakkinen and Coulthard, but Don (the Williams team) and myself (Ferrari) expect to change things in upcoming races. Thanks to Clayton for helping to get us through the initial race in a timely manner. Based on the first race, looks like it takes us around an hour to complete a race with all the paperwork.

By this time Eric and Christie had arrived, so we split into two groups for the main games of the evening, which were a five-player Power Grid using the Benelux map and a four-player Snow Tails game. No report on who won in Snow Tails, but I know Don, Ron, Clayton and Doug were handling the "mushing" duties. Since I was in the Power Grid game, I can report it came down to tiebreaker (money) between Greg and me, with Greg getting the nod by about 15 electros. Good, close game that finished in around 1 hour 40 minutes, even with one new player (Christie) who didn't seem to have too many problems picking up the rules fairly quickly.

That left us with about 20 minutes for a favorite short filler to take us up to 9 PM, which once again was Cloud Nine. Christie and Eric were first-time balloon pilots, along with Doug, Paul, John and Greg who had all played before. However, Greg looked like the novice, crashing the balloon four times in a row and taking a long time to even get his token on the board. By that time Doug was already around the 30-40 point range, and Christie had a nice 20-point solo ride (with aid of a well-timed Wild Card play). As the clock struck nine, Doug bailed out of the balloon to trigger the end, going to 51 points. But Christie survived one more pilot die roll to pass him, bailing out to get one more point at 52. The balloon then crashed before anyone could beat her score, so Christie was the winner. Greg, who had come into the Cloud Nine after winning all his prior games for the night, finished well behind in last. Nice going, Christie.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 11, 2009 Session Report

Good turnout again this week: Clayton was back after attending the funeral of his father who passed away, and Jonathan also returned after missing a number of sessions. Mike, Paul, Greg, Eric, Doug, Ben, Don, Ray, Christie and I were the other attendees for a grand total of 12. Therefore, we had two, and sometimes three, games going for most of the session. Games played included TransAmerica, Lost Cities, Catan-Germany, Power Grid-Nordic Countries, Roll Through the Ages, Mastermind and Qwirkle Cubes.

TransAmerica and Lost Cities were the two short "starter" games played while waiting for others to show up. TransAmerica game completed just one round, reportedly won by Eric, ahead of Mike, Greg, Paul, Doug and Jonathan. Ben and Clayton got through a hand or two of Lost Cities, no report on who won. I meanwhile had set up our Grand Prix Circus game from last week but again, no results reported, this time because one of the participants (Ron) was absent.

At this point Greg displayed a Power Grid map he had downloaded from BoardGameGeek for the Nordic Countries; he quickly rounded up a full table of gamers. One of the interesting features was the connection costs for Iceland, which ranged from the 60s to the 90s. The Power Grid game took up just about the entire time for the rest of the session and it turned out five of the six players were in a tiebreaker situation, with Don getting the win over Jonathan, Eric, Mike and Greg with Ben bringing up the rear. Everyone seemed to enjoy playing this unofficial Power Grid variant.

Meanwhile, at the other table, Doug had expressed interest in another game of Catan-Germany which I had first brought to the club a few weeks back. This time, as it turned out, it was the same four players (Doug, Clayton, Paul and myself) so not alot of time was needed to teach the game. In part because of the balanced setup, it was a very tight game, and Paul and I were within a point of winning when Doug finished the game off by retaking longest road for his 10th victory point. Clayton was not far behind, either.

Ray and Christie had arrived by this time, and they entertained themselves by playing a couple of two-player games while waiting for our Catan game to finish. They played Roll Through the Ages, which turned out to be a really close, high scoring game that was won by Christie, 38 to 36. (This made up for the negative score Christie had recorded in her initial try a couple of weeks back.) Then Christie asked if we had the game Mastermind, and -- although I wasn't sure we had it -- I suggested they dig through the tub of donated games. Sure enough, the game was there. This, too, was a win for Christie (I don't think Ray had played before) who broke the code in six guesses, don't think Ray was able to break the code in the second half of the game.

There was time for one more game and, with Clayton having to leave early, it was a five-player Qwirkle Cubes. This time Ray did alot better, winning the game with a score of 78 to John (60) and a three-way tie for third at 56 among Doug, Paul and Christie with Doug and Paul actually having had an extra turn before Ray ended the game.

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 4, 2009 Session Report

We had a total attendance of nine (9) for this week's session: Doug, Ben, Paul, Don, Greg, Ron, Christie, Chris and myself were present. A total of six different games were played, a few of them had multiple plays: Qwirkle Cubes, Lost Cities (x2), Power Boats (x3), Grand Prix Circus, Ghost Stories and Too Many Cooks.

We started with Qwirkle Cubes. This game was won by Doug, who took an early lead and just ran away with the game. Second place was hotly contested between Ben and Paul, I finished last. Final scores: Doug 113, Ben 84, Paul 79, John 62. The six-point bonus for going out first was needed for Ben to take second place ahead of Paul.

Lost Cities once again proved to be a nice filler while people were waiting for games to finish. Don (playing against Greg) and Chris (playing against Christie) won the Lost Cities games, not sure they had time for more than one hand per game. Power Boats was played on three different occasions; no report on the first game, but I was in two of the later games which Don won easily. Grand Prix Circus is a formula 1 management and racing game that Don, Ron and I trotted out and plan to try out in the next few sessions. We barely got started, so no results thus far although things look promising for Ron's McLaren team headed into the first race of the season.

Ghost Stories is a co-operative game, and I am pleased to report that Ben, Doug, Greg and Paul worked together to exorcise the ghosts and win the game despite things looking a bit bleak early on in the game. Nice going, guys!

Finally, there was a four-player game of Too Many Cooks, which Greg brought, final scores were Paul 18 Greg 14 Doug 14 Ben zero. To make Ben's score even seem worse, keep in mind everyone starts out with five points in the bank to begin with. Nice going there, Ben, but at least he played a major role in helping exorcise the ghosts.

Hope to see everyone back next week, along with some of the folks who have been absent in recent weeks (you know who you are).

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 28, 2009 Session Report

Strong attendance of 11 for our first shortened session (new close time of 9 PM); Ben and Ray returned, along with Paul, Mike, Gabe, Don, Ron, Christie (back for her second session), Tim (making his first appearance at the Laurel club in many months), Rodney, and myself; all these people despite missing two regulars (Clayton, who was still out of town and Doug, who was co-hosting at another games club). We played a total of five different games: Ticket to Ride (1910), Agricola, Hoity Toity, Cloud Nine (x2) and Roll Through the Ages.

Ticket to Ride-1910 was a five-player game, saw everyone building into New York to set up some long run tickets, then later things got crowded near Los Angeles and Las Vegas. I was stuck on the short end of the stick, unable to complete two long tickets before the game ended. Everyone else did well, garnering over 100 points. Tim won with 147, followed by Paul, Christie, Ron, yours truly in last. Tim had the honor of lapping me on the scoring track as I had a final score of just 44.

The other group (Gabe, Mike, Don, Ben and Rodney) played Agricola. I understand, with some players new to the game, they elected to play the Family Game which still ran about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Winner with 39 points was Gabe (an excellent score if they were playing without those extra cards in the main game), followed by Rodney (28), Ben (21), Don (20) and Mike (16).

Ray joined the five of us from the Ticket to Ride game for Hoity Toity, which is the six-player version of Hook or Crook (aka the art collecting game). Lots of thieving and just about everyone was fairly close on the scoring track heading into the final few game turns. Christie, who had gone out to an early lead, stalled out a bit as she had both her thieves in jail and was down to only a handful of art after being the victim of repeated thievery from the other players. I managed to put together the best collection at the end, and finished ahead of Ray (who led into the final show), then Paul, Christie, Ron (who had second best collection) and finally Tim, so Tim and I reversed positions from the prior game.

There was still time for a couple of more games before the 9 PM closing time. Paul, Rodney, Tim, Ron, Ray and I played Cloud Nine, Paul won the first game with Rodney in second, we started a second game which had Ray ahead until a late balloon crash put him behind Paul right before we had to stop. They both had around 40 points or so.

At the other table, the game was Roll Through the Ages. Gabe won that one, 24 points to 13 for Mike and just -12 for Christie whose people suffered mightily from pestilence spread by the others. Oh, well, it was Christie's first play of the game, so there's always next time ...

Hoping for continued strong attendance next week ...

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 21, 2009 Session Report

In this, our final 2009 session before the shift to Memorial Day and the earlier 9 PM closing time, we had a good turnout with 10 gamers, including one newcomer to the club, Christie. Don, Mike, Paul, Ron, Gabe, Doug, Chris, Gabe and I were the other attendees. We played a total of seven different games and had two games going on for the entire session.

