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

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: