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.