Halfway into the game, Chuck got a call from his office telling him that he needed to appear in court in California on Wednesday! Fortunately, it seems like he'll be back by Thursday morning in time for our Here I Stand game, but it was very sad to drive him out to the Redmond airport this morning knowing that he'd been so excited about the week and having to lose not only all of that time but also have to hustle back to Portland to get a suit and pack, then fly down to LA then come right back home. Major bummer.
Once I'd gotten back from the airport this morning, Dave and Mike and I played Through the Ages. This was Mike's second time playing, and my first time with the full game (Jesse and I had gotten through the second age in our game a few months ago). I remembered how much trouble I had getting my Science going in that last game, so that was a very early focus. However, what I had trouble getting was a Culture machine going. In fact, the various techs that would have helped just weren't showing up. I'd also had a good population bank that allowed me to build a lot of units, but Dave stole a colony from me in the mid-game and I struggled to repopulate my buildings for a few turns.
I kept pretty close to Dave militarily early, but had a big breakdown in the mid-game only to come back and surpass him in that respect. However, Dave was the guy doing well with his Culture, though, and he'd built a huge lead that we were never really able to catch up with. In the end, Mike and I were fighting over a handful of points and he'd put an event into the pool at the end not knowing that it would be resolved, so I edged him for second.
I really like this game, but like with most titles of this ilk, you really need to know what's out there and understand the combinations that will give you the win. Considering that this was my third game (not counting the "practice" game that Chris and I played some time ago, but counting a solo game I did to pick the rules up again), I felt pretty good about my performance and I'm really looking forward to playing more. The only real issue was downtime with three players - there were a good 10 minutes between turns for me near the end, but since I had a game to clip counters for it wasn't too bad. It would be *particularly* interesting with a timer...
Mike snoozed on the couch while Dave and I played Manouevre, with Dave as the Russians and me as the Spanish. The less said the better, other than Dave took out two of my units almost immediately and I spent the entire game playing catch up. It did not help that every unit he eliminated had played no more than one card, so I spent nearly the entire game drawing cards I couldn't use, and then missing most of my rolls by one or two pips. The game is fun, but some nationalities are harder to play well than others, and the Spaniards require them to cycle cards very quickly as they don't have the robustness of the Russians, nor the effectiveness of their cavalry. Again, a game that requires a certain amount of experience with the army you're playing to do well in.
The last game of the afternoon going into dinner time was Wallace's new release, Waterloo. Mike was on the bad side of the DSDF this time out, rolling terribly in a lot of critical situations, including the final battle where I wiped out not only two infantry units but also an arty and a leader. It was made even more difficult for Mike when both my skirmish rolls and my final Grand Battery rolls gave him only one or two damage cubes to give. After the third turn, he'd lost enough units for me to get the auto win, and the Prussians hadn't come in yet. I'll write more about this game in the future as well, as Cooley's First Law definitely applied and I really liked the mix. My favorite part was how your opponent draws a tile to see how many actions you'll take that round, but you yourself don't know. On the other hand, there were few times when I was sweating whether or not I'd have another action that turn. I also like the way formations are handled, forcing players to decide whether to spend actions to put units into a defensive posture. Believe me, if there are cavalry around, you will want to get your infantry into defensive formation before they come at you.