Friday, March 13, 2009

Tuesday Gaming

Dave, Alex, and myself all showed up at Matt G's for a little gaming goodness at our regular Tuesday session. Even though Matt's is a longish drive for me, I find myself enjoying his sessions in a little different way just because there are people who show up there that don't show up often in other locations. And I mean that in a good way! 

On the table were Pandemic and Tikal.

Matt had been playing Pandemic recently and had finally managed to win a game, so he was excited to try this out. Matt was the Scientist, Dave was the guy who can transfer cards easily, Alex was the Dispatcher, and I was the Research guy who could build centers. The Medic was AWOL, and in retrospect that was probably our downfall.

The big outbreak centers were relatively close together, in Riyadh, Kinshasa, and Rio, and we did a pretty good job of keeping them from going kablooie. We also managed to find cures for three diseases (all but red) in no time at all, as the card draws kept going to the right people - I drew nothing but black cards early on, while others drew different colors. I placed lots of research facilities to allow lots of movement across the board easily, and things were looking good. 

While the card draw helped tremendously, it was also killing us. We were playing with five Epidemic cards, and it seems like we got three of them pretty quickly, the time between the second and third being particularly short (less than three player turns). When the deck got reshuffled, the hotspots in London, Paris, and Milan doubled down, with London triggering an outbreak that triggered another outbreak in Paris, and that put every blue cube on the board in very short order. This is where the Medic would have come in handy, sweeping through the area and eliminating all of those cubes in London and Paris quickly. 

As such, this was as close to a win as I've ever seen, and about as quick a loss at the same time. Kind of bizarre, but that's coop games for you. 

Next up was an old school favorite that I haven't played in a very long time, Tikal. This game got some short shrift fairly early on because of the randomness of the tile draws and the potential downtime for four players. The downtime is still a bit of an issue, but we could have played with the auction variant (you auction off the right to choose a tile from a draft line). I am terrible at auction games, so I'm sure I'd have sucked big time had we done that. As it was, I didn't mind the downtime too much as this particular group always feels more like a casual party where we happen to be playing a game rather than hardcore gaming, even though we *are* hardcore gamers. Again, in a good way.

Alex got off to a good start, and he and Dave spent a lot of time fighting for various resources, temples, etc on "their" side of the board. Matt and I did a little back and forth, but at some point I ended up with a little corner of the board all to myself where I built up the temples to the midrange of 5-6 plus one sweet little temple at 9 that I cornered with only two workers for the entire game. Combined with having taken two sets of treasures fairly early (by the second scoring round), I was in the lead from that point on and never really looked back. Scores at the end were in the 112-82 range, with the midpoint players spread out astonishingly evenly between at ten point intervals. 

Historical note: Dave had remembered that *way* back in the day when I brought Alex to play some games with the group, that we'd played this at his apartment the very first time he'd met Alex. Alex was about 17 at the time, and I'd completely forgotten - there are some sessions I remember, but we must have gotten together to play games something like 400 times since RCG formed, so to me it's not only a blur but a little pink sock in the white laundry load. 

Last item on the agenda: Sugarlumps. 'Nuff said. 

Next week we go back to Chris' house, who is standing in for me on the regular schedule.


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