The first session of 2006! Yippee! Only two more months of screwing up the date on my checks!
Dave, Mike, and Laurent came out to my place for "Classics" night. I'd pulled a bunch of games out, and we ended up playing Samurai and "vanilla" Settlers, perhaps two of the Classic-est games in my library.
It had been a while since I'd played Samurai, and it's definitely a game that needs to come out more often. I was frankly surprised at how many of the rules I'd forgotten, mostly to do with victory conditions and starting the game, although Laurent and Mike needed refreshers as well.
The game was going along swimmingly, with me doing quite well with the paddies. At one point, Mike wanted to do the old "switch two figures then steal at least one of them" trick, but he was taking so long to make his second tile play that I mistook his hesitation for a lack of knowing what to do. I mentioned that he needed to complete the move or else I would benefit from his exchange of pieces rather than him, but he thought I meant that the completed move wasn't a good idea. As such, I'm afraid that Mike felt like he'd been screwed for most of the game, and as soon as I figured out the mistake, I apologized profusely.
Bogie aside, I felt like I was doing pretty well, then right near the endgame I remembered that you could win outright with two majorities. Sure enough, that's when Dave swapped a couple of figures, then snagged the last Buddha off the board and won the game with two majorities. I'd been doing so well, too, with five paddies and three of each of the other two types.
I can't complain about my tile draw, as I got most of my special tiles fairly early. What I didn't get until the end was the special samurai tile (ronin?), nor did I draw a single high hat tile until the last five draws. Nevertheless, did quite well, but then again so did Dave. Between us, we had 23 of the 39 tiles, so obviously it was a two horse race. I hope to bring the game out more in the future, as I do feel badly about the misunderstanding about Mike's play.
Next up was vanilla Settlers - no Buch, no ships, no cities or knights, just the basic game. What was fascinating about this game was that we were all fairly high up in points by the end of the game. Dave and I had a combined 5 ore draw on an 8 space, so of course that was a target for the robber for much of the game, and we hardly ever rolled 8's anyway. My 4 wood space with three draws did quite well, and combined with the 3:1 port that came in fairly handy much of the time. I managed to steal Laurent's Longest Road, and was only two converted cities away from the win when Dave managed to finally roll that 8 and get enough points to take the game.
Also interesting was the fact that every development card was drawn by the end of the game. At game end, Mike had gotten several VP cards, as had Dave and Laurent (I had gotten mostly Soldiers early, but Mike's eight (!) soldiers clinched Largest Army early on). Sadly, it seemed that the last three cards were VP cards, so my holding off on getting them in order to save up for my cities was the wrong move. Also astonishing was that I was in last place with 8 points, as both Laurent and Mike were a single point away from the win. Certainly the closest game of Settlers I've ever played, as there's usually one player that's getting creamed early on, being shut out expansion and starved for resources. Not this game. The game took more than 90 minutes, also unusual for the basic Settlers game.
I've gotten a travel edition of this title that I hope to take to Europe with our friends, it will be interesting to see if the very small parts will survive travel outside of a box, though.
Regardless, we all had a good time, and the Settlers game in particular was really fun to pull out again, even if Dave did point out that the game can be very frustrating (unlike many euro titles). If your rolls don't come up, you can really get screwed in the game, but even with Mike only getting four settlements up he was within a hair of winning. Good tension, and good fun.