Thursday, November 15, 2007

Whole Lot O' Gaming

It's been a while, but I've finally started gaming regularly again. With three sessions under my belt just in the last week, and even more to come with the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner, it appears that gaming has gotten back to normal. Except for WoW, strangely, which is hard to really get into with people coming over to the house every day to replace some essential element of my new home. This week it's been the electrical panel, the insulation in the ceilings and the RoD, the drywall in the RoD, several light fixtures (with only three to go! I hate light fixtures!) and a new quieter (and functional, something the old 3" version was not) exhaust fan for the master bath.

Last Friday, Laurent, Mike, George, son Sean, Randy, and son Byron all came over to inaugurate my new game room. I was a bit nervous as Sean is six, but he did an amazing job of staying with us for the two hours he was here. First up was Incan Gold, the Sunriver Games reprint of Diamant. This is a fantastic large group game that is easy to teach, fun to play (even when you've left the Temple of Doom), and has that great "what will the other guy do" element that I like so much. The winner? Sean, who was the only person whose plans we couldn't guess. I came in a close second, beating out Mike by a point.

Next up was Royal Turf, with George and Sean playing the part of the sixth player together. This, like IG, was a learning game for Randy and Byron, who are just discovering the world of Euros and really digging it. The usual fun was had, egging on horses that you'd bet the "0" tile on, groaning when your horse was moved one space and cheering when you rolled just the right symbol to put your 2 bet horse in the lead. Mike won this, if memory serves, with me in second.

By now it was a bit after 9pm, so George took Sean home while the five of us pulled out Manila. Interestingly, Randy's wife (and Byron's mom) is Filipina, as is mine, so they were interested in the theme. Unfortunately, the game puts Filipinos in a bit of a bad light, with all of the skullduggery, insider trading, and corruption of business in that country shown in a rather blatant light. My experience is that Filipinos are, overall, extremely hardworking, loyal, friendly, fun to be around, and will grab any advantage or swag they can even if it's something they clearly have no use for. But they might. Someday. A gross generalization, but I am surprised by how well this simple game captures that eagerness to have an inside track over the other guy.

The game went smoothly enough, although I got dealt two jade in the beginning and never really did get it going like I wanted to. Instead, it was one of the two commodities that stalled on the 20 space, and despite having a very good cash flow for the entire game I managed to come in second to Mike. Again. I like this game more every time I play it, and despite the fact that we were bidding in the teens to the low twenties for the Harbor Master position for the entire game, only Byron really found himself to be short of money and even then never leveraged any of his shares.

My next session was on Monday, Veteran's Day. Since Mike, Chuck, and Eric all had the day off, they invited me to come over to play wargames at Mike's. Eric and I played A Victory Lost, while Mike and Chuck finished their Civil War Brigade game, which I think involved one of the Manassas battles (but I'm not sure). They had a very large map with very few counters and a *lot* of paper for writing orders. Last I looked Chuck was doing pretty well.

In my game with Eric, we managed to get to turn 7 in about six hours, not too bad for Eric's first game. I had most of the rules internalized by now, even the river stuff, and we had very few lookups over the course of the game. Eric played the Russians quite well for his first game, with me taking the Germans for the first time. I have yet to figure out how to get an effective breakout for the Russians that will imitate the historical gains (the Russians pretty much sweep the board in the first half), and indeed, while Eric did quite well in the middle and south he got bogged down with all of his units in the far north against my Hungarians, and put most of his efforts and reinforcements there. I had gotten 1st Panzer safely across the Don, although Eric's three activations of 2nd Guard in a row in the early game had left me a bit weak in that area. Eric was just crossing the Donets at it's Easternmost bend, and was doing some serious damage to my Hungarians in the north, and I had lost too many units to mount an effective counter-attack, but with three turns and 14 points down it didn't look good for Eric and we hung it up halfway into the seventh turn. An excellent game, and one I've got set up for solo play in my gameroom as we speak so that I can start working up a good Soviet opening.

The third session (yikes) was the usual RCG Tuesday nighter, this time at Chris's. He is now 15 minutes away, or would be if the road between Wilsonville and Sherwood was not closed for construction for the next year. As it was, even with discovering that I couldn't get where I needed to go via the route my GPS system in the car was suggesting, it only took 30 minutes to get there, more like 20 or less with the back roads out of North Wilsonville.

Present were Chris, Ian, Mike, Carey, Matt Riley, new guy Jeff, and myself. Jeff, Matt, Carey, and I all played together for the evening, starting with Darjeeling (a pretty cool game that borrows a bit from, of all things, Fossil), which I managed to take second in to Jeff. I am always the bridesmaid, I guess. The components are a bit over-produced (I hate switchback scoring boards, which take up about half of the game space), and it seems to be trying just a *bit* too hard to be a Big Game for what it is, but my initial reaction is still Thumbs Up. Of course, there were the usual jokes about teabagging, and our now-classic Tim-ism ("You know what I've heard about this game? It's better when played briskly!") is particularly apt. Unless you've never heard Lipton Tea's motto, of course. Jeff won handily after stumbling across the notion that you could do well even with moderate scoring if you did it often and kept others from doing the same.

For our final game of the evening, we played a wacky Ameritrash title called Red Dragon Inn, or something along those lines. This is a hilarious four-player game where you play a cartoonish fantasy role-play character who is trying to drink the other cartoonish fantasy role-playing characters under the table. Or make them run out of money, whatever works for you. I was the rogue, doing my darnedest to win at gambling and surprise people with sneaky actions. Unfortunately, I ran into a run of really powerful drinks about halfway in and ended up being the first player eliminated. Carey was right behind me (despite having hung on by his fingernails for a good chunk of the game), and I'm not terribly sure who won between Matt and Jeff. All I know is that it was the first game I didn't come in second in (not counting AVL, which to be fair could have gone either way had we finished) the whole week. Amazing!

Thanks to all for playing and hosting and all that stuff. It was sure great to get out and feel normal again, and now that Mel is working on Thursdays instead of Tuesdays it seems that I'll have many more chances to get out on Tuesdays. About time.

Oh, one last thing. Our inspector, the one who had the knee surgery, called me yesterday to let me know that he couldn't read very well yet (the drugs were making his vision fuzzy). Please. As if someone couldn't read a contract to you. I pointed out yet again that were I to start spreading his name around to various real estate agents that this true story would cause considerably more damage to his business than just making me happy. He is going to call me back, but I suspect that come next Monday I will simply call, say that I'd like to have an answer in 24 hours, and then go from there.

No comments: