Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CenTues Session, 4/10/07

Tuesday night, this time at Matt's. An evening of aborted games, games with significant rules missing, and a little confusion as to why everyone raves about the Spiel des Jahres winner.

To start with, Mike, Jim, and myself were at Matt's a little early, and so we pulled out Thurn & Taxis to get things going. The second we had the pieces set up and were about to start 'splainin', Chuck showed up. Back in the box went the Thurn & Taxis bits, out came Around the World in 80 Days. We'd gotten three player turns in when Liz and Dana showed up, so Matt (who had not taken a turn yet) bailed and went to play Ra with them.

Our 80 Days game was not very exciting. To start with, I asked rather pointedly early in the game when I'd drawn a balloon card whether or not you had to play a travel card to use a balloon (as stated on the action card) even if you were doing it from the board action, and the answer was that you did *not* have to play a travel card in the latter case. Which was wrong. While I only got one or two of these board actions in, there was no question that it helped me get to London very quickly, and with gold to spare. To make things worse, we'd also been playing that you spent a gold to draw an extra travel card, when it's *two* gold to take that action.

As I ended up with three gold, and never had less than two gold in hand from the early game on, I figure that the latter rule didn't hurt me so much, although I'm certain I used at least two non-card balloon actions (although I also ended up with extra cards. So my win, clocking in at 71 days including using the 12 days through India, feels a little tainted although my closest rival, Chuck, finished in 73 days. Still, I wish that we'd gotten at least one of these rules correct from the beginning.

The Ra game was still going, so the four of us pulled out (wait for it) Thurn & Taxis, the game that *must* be played. And, after five or six outings, I'm not sure why. The game has some interesting mechanisms, especially figuring out how you'll play your houses and the occasional gamble on not having a card you'll need to continue a route (a gamble that did *not* pay out for me, although I was one card away from it doing so). While I will agree that there is a certain degree of skill required to play the game well, and that I do like the fact that you have to maintain tactical flexibility while keeping an overall strategic plan, the game has fallen rather flat for me. And it's not that I've never won, although it *could* be because we're trying to set up mail routes in late 18th C. Central Europe. And that's got fun written all over it.

At this point, my "date" (Jim) needed a ride home, so that was all for me. Kind of a disappointing night for gaming in some respects, but the company is quite good as always, and it's always nice to see Matt who rarely attends other sessions. Next week I'll be missing the SouTues in Newberg or Sherwood or wherever it is as I'm directing a college choir at a competition in Salem.

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