Mike had brought a game we had played once before but not recently, LeHavre, and Doug, Don and I joined in. Don was new to the game while the rest of us had played a few times before. We played the full 20-turn, 4-player game which took up just about the entire session time. I thought Mike was doing well but he stalled out about midway through after having to take out a couple of loans, and fell behind in the shipbuilding arena despite owning both Wharfs. Don built some nice buildings that proved quite popular, and he was in a position to win had I not pulled it out with some well-timed sales at the Shipping Line and the Bridge in the endgame. Final scores were real close, John 143 Don 141 Doug 128 and Mike (the teacher for this game) last with 109. Think Don would have won had he understood how to convert goods to points in the endgame a bit better.

The other table made up for our group in terms of numbers of games played. First up was Boomtown, which Gabe won (81) ahead of Chris (74), Christie (53), Ron (47) and Paul (33). Then, in probably the closest contest of the evening, Qwirkle Cubes was a one-point win for Paul, 65 to 64 for the Chris/Greg team (Chris started the game, Greg finished) and another point back at 63 was Gabe, then Ron at 62 and Christie in last at 57 despite being only eight points out of first.

Slide 5, where a low score is best, was won by Ron (7), then Paul (29), Chris (42), Gabe (48), Greg (50), Christie (55). Then, another six-player game, Incan Gold, no report on the scores, heard Greg was the winner (hope I have that right). Also have Roll Through the Ages on the games played list, no report on who played or who won (perhaps that game was not finished).

Then, final game of the evening, Vegas Showdown, everyone had played before except Christie, who was new to the game and the winner was ... Christie, with 47 to 43 for Greg, 36 for Ron, 31 for Gabe, and just 27 for Paul. (Even with five players, seems like a relatively low scoring game, one stack of tiles must have run out fairly soon ...) Congrats to Christie on her first win in her first session at the club.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 16, 2009 Special Saturday Session Report

This is a session report for the special Saturday session that was jointly hosted by our club, along with the Columbia GCOM club (hosted by Norman and Amy Rule). As announced previously, the session took place at the Canterbury Riding Clubhouse in West Laurel, from 5 PM until 1 AM. Big thanks to Lee Mewshaw who did most of the work in securing the facility for this session.

Total attendance: 13 (This includes Laurel club regulars Ron, Greg, Eric S, Rodney and myself; Helen, who has been to the Laurel club in the past; Norman, Amy, Marcy, Lee, John M. (Lee's husband) and Nessa who are Columbia club regulars, and Michele T., who I met for the first time whom the Columbia group is claiming so they outnumbered the Laurel group 7-6 assuming we count Helen. Now, rumor has it their group could have done even better were it not for some "Wine in the Woods" event going on in Columbia at the same time, but there's no way of verifying the accuracy of those statements. Also, I was a bit disappointed not to see a bigger turnout from more of our Laurel club regulars, as everyone there had a great time, ordering Chinese and pizza from across the street, making liberal use of the refrigerator for sodas and snacks.

Now, on the most important part of the report: the games played list and summary. With as many as four different games going on at once, it was a real challenge to keep track of everything. After conferring with Norman, Amy, and others, I came up with the following list of 18 different games played, a couple of which had multiple plays: Dominion (x3), Ricochet Robot, Qwirkle Cubes, TransAmerica, Too Many Cooks, Roll Through the Ages, Skip-Bo, Big City, Power Grid (Korea map), Ticket to Ride (standard US map), Railroad Tycoon (also with the standard US map), Uno, Container, Carcassone-The Tower, Monty Python Fluxx, Powerboats (x2), Snow Tails, and (last but not least) the Vallco Championship Drag Racing game.

Now, at the start of the session, I put one sheet for tracking results of games played but unfortunately not everyone wrote down the games, who played what, final scores, so this session report will be a bit incomplete and probably more focused on the games I was playing, but here goes.

First up for me was Qwirkle Cubes, a three-player with Greg and Amy. I believe Amy got out to an early lead, then it went back and forth for awhile, before Greg pulled ahead about midway through and went on to a decisive win. Final scores were Greg 130, John W. 98 Amy 88. The other initial games were Ricochet Robot (which included Norman and Marcy, no report on who won) and Dominion, for which I have scores of 37 for Lee, 35 for Nessa, 26 for John M. and 13 for Michelle.

Eric and Rodney had joined the group, and next game up was Too Many Cooks, which I believe was one of the games Greg had brought. It was a fairly interesting quick-playing card game, and Eric edged out Greg for the win (19 to 18). Rodney, Amy and I were the other players in this one.

I have John M., Michelle and Lee playing SkipBo, which was won by John. Then there was a four-player Ticket to Ride, another close game, Michelle came in first, 138 to 136 for Lee. John M. and Marcy were the other players. The Carcassone-The Tower game ended up as a real tight three-player affair, final scores were Lee 261, John M. 250, Michele 246.

Eric was interested in playing Big City, a game I had brought, and this one was a really big win for Rodney, 73 points, with Eric coming in dead last with just 27 points behind John W. (53), Amy (51), Greg (48). Most of Eric's "8" neighborhood properties were covered or next to factories, and noone got the big 30 point Shopping Centers in play although we did see both Churches come out.

Greg had brought and wanted to try Container, a favorite of mine that I don't get to play very often. We roped Ron into the game, and the scores were reflective of everyone's relative experience level: John (had played before), first with 39; Greg (had read the rules but not played before), second with 24; Ron (totally new to the game and clueless at the start), third with 19. Think the game plays a bit better with a full table of five (although it would also take longer).

Powerboats was played twice, first race saw Ron come from behind after both Greg and I veered far off course. (Remember what they said about the hare and the tortoise, "slow and steady," well that was Ron in the first race.) Second race, Norman joined in, Greg seized the early advantage and held off a late surge from Ron to win, well ahead of Norman and I. Keeping on the race games theme, we then turned to Snow Tails, a game of Alaskan dog sled racing; Norman won, Greg was second, I had the satisfaction of coming in ahead of Ron for once. Final race game of the evening was a matchup of Ron versus Greg in the Vallco Drag Racing game, Ron kept Shirley Muldowney's winning streak (going back to Games Days a couple of weeks back) intact, taking a real close one over Greg (using Gary Beck's card) via a "holeshot" victory.

Unfortunately, I don't have results for the other games, but I do recall Ron saying the Roll Through the Ages game was a relatively high scoring, close game (something like 29 to 28, I believe Helen one). Another tight finish was reported in the Power Grid game, where Amy was two dollars short of winning, which of course meant the game went another turn and Rodney won by a narrow margin over Eric.

After the event, Lee told me she was interested in trying something similar in the Fall, so here's hoping that will come off and we can attract an even bigger crowd.

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 14, 2009 Session Report

Attendance was down slightly for this week's session, we only had six people but still split into two groups for the first round of games. Don, Paul, Doug, Ron, Clayton and myself were on hand, and we played the following games: Mississippi Queen, Ghost Stories, San Juan, Hoity Toity and Daytona 500.

Mississippi Queen was a three-player, with Don, Paul and Ron playing the role of riverboat pilots. Don won the race. Meanwhile, I had borrowed a new cooperative game from the GCOM collection called "Ghost Stories" and was joined by Doug and Clayton. We managed to survive for awhile, but about two-thirds of the way through the deck the ghosts began to get the better of us. This is a very tough cooperative game, even on the easy level, and I am open to some strategy tips and hope to do better next game.

Don continued his winning streak, taking his second game of the evening (San Juan), final scores were Don 37 Ron 24 Paul 14 (Don had both the Guild Hall and City Hall).

For the final two games of the evening, all six of us participated. We played Hoity Toity; it was a real see-saw game with the lead going back and forth, Ron moved ahead and triggered the game-end, but I managed to sneak past him with the best collection. (Had Ron been able to move just four spaces for second best collection, he would have won.) Doug was third, with Clayton, Don and Paul trailing.

Final game was Daytona 500, which Ron had brought. We barely managed to finish two of the scheduled three races. Ron and Don were the two best drivers, each with a win and a second, but because Don had been bid up to 90K for a pole position car, Ron was the overall winner. Final dollar scores: Ron 730K, Don 700K, Paul 520K, Doug 500K, Clayton 450K and yours truly in last with just 400K.

A reminder this Saturday is our joint session with the Columbia club, for details either go back a few weeks earlier or you can also access the information from the Columbia club's webpage at:


Hope for a good turnout of our Laurel club members on Saturday. The Columbia club has been averaging around 10-11 folks per session, pretty good attendance for a new club.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Laurel Main St. Festival a Success

Thanks to GCOM-Elkridge Hosts Eric and Michelle Hymowitz, GCOM-Columbia Host Norman Rule, and also Rodney, Paul and Lee who helped run the booth at last Saturday's Laurel Main Street Festival. The rain held off and we got to play and teach several new games, two of the more popular ones being Cheeky Monkey and Qwirkle Cubes. Everyone who stopped and played games seemed to have a good time, and we actually ran out of a couple of the flyers!

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 7, 2009 Session Report

OK, onto the report for last night's session. We had a really good turnout, total of 11, one new attendee, Abraham, who said he read one of the ads in the local newspapers which proves they are still running our ads. Others in attendance were Don, Ron, Gabe, Clayton, Mike, Paul, Doug, Ray, Ben and myself. We played a total of five different games over the course of the evening (two games getting multiple plays for nine games total), and usually we had at least two and sometimes three games going on at once.

First up was Catan-Germany, a new Settlers variant I had tried and bought last week at Games Days. It features these neutral buildings that are slightly less expensive than a city (one ore and one wheat less) that give you a VP and an immediate benefit in cards or resources. I managed to win a fairly close game over Paul, Doug and Clayton. The other group played Small World, and reportedly Don scored a crushing victory over Gabe, Mike, Don and Abraham. Once Ray arrived, he and Ben hooked up in a series of Roll Through the Ages games; reportedly, they completed four (!) games, three wins for Ben and one for Ray.

By this time Ben had arrived and he talked five of us into playing a favorite game of his, Terra. Paul appeared to be banking some high value cards (who knows for sure, because we never checked them) and the players came close to winning with only a couple of cards and one crisis to go before the deck ran out when we got hit with the seventh full-blown crisis which we couldn't manage. Doug, Ray, and I joined Ben and Paul in this one but, as I said, all players lost because some of us may have been a bit too greedy.

The final series of games included a second Small World, a four-player won by Ray (90) to 82 for Paul, 74 for Ben and 63 for Clayton. Looks like y'all did better than I did in my first game. Gabe had brought another favorite of his, Parthenon, and it wound up being a six-player game that didn't quite get through the end of year two. When we picked it up, Ron had 11 structures; Don, Mike and Gabe each had 10; Doug had 9; I trailed with 7 after not rebuilding two starting villages that got hit by Hubris (or was it one of those other disasters?).

April 30, 2009 Session Report

Here's the report for last week's session, which I missed. Thanks to Paul for collecting the information.

Attendance (7): Ron, Clayton, Paul, Gabe, Mike, Ray, Chris.

Games Played (4): San Juan, Small World, Roll Through the Ages (x2), Grand Prix.

San Juan was a four-player, Mike won (34) followed by Paul (32) then Gabe (26) and Clayton (16). Then a recently released game, Small World, which was a five-player, won by Gabe ahead of Ron, Mike , Paul and Clayton. Chris and Ray arrived and contested the two Roll Through the Ages games. Experience won out, Chris won both games, with some high scores (in the 30s). Final game was Grand Prix, a six-player, Ray won with 630, comfortably ahead of Mike (410), Gabe (380), Paul (350), Ron (340), finally Clayton (260).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Upcoming Club News

No session report this week, as I am attending Games Days. Hope for an update from those who attended this week's session some time next week.

I can tell you that on Saturday, May 9, Games Club of Maryland (including members from our local chapter) will once again be manning a booth at the Laurel Main Street Festival. Our exact location will be booths 512-A and B on the south side of Main Street, near Fifth Street, which is the same approximate location as the past two years. A reminder that the Festival starts with a parade at around 9 AM and continues until approximately 4 PM.

Additionally, the following Saturday, May 16, we are co-sponsoring a special Saturday gaming event with our sister club in Columbia (a new club that became a GCOM location in January). I have copied details from a flyer we have put together recently, will have copies on hand at next week's Thursday session.

The Laurel and Columbia Chapters of the Games Club of Maryland Present

Join us to play your favorite games

Saturday, May 16, 2009 5 PM to 1 AM
Location: Canterbury Riding Clubhouse
9240 Canterbury Riding
Laurel, MD 20723

There is a refrigerator and microwave in the Clubhouse. Menus will be available from local carry-out and delivery restaurants. We will break for dinner at approximately 7 PM. Feel free to bring your favorite beverages, snack foods, and [of course] games. We are asking for a small voluntary donation of $5 per person to help defray the cost of the facility.

Directions:   From I-95, take the 216 Exit East toward Laurel.  Stay to your right and take the ramp for Stephens Road.  Make the first right on to North Laurel Drive (Sterling Drive goes in the opposite direction).  Then make the first left into the Canterbury Riding Townhouse Development.  Make an immediate left inside the development and follow the road until you come to the parking lot entrance for the clubhouse.

We will have balloons at the parking lot entrance for the clubhouse. The clubhouse is to the right at the end of the parking lot, adjacent to the pool.
From Laurel, take 7th Street (Rt. 216) towards I-95.  Make a right on to All Saints Road.  Go through the next light and make the first left into the Canterbury Riding Townhouse Development. Make an immediate right and follow the road until you come to the parking lot entrance for the clubhouse (see note above).

Please do not park in the clubhouse parking lot. Please park on the exterior road facing the trees. Also, the Clubhouse is located in a quiet residential neighborhood. Please be considerate and quiet as you come and go.

One More Thing: HAVE FUN!

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 23, 2009 Session Report

In attendance (total of nine): Mike, Paul, Gabe, Greg, Ron, Clayton, Don, Chris and myself. We played a total of six different games, one of them twice: Can't Stop, Roll Through the Ages (x2), Princes of Florence, Show Manager, Rails of Europe (the RR Tycoon expansion) and San Juan. Some details on the games follow.

First up was Can't Stop. After some shuffling of seats after a few more people showed up, the four players were Clayton, Mike, Greg and myself. Mike raced to an early lead, Greg and I failed on our early rolls and had to play catch up. Then Clayton, to everyone's surprise, quit before reaching the top after advancing halfway up the middle numbers. Mike and Clayton each got two to the top, then Mike won by rolling a "3" for his third number. Greg and I trailed with just one number.

Ron had brought Roll through the Ages -- Paul and Gabe joined in. Gabe hit 5 skulls for a revolt in his first roll with 6 dice. Paul went on to win the game. Second game was started once Don arrived. Gabe won the second game, over Mike, Ron and Don. At the other table, Greg was interested in Princes of Florence. Paul, Clayton and I joined him. For Clayton, it was his first time at the game, and Paul was playing it for only the second or third time. Greg and I kind of took advantage of this, as we bid each other up on the Jesters, each got a couple of recruiters and put on 8 works by game's end. In the final turn, it came down to who got the best work bonus and I managed to win by three, 69 to 66 for Greg, Paul had 45, Clayton (who had a really rough time his first game) 23.

I had brought the original Show Manager game (the forerunner of Atlantic Star which has been played at the club before); the four of us from the Princes game played this, Greg being the only newcomer to the game. I managed to score a perfect 30-point Wolf and have it take #1 spot in NY but, alas, Greg took the cues well and won with 60 to 45 for me. Clayton had 27, ahead of Paul at 22. Out of curiosity, I calculated the scores for the two dummies: 44 for dummy #1 and 23 for dummy #2, but remember they didn't have to borrow against any musicals.

Chris had arrived and joined the Mike-Gabe-Ron-Don group to play Rails of Europe (a Railroad Tycoon expansion) which I joined to take over Chris' spot when he had to leave. It was a close game with Ron, Gabe and Mike well ahead on the scoring track, but Ron had taken out 15 (!) shares which dropped him to third in the final standings, which were: Gabe 48 Mike 44 Ron 41 Don 30 Chris/John 24. I totally blame Chris for our poor score.

Finally, there was a three-player San Juan game at the other table, which Greg won going away with both the City Hall and the Guild Hall. Final scores: Greg 47 Paul 32 Clayton 19.

Next week's session conflicts with the first day of Games Days and the annual GCOM meeting. However, the Community Center will be open for gaming at regular hours. Hopefully someone will keep track of attendance and send me a report.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 16, 2009 Session Report

Attendance was a total of eight for this week's session. Ray was back for his second session (one more and he will become an official GCOM member), along with Gabe, Paul, Clayton, Doug, Mike, Don and myself. We split into two groups for most of the time.

First game up was Money, a five-player game won by Gabe (400) with Paul (330) second, ahead of Mike (290), Doug (270), Don (150). Clayton and I hooked up in an old two-player favorite, Lost Cities, which was close for the first hand (32-29 in my favor) but I did much better (over 100 pts with the eight-card bonus) in the second hand for an overall 140-56 win.

Doug and Paul joined Clayton and me for a four-player Vegas Showdown game that turned out to be very competitive. I jumped out to an early lead, snagging the Nightclub and later the Theatre. However, Doug was way ahead on the income track for much of the game and did well in the endgame scoring to win by just one point. Final scores: Doug 71 John 70 Paul 62 Clayton 54.

The other three (Gabe, Don and Mike) were willing to give Through the Ages a try and, to my surprise, got through all three ages before the end of the session (first time I think this has happened, because it's usually 4 to 4 1/2 hours with three players, longer with four). Final scores were Gabe 180, Don 140, Mike 90. Don was pleased to finish a spot higher than he has in the past, not sure why Mike's score was so low.

Ray joined us while the Vegas Showdown game was still in progress and I think he picked up the rules, so hopefully he will have a chance to play it with us in the future. With five of us, we opted for Ra (Clayton's choice) and Ray, who was the only new player, picked up the game fairly quickly, and won his first game with 47 (an excellent score with five players), I came second with 40, followed by Doug (35), Paul (24), Clayton (15) after it looked like Clayton was going to do better. The one thing I remember was Clayton bidding really high for any flood tiles, which hurt Doug, who lost about 9-10 points in the process although it only gained 3-4 pts for Clayton. I got all 8 monuments but Ray won by seizing the early lead in Pharoahs, keeping it through the rest of the game, also he did well in collecting Civ tiles.

We then played a five-player Hoity Toity starting around 9, final results (first to last) were Doug, John, Clayton, Paul and Ray. Paul was trailing most of the game but came back with the best collection at the end of the game. I had the second best collection, but needed to be first to finish ahead of Doug. Another close second place, like the Vegas Showdown and Ra games.

Finally, we had about 20 minutes left and began a hand of Slide 5 (aka 6 Nimmt, Take 5, Category 5) and got in two hands right before closing time. Clayton was the winner, with only 10 negative points, followed by Doug (15), John (18), Ray (23) and finally Paul (47), who took 34 penalty points in the first round alone.

Hope to see everyone next week.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Note from Stefan Lundback

Just wanted to post a note I received from Stefan Lundback, who was visiting us from Sweden and attended the March 26 session of our club:

"First of all please let me thank you for a great gaming evening at Laurel Community Centre. I think it was Paul who greeted me and he did a great job making me feel welcome.

Greg, thank you for letting me play my absolute favourite game - it seems that the only time I get to play this nowadays is during my travels. (I played the Disco Inferno map while in Sao Paulo on business last summer)

John, I think that your setup in Laurel is very conductive to bringing new gamers into the hobby - please keep up the good work!

Finally please send Ben, Chris, Paul and the others my regards.

Kind Regards, Stefan."

Thank you, Stefan, for joining our club when you were in the area.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April 9, 2009 Session Report

With some religious holidays causing some of our regular attendees to miss this week's session, it looked like we were headed for a down week attendance-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised to welcome back Sarah (whom we hadn't seen for several months) and also we had a first-time attendee, Ray, who lives in nearby Odenton whom we hope to see back again in future weeks. Rounding out this week's group were Doug, Gabe, Greg, Clayton and myself for a total attendance of seven.

Games played this week included: Roll Through the Ages, Can't Stop, Bananagrams (x2), Legend of the Flying Dutchman, Puerto Rico, Ticket to Ride (US Map), Wits and Wagers. Some details follow.

Roll Through the Ages: Gabe, Greg and Clayton played this one, first time for Greg, who wound up winning. Scores were fairly close, something like 18-13-12. Sounds like a well-played game by everyone.

Can't Stop: It was Doug, myself and Sarah for this one. Doug got the jump on us and won fairly easily as Sarah and I were playing catch up most of the way, and we just couldn't catch Doug.

Bananagrams: Sarah had brought this game in her compactly stored package of games and Doug and I joined her while waiting for the Roll Through the Ages game to wrap up. It was one of those timed word games, and I had a difficult time of it. When we picked up it, I conceded as Doug and Sarah were far ahead. Later, the two of them locked horns again and Doug prevailed by a narrow margin (something like two letters that Sarah had yet to place). Not the kind of game you want to take on Doug, who is a crossword puzzle expert, IMHO.

By this time Ray had joined us while Doug was teaching an interesting looking game called Legend of the Flying Dutchman (hope I got the name right). It was a game about moving the black (pirate) ship and trying to invest in one of the colors of ships that would be worth the most when the pirate ship hit the island or at the end of the game. You have a limited number of options (three times you can invest, three times you can take more bidding chits, or you can bid for the right to influence or decide where the black pirate ship goes). It came down to a tension-filled final turn where I moved the Dutchman to my advantage, hurting Gabe who was probably in a position to win. As it turned out, however, the winner was Doug who (like me) had two shares in the best color. Final scores were Doug 75 John 72 Greg 56 Sarah and Ray (who played as a team) 51 Clayton 38 Gabe 17. Interesting older game with some unique concepts.

For the next games, we again split up into two groups. Ray, Sarah, Doug and Clayton played Ticket to Ride on the standard US map. Sarah wound up winning with 118 while Ray was second with 96. Strong performance by Ray, who I believe may have been playing TTR for the first time. The rest of the group (Gabe, Greg and I) locked horns in a three-player Puerto Rico game. Greg surged to an early lead in shipping but stalled out a bit when his income generation wasn't as strong as the rest of us. Gabe got an early Hacienda, took Settler alot and wound up with three quarries, building three large buildings plus a factory and a harbor to secure the win by a hefty 10-point margin, 51 to 41 for me and 39 for Greg.

For the final game of the evening, all seven of us took part in Wits and Wagers (2d edition). I started off well, knowing stuff like the approximate dates of Frank Robinson's becoming the first black manager in MLB and the approximate length of FDR's Presidency, but Greg wound up the big winner after showing superior knowledge on a question about the number of movie theatres in the US. Didn't get everyone's scores, but for awhile we actually broke the bank and had to record the numbers on paper. Greg wound up with over 100, none of the rest of us had more than 30 or so.

Hope to see everyone back for next week's session, including some of you who missed this week or in recent weeks. As I have mentioned to several of you, I am working on a special Saturday session in May and will report on details as soon as they have been arranged, hopefully in the next week or so.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April 2, 2009 Session Report

I did manage to make it to the second half of the most recent session, so here's a recap. Total attendance: 9 (Gabe, Doug, Paul, Clayton, Chris, Mike, Michelle, Don and myself). Games played: Incan Gold, Wits and Wagers, Ticket to Ride-Swiss, Settlers of Catan, Through the Ages and Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix.

Incan Gold was a four-player, won by Paul (44) ahead of Mike, Don and Gabe. By then most of the group had arrived, and a seven-player Wits and Wagers was contested which ended in a tie between Doug and Mike. Paul, Don, Gabe, Clayton and Michelle (who was attending the club for the first time) also competed.

Then the group split into two games. Clayton. Doug and Paul played Ticket to Ride-Switzerland, which was won by Paul (106) ahead of Doug (86) and Clayton (53). Chris joined Clayton, Doug and Paul for his first game of Settlers, which was won by Doug. Meanwhile, Mike, Gabe and Don played a two-age version of Through the Ages, which wound up in a win for Mike.

Finally, I got into the action in a couple of races of Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix. Turned out to be a narrow win for Don (450) with Paul (440) in second. Doug, John, Gabe and Mike also competed.

March 26, 2009 Session Report

Having been away for this session, need to get caught up with these reports.

Total attendance on March 26 was eight. Paul, Gabe, Greg, Clayton, Don, Chris and Ben were joined by Stefan, who was from Sweden but in the area on travel and decided to join our group. Everyone was glad he did. Games played: Age of Steam (x2), Ticket to Ride, Agricola, Mamma Mia and San Juan.

Mamma Mia: Gabe and Stefan tied for first, Paul also played. Agricola was played next; final scores were reported as Gabe 33, Paul 22, Don 17 and Clayton 2.

Two games of Age of Steam were played, both with the US map. Stefan apparently won both games. Greg, Chris and Ben also played. Ticket to Ride was a close four-player game, with Paul winning with 100 followed by Gabe (92), Ron (90) and Clayton 69. Finally, a three-player San Juan was contested, won by Gabe (35) ahead of Paul (23) and Clayton (17).

Thanks to Paul for tracking the attendance and games played, and thanks to our visitor from Sweden for helping make this a successful session.