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Cincygamers 2002 Session Reports
Cincygamer Home -> Game Sessions 2002

Here you can find recaps of our gaming sessions. It's a great way to keep track of what games we've played and who has been victorious.  As a note to our visitors, any of our members can post session reports. Look at the bottom of each entry to find out who wrote the report.
 

Previous sessions:
December 26th, 2002
December 20th, 2002
December 7th, 2002
December 6th, 2002
November 30th, 2002
November 14th, 2002
November 8th, 2002
November 1st, 2002
October 25th, 2002
October 18th, 2002
October 4-6, 2002 - Buckeye Gamfest III
September 28th, 2002
September 7th, 2002
August 2nd, 2002
July 31st, 2002
July 26th, 2002
July 20th, 2002
June 22nd, 2002
June 21st, 2002
June 14th, 2002
May 26th, 2002
May 25th, 2002 - Cincinnati Game Day!
May 17th, 2002
February 9th, 2002
January 25th, 2002

2001 Sessions
2000 Sessions

December 26th, 2002
special session hosted by Dale Y

Gamers in attendance: Dale Y, John Mc, Luke H, Chad, Brian Y

Games played: High Society, Age of Steam, Autoscooter, Princes of Florence, Web of Power

High Society 
JohnM, Dale, Luke, Chad (eliminated)

To start the night off, we played a quick game of High Society while we waited to see if anyone else would make it.  JohnM and Chad had never played before, so we quickly explained the rules to them.  Early on, JohnM bought many of the auctions and paid dearly for them.  Luke and I tried to be the voice of reason to remind him that if he had the least amount of money left at the end, he would be eliminated.  Chad then went on his own buying spree prompting the same response from us two veterans.  About halfway through the stack of possible auctions, 2 red bordered cards had already come up and JohnM had won 4, Chad had won 4, Dale had won 2 and Luke had yet to win any – though he was looking good as he had lots of money left.  However, the next two cards happened to be red also and the game abruptly ended.  After counting up the money, Chad had spent himself out of the game.  JohnM managed to win and I was a very distant second (though I didn’t write down the actual scores, I think it was something like 14 to 5).  Luke was third with 0 points.  I don’t know if I’ve ever played a game of this where someone didn’t win an auction during the entire game!

Age of Steam 
Luke 76, Chad 60, Dale 55, JohnM 42

Luke and JohnM wanted to play Age of Steam, so we pulled it back out.  We went over the rules again to make sure we hadn’t missed anything (like the scoring issues from our last game) and got underway.  This game was much different from the last.  Money was much tighter in the four player game and the goods seemed to disappear from the board at an alarming rate!  There was much more competition for the eastern part of the board and no one was able to really get a good network together from the start.  About halfway thru the game, Luke, Chad and Dale were clumped together on the income track fairly close to each other and JohnM lagged behind somewhat.  Actually, JohnM would have actually spent himself out of the game in turn three or four – but since we were playing a friendly game (and since it was JohnM’s first game) – we allowed him to redo his decisions so he could stay in the game.  Unfortunately, while this kept him in the game, it did slow down his development greatly and he never really recovered from this.  Luke again managed to set up a small network of multiple stop railways allowing his to get three and four link transfers consistently. As a result, he quickly broke even moneywise and only needed to take out 7 shares total for the game.  Chad and myself were not as lucky and were taking out shares left and right (Chad with 15 and 14 for myself).  I did manage to get a pretty good network set up from Detroit down thru Indy and on to Lexington and the rest of the lower middle part of the board.  I was able to get 5 and 6 link transfers through here, but it was too little too late as well as too costly in terms of shares needed.  Chad took his money and created a vast network along the entire bottom of the board – he was the only player to move any purple blocks from the eastern side of the board as he had both routes into KC as well as the railway network to make it there.  Also, as he chose Engineer almost every turn, he had lots and lots of VPs from trackbuilding.  In the end, Luke won due to his frugality with money.  He spent very little on player order auctions and was 3rd or 4th most of the game – but still made the most of his order placement!  Despite having a 10 VP advantage on the rest of us from tracks, Chad’s Achilles heel was his maximal share offerings which dropped his score greatly.  A well balanced game with four – though a little long for my tastes at 2.5 hours.

Autoscooter 
Dale 22, Brian 21, JohnM 19, Luke 15

Having just received the Butcherblock of Fun for Xmas, I wanted to pull it out.  With four of us, we each got two cars and then were on our way.  After some translation issues with the collision chart (only had one copy in English) – we set off to bash each other silly.  One problem that came up was by the sixth round or so, most of the cars were completely stopped.  To make it worse, the cars were all getting clustered together in one quadrant of the board.  So, it was still possible to hit cars, but then if you hit one of the stopped cars, you stopped yourself.  The game then became a bunch of pushing and shoving until someone could point to the outside of the group, move and turn around and then bash back into the pile and get stuck again.  In the end, I won with 22 points (only 2 more than I started with…)  Definitely not as much fun as I remembered.  Perhaps I read a rule wrong?  If anyone knows, please let me know!

Princes of Florence 
Dale 74 (800 florins left), Luke 74 (600), Brian 43

Brian then requested we play Princes, a game that Luke and I are very familiar with.  Brian, however, has only played a few times.  The game started off with a surprising Jester win for me at 500 florins – pushing me towards a work-jester based strategy.  I won a 2nd jester in the 3rd round any my strategy was set.  Luke, on the other hand, got 2 builders in the first three rounds and was on his way to a building strategy – eventually ending up with the maximum 8 buildings on his plot.  He also managed to get 3 prestige cards along the way.  Brian, who had only played a few times, had a much more fragmented strategy and never got the point machine going.  At the end, Luke and I tied with 74 points (8 buildings and three prestige cards and two works for Luke and 6 works and 1 Prestige card for me) – and I won on the tiebreaker of having more money left over.  Though old, still a great game, and I may be the only person around who still likes this better than Puerto Rico because of the many different paths to victory. 

Web of Power 
Luke, Dale, Brian (didn’t write down the scores)

To end the night, we chose Web of Power.  This game was lightning fast – we finished in about 20 minutes!  Luke started the game and had a pair of cards in his hand – so he played them as a wild and played a cloister in Frankenreich. Unfortunately for us, the face up two cards were both Frankenreich.  At the end of the second turn, he had three cloisters already in Frankenreich!  He was well into his plan of total and complete cloister domination of the board.  I decided to try a less used strategy of trying to play all my advisors and win majorities and only play cloisters when they blocked off strings of opponents cloisters or when they would score a good 2nd place score (I did manage a 2 cloister play in Frankenreich for 5 points and a 1 cloister play in Bayern for 4 points).  Brian tried to do a little of both.  After the end of the first round, Luke was in the lead having the majority in most of the countries where cloisters had been played.  Brian was a close second and I was trailing distantly as I had played very few cloisters to that point.  I was however working on advisors in Frankenreich, Aragon, Bayern and England.  The second round played out like the first except that Brian managed to get two long cloister chains built.  Final scoring had Luke ahead by about 10 points – mainly due to his overpowering cloister domination.  I jumped into second place due to having 7 alliance scores.  Brian was close behind me thanks to 13 points from two long cloister chains.  Still one of my favorite games because of the length of play and the fact that I’m still never sure who’s going to win until you count up all the points at the end!

Report by Dale Y - top

December 20th, 2002
special session hosted by Dale Y

Gamers in attendance: Dale Y, Luke H, John P, David P, Dave E, Mike R, Brian Y, Chase B, Andy

Games played: Age of Steam, Spongebob Squarepants Splash-N-Roll, Die Heisse Schlacht am Kalten Buffet, Where There's a Will, Blooming Gardens, Carolus Magnus, Puerto Rico, Pizarro & Co, FFF, Monster Jan, Perilous Parlor Game

A special session as Dale's brother Brian was in town for the holidays.

Huge Multiple Game Session Report

Age of Steam
Dale 132 (8 widgets left), Luke 132 (9 widgets left), JohnP 103

The inagural game of Age of Steam for our group.  After a quick (OK, not so quick) rules review – we got the game underway.  We did manage to miss a rule or two – but we still had fun anyways!  Our game strangely started out as triple solitare based on where we were sitting.  I took the early initiative in the bottom right corner of the board.  Luke quickly set up a pretzel network of rails in the middle and JohnP started out in the lonely west.  Luke quickly got up an income advantage by passing on the first goods turn but then moving for two links for his second.  The locomotive advantage he got from this lasted the rest of the game (especially since Luke often chose this ability as his special action). 
Not knowing the relative value of things, bidding for start player was subdued.  We didn’t feel much of the money crunch in our game – but I’ve been told this is to be expected with a three-player game – which was helped by lower bidding for the start player.  In the end, I had 7 shares out and JohnP and Luke only had 6 out.  We never really wanted for money.
The goods also never dried up like we had expected.  The production option was chosen only two or three times the entire game.  I think with three players (and not much urbanization early), there just weren’t many goods going out with each roll.  And there was no need to replenish the goods that much because with only three players, there was always somewhere else on the board you could find goods to transport.
As the game progressed, the multiple solitare continued.  I managed to make a full loop of the bottom right of the board, Luke had a serious amount of track in the middle, and JohnP did have the West all to himself.  However, due to the layout of cities and towns, JohnP was not able to have the same loops (and 5- or 6-link) pathways that Luke and myself were able to exploit.
By the last two rounds, our networks were intact, and there were enough goods on the board for each of us to be moving goods over at least 4 links per round. In the final scoring, we missed one important rule – the rule about scoring one point per tile in a completed link.  The confusion stemmed from the example in the rulebook which shows a multitude of two-point scoring tracks (and no other possibilities) – From this, we extrapolated that _all _ links were worth two.  OOPS.
Since we were all playing under that assumption from the start, however, I don’t think it changed anyone’s strategy unduly.  In the end, Luke and I ended up tied for VP, but I won because I had used more of my track markers than Luke.  Overall, not a bad little game clocking in at 2 ½ hours including rules review.
After the game, it was clear to see the similarites to Volldampf – and when you’d like to play each one.  Though less complex, the shorter time requirement for Volldampf will still get that one to the table every now and then. But when you have the time, Age of Steam is definitely the way to go.

Spongebob Squarepants Splash and Roll Game
JohnP, Dale, David P, Luke

In a cute little roll the Spongebobs game (akin to Pass the Pigs) – JohnP emerged victorious.  We used the variant suggested by the game designer (my brother) that when you are done with your turn (when you stop to take the points) – you have to pass the remaining Spongebobs to the next player.  The next player then has the option to try to roll the remaining Spongebobs to try to make a valid pair.  If he does so, he “steals” all of your points and then continues his regularly scheduled turn.  If he fails, he loses his turn, and the player who passed gets the accumulated points.  However, if the next player chooses to pass, he can start rolling all six Spongebobs, but he yields all of the accumulated points to the first player.
 JohnP got off to an amazing early lead through a number of fortuitous Spongebobs doing headstands (just after I told him that these were basically impossible) as well as ending his first turn on the Mr. Krab figure which sent him automatically to the Krusty Krab space almost 2/3 of the way to the end!  Luke also started quickly, but stalled two spaces before the Plankton space (which would have caused him to lose a turn).  Each time, he would get two pairs, but then he felt obligated to keep rolling so that he wouldn’t end on the Plankton space.  And each time, he failed.   Despite a valiant effort by myself – including some rediculous pushing-of-luck where I had move of 15 – JohnP walked away with the victory comfortably.
 Well, it’s a cute game, and useful for a 10-minute filler while you wait for the other table to finish.  And since my brother designed it, I guess we’ll keep it around for now.

Die Heisse Schlacht am Kalten Buffet
Dale 24, JohnP 21, David P 19, Luke 15

Luke requested we pull out this older game as he really wanted to try it.  This game has each player as a potential buffet-goer who is in search of the best dishes.  The line to the buffet is a circle of 21 spaces, with the buffet table located at the 21st space.  The buffet table has one object up for grabs on each turn.  These objects are depicted on cards and range in value from 1 to 7 points.  On your turn, if you land on or pass thru the buffet space, you take the top object from the stack.  Thus, depending on what is available, you may want to speed up or slow down your progress to the buffet.  There are about 20 different buffet tokens available, and when they have all been collected, the game is over – and whomever has the most points wins the game.
On your turn, each player has the choice of rolling one, two or three dice.  If the total of the dice rolled is greater than 7, your turn is over  AND you have to remove your token back to the start of the buffet line (21 spaces away from the buffet).  However, if your total roll is 7 or less, you get to move your token the number of spaces equal to the total rolled multiplied by the number of dice rolled.  So, if you rolled one die “5” – you’d move 5 spaces.  If you rolled two dice “4” and “1”, you’d move 10 spaces: (4+1) x 2.  And if you rolled three dice “3” “3” and “1”, you’d move 21 spaces!  Actually, you wouldn’t even have to move your token (since the board is 21 spaces long), you could just pick up the top item on the buffet.
So is that it?  No, there’s one more complexity – if your move lands your token on top of another player’s token – you stay on top of him.  When that player who is underneath takes his next turn, he is forced to carry you along with him.  Anywhere that the bottom token moves to, the top token does as well.  But wait – there’s more – the player who is on top gets to decide how many dice the bottom player gets to roll.  Whatever the result (including busting) – both tokens move to the same place.  Then on the top players next turn, he rolls as usual and then moves off of the lower player. Anyways, that’s it to the game –there is a little strategy involved and whole lot of luck (due to the constant die rolling) – but it’s a nice little filler game to pass the time away.
In our game, JohnP got off to another quick start by taking the slow-but-steady route.  By rolling one or two dice almost every turn, he never busted and made his way around the board a number of times.  Luckily for the rest of us, most of the objects he picked up were lower in scoring value.  The other three of us kept on rolling two and three dice looking for the big move and generally failed.
As we came to our senses, DavidP and myself started to also use the slow and steady route and started to get some of the buffet tokens as well.  Luke staged a big comeback late in the game by getting a “7” and a “6” on two consecutive three-die-rolls of 7.  But in the end, it wasn’t enough.  I squeaked away with a three pont victory thanks to the big roast beef I picked up on my last turn.

Where There’s A Will
JohnP 14 (best card 7),  Luke 14 (6), Dave E 14 (5), David P 13, Dale 12

 Time for the new Ragnar brothers release again.  We had played this once before as a group, and it was termed “Guillotine without all of the niggly card ruling errata”.  Our second game proved to be much of the same – still a great time had by all in the luck fest of being in the right place at the right time with the help of being dealt the right cards.
 For those of you who haven’t played it before – here is a quick review of the gameplay.  Thematically, all players at a will-reading vying for the estate of some dead guy.  The will is being read in rounds, and each round, the player with the most-respected guest will take home the spoils – represented by cards stating what is being given away and their relative victory point value (varying from one point to 8 points).  After all the inheritance is given away (or one player gets 16 points worth of inheritance), the game is over.
 Each player starts the game with 10 pounds (dollars for us Yankees) and the game gets underway.  Each round is played in similar fashion.  First, three inheritance cards are flipped up from the deck.  These three cards are what will be given away this round.  They will go, one each, to each of the top three players in this particular round. 
Then, each player is dealt three guest cards.  Each Guest Card has a name of the guest (i.e. The Mistress, The Lawyer, The Son-In-Law) as well as a Point Value (ranging from 1 to 11).  Remember that the player with the best Guest remaining at the end of the round will get his choice of the inheritance!  Each player, in turn order, then gets a chance to replace his guests.  To do this, he pays a dollar to the bank, discards a Guest Card he was dealt and replaces it with the top Guest Card from the Guest Card deck.  He could conceivably do this three times (as each player is dealt three Guests), but the decision to replace Guests must all be done at once.  Once you have replaced your guests (or not) – you place all three of them face down in front of you. 
After each player gets a chance to replace their Guests, everyone is dealt three Damage cards.  Then, again in turn order, each player gets the chance to add more damage cards to their hand.  You can add up to three Damage cards (dealt from the top of the Damage card deck) at a cost of a dollar per card.  Once everyone has chosen to add cards or not – the round gets underway.
On your turn, you have two basic options.  You can either play 1 (and only one) Damage card or you can pass.  If you pass, you can no longer play any action cards the rest of the round – though you could of course play Block cards if an action cards is played against you.  If you choose to play a Damage Card – you follow the directions on it.  Some of the strategy here is that sometimes it’s worth it to pass when you have one or two cards left – even if there not Block cards – to try to bluff your opponents into thinking you do have bluff cards.
Damage cards are the heart of the game.  They are split up into two broad categories: Action cards and Block Cards.  Action cards have specific instructions on them which must be followed by the target(s) of the cards.  Some of the actions affect money (take a loan of 2 bucks from another player OR retrieve 2 bucks from the bank OR you and another player of your choice get a buck from the bank, etc).  Some of the actions affect guests (examples are: force a player to turn a Guest face up so that you can see its value, steal a guest from another player, cause a player to discard a Guest, get an additional guest from the Guest Card deck, discard all guests of a particular type, change the values of Guests, etc).  There are also bribe-type cards (example – force a player to discard a guest UNLESS he pays you two bucks, etc).  Block cards are simply stoppers that can cause an Action card not to occur.  You can obviously only play these when someone plays an Action card upon you!
So as the course of the round goes, players are getting and losing money, exposing their guests so that people can see their value, discarding their guests, drawing new guests from the deck, etc.  This action continues until everyone passes so that no more action cards can be played.  Once this occurs, everyone flips over the guest cards they have left (if not already exposed) and you tally up the scores.  Whomever has the highest valued guest takes the most valuable thing up from grabs.  Then the 2nd place and 3rd placed players take their spoils.  Each player may only take one piece of inheritance per round (even if they may have had the two or three best individual cards out there!)  Ties are broken by the 2nd most valuable guest among those tied (think of this like breaking ties in Poker).
Once the round is over, you repeat the round as described above until someone either gets 16 or more points (winning the game immediately) or until the entire inheritance is doled out at which point whomever has the most points wins.  If there is a tie here, ties are again broken by most valuable card within the set.
Overall, this is a nice lighthearted game that keeps everyone involved.  It is in fact very much like Guillotine.  There may in fact be a little less strategy because you don’t have a line of nobles that you can see and try to plan your card play accordingly.  Instead, the early part of each round is a guessing game of sorts as you are fumbling in the dark until some of the other players are forced to expose the values of some of their guests.   Once this happens though, a grand game of bluffing ensues.  For instance, if someone is forced to show a guest and he turns up a Lawyer (value 10) – does this mean that his remaining face down guests are of equal or greater value or is he just bluffing to try to get you to take or force him to discard one of his lower-valued guests?  If a player passes with two or three Damage cards left in his hand – does he really have that many Block cards or is he bluffing?
So, given that there’s not a lot of strategy needed for this game, it’s a complete blast.  As long as you’re not looking for a deep game, I think you’ll have fun playing it.  The rules are easy to understand, and luckily the cards offer very few if any possible mis-interpretations.  (This seems to be the hang-up with most people about Guillotine).
And while playing the game, you can assume all sorts of English accents (ours were undoubtably the most horrid attempts of Cockney I’ve heard in a long time) and start calling each other some spot-on English names such as Nigel, Simon, Reginald, Lord Ramsbottom and the like.  Then you can turn on the telly, watch some football (and forget that any other sport exists other than football) and shout exclamations of “Brilliant!”, “Cracking!”, or “Smashing!” and eat local delicacies like kidney and liver pie or bangers and mash (or Fritos like we did not having any offal to offer).
The game may be a little expensive for what you get: two decks of professionally done cards (Guest Decks and Damage Decks), one deck of cardboard cards (inheritance cars) and two cardboard cutouts for boards – but don’t forget that this is a somewhat limited run of games from basically a home publisher.  You should expect to pay a little more to offset costs for the smaller run.  Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Guest Cards and Damage Cards done with real coated playing cards.  My only beef is that both of these decks have the same pattern on the back side which makes them hard to tell apart from each other.  Other than that, this is a well-produced game that provides a great deal of fun for 4 to 6 players.  (I say that because I’ve played it only with 4 or six players – the rules state you can play with as few as 3 or as many as 6).

In our game, David P got off to an early lead by winning the first round which had the only 8-point inheritance out there.  He also took second place in the second round for 3 points.  After the first round, he was already close to the victory.  Unfortunately, he spent much of his money improving guests and adding Damage cards to his hand – and only had one dollar left over.  This lack of money made him vulnerable to attacks which need a money bribe to thwart and it also compromised his ability to add cards to his hand. 
As David P’s ability to control the game faded, everyone else but myself got into the fray successfully.  I seemed to have a knack for tying for third place each round but losing on the tiebreaker!  As we entered the final round (final round because there were only three inheritance cards left!) – scores were something like 14, 12, 12, 11, 7.  After a furious round of card playing, we ended up with a three-way tie for the lead, which had to be broken by  the most valuable inheritance – and JohnP walked away with the squeaker! 
 

Blooming Gardens
Mike 108, Brian 95, Chase 60

Carolus Magnus
David P, Dave E, Mike (no scores recorded)

Puerto Rico
Dale 42, Luke 40, JohnP 33, Chase 33, Brian 32
(New buildings used that I can remember– aqueduct, black market, storehouse, guesthouse, church, small wharf, light house, specialty factory, union hall, statue)

Played our first game with some of the new buildings – I wrote down the new ones we used, but none of the older buildings, so I can’t give you the full rundown.  In short, the game went as follows.  I wanted to try out some of the new buildings – so I went for a modified builder strategy.  Starting with only one poor corn plantation (and only ending up with three total), I used the hacienda for quarries, the black market to further push down prices and the church to give me points for the buildings I built.  I tried to ship when I could and once got away with a Captain phase where I got 7 points – thanks to the Union Hall – and no one managed more than 2!  The guesthouse also proved important as it allowed me flexibility to power up the buildings or quarries as I needed them.  I spent most of the game choosing to be the builder or whatever was left from the round before to gain money as I had few ways to generate cash.  Chase and Brian both tried to use shipping strategies and both chose the aqueduct as their first building.  Unfortunately, they were sitting right after each other and Brian continually found himself unable to ship his indigo as Chase had already filled up the boat!  They also found that they couldn’t always get all of their goods during production for this same reason.  JohnP tried a building strategy but trying to use his monopoly of  tobacco to power the market to make money for his purchases.  Luke shipped away anything he could and used his coffee for money as well.  Through most of the game, it looked like Luke was going to win as he had the majority of shipping points.  But in the end, the points I had received from building via the early purchase of a church proved to be the deciding factor.  The new buildings add much spice to the game which was frankly getting stale (partly from overplay IMHO) – but I’ll have to try the new buildings a few more times to learn their subtleties.   I’m pleased to see that the new buildings will also add in some uncertainty to the games as no one will know for sure which buildings will be included.  I think this will shake up the strategy aspect somewhat as there will now be even more paths to victory – and that you won’t be able to count on a certain building or combination of buildings to be available to be used!

Pizarro and Co.
Chase 41, Luke 39, Dale 36, Andy 32, JohnP 30

Looking for another relatively quick game while Carolus Magnus was about halfway done, we chose Pizarro and Co.  This is a game with lots and lots of auctions.  We played with the most basic setup of the boards (Magellan takes one card from your hand of your choice and Cook causes you to play with your hand face up).  Early bidding was quite low (probably from the fact that there were 2 players new to the game) but this quickly escalated.  Andy and Dale bought often and early.  Andy got a quick Columbus and Magellan and Dale got 2 DeGamas off the bat.  Bidding picked up and the other jumped to place their ships on the board.  Chase, who lurked most of the early part of the game then came away with two of the James Cook spaces (and the potential for high scores!).  At the end of the first round, Luke, JohnP and myself had 4 ships on the board and Chase and Andrew had three.  The second round was relatively uneventful, but the third round was full of surprises!  JohnP and Dale got into a huge bidding war over Pizarro (As neither wanted to be left in the space with 0 VP) – Dale won this with a bid of something like 35 – but this depleted his chances of taking James Cook.  Chase won this and this was enough to propel him to victory.  This is still one of my favorite auction games, and despite all of the auctions in the game, I still haven’t tired of it.  As an added bonus, even with rules explanations, the game was done in less than an hour.

FFF
Mike, Dave, John P (in an 8 player game on two boards, starting at #9 and #29)

As both tables were ending around the same time, we played a great two-board game of FFF.  The first board started at store #9 and the 2nd board started at store #29.  Though the first board seemed somewhat easier to navigate and accumulate goods and money, the newly translated errata that we had somehow missed seemed to balance this out.  The rule that we missed what that you have to switch boards after getting a fetish before you can get your next fetish.  Therefore, you have to move at least twice in the game if you are to win (though you could certainly choose to move more than this).  The first table (which had myself, Mike R, JohnP and Andrew for starting players) moved quickly.  Prices quickly plummeted as the fetish dealer trade-ins caused at least three commodities to drop in price.  Furthermore, the store with the raise all prices symbol on it was tucked in the  bottom left corner and no one wanted to go that far from the fetish dealer who was in the upper right corner!  John P and Andrew got their first fetish and moved to the other board.  This left Mike and Dale at the first board to get their fetishes.  Once that was achieved, neither player wanted to leave and let the other player get a board to himself, so these two stayed put and made lots of money and speculated over what set of goods they should bring over to the other table.  After about 5 minutes of quick playing – dale had about $250 and all the goods he wanted and Mike had 7 goods and over $400.  Once two players jumped over from the other table, we both left for the second table.  As we sat down, John P and Andrew had still not gotten their second fetish as they were still in the process of collecting their goods on the other board.  Mike had guessed the right fetish requirement (2 pairs) and swooped in for the second fetish.  As he had already built up a significant amount of money, acquiring the needed goods for the third fetish was no problem at all.  Mike quickly moved back to the first table and won.  Dave E and John P were the next two to finish.  As we play this more and more, I still think it’s better on a single board – but the added time pressure of FFF on the multi-board format is a great and novel addition to the game closet.  Luckily, there are now 5 copies of FFF floating around our group, so we should never have a lack of them around!

Monster Jam
JohnP, Luke, Brian, Me

As the hour was getting late, most everyone else left, leaving the four of us looking for a game.  Brian pulled out some of his new production copies of soon-to-be-released games for a runthrough.  First was Monster Jam, a pseudo-racing/betting game based on a monster truck race.  This game may be considered similar to Esels Rennen where you are given an order of finish of the three trucks in the game and you score points based on how the actual results match up to that listed on your card.  On your turn, like Esels Rennen you can move any of the three trucks available.
 Each of the three trucks has to navigate a course of 20 spaces.  Each player is dealt two cards with potential finishing orders on them.  Everyone also gets a hand of three cards to start with.  On your turn, you play one card and move the truck on it accordingly.  There are cards with the color of a specific truck on them – if you play these cards, you can move that truck the number of spaces printed on the card in EITHER direction – forwards or backwards.  If you play a gold card, this is a wild card letting you move any truck the number of spaces printed on it.  There are also cards that stop a truck from moving for one turn and cards that add spaces to the track.  Finally there are a few cards that allow you to play more than one card on a turn.  So, you play a card, move the appropriate truck(s) and then replenish your hand to three cards.  You do this until two trucks have finished the race – then you compare the actual finish to that on your cards. You get 1 point for each correct match you have of truck and finishing position.  You then repeat this until someone has 12 points.
 OK – just like Esels Rennen – the game doesn’t have that much to it.  But it was still fun in a twisted sort of way.  I can definitely see how 8-12 year olds would like it – and luckily for my brother – this is exactly the age group the game is being marketed for.  Not bad to get as a gift, but I certainly wouldn’t buy it for myself or the game group (but I would if my son was old enough to play it!)

Perilous Parlor Game
Dale, Brian and John P (good) win over Luke (Evil)

As it was even later now, we decided on one more game.  Brian still had one more game for us to evaluate – the Perilous Parlor Game which is a game based on the Lemony Snicket series of novels entitled A Series Of Unfortunate Events.  Unlike Monster Jam, all four of us in the game were interested by this one just on the description alone.
First off, none of us had read any of the books (other than my brother), so it wasn’t the theme that was interesting.  Rather, the mechanisms took some tried-and-true concepts of a good side vs. evil (i.e. Scotland Yard, NY Chase, Buffy  the Vampire Slayer, LOTR, etc) but added a few new twists.  As the game has not yet been officially released, I don’t know if I can give any more details, so I won’t until I make sure that it’s kosher.
But, a good time was had by all, and I think that we were all interested enough to try it again.  I definitely think this would be a good buy to introduce TGOO to younger kids.  Also note that like Scotland Yard or NY Chase, though the rules say that the game is for 2-4, it is really a two-player game at heart (i.e. good kids vs evil baddie) – like Scotland Yard, the good players have to confer and decide as a group what is best for them to succeed.

Report by Dale Y - top

December 7th, 2002
special session hosted by Scott & Cheryl T.

Gamers in attendance: Scott & Cheryl T, Ted C, Dale Y, Luke H, John P, Andy, Mike R, Scott B

Games played: Essels Rennen, Blooming Gardens (x2), Fette Autos, Crokinole, Where There's a Will, Fishce Fluppen Frikadellen, Crazy Race, Cannes, Mogul, Keythedral

A special session as our buddy Ted Cheatham came for a visit.  Click on the games above to see Dale Y's reports at the Boardgame Geek.

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December 6th, 2002
monthly session hosted by Dave & Jina E.

Gamers in attendance: Dave & Jina E, Andi, Dale Y, Scott B, Matt G, Jeff F, Steve, Rhonda & David P, Matt H, John P, John Mc

Here is the long-awaited summary from our session Friday, December 6th.  I'll apologize in advance if I messed anything up.  Thanks, again, to everyone for coming.  We had a great turnout and had lots of fun.

Game:  TransAmerica 
Order of Finish:  Dave E, Andi, Dale, Scott B, Matt G
Synopsis:  See Dale's review on boardgamegeek.com

Game:  Sopwith
Order of Finish:  Axis (Dave E & Jeff) beat Allies (Jina, Matt G, Steve)
Synopsis:  Although outnumbered 3-2, Jeff and Dave E used their slightly beefed-up aircraft to honor Der Fuehrer by meticulously shooting down the pesky Allies with hardly a scratch to their own planes.

Game:  Carcassonne
Order of Finish:  Scott B, Andi, Rhonda, Matt G
Synopsis:  (Since I didn't participate, can someone else provide?)

Game:  Mogul
Order of Finish:  Steve, Matt H, John P, David P, John M
Synopsis:  (Since I didn't participate, can someone else provide?)

Game:  Foosball (2 games)
Order of Finish:  Dave E, Dale
Synopsis:  Dale pushed Dave E to the limit in game #1, jumping out to an early lead yet eventually succumbing to Dave E's comeback and one-point win.  Dale's exhaustion from game #1 made game #2 a bit more lopsided, with Dave E winning by 4 points.  No swearing was heard or recorded...

Game:  Fische Fluppen Frikadellen
Order of Finish:  Matt H, Dale, John P, Andi
Synopsis:  See Dale's post on boardgamegeek.com

Game:  Risk:  The Lord of the Rings
Order of Finish:  John M, Scott B, David P, Rhonda
Synopsis:  (Since I didn't participate, can someone else provide?) I know the forces of good won - jp.

Game:  Titan, The Arena
Order of Finish:  Steve, Jina, Dave E, Matt G, Jeff
Synopsis:  In a well-fought game, Steve managed to win all of his wagers to edge out Jina for the win.

Game: Zooism
Order of Finish:  Dale, Andi, Matt H, John P
Synopsis:  See Dale's post on boardgamegeek.com

Game:  Fische Fluppen Frikadellen
Order of Finish:  Dave E, Dale, John P, Scott B, Jeff
Synopsis:  See Dale's post on boardgamegeek.com...with one correction:  John P could have delayed Dave E's 3rd fetish by moving a raft--not buying a commodity off him (that's how I stopped Dave earlier in the game from winning - jp).  The delay would have made a tight race between Dave E and Dale even tighter...but John P decided to improve his own position rather than have a direct impact on determining the winner.)

Reports by Dave E and Dale Y, comments by JP - top

November 30th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Dale Y.

Gamers in attendance: Dale Y, Luke H, John Mc, Matt H, John P, Brian Y, Andy, Mike R

Games played:  Goldland, Fishce Fluppen Frikadellen, Trias
An impromptu session since Brian was in town for the holidays.  The Adam Spielt order had arrived so we got to play FFF on two boards.

Report by - top

November 14th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Matt H.

Gamers in attendance: Dale Y, Luke H, Matt H, John P

Four of us got together to take Keythedral and Cannes for another spin.

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November 8th, 2002
monthly session hosted by Scott & Cheryl

Gamers in attendance: Scott T, Cheryl, Dale Y, Luke H, John Mc, Matt H, John P, Scott B, Debbie, Dave E, Gina

Games played:  Acquire, Morisi, Wallenstien (partial), Titan: The Arena (partial), Traders of Genoa, Diceland (Deep White Sea), San Marco, Evo, Wognar, Kohle Kies & Knete, Villa Paletti

Report by - top

November 1st, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Dale Y.

Gamers in attendance: Dale Y, Luke H, John Mc, Matt H, John P

This session report is from a special session proposed to get some of the meatier four and five player games out onto the table.  The date was set at the last meeting and the games were chosen.  Rules were even distributed ahead of time!  (But it didn't seem to help as I don't think we really read them ahead of time...)

1. Kahuna

Luke got to the house early, so we picked out a quick 2 player game to pass the time.  Luke wanted to try Kahuna, so we ran thru the rules and started to take control of the twelve islands.  The game is pretty simple; there are 12 islands on the board, and there are cards that have the names of the islands on them.   On your turn, you can play up to five cards, each of which allows you to place a bridge from the island named on the card.  When you’re done with playing cards, you get to draw one card to replenish your hand (from any of three face up cards or from the facedown deck).  If you control a majority of the bridges to an island, you get to place a power marker down on the island and as a bonus, you get to remove all of your opponents bridges from that island when you take control of it.  If at anytime you lose control of the majority of the island, your power marker is removed from the island.  Due to the interlocking nature of the islands, control of an island may be lost when one player takes control of one island and causes bridges to be removed.  You can also remove a bridge from the board by playing two cards with the names of the islands involved.  Early on, I tried to control the center of the board, and was able to take control of the three central islands early on in the first round.  However, I fell prey to losing bridges as Luke took control of the islands on the periphery.  Slowly but surely, he killed me.  The key moment was when Luke was able to remove one of my bridges on a central island and then placed his own bridge in the same place to take control of the island.  Once I lost all of my bridges from that island, I was screwed.  Luke won the game 10 to nothing.  Ouch.  I rate it 7/10, Luke 8/10.

2. Cannes

The two Johns strolled in one after another, and we were set for Cannes.  This new release from Splotter had just arrived in John P’s hands recently, and he was anxious to play it.  We were going to play it the Friday previous, but had to shelve it when six people showed up.  Based on the rules, it seemed like it would be Roads&Boats light, and after playing it, I think this is true! 
The game is a hexed based game like R&B and is centered on production.  There are primary production units (people, beer and computer chips).  These can be used or combined to form things such as movie stars, computers and scripts.  Some of these secondary items can then be combined to make other things like Special effects.  Finally, all sorts of things are then combined to form one of Three types of movies: girlie, action or sci-fi.  In the end, the winner is the person who creates the movies that generate the highest box office total.  Returns for movies start at 13 million, but decrease by 1 million for each movie of that type produced in the game.  (The first action film earns 13M, the 2nd earns 12M, the 3rd earns 11M, etc) – though the returns can be increased by bribing critics with beer.  On your turn, you get three tiles to look at – then you have a choice, either place one tile and arrange your network or you can place two tiles and leave your network alone.  The board is built around Cannes tiles that are in the center of the board.  The tiles played during the game either produce goods or allow you to take already made goods and convert them to other things or movies, (Really just like Roads and Boats) or there are the Party tiles.  The Party tiles are really there to help extend your network.  Your network consists of 5 wooden rods – these rods must be placed in “contiguous” hexes to represent your networking in Cannes to help you make movies.  You are only able to produce goods or convert goods in hexes that your network touches.   The purpose of the Party is that as it grows larger and larger by having more hexes added to it, it acts as one large meta-hex.  As long as you in the Party, you can enter and leave it anywhere the invitations are.  This allows your network to get all across the board to different areas while limited to only five rods.  There is also the “Old Boys” network which is a network able to be used by all players.  As long as your network touches the Old Boys network somewhere, you are able to use all of the hexes that the Old Boys network are in as well as those for your own network.  Since you are limited to only five network pieces, you cannot be in all the places you want to be all the time.  Your network has to be very flexible – you might extend to the edge of the table on one turn to generate a movie star for instance, but then morph your network somewhere else to turn the movie star into a girlie film.  Then in order to sell your movie, your network has to be in contact with the central Cannes tile.  Each turn you are allowed to move only two of your rods, and your network must remain intact at all times.  I found this restriction of your network to be one of the best parts of the game.  There were always difficult choices to be made as far as the direction your network should take as well as knowing that if you moved, one of your opponents could then occupy the areas that you just left!  Further limiting your actions is the inventory limit of 5 objects from one turn to another.  This causes you to have to plan a turn or two in advance to be able to have all the supplies to convert into other supplies and eventually into movies.

The game moved along quickly once we figured out the rules.  In many ways, the game seemed like simultaneous solitaire as there were little interactions between the players other than an occasional rod placed to specifically  thwart another player from getting directly to a tile that he needed to be at.  However, one reason for this may be that the Old Boys network never appeared as a factor in our game.  The golf course tiles which gives you the ability to place an Old Boys network piece kept on being placed back into the draw pile I think that they didn’t make it out until the last 10 tiles total in the game!   John P figured out the game the quickest (and was the luckiest with the early tiles) and was able to get his network setup to quickly produce two sci-fi films and sell them in Cannes.  Luke and John M saw this plan, and when John P left the loop to get his network to Cannes, they swooped into the area and made sci-fi movies of their own.  I, on the other hand, concentrated on movie stars, hoping to make girlie films – of course the catch to this plan was that the tile that made girlie films out of movie stars and scripts was still not on the board.  Luckily for me, I drew that tile and placed it off to the side of the party where I was the only one able to get at it.  I then used my stockpile of movie stars to make 4 girlie films and sold them off at Cannes for the win.  As I kept the girlie movie production tile busy until near the end, no one else was able to make any of those movies.  Final scores were: Me 48, John P 26, Luke 24, John M 23.  (I made 4 movies and everyone else only made 2).

The game seemed to end too quickly.  Just as the interesting networks were being established and people were able to start making movies, the game ended.  Now this may have been aberrant given we didn’t have the advantage of Old Boys networks to link into early on, but this could be a potential problem. (Especially as the rules state that use of the Old Boys network will hasten the end of the game! - jp) Also, the starting values of the movies seemed too high for the low number of movies made in our game.  With the starting value set at 13 and the max set at 15 – there was little opportunity for bribing critics with beers to raise the movie value.  It was suggested by a number of us that it might be better to start movies at 8 or 9 – that way, there is still room to go down, but there is also plenty of room to go up.  This would also add more strategy to the bribing, because there could be much more advantage given to the opponents if one person was over-zealous on the beer.  Also, we muddled thru the first half of the game trying to do all the production machinations in our head – it proved to be much easier to give each player all the primary production items that he would make that turn and then let him convert them as he was able and then just made sure that there were no more than 5 items left at the end of the turn. 

But, that being said, it was still quite a fun game.  Everyone seemed to like the game, and we were all in agreement that the game ended too soon.  Ratings were from 6 to 8 out of 10.  Personally, I thought it was an 8/10.  And like everyone else in the group – I’m looking forward to trying this one again soon to experiment more with the mechanisms and the strategy.  You do get the feel of Roads and Boats but in a much more manageable 60 min time frame.

3. Keythedral

After Cannes, the group quickly turned to Keythedral – the other game that the group had convened specifically to play.  The new release from Richard Breese had just come in the mail the week before.  Luckily, the board was one piece, unlike that in Keywood, and there were no anxious moments trying to figure out how to keep the board in pristine shape while stored in the box.  To win the game, you have to buy the most valuable seats in the Keythedral.  To do this, you buy them with commodities and craft cubes (think resources from Settlers).  In order to produce these cubes, you harvest them from fields in a way sort of similar to Settlers also.  The board is modular and different each game.  The fields (5 different types) are octagonal in shape leaving squares as holes between them when placed in a lattice.  Player’s cottages are placed in these squares, and the cottages are numbered from 1 to 5.  The board is created as each player places one field and one cottage until all have been placed on the table.  Then in the production phases of the game, you place workers from these cottages onto adjacent fields to make the corresponding cube.  These cubes can be used to buy the seats in Keythedral or do all sorts of other things like place fences, buy craft cubes (needed for higher valued seats) or to buy law cards – these cards give special abilities/penalties such as changing the price of a seat in the Keythedral, raising or lowering cube production or changing turn order.  (Sort of like the action cards in Torres)

As far as the game went, it moved along smoothly.  The first playing of the game showed some flaws to initial field and cottage placement, but c’est la vie.  Note to self – don’t place one of your initial cottages on the periphery of the board, everyone else will just build the kingdom in the opposite direction and strand that cottage.  I think you’d like to maximize the production potential of your cottages by having them surrounded by 4 producing fields, not just two.  Another note – make sure you read the inside edges of the box bottom before you play the game as there were many helpful hints (such as the cottage placement noted above) which are all over the inside cover! :-)  (You'll also find a history of R&D games there too - jp)

In the first round, everyone made oodles of cubes and promptly used them to buy the Keythedral seats (as none of the 1st round seats needed any craft cubes).  The people who didn’t but seats used their cubes to convert their cottages into houses (which double production akin to cities in Settlers).  The rest of the game, most people just concentrated on getting cubes and buying seats.  Very few fences were placed.  People did buy most of the law cards and they had varying levels of effectiveness – this was much like Evo where some cards were almost game breakers and some were completely useless.  The game ended before any of us were ready though – in 6 turns.  This was quicker than we thought because the rules state that it should take 8 to 9 turns on average.  Our quick end seems to jive with other reports I’ve read here on the ‘Net. 

The game has a lot of good ideas, but it seems to end to soon to take advantage of them.  If the game were longer (either more seats to buy or make the seats more expensive) – I think that the game would be much better.  It seemed like it was too easy to buy one.  Even the higher level seats (level 4 and 5) which needed craft cubes to buy them, were not hard to obtain – often they could be purchased with just one turn’s cube haul (this assumes that you were able to convert many of your cottages to houses).  The craft cubes are a good idea, but there are just not enough of them.  It was easier to just think of the craft cubes as just meaning 2, 3, or 4 extra cubes of any type added to the cost of the Keythedral seat.  Ways to change this feeling might be to add one or two more cubes to the cost of the seats, scrap the rule allowing you to trade production cube types forcing players to produce the specific types of cubes during the production phase.  One other suggestion might be to simply add one or two more seats to each level of the Keythedral to prolong the game length in that way.

I like the game, and I think it’s the best of all the Key-games, having played all of them at least once.  Keywood would be a close second.  John P won this 12-10-10-9-5.  Everyone rated in 8/10 and also wants to play this one again soon.  I’ll try to modify the board to allow for more seats in the Keythedral and see if this improves play any or at least makes the game play more satisfying by making the game a tad bit longer.

4. El Grande

I’m sure we’ve all played this before, so there is no need to belabor the mechanisms.  John M wanted to play this one because he had emailed all of us the week before stating he “wanted to play a game where colored cubes battle with each other for control”.  Surely he wanted to play El Grande!  Actually, he’d never played it before which was one other reason we thought we had to get it out.  The game went along predictably until about 75% of the way thru when John P misread the rulebook concerning the interpretation of one of the II column cards – the one which forces each player to choose one region and remove all his caballeros from it.  Going by pictures alone, John P read everyone the description of the next card in the rules – the one which stated you had to have at least –two- caballeros in the region you chose.  This caused myself, John M and John P to remove all our pieces from regions we didn’t have to.(It was an honest mistake - really it was.  You can tell by my final score. jp)  I don’t know about everyone else, but I ended up losing six more caballeros (And first place in a region) due to this misconstrued card.  As such, I’m not sure how much this affected the results other than it screwed me over royally.  As we kept playing, something didn’t seem right when we drew a card from the 2 stack that sounded just like the card we had just looked up the rule for.  Only then did we realize that we had used the wrong rule for the first card.  Oops.  The game ended soon after with Matt H far in the lead.  Matt 107, Luke 85, John M 81, Me 74, John P 65.  We chose not to rate this given the rules butchering we had given the game.

5. Titicaca

Finally, with all of us too tired to start another game, we chose an “easy” one in Titicaca.  Ha Ha – wrong.  It took about 10 minutes to go over the differences between a neighboring and an adjacent country, and at which times you could join some countries and not others.  The board was randomly set up with both the 5 and 10 lakes off in one corner of the board. (Lake 1 was also nearby and I think that's what really determined the outcome. - jp)  They actually shared one land hex between them, and only had three total hexes otherwise bordering them.  The game started expensively (I was the only one who had played before) as everyone was bidding high not knowing any relative values for the closed fist auctions.  Though I felt I was going to be in a good place by waiting, it never materialized.  I was able to win many of the later auctions, but never in the places I wanted my houses to go!  John P was able to get a stronghold in the country which would eventually border lake number 5.  He had the lead in 3 of the 5 land types as well as the most houses overall in that country (and started a long row of contiguous houses).  He used this to take a huge advantage after the first scoring and get oodles of weapons for bidding later in the game.  Since one of these hexes also bordered lake 10, he used this to take an even huger advantage after the second scoring.  The endgame came all too quick in this one (like it usually does) – you think that after the second scoring round that you are 2/3 of the way thru the game, when in actuality you are about 90% thru the game because many of the lakes 11-15 already have all of their hexes occupied.  In our game, we only had one auction – for lake 15 – after the lake 10 scoring.  Needless to say, John P ran away with the victory.  John P 132, Luke 98, Matt 88, Me 74.  I’ve only played this four times now, but this is the first I can remember where one person got ahead after the first scoring and had it snowball to the point where no one else could catch him.  That one country allowed him to both score points when the rest of us couldn’t in the interim scorings, and the fact that his houses there were part of a line of houses gave him an almost insurmountable amount of weapons to allow him to place houses wherever he wanted in the later auctions.  This was probably due to the fact that the hour was late, many of us were newbies, and that I was holding back trying to win more late auctions.  What happened was that the three of us let John win critical auctions later, which buried us in the end.  An impressive victory to close the night.  Ratings: John 7/10, Me 5/10, Luke 4/10, Matt 4/10.

Report by Dale Yu (editorializing by John P) - top

October 25th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Dale Y.

In attendance: Dale Y, Luke H, John P, John Mc, Trish Mc, Angela

Games chosen for their playability with six… At this rate, I’ll never get to play Kings and Castles, Cannes, or VOC! – all of which I want to try, but the numbers just haven’t been right.

On the table: 

1. Loopin’ Louie
2. Loopin’ Louie

OK, so you’ve all seen this before.  The moral of this story is that you never want to be one of the last two players when the other player is directly behind you.  You’re screwed six ways from Sunday and can’t do anything about it.  Luke wins the first one, then John P.  Rated 10/10 because I like kids games.  (If you haven’t done it yet, sign up for “Kinderspielfrieks” on Yahoo! Groups, our new spin-off group for discussion of all things kids games – I expect a spike in traffic soon as Christmas/Hanukkah approaches and then discussion of new games as the presents are opened)

3. Ein Arsch Kommt Selten Allein

Got this one on a lark on my last Boulder Games order.  It helped that Jim threw it in for like 3 bucks or something.  Anyways, I was intrigued by Stephen Glenn’s previous remark that it was a deck full of cards with pictures of asses on them.  What could be better?  Well, a lot of things it turns out – including being knocked out of Diplomacy in the first year of the game at someone’s house whose cable is out, no beer in the fridge and the air conditioner is on the fritz too…  I’d describe the game, but for lack of willpower, I won’t.  Suffice it to say I think it stinks.  The first hand lasted about 4 rounds (2-3 minutes) and it seemed like an OK filler, then the next hand was so long we nearly threw in the cards.  Bleech. 1/10 (only because of the G-string tan lines on the “hot” ass)

4. Metro

A great tile laying game from Dirk Henn.  I must say I like this version better than Iron Horse for two reasons.  1) I own this one, 2) the mass produced tiles in this case overwhelm the natural charm of the homemade db spiele tiles.  This turned out to be a rather cut-throat game of Metro, as it seemed like most people were playing tiles to shorten other player’s lines rather than extending their own.  As we had three players new to Metro, we played with the original rules that force you to keep all the tiles in the same orientation.  Luke H won largely due to a huge convoluted line that ended in the center (scored 32 or 36).  Rated 6/10 with these rules – it’s a 8/10 game with our house rules which do not force tiles into a particular orientation and add a quick (30 sec) timer to your turn.  This forces quick play and the time pressure makes the game more tense as you are not able to look at all options for the “optimal” play!

5. Payoff

Just like last week, my lack of intuition and skill proves to be my downfall.  Luke H in a landslide (And the red marble to boot). Rated 5/10 (and going down!) mainly because I’m still pissed that I neither own the game nor am able to play it well.

6. Royal Turf

Still on the six player pick, I went to the basement and emerged with Royal Turf.  John M wanted to play a horse game so it was either this or Jockey (Ravensburger).  After a quick rules review, the horses were off.  As it seems to happen in every game I play, Earl Grey is shunned by all the punters except one.  That poor sap was John P and his horse got killed.  It may not have even made it across the start line before the winner won the race.  The rest of the game was really uneventful except for the third round when Trish and I were the sole backers of Caramello.  Of course, she had her 0 tile on it, and I got completely hosed.  Caramello didn’t make it past the start line before the winner came it.  Ouch.  John M proved to be the best better of them all.  Rated 5/10.  After maybe 10 plays, I’m still not sure if I like this one or not.  At times it seems like this is six player solitare because there is not much interaction between players at times (or maybe it was just the group we were playing with).

7. KK&K

After the last two games, the mood was right for KK&K.  After explaining the rules (carefully with when you can use Stop cards) – we were bargaining and dealing fools.  This group was definitely into the “everyone draws cards until we’re up to 12 and then let Armageddon occur”.  Wow.  For the first deal (total 8M) – we probably used half the deck.  And we were so into screwing each other over, no one sand bagged with their cards to try to take an easy one right afterwards while everyone else was drawing.  You know, there’s nothing better than someone killing a deal for no other reason that to spite the Boss.  Even better were the vicious interplay between the husband/wife team of John Mc and Trish.  Having players so close to each other personally always adds that meta-game in of deals occurring with payoffs (or penalties) outside of the game!  As usual, the table perceived one person (incorrectly) to be in the lead while the real leader continued to slowly but surely extend away from the rest.  When the dealing was done (after the 11th deal!), John M was in the lead.  I was only 2M behind, and had actually stayed out of the bargaining on the 11th (and final) deal, hoping to get an “easy” part of the next deal.  However, as usual, the game ended on a “1” roll and I was S.O.L again.  Still a classic game, and one of my favorites.  Rated 9/10 – especially with the group with which it was played.  I’m very glad that I have managed to acquire a copy of this game, but frankly, if I didn’t, I don’t know if I would be willing to pay the amounts which the current market bears for this one… (Same goes for Big Boss and McMulti – though I have those as well – I managed to trade for these with games I was less fond of).

8. Don

As we tried to settle down from the excitement of KK&K, Luke called for an auction game.  As Don was close by, we took it out for a quick spin.  I tried a strategy that I have seen work in the last few games that I have played – namely, try to win one of the first two auctions and then simply wait out the auctions with cards of the same color and do your utmost to win those and only those cards.  I thought I was doomed from the start, having to pay 11 chips for a blue 9 and orange 3 in the second auction.  Down to one chip, I actually was out of the bidding for the next four to five auctions.  Luckily, in those draws, only 3 blue and orange cards came up.  Also, I did manage to collect a solo 9 chip buy and split a 13.  The cards then fell in my favor and I managed to pick up 3 more blue cards and 2 more orange cards through the rest of the game.  I won in a runaway as no one else was able to manage more than a 3-of-a-kind.  Rated 7/10.  It gets this higher rating more for the speed with which you can finish the game than the game play.  There’s not much game here, but it only took 20 minutes, so that’s OK with me.

9. Sticheln

Finally, to close out the night, we took out the intriguing game Sticheln (translated “Prick” in my rules…).  This is a very interesting trick taking game of 6 suits from 1-15.  The object is to have the most points.  You simply score 1 point for each card that you win in tricks.  Well, actually, it’s more complicated than that.  At the start of each hand, you have to choose one of your cards as your “misery” color.  During the rest of that hand, each card that you “win” in this color will actually cause you to lose the face value of that card.  (You also lose the value of your misery card as well!).  To make the game more confusing, there is a very different concept of trump than from conventional card games.  As in most games, a trump card will win over non-trump cards.  However, in Sticheln, every suit except for the suit initially led is trump.  This leads to some interesting card plays.  About the only thing you can count on is that the person who leads the trick will not win the trick because every card in the 5 other suits is trump!  The game becomes a tight balance of trying to win as many tricks as possible, as each card won is worth +1 point; though, each trick you win increases your chance that someone will play a card of your misery suit on you causing you to lose the value of that card (from 1 to 15 points).  I think the toughest choice of the game is trying to choose what suit to call as your misery suit – do you choose a suit that you have a lot of high cards in so that you know where they are (and then try to slough them off if possible) or do you choose a suit that you have few cards in or only low cards in?  After a few plays of this game, I can definitely say I don’t know.  I just go with what seems best on initial glance at the deal and choose something.  In our game, the six of us fumbled around for the first two hands as really no one could get a grip on a good strategy to win cards they wanted without taking misery cards.  As a result, the game was quite slow from the start – everyone played defensively and scores were very low after the first two rounds.  The game then got more intense as a few players (John P and Angela) took whopping negative hands.  This caused them to play more aggressively to try to take as many tricks as possible to get more positive points.  We had decided early on to play six hands (one deal for each player) and there was not enough time for those behind to catch Luke.  Luke managed to win by never taking a negative score in the six hands.  Rated 7/10 – lower rating mainly because this game can get a little frustrating if some players are not playing “optimally” – very similar to Tichu which can be really excruciating and unfulfilling if one of the players is unable to pick up the subtle nuances of card play and timing needed to play well.

As it was 1:00 AM now and I had to work the next day, I kicked everyone out.
Report by Dale Yu - top

October 18th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Dale Y.

Games Played Recently (loosely used term here)

My brother was in town from LA and this provided an excellent excuse for an impromptu Friday afternoon meeting.  Not many could make it due to the strange time (and the numerous employment obligations of our members).

In Attendance:  Dale Yu (called in sick)
                  Brian Yu (visiting from out of town)
                  Scott Tullis (only had to be Mr. Mom in the afternoon)
                  Luke Hedgren (skipping class!)
                  Paul Elfers (good thing EBay lets you work from home…)
                  Ed Jones (happily retired)

On the table were a number of older games – chosen because either my brother hadn’t played them before or because the group just hadn’t played them in awhile and this seemed like a good chance to get them to the table.  Most of our usual meetings are dominated by the newer games because they’re “sexier”.
 

1. Heimlich & Co.

Brian and I started off with this old Kramer design.  Admittedly, not the best game for only two players, but I think Brian is trying to get some new gaming ideas for a deductive game in the future.  After explaining the rules, we started rolling the die and moving the spies around.  For those who haven’t played before, the game has 7 “spies”, and each player is secretly one of the spies.  On your turn, you roll the dice and then move any spies you want around the board.  The spaces on the board are basically worth 1-10 points each and a 
–3 spot.  On one of these spaces is the secret briefcase.  Scoring is triggered anytime any one of the seven spies lands on the briefcase.  When this happens, each spy scores the points that correspond to the number of the space that the spy is currently on.   After the scoring, the player who triggered the scoring then moves the briefcase to any currently empty space on the board.  Rinse, lather, and repeat until someone scores 42 points (or some obscure total as such – it’s basically once around the scoreboard which encircles the board).  I don’t think we were really warmed up for gaming yet, as we pretty much knew who each other was by the middle point of the game based on how we were scoring the spies.  Either we’re extremely deductive or we’re too cut-throat and got too much enjoyment out of screwing the other guy out of points.  With two, it would likely be better if each player had 2 spies (and thus 3 neutrals) and the winner would be the one with the most points total.  A quick play nonetheless clocking in under 20 minutes.  Rated 5/10 with rules as played. 

2. Schotten Totten

Then, waiting for more players to come around, we pulled out Schotten Totten.  Brian wanted a quick card game and was intrigued by the idea that a rethemeing or renaming of a game could generate more sales (i.e. Heimlich & Co = Spies Inc. and Shotten Totten = Battle Line).  This is a little territorial game based on 3-card poker hands.  The game is set up as a line of 9 battles (Thematically between two warring Scottish tribes).  The deck is made up of 6 (I think) suits of cards numbered from 1 to 9.  Each turn, you get to play one card face up on any of the nine battles.  Each battle is taken separately and is resolved once there are 3 cards on each side of the battle or when one player can guarantee that his opponent could NOT play any cards to change the outcome of the battle.  The rank of the hands are: straight flush, 3 of a kind, flush, straight, high card.  The game continues until someone wins 5 battles or 3 battles that are contiguous to each other on the board.  The game started evenly as each brother won two battles early on.  However, the end came quickly for Brian as he didn’t really realize when battles would end early.  Dale went on to win 4 battles to 2 (3 of the wins were in a row on the board).  Rated 7/10.

3. Timbuktu

Scott Tullis arrived and brought with him an old db spiele classic, Timbuktu.  Though still not fully caffinated, Brian’s desire to play more deductive games brought this one out to the table.  This one is a true brain-burner!  OK, so it doesn’t have two names, but it came up after a discussion of Dirk Henn games (Iron Horse = Metro).  In short, each player is a desert trader with a boatload of camels (6 camels with 3 players).  Each camel is able to carry 4 trade items (out of 5 different types).  Thus loaded, the camels set out to cross the desert – represented by three boards.  The catch is, as the camels cross the desert, there are thieves that hide at 5 certain spots on each board and steal certain commodities from whatever hapless camel lands there.  At the start of each round, you know the location of one of these thieves and what they are going to steal.  As the round continues, this information will be passed around the board so that by the end of the round, each player will know the info of 3 of the 5 thieves.  Confused yet?  Anyways, you move all the camels and then resolve the thievery.  Then repeat this two more times, depleting many of the camels cargo.  Then, the scoring is another matter in itself.  You score points for each good you have left.  The value of each commodity is equal to the number of goods of that commodity that were stolen earlier in the game.  Phew.   When we started, we had a full coffeepot and no one was complaining of a headache.  Soon into the first round, we found that as usual we couldn’t even remember where the thieves were hidden when we had that information in our hand just a few seconds ago!  All of us managed to escape the first round in pretty good shape.  Then, in the second round, we all took perilous nosedives.  Scott T and Brian both landed on thieves that stole 3 (or 4!) of the goods from their camels.  Luckily for them, they both landed on thieves that they did not ever get to see the information for. Dale, on the other hand, just simply forgot where the bad thieves were and plunked a camel on a thief that wiped out an entire camel.  Thanks for playing.  The third round was pretty quiet since we each had a few camels with almost no goods on them.  As such, these quickly went onto the thief spaces so the theives couldn’t do much damage.  When the dust settled, Brian eked out a close victory.  Brian 153, Scott 151, Dale 142.  Rated 6/10.  Would be higher if I didn’t get a headache from it, or if I didn’t suck so bad at it.

4. Reibach & Co.

Having received a phone call from Luke announcing to us that he had just woken up and would be at the house shortly, we chose a quick card game to pass the time.  Brian had never played Reibach and Co. and wanted to find out what it was all about.  It also kept to our previous theme (Reibach and Co = Get the Goods).  This game is a set collecting game at its heart with the novelty of the Wertung scoring system.  This system, oft used by Alan Moon, involves a number of Wertung cards added to the deck.  In Reibach and Co., scoring is triggered by the 4th, 7th, and 10th Wertung card appearance.  The effect of this system is that you never really know when the scoring is going to happen leading to some deliciously tense play choices as scoring nears.  Also, you never really know when the end of the game will be since the game ends with the 10th Wertung card and not with the last card in the deck.  In short, in Reibach, you try to have the most control of 10 industries (by playing the most cards in that industry).  Each turn, you have 3 actions where you can play cards to the table or draw from among 3 face up cards (2 actions to draw face down cards).  When the scoring comes around, 3 million bucks to whomever has the most in each suit and 1 million to second place.  The scores can be doubled by playing Risk cards to each suit – these double all payoffs but prohibit any more cards from being
played to that suit by the player.  Also, at the end, you lose 1 million bucks for each card left in your hand.  The game went quickly as each player started by choosing 2 or 3 industries that they had initial monopolies in.  This was one of the nicest games of Reibach played because we didn’t really go for other players to break monopolies up.  Scores at first scoring were: Dale 8, Brian 8, Scott 4.  The second round was quite short as Wertung cards 5-7 were fairly close together near the top of the deck.  Dale took advantage of this by being lucky enough to draw some X2 Risk cards and be able to play them while we were not attacking his monopolies.  At the next score:  Dale 26, Scott 22, Brian 20.  Knowing we likely had a longer battle left before the final scoring, the game devolved into the usual Reibach pattern of cat-and-mouse battles for position.  The game ended with about 10 cards left in the deck.  Final scores: Dale 44, Brian 40, Scott 37.  Rated 7/10 – would be higher if played with more players.   There isn’t enough interaction or tension with only three players as our first two rounds showed.

5. World Cup Tournament Football Game

Time to play my newest acquisition, the “World Cup Tournament Football” Game – straight from Austrailia.  Though now woefully out of date given the World Cup’s new format of 32 teams, it’s still a fun and chaotic romp thru a soccer tournament.  In this game, each player takes control of a number of Football (Soccer for us Yanks) sides (teams for us yanks) and plays thru the world cup tournament.  Each side has a baseline value in goals and penalty kicks which handicaps the sides from the start.  Teams were chosen from the ’90 Italia lineup and placed into their groups.  If you want to play a historical game with this game, I would suggest the ’86 or ’90 World Cups as the team ratings are most similar to the actual abilities at that time in history.  Conveniently, the game does offer both entrants and results for every world cup in modern history up to ’90.  We chose an open tournament where the 24 teams are laid out and each player in turn was allowed to draft whatever team he wanted.  Once the teams were chosen, game play starts.  On each turn, each player plays 2 cards: one to the group phase on the board and one to the knockout stage of the board. (To those not familiar with the World Cup, the initial stage of the tournament involved six separate round robins of four teams in the “group phase” from which 16 teams emerged to play in a traditional one-and-out format in the “knockout phase”).   I know this sounds complicated, but it’s nowhere near as byzantine as the current UEFA Champions League / UEFA Cup schedule, the Aussie Rules Football Finals schedule, or some of the qualification processes involved in just getting to the World Cup where things such as “the 9th best 2nd place team from Europe will have a playoff with the 5th best team from Asia to have the right to play the best team from Oceania (always Australia) for one stinking spot in the World Cup”.

Anyways, back to the game… Each card played has a number for goals and a number for penalty kicks.  Once there are 3 cards played for each group match (which will still leave many cards to be played in the knockout phase), the games are resolved.  Each team adds the goals on their cards to the goals that they started with and then the winners move on.  Then, having only the knockout games to finish, each player plays one card at a time until each match there has 3 cards on each side.  The true subtlety of this game comes in the playing of cards in the second phase.  You have to anticipate where you think your teams will advance into the knockout tournament so you can play good cards on the spaces you think your teams will be (or bad cards on the spaces where their opponents will be!)  This strategy can easily backfire on you though, if the team you expected to come out of the group in first place does not (or if a behemoth like Germany ends up being one of the 3rd place teams that advances!) 
Then, the cards are revealed and the teams progress thru until a winner is had.   Each level of the World Cup has a point value (10 for winning, 8 for runner up… 1 for making it into the knockout phase), and the overall winner is whomever had the most points at the end in total for all 5 of their teams.  We did use the handicapping variant where each player subtracts the number of baseline goals for their teams from their scoring total in order to equalize for the stronger teams having a better chance of advancing.   At the end of this one: Luke won with 7 pts, Dale and Brian tied for second with 6, Paul had 3 points, and Scott inexplicably had –1 points.  I still love this game, but I think that most everyone else thought it sucked.  My joy in this game probably stems from my love of soccer (which no one else around here seems to share!).  Rated 9/10 for me.  Someday I’m going to have to make or edit the board to allow for the new 32 team format of the World Cup.  I’ll also probably have to edit some of the ratings (USA is 0/2! Nigeria is 0/1!) and update the kits (uniforms to us yanks) on the little team chits.  I’ll also probably make a Pierluigi Collina referee chit – though it will have nothing to do with the game play, it would look really neat to stand by the table.  If someone else has already done any of this, please let me know because my free time is short and my artistic abilities are beyond poor.

6. Payoff
7. Payoff

This is a little Ideal game from the mid 70s that Luke picked up at _my_ thrift store.  (There used to be one great thrift store in the center of town where I’d go to get some good buys about once a month.  Among my successes here are a complete 1962 3M Acquire, a bulk lot of 10 3M/AH bookshelf games for 5 bucks, Fortress America for a buck, the Original Castle Risk in mint condition, etc.  Anyways, I made the mistake of mentioning it once in the game group and now I’m always beaten to the good stuff by either Luke or Ed… Not that I’m sore about it or anything! Just so, that’s how I missed out on this “gem” – I use the term quite loosely!)  This game consists of a bunch of marbles (white worth 1 pt, black worth 5 pt and red worth 10 pt) and a mechanical tower made up of 6 interlocking plastic levels.  Each level has some randomly placed holes.  Each level can twist clockwise or counterclockwise thus creating many possible paths for the marbles to take from top to bottom.  So in this “game of judgment and intuition”, each player starts with 10 points worth of marbles.  The excess marbles are then dumped in the top of the column – with the one red 10 pt marble going in last.  Then, each player takes turns consisting of depositing any number of marbles in the top and then twisting the columns a number of times equal to the points of marbles added in the top.  The player then keeps any marbles that tumble out of the column due to the twisting.  The winner is the first person to 25 points.  Not surprisingly, in the first game, Brian got the red marble and quickly went on to win.  In my experience, the red marble winner wins the game about 2/3 of the time.  Just to prove that point, the second game was won by Luke – who did not have the red marble.  As I won neither, it just goes to show you that I really have neither any judgment nor intuition.  Rated 7/10.  Not a bad buy for 95 cents, but would have been better if it were in my basement!

8. Inkognito

Scott had to go, so we moved on to Inkognito.  This game has been described many times before so I won’t get into this one.  The game ended up “broken”, as it often does, because of some inconsistencies in passing cards.  I had not made it clear in my rules explanation that you could pass one of your actual identity/aspect/mission cards as part of a card pass, nor did I fully explain that traditionally we allow the actual card to count as the “one true card” expected in each bundle of cards. Due to this, Luke made some erroneous assumptions about my identity that allowed my brother and I to walk away with the win when Luke wrongly thought he had won.  I’ve played this one about 7 times now and the majority of them have ended unsatisfactorily such as this game did.  (Similar to a game of Black Vienna gone bad because someone couldn’t
remember which 3 freakin’ cards they got at the beginning of the game!).  And the times that the cards have been played correctly, twice the game has ended in 10 minutes or less (much less time than the rules explanations cost) because of some extremely lucky questioning.  Rated 4/10 – but for some reason, I’m unwilling to trade it because I think the marble nun thing is so cool.

9. Evergreen

As Ed showed up, we had five people and the only game we hadn’t yet played that would handle five was Evergreen.  Why this game is so maligned still baffles me.  Each time that I play it, I find it enjoyable.  In this game each player tries to manipulate 6 different records and take advantage of their popularity to score points.  Cards (1-13 in 6 suits) are used to control the songs.  Each player is dealt 13 cards – these are the only cards that the player will get the entire game!  Each player chooses 3 cards to place face up and are revealed simultaneously.  The totals for each color are added up and whoever has the highest total in each color gets the scoring marker for that particular color (song). Each scoring marker starts a value of 5 and can increase as high as 12 (then back down to 5…).  Each time the marker changes hands (whenever someone new has the current highest total for that color), its value increases by one step.  On a players turn, which is time constrained by a sand timer, a player may play one to three cards – on either his own cards or on top of opponent’s cards.  Each player will have ONLY three cards in front of them – if a new card is played, it goes on top of the old card.  After playing cards, the player gets to choose if he wants to score or not.  Each player declares three scoring rounds during the course of the game (at his/her will) and there is a final scoring at the end of the game.  In addition, the player can name any one of his scorings to be double – but this has to be done when the scoring occurs, not in retrospect at the end of the game.  Scores are calculated by adding up the number on all of the scoring markers you have in front of you at that time.  The game moves quickly and ends in 30 minutes or so.  The game ends when all players are out of cards – this is quite variable because each player has the choice to play from one to three cards per round.  There is a definite advantage to having cards near the end to play.  Dale, Brian and Paul got out to early leads as they used their first scoring opportunity as their Gala (or doubled) score.  As the game moved on, Brian quickly found himself out of cards – he had played multiple cards each round and soon was out of them.  Though he was the leader after each player had elected to score three times, he was unable to play any more cards and lost all his scoring markers by the end of the game (thus scoring zero for his last score).  Ed, who was waiting for the perfect opportunity to double his score, ended up waiting too long and had to double a paltry 9 at the end of the game.  Luke ended up victorious in this one (not surprisingly, he also had 2 cards left to play at the end when the rest of us were all out).  Rated 9/10.  It’s quick and tense and fun.  I think that most complaints about there not being enough control in this game stem from people not taking enough advantage of playing cards onto other people.

10. Lowenherz

Finally, to end the day, we broke out the best game (and most often ignored) in the Teuber exploration trilogy, Lowenherz.  As I’m getting tired of typing, you’ll have to look somewhere else for a synopsis of game play.  For the game at hand, I was the only one who had played before, so after a detailed rules explanation – we quickly set off.  Early in the game, Luke set up shop in one corner and continued to expand one area greatly.  So quickly that the neighboring areas were not able to compete in knights to stop the outward flow of the area.  Ed took an expand slowly and draw lots of politics card strategy while Dale and Brian took up their usual “just try to screw the sibling over” strategy.  The game was pretty even for most of the first half (except that Luke was way ahead pointwise) – but the scores started to even out as the other players started to enclose in their own areas.  In the endgame, my previous experience prevailed as I was able to push into a few vital areas and take control of a number of towns on the board by the end of the game.  This coupled with my advantage in mines that I had held during the entire game pushed me over the top in the final scoring.

When I had first learned the game, I was taught incorrectly that the action cards (to decide which action to take) were all played face down simultaneously and then once revealed, conflicts were resolved.  After reading the rules for my previous play of Lowenherz, I found out the correct way – the starting player plays face up and so on around the table.  Having played each way a number of times, I’m not sure which is better.  I think that each version of choosing actions adds its own strategy and tension to the choice.  Anyways, rated 8/10 using the official rules. (Usually 9/10 when using my blind bidding variant).

Report  by Dale Yu  - top

October 4-6, 2002
Buckeye Gamefest III hosted by Columbus Area Boardgame Society (CABS)

Gamers in attendance: Luke H, John P, Jeff F, Ted C

Some of us journeyed north to Columbus for a weekend of gaming organized by CABS.  Luke and I were there all weekend and Jeff and Ted put in appearances.  Luke won the most games in the "Eurogames" category over the weekend.  Games we played included Vino, Puerto Rico, Funkenschlag, Acquire, Union Pacific, The Lord of the Rings Cardgame, Die Handler, the life boat game, Sant Fe Rails, China Town, Liar's Dice, For Sale.  There were also miniatures and wargames (CABS has a big wargame contingent) and an auction and raffle.   Prizes were donated by GMT and Rio Grande.

Report by John P - top

September 28th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Matt H.

Gamers in attendance: Matt H, Jenny, John P

Games played:
Dvonn - Matt beats Jenny
Volldampf - John P teaches this to Matt and Jenny and wins handily
Duche de Wuste - Matt wins Jenny's favorite game, followed by Jenny and John P
Carcassone - John P beats Matt in a tense two player battle that should have ended in a tie
Wyatt Earp - Matt out sherrifs John P and Jenny

Full report from Matt coming soon - JP - top

September 7th, 2002
monthly session hosted by John P.

Gamers in attendance: Mike, Dale, Luke, John P, John Mc, Scott & Cheryl, Matt G, Matt H, Jeff, Joe

The day began early with Dale, Luke, Mike and John P gathering for their first ever game of Roads and Boats.  Luke easily won as he was left alone for most of the game.  Dale and John P tried cooperating but Mike and Dale got into a distracting wall build/destroy competition.  Luke 360, Dale 210, John P 97, Mike 38.
After a break for dinner the rest of the crew arrived and here's what was played.
Mojo Jojo Attacks Townsville - Luke's mojo was workin' as Cheryl's Powerpuff Girls failed to save the day.
Puerto Rico - John P in a narrow victory over Matt G, Joe, Cheryl and Jeff.
Nautilus - Dale Cousteau bests Scott, Luke and Mike in undersea explorations.
Stephensons Rocket - John P and Scott tie over Cheryl and John Mc.
Twilight and Tichu were played by Mike, Luke, Dale and Matt H.  Beyond that I know nothing (insert your own snide remark here).
Samuri was played by Joe, Jeff and Matt G who won.
They followed it up with Ra which was won by Jeff who files this special report:

Initially Matt and I got into a battle for Pharoahs, and both of us had a significant number of Niles/Floods as well.  Joe was low man on Pharoahs, and shut out of technologies, so started far behind.  In the second scoring round, I benefitted from being the last player with a bid tile, so put a total of 7 tiles on the track before I took them.  That gave me a big lead, but Matt had accumulated a significant number of Monuments, so I was still worried about the last scoring round.  In the last round Matt scored early, because the bid track was filling up with Ra tiles.  He left Joe and I to bid it out for the last couple of rounds.  I scored a few Monumernts and Niles, with the game ultimately coming down to a 55-55 tie between Matt and I, with me getting the tiebreaker because I had the largest bid token (13), which I hadn't been able to spend because the bid track had filled up!  A great, closely contested game. - Jeff

Sumera was won by Joe over Jeff, Dale and John P.
Zahltag was won by Dale over Joe, Jeff and John P.
Die Handler was won by John Mc over Matt G and Matt H who tied followed by Luke.
Respectfully submitted - JP - top

August 2nd, 2002
monthly session hosted by Matt & Linda

Gamers in attendance: Matt & Linda, John & Leslie, Dale, John P, John Mc, Luke, Cal, Rick, Mike, Matt H.

I only kept track of games I played in so this is not a complete list.

Pizarro & Co was played by Matt, Linda, Leslie, John, John P. and Dale.  This is a game of auctions, auctions and more auctions.  As European royalty, you bid on the services of 6 famous explorers.  Each win gives you some bonus (victory points, cards, etc).  John P. came out on top in this one.

Next up was a Luke's thrift store find of Games Magazines game of the Year for 1995(?), Sharp Shooters.  This is a cross between Yahtzee and Can't Stop.  It was played by Luke, John Mc, Matt, Leslie, Linda and John P.  I don't know who won.

The same group then tackled TransAmerica.  Again I don't know who won, but Leslie and John P. ran through the barrier and off the board into the ocean to end the game.

We then split up and Luke, Leslie, Linda and John P. played Cairo, a new flicking game.  It is kind of interesting, in that the die roll determines movement and which finger to use for flicking, but it's not my cup of tea.  Luke won rather handily.

Next up were two card games, Where's Bob's Hat? and Land Unter. 

Luke and John P. then played Doris and Frank's Igel Argern (Hedgehogs in a hurry).  Luke won.

Luke, John and John P. played Dschunke.  Luke won.

Luke and John started a game of Robo Rally which Luke would have won, but it got late so we stopped and went home.

Respectfully submitted - JP - top

July 31st, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Luke

Luke acquired some more thrift store finds, so Wade, Luke and I got together to play.  Keeping alive my win streak of games that require little or no skill I won Topple, Sharp Shooters and Stay Alive.  We then moved to the much meatier Funkenschlag which Luke won by $12 over me then Wade.
Respectfully submitted - JP - top

July 26th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Scott & Cheryl

An informal gathering as Luke wanted to play his new copy of Die Handler and I wanted to compare Santa Fe to Santa Fe Rails for an article for Counter Magazine.  The games were Die Handler (won by Luke), Santa Fe, Too Many Cooks and Dia de los Muertos.  There was also a quick intro to Twilight, one of the strangest games I've ever played
Respectfully submitted - JP - top

July 20th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by John & Tricia Mc
- top
June 22nd, 2002
impromptu session hosted by Dale

A couple of quick games before playing poker.  John P's animals made short work of Dale's hunter's in Tally Ho!  Then Dale took me to school in Steve Jackson Games' Proteus.
Respectfully submitted - JP - top

June 21st, 2002
monthly session hosted by Scott & Cheryl

There were a whole lotta people here but I didn't write down names or games for that matter, only what I played.
So here it is: Zero won by Scott, Gallop Royal won by Cheryl, Puerto Rico won by Dale, Crokinole won by Dale & Matt H, Wyatt Earp won by John Mc, Medieval Merchant won by Cheryl and Princes of Florence won by Matt H.
Respectfully submitted - JP - top

June 14th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by John & Tricia Mc

Games on Goda
hosted by John & Tricia Mc.
The Players: Luke H, John Mc, Tricia Mc, John P 

The Games:
   Lost Cities
   Carcassonne Expansion
   Can't Stop
   MarraCash
   Industrial Waste
   Payoff
   Puerto Rico
   Transamerica

Lost Cites - John P, John Mc
John P was kind enough to teach me Lost Cities, and then loan us his copy for a week.  Tricia and I played it several times, and I fear we will own our very own copy in no time at all!
 

Carcassonne Expansion - John Mc, John P, Tricia, Luke
By special request of our hostess, the meeples hit the table.  We played with the River tiles as well as the Expansion, just purchased a week earlier.

Early into our game, Tricia had a sizable city, with John Mc attempting to 'horn in' (as usual) by placing his meeple in a diagonally adjacent tile, and hoping to draw a suitable tile to connect himself right in.  Someone (Luke?) raised the stakes by placing a cathedral tile into the city, and then John P, in perhaps the play of the game, placed a road tile in just such a way as to make finishing the city impossible.  Oh, the tragedy of trapped meeples -- unable to score, yet unable to come home again.

The other memorable sequence was John, Tricia, and John finding themselves tied with one meeple apiece in a sprawling city with the other cathedral.  Setting aside their differences, the three rallied to complete the city as the tile supply ran down.  The nearly 40-point swing was enough to drop Luke out of the running.

I highly recommend the Expansion for all fans of Carcassonne.  In contrast to many of the reviews I have read, I think it dramatically increases the strategic possibilities of an otherwise straightforward game.  So many ways to uh... "thwart" your neighbor!
 

Can't Stop - John P, Tricia, Luke, John Mc
Another of Luke's incredible thrift-store finds.  I knew the dice were against me early on, when I was trying to close out the tens column on my second turn, only to roll double snake eyes - four ones on four dice.  Ouch!!
 

MarraCash - Luke, Tricia, John Mc, John P
I had picked this one up cheap from Adam Spielt a month earlier, and was eager to give it some playing time.  In MarraCash, players assume the roles of businessmen in a Middle Eastern bazaar, buying storefronts at auction, then selling souvenirs to the eager crowds of tourists lining up in the streets.

Luke totally ran away with this one, while the rest of us stumbled about in search of an effective strategy.  One tip I will share is a typical game of MarraCash is very short, and will be over before you know it.  Be careful not to open too many storefronts, or the supply of customers will run out before you can recoup your investment.

Overall, MarraCash got a lukewarm (no pun intended) reception.  I will try it again someday, but it might be a while before it comes off the shelf again. 
 

Industrial Waste - Tricia 51, John Mc 41, John P 36, Luke 15
I found Industrial Waste to be a lot of fun.  A relatively simple business simulation that offers a lot of difficult choices.  Luke jumped out to an early lead with a sizable run of production.  Unfortunately, he was left sitting on an equally sizable stockpile of hazardous waste as a result.  John P tried an interesting strategy of raising cash by auctioning off raw materials to other players, rather than focusing on producing goods himself.  Meanwhile, I had way too much fun using consultant cards to double my waste dumping cards.  This "double dump" gambit helped to trigger many fines, especially for poor Luke, who ended up deep in debt trying to pay off the EPA.

The consensus was that Tricia could have ended the game 45 minutes earlier than she did, but chose to toy with us, as she built up a larger lead.  This game is going on my wish list.
 

Payoff - John P, Luke, John Mc, Tricia
I seem to have almost no aptitude for these "thrift store finds".  Within a few short rounds, this game of intrigue had swallowed all of my marbles.
 

Puerto Rico - John P 35, Luke 35, John Mc 27, Tricia 26
I was finally able to get my favorite game on the table.  An awkward start left me out of the running early, so I elected to play the spoiler, hoping to keep everyone else's scores low.  To accomplish this, I used my patented "San Juan Tea Party" stratagem, in which you choose the Captain repeatedly at inopportune times, with the goal of maximizing the amount of goods everyone will have to dump into the harbor due to spoilage.  My strategy seemed to work, as evidenced by the low game scores.
 

TransAmerica - John P, John Mc, Tricia, Luke
It was very late, but rather than call it a night, we pulled out 2002 Spiele des Jahres finalist, TransAmerica.  A good closer because it requires so little brainpower, and its well-made components are easy on tired eyes.

Report by John Mc.  - top

May 26th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by John P

The Players: Luke H, John Mc, John P 

The Games:
   Star Wars: Jedi Unleashed
   Capitol
   Puerto Rico
   Big City
   Volldampf
   Carcassone

A whole day of gaming at the Cincinnati Game Day couldn't stop three of us from getting together the next day!

First up was Hasbro's Star Wars: Jedi Unleashed.  In this new release players take on the role of a group of Jedi in the final battle from the new movie.  This is nothing but a move and attack game, he with the largest body count wins.  Sounds odd for a Star Wars kid's game but that's it.  On your turn you can move one of your Jedi and attack (via dice) any and all enemies he is next to.  Then you move one of the bad guys to attack someone else's Jedi.  And repeat.  In the end, whomever has the most enemies done in by their surviving Jedi wins.  Not much here, but it was only $9.  In the end it was Luke, John Mc and John P.
Note to self: never ever play Star Wars games with Luke (especially for money) he always wins!

Next up was Moon & Weissblum's Capitol.  It's about building and roofing cool little wooden buildings which are then placed in 9 different areas on the board.  You only have 10 roofs, there's only 4 rounds, and everyone knows what cards you've drawn (after the initial deal).  This one is good!  Much better than my ability to describe it. The order of finish for this one was Luke, John Mc and John P.

Now was time for the required game of Puerto Rico.  In a role reversal for the evening, this was won by John Mc, followed by Luke with me again trailing the field.

Big City (another of our Adam Speilt haul) was next to hit the table.  This game is way cool.  Players create a city from numbered sections, then build neat plastic factories, residences, parks and municipal buildings on them.  I've no idea who won, John Mc says Luke did but I came in dead last again (by a large margin too).

More from the German order followed with Volldampf.  This is about connecting cities in Germany with track and moving frieght over the lines (yours or someone else's)to where it has to go.  It plays quickly, almost too quickly and is great fun. John Mc took the honors, followed by John P and Luke.

Last up was Carcassone.  Finally I break through with a win followed by Luke and John Mc.  Or was it just that everyone was tired by then?

Respectfully submitted - JP - top

May 25th, 2002 - Cincinnati Game Day!

Report  by  - top

May 17th, 2002
impromptu session hosted by John P

The Players:
   Luke H. as the Emperor
   John Mc. as Darth Maul
   Mike R. as Yoda
   John P as Obi-wan
and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver

The Games:
   Star Wars: Epic Duels
   Puerto Rico
   Dschunke
   Wild Webber
   Union Pacific

First up was Hasbro's Star Wars: Epic Duels.  In this new release players take on the role of one of the major characters of the Star Wars Universe.  Along with the "star" they get one or two minor characers to boot.  So with Luke as the Emperor (and two guards), John Mc as Darth Maul (with two droids), Mike as Yoda (with two clone troopers) and John P as Obi-wan (with two clone troopers) battle was joined.  Movement is by a dice roll which allows one or all of your characters to move up to the number that was rolled.  Attack and defense are by means of cards.  Each player has their own deck from which they play.  Some decks
also have specials which can be played in place of an attack and are more powerful.  Each player may take two actions on their turn.  Actions are attacking, drawing new cards and healing a character.  Eschewing the team game we played it as a free-for-all.
Obi-wan was the first to lose one of his clone troopers, but early attacks by the Emperor caused him to be the target of multiple foes and he was first out.  This is when Darth Maul came into his own.  Darth Maul has no special cards, but his Sith Speed attack card doesn't count as an action, which allows for multiple attacks if you have the cards.  Unfortunately, he did.  Darth Maul made short work of Yoda, then Obi-wan for the victory.

Next up was the "new hot game" Puerto Rico.  This has quickly become a standard at my sessions.  And no wonder why, I won!  I don't remember much, but the notepad shows the following: John P 56, Luke 45, Mike 39 and John Mc 29.

This was followed by Dschunke.  A new one for all of us but Luke.  It's theme is loading crates of spices, rice and something else I can't remember aboard junks in Hong Kong.  It is quite enjoyable and I hope to play it again soon.  The scores for this one were:
Luke 67, Mike & John P 60 and John Mc 49.

We then played a little item that Luke found at a thrift store.  I think this game has a chance to replace Loopin' Louie as the crowd favorite.  It is called Wild Webber.  Players use little catapults to launch tokens into a basket on the back of a spider.  It doesn't sound like much, but as the spider is moving and jumping about the areana formed by the catapults, it's not easy to do.  And I was laughing too hard.

Our final game of the evening was Union Pacific.  All I've got is the scores for this one and they are: Luke 120, John Mc 112, John P 107 and Mike 98.

Respectfully submitted - JP - top

April 26, 2002
monthly session hosted by John P

Dramatis Personae: John P, Mike R, Ed J, John Mc, Luke H (in order of appearence)
The musical programme: Marty and Joe (...and this one belongs to the Reds!)
The games: Wyatt Earp, Puerto Rico, Atlantic Star, Mexica

Wyatt Earp - While waiting the Johns, Mike and Ed broke out this unofficial fourth in the Mystery Rummy series. Players play rummy melds to generate capture points to catch such outlaws as Billy the Kid or Jesse James. Those with the most capture points split the reward money. The first to amass $25,000 wins. We played an abbreviated version to $15,000 with John Mc taking the honors.

Puerto Rico - Our full contingent then took on colonizing, producing and shipping goods from Puerto Rico. This is Alea's newest offering and a good one in my opinion. Each turn, each play chooses a role such as Mayor, Settler, Captain, etc. All players get to act out the role, but the player who chose it initially gets a special privilege too. You create plantations and buildings, populate them with colonists to generate goods for shipping and collect vitory points and money. So far in my playing close games have been the result and this was no exception. Luke took first with 50 vp, followed by John Mc (47), Mike R (47), John P (42) and Ed J (34). John Mc took Mike on the tie breaker and poor Ed had the unfortunate seat of the eveing and couldn't ship his goods as the ships were full by the time we got to him.

Atlantic Star - Next up was this Showmanager remake (see below). John Mc took his second victory of the eveing again over Mike, followed by Luke, John P and Ed.

Mexica - Luke, Mike and John P. then took on the newest from the Torres/Tikal/Java team. After the first scoring Mike and Luke were battling it out half way around the scoring track while John P trailed badly. Mike ended up taking the win narrowly over Luke while I was quite proud to get within twenty of the leaders.

Respectfully submitted, JP - top

March 22nd, 2002
monthly session hosted by Dave E

In Attendance: Janice Jezek*, Peter Jezek*, John McMillan, John Palagyi, Mike Rosal, Scott Tullis, Dale Yu, Dave Ehlers
* First-time participants

Games Played and Results:

Big Boss: Peter makes a splash at his first Cincy Gamers session with a win in his first game.
1st--Peter
2nd--Mike
3rd--John M.
4th--Janice
5th--Scott

Foosball: While the others played Big Boss, Dale and Dave duked it out at the foosball table. Dale went 3-0 in the Slop-Counts games. When things were cleaned up, the games got intense, and Dave ended with a 2-1 edge in No-Slop games. The surprise discovery of the night was that Intense Foosball + Dale + Cranberry Cider = R-Rated Language

Mexica: The third in the Tikal/Java series...
1st--Scott
2nd--John M.
3rd--John P.
4th--Dale

For Sale:
1st--Scott
2nd--Dale
3rd--John P.
4th--John M.

High Society:
1st--John M.
Other players--Dale, John P., Scott

Evo: Mike's procreation strategy, along with some timely cards, puts his Dinos into an early lead. Despite a devastating Small Meteorite and a close chase by Peter, Mike pulls it off. The race for 3rd was intense, as Janice and Dave (whose Dinos were inept in combat) managed a tie.
1st--Mike
2nd--Peter
3rd--Janice/Dave

Don (game 1): Despite having nothing to do with Chicago or the Mafia, this quick card/bidding gamed proved interesting after we got the hang of it.
1st--Dave
2nd--John P.
3rd--Mike

Don (game 2): We couldn't end the night before 1:30am, so we went for one
last game...
1st--Dave
2nd--John P.
3rd--Mike

report by Dave E - top

March 9th, 2002
monthly session hosted by Dale Yu

We had a great time over at my house; 10 people total were there for the festivities. This may have been the longest night yet for the Cincygamers! We started at about 7:00 and went until 3:45AM. Congratulations to John P for being not only the first to arrive but also the last to leave.

In attendance: Dale, John P, John M, Mike, Scott R, Kelly, Cathy, Glenn, Rick, Luke

The games played were (winners first): 

Loopin' Louie (multiple winners)

For those of you who don't know about this game yet - it's a simple kids game (in the same genre as Hungry Hungry Hippos et al) where each player is trying to protect his chickens. The chickens (OK they're really round tokens) are under attack from a circling airplane piloted by Loopin' Louie. During the course of the game, the plane goes around and around and each player has one small paddle located just before his chicken tokens that he can use to hit the plane and prevent it from hitting his chickens. Sound simple? It is (hence - it's a kids game), but still loads of fun. This game received perhaps the most response from the players, and people were always watching the games of Loopin' Louie being played from across the room. By the end of the night (and about 10 total plays of the game), we were getting quite adept at hitting Louie just right so he would just over one player's chickens and land directly upon the next player's tokens. A special thanks goes out to Scott T who provided some perfectly sized makeshift tokens for the game from his copy of "Twins". Definitely a 9 out of 10 (would be a 10, but is just a little too childish)

For Sale (*Dale, Kelly, Scott, John P)

As we were the first four together for gaming - having just finished 3 or 4 boisterous games of Loopin' Louie - we settled in for a quick card game to wait for the rest of the gamers. For Sale just came in from Germany in my latest order and this was the perfect chance to get it out. The game is essentially an auction game. The idea of the game is to get the most money. However, how you get the money is somewhat convoluted. The game starts by each player receiving 15 betting chips (each is worth $1 million). These chips are used to bid for buildings. In each round, a number of buildings equal to the number of players is put face up on the table. These buildings have values from 1 to 20. Players bid, in turn, to try to acquire the highest numbered building. If the price becomes too steep, they drop out of the bidding, pay one-half of their current bid and take the lowest numbered building on the table. This continues until one player is left; this player must pay his entire bid and takes the highest numbered building. There are 20 buildings total, so there were five rounds similar to this. Once each player had accumulated 5 buildings each, then you bid for the money (what you need to win the game). There are 20 money cards (ranging in value from 0 to 20 million). As in the previous round, a number of money cards equal to the number of players is placed face up on the table to be bid upon. But, instead of bidding with chips, this time you bid with your buildings. Each player secretly chooses one of his buildings and places it face down. When all players have chosen, the buildings are all turned face up. The highest numbered building wins the highest valued money card, the next highest building takes the next money card and so forth. Thus, how high of a building you will bid depends greatly on what money cards are available. Finally, after all the money cards are distributed, you total the amounts on the money cards and then add in 1 million for each betting chip you have left over from the first round. The player with the most is the winner.  In our game, I was lucky enough to win three buildings greater than 13 and this allowed me to win lots of good money cards. I was also quite lucky when my lowest card (I think it was a 6) still won me a money card of 7 or 8 million. Overall, a good quick game (about 15 minutes) that should get plenty of replays in the group. Rating right now 8 out of 10.
 

Drahtseilakt (*John P, John M, Luke, Scott)

I wasn't in this game, so I don't know the details, but this is a nice quick card game of balancing. Strangely enough, the title of this game roughly translates to "Tightrope". In this trick taking game, players play cards to win (or lose) tricks. There is one set of scoring cards that has a number on it. Each round, one of these is placed face up. Each player then simultaneously plays a card. Whomever has the highest card takes a number of red (positive) sticks as the number on the card. Whomever has the lowest card takes a number of blue (negative) sticks as the number on the card. This continues for 11 rounds until all of the scoring cards have been bid upon. At the end of this, players tally up their score. Each red stick cancels out a blue stick. The number of sticks remaining (either blue or red) is your score, and the lowest score wins. Other than knowing that John P was the winner, I know nothing else about this one.
 

Atlantic Star (*Dale, Cathy, Kelly, Glenn)

Next, we turned to this reworking of the classic OOP game "Showmanager". The rules are essentially the same, only the theme has changed. In this game, everyone is a director of a cruise ship line and is trying to construct the most appealing collection of cruises. This is done by collecting cards which represent the different legs of the journey. The catch in this game is how you collect these cards. There is a nice system of escalating costs used to get cards. You could take topmost card for free, or if you'd prefer, you could pay 1000, 2000, or 3000 dollars to choose one of the other three cards that you can see. While this sounds easy, it's quite hard to do well as you start the game with only 18000 dollars. Anyways, you collect cards, put together cruises and then you score points based on the cruise's relative rank against those cruises made by your opponents. Later in the game, you can borrow money against your already completed cruises, but this could jeopardize your final score as this could change your relative rank against your opponents' cruises. In this game, thanks to a few very very lucky card draws, I was able to construct a very valuable green cruise (which happened to be in the five-star - or highest scoring - column) and squeaked away with a one-point victory over Cathy. Cathy probably would have won if she would/could have borrowed money against her already finished cruises. However, each time that she planned to do this, someone closed off the cruise by completing the final cruise of that type in the game! Glenn also made a quite respectable comeback after some early confusion with the rules - which no doubt have more to do with my inability to explain the rules elegantly than his skill. Still, this game was enjoyed by all. Rating 8 out of 10. 
 

Traumfabrik (*Mike, Luke, John P, John M, Scott)

After finishing Tightrope, Mike R was finally able to make it. As such, that half of the group chose a nice game for five players - and the choice was Traumfabrik. This is a nice auction game by Knizia where you are the president of a Hollywood movie studio and are trying to put together the best movies you can. You constuct your movies by putting together directors, actors, music, cameras, special effects, music and special guest stars into the movies. All of these different components are represented on different tiles. These tiles have different values (from 0 to 4 stars) for each of the components. During the course of the game, you bid on these tiles using "contracts". One of the neat systems in this game is that the money or contracts are a zero-sum
proposition. Each time someone wins an auction, the money is split up equally among the opponents who didn't win, thus ensuring that everyone will get a fair chance at bidding in the long run. This game is usually a favorite because the directors and actors are all real people, and there is usually much hilarity when someone uses Alfred Hitchcock to direct Bambi or when someone else has John Wayne as the lead actor in Frankenstein. Anyways, Mike ended up being the best movie maker in our group.
 

Royal Turf (*Glenn, Rick, Cathy, Kelly, Dale)

After Atlantic Star, we were looking for a quick game to pass the time until Traumfabrik was finished. We pulled out a quick Knizia game based on horse racing. In this game, each player secretly bids on 3 (out of 7) horses. Then, with the help of a die roll, each player takes turns moving one horse (each horse moves somewhat differently based on the die roll). There is some element of bluffing as you want to move the horses you have bet on forward, yet you don't want to make it so obvious that your opponents know for sure who you have bet on (as they would then try to stop that horse's progress). Due to time constraints (actually because Traumfabrik finished sooner than we thought), we only played two rounds in this game instead of three. The game proved quite entertaining as Cathy always seemed to forget which horses she had actually bet on (making it difficult for her to effectively move her horses) and Rick seemed to always roll whatever die face he needed the least. While all this was happening, Glenn quietly snuck away with the win. But, this shouldn't come as a surprise; the people from Kentucky always seem to do well with the horse racing games! A nice light game - rating 7 out of 10.
 

Elchfest (*Mike, Luke)

This is a simple dexterity game that has really neat wooden bits. Essentially, in this game, each player is a moose. Each moose starts on different sides of an imaginary river. Then using wooden discs, he tries to make a bridge for his moose to cross this river. This quick game puts a premium on balance and good finger flicking skill. There is good opportunity for both offensive and defensive plays in this one. Mike proved the better flicker and walked away with this one.
 

Taj Mahal (*Mike, Dale, Luke, Scott)

Next we turned to yet another Knizia game, Taj Mahal. I hadn't played this one in over a year but have now played in twice in less than three weeks. I'm finding that I'm enjoying this one much more now that I did before. This is another auction game - this time you are trying to establish control over India - a very loosely pasted on theme. It has a unique auction mechanism where the goal is often not the be the ultimate winner, but rather to know when to drop out of an auction when the conditions are most favorable for you to do so. Abstractly, each round involves six simultaneous auctions. On each players turn, he can play cards which allow him to "bid" on at most three of the six auctions. At any time during the auction, you can withdraw. The key is that when you withdraw, if you are winning any of the six auctions at that time, you automatically win the auction and take the spoils. Therefore, a large part of the game is figuring out how to win what you want with as few cards used as possible. But enough of the mechanics - in this game there were four (well really three) different strategies in place. Luke concentrated on winning the most he could with limited card play - his strategy was trying to take advantage of the endgame bonus for the longest suit left in your hand at the end of the game. I think he managed a 22 point bonus at the end - by far the largest I'd ever seen! I tried my usual strategy of just going for the elephant tokens and trying to get the largest commodity score possible. Mike, however, chose a strategy of trying to place as many temples as possible to link as many regions together as possible. At the end of the game, he had a string of 10 contiguous regions (out of 12 possible) - again, the largest I think I have ever seen! In the final analysis, Mike was the clear winner -about 20 points ahead of the rest of us who were nicely bunched together. Oh yeah, I said that there were four different strategies Scott had one of those moments that most gamers have when learning a new game. About 2/3 of the way through, the lightbulb over his head flashed on and he suddenly realized what he needed to do to win. However, this was about 2/3 of a game too late So we'll never really know what Scott had in mind, but I'm sure we'll find out the next time we play this one!
 

Union Pacific (John M, Rick, John P, Glenn)

While we were struggling for control of India, the other four struck out to see who was best at piecing together railroads across the American countryside. This game is supposedly a reworking of Airlines which is very much like Acquire. It is a shareholding game where you place tracks to expand different railroad lines and then you buy shares of stock in these railroad lines to try to take control of them. Points are given to those players who are in the majority or 2nd place of the different railroad lines. The value of the railroad lines is also determined by the size of their rail system. Anyways,it is somewhat more complicated than that - but you should get the gist of the game. At the end of this one, John M was victorious. He mentioned later to me that this was his favorite game of the night by far. Also, despite its tendency to be a "brain-burner", Glenn also said he enjoyed this one quite a lot.
 

Stimmt So! (*Mike, Dale, Luke, Cathy)

After Taj Mahal, we dove into this quick little Dirk Henn card game as UP was not yet halfway over. This game is also a shareholding game - but how you take control of your shares is much different. In this game, you use money of four different denominations to buy shares in seven different countries. Based on stock market a share is sold in, you have to use matching currency to purchase it. Each turn, players have the choice of either buying shares from the board (assuming they have enough money in the right currency) or drawing a money card from the board to increase their hand/wealth. This game gives a nice balance between buying stock and choosing money cards from the board. Since you usually can't do both actions in a turn, you sometimes have to choose between buying a stock or waiting on it for a round and hoping it is still there on your next turn so you can pick up an especially valuable money card. The one exception to this rule is that if you are able to pay for a share exactly, you get another turn immediately. Sometimes, this leads to people picking up very low-valued money cards in order to set up these exact-change purchases and the concomitant free turn. In our game, Mike showed unbelievable skill in buying shares with exact change only. As such, he had many more shares than the rest of us and walked away with an easy victory. This game is somewhat luck prone as Cathy was continually stymied by having to choose from predominantly poor money cards each turn making it hard for her to buy expensive shares. Still, one of my favorite games. 9 out of 10.
 

Carolus Magnus (*John P, Glen, Rick)

As we redistributed ourselves, Rick wanted to get out one of his favorites for three, Carolus Magnus. This game involves taking possession of little wooden bits and using them to take control of territories on the board. The game uses a neat system of interlocking cards for the territories - when you control adjacent territories, you are able to physically combine them into one larger territory (which is then harder to take over as you now have many more of your own pieces in the territory). The one sticky part to the game is that the colors of the pieces that you can take is determined by a die roll. Some people don't like this element of luck, but I don't really mind. Anyways, this game proved to be a typical game that I've seen - there were many early battles and much time was spent pondering what move would be best to make. Then, in the endgame, a series of battles quickly merged multiple territories into one giant territory signaling the end of the game. At the end of this one, John P was victorious. This is all the more amazing considering that the players all reported that John really had control of only one of the five colors for most of the game!
 

Metro (*Dale, Luke, Mike, John M)

While Carolus was going on, we set upon the task of making the most convoluted Parisian subway lines that we could. In this nice tile laying game, each player gets an equal number of subway cars to control. Each turn, players place tiles with train tracks on the board. The goal is to have the most convoluted train lines possible for your trains because scoring is basically one point per each tile that the train track crosses. Additionally, if your train line goes from the outside of the board to one of the stations in the interior, you get a bonus of double the score for that particular train line. This game moved along fairly quickly as we played the Basic Version (where you can only place tiles in one orientation - thus reducing the possible plays of each tile from four to one). John M and myself were trailing for most of the game, but this was primarily because we had not yet had many of our trains scored yet. While Luke and Mike were slugging it out (and closing off each others' train lines), we quietly plodded away extending our own lines and closing off our opponent's when possible. By the end of the game, Luke and Mike were forced into playing tiles down for our trains, even when the plays were advantageous for us. As such, we leaped ahead with some high scoring lines. In the end, I was ahead of John for the win. Good fun - but somewhat dizzying when you stare at the spaghetti junction of train lines for 45 minutes! 8 out of 10.
 

Evo (*Dale, Luke, Mike, John M, John P)

By this time, the group was thinning out as it was quite late (about 1 AM). But we decided to stick it out and fight for evolutionary supremacy in Evo. This game has each player taking on a species of dinosaur and trying to use their survival skills as well as their gene acquisition to become the prominent species. I took my usual yellow bird-like species which I used to call a Pteradon. I'll however have to rename it as I recently learned that there is another birdlike dinosaur with the much cooler name of Bambiraptor. Anyways, John P and John M seemed to take the early lead in this game by virtue of winning the mutant pickles early on. This gene doesn't do anything specific to your dino, but it does help in later auctions by reducing the cost of the auctions won by one point. This is important because in this game, you pay for the gene auctions with your victory points. Mike had plenty of great genes on his board but was not winning early on because he was paying seemingly astronomical sums for the genes he won. Dale and Luke didn't seem like they were doing anything because they weren't winning many auctions. Though they therefore had less advanced dinosaurs, they were also in the lead as they had spent much fewer victory points in the auctions. The turning point of the game probably came when Mike played a card which flipped the climate around. As many of us were planning for a turn where the climate would most likely go to the brown section, Mike's card play made the climate end up in the desert-like yellow section (where all dinos in the brown territories would automatically die!). This wiped out many dinosaurs, most significantly John P's poor Stegasauri which only had 2 dinos survive the heat wave. The game went on until the comet struck the planet, and Luke had a one point lead after the final scoring. But in a cruel twist of fate, a card which I won in an auction (over Luke no less) for one measly point, gave me a two point bonus at the end of the game. This bonus was enough to take the one point victory. While this was great for me because I won, it pointed out the biggest flaw in the game for me - there is too much power in the cards (over which you have only Lady Luck to thank for your selection). I enjoy playing this one, but would likely never choose to play it. I don't like games that have a lot of strategy (over 90 minutes no less) that can have your entire plan overturned by one card late in the game. A 5 out of 10 (for me).
 

Ra (*John M, Luke, John P, Dale)

Well, the group thinned out even more as Mike felt he had to go home at 2:15 (weakling) As it looked like others were getting ready to leave (namely John M), we all decided to play one more. John P wanted to play Ra as he owned it but had not yet had a chance to play it first hand. This is yet another Knizia auction game (bringing the total for the night to 3!) where you collect tiles
to score the most points in ancient Egypt. While John P, Luke and myself were paying too much for not enough tiles, John M quietly collected monument after monument. In the end scoring, he took command by having not only 7 different monuments but also 2 different 3-of-a-kinds (I think). Anyways, much fun - but I think some of the decision making was suspect due to the late hour - we didn't finish until 3:45 AM! Anyways, after this one was over (8 hours after we started), it was time for everyone to go home and me to get a few hours of sleep before my toddler woke up. Thanks again to everyone for showing up!

Report by Dale  - top

February 9th, 2002
monthly session hosted by John P

Gamers in attendance: Jeff, John, Luke, Mike 

Here are this evening's games with the winner. Since I'm writing this everyone else tied for second (or I'll get depressed seeing how I did). 

Don (Luke) 
Taj Mahal (John) 
Vom Kap Bis Kairo (Luke) 
Power Puff Girls: Villians at Large (Luke) 
Atlantis: Paths of the Deep (Mike) 
Adel Verpflichtet (Luke) 
Attila (Mike) 

More details to come when I have time.

Now (4/28/02) I have some time, if I only had the memory!

Luke won every game he suggested we play, what's up with that?!

Power Puff Girls and Atlantis were $2.00 specials from Kay-B Toys. They are almost, but not quite there games, but for $2 (or for kids), I couldn't resist.

Between the four of us, we had 1/2 game experience in Taj Mahal, but that didn't stop us. I won a squeaker over Mike (1 or 2 points, I can't remember), who began building palace chains on this night and hasn't stopped since.

Respectfully submitted, JP - top

January 25th, 2002
monthly session hosted by Scott and Cheryl Tullis

Gamers in attendance: Scott and Cheryl, Dale Yu, Mike Rosal, John Palagyi, Jeff Finkeldey, Lucas Hedgren, and Dave Ehlers 

Games played: 

Urland (Cheryl, Scott, Lucas, Dave) I can't remember who won, but it was someone with legs or muscles or something 
Web of Power (Dale, John, Jeff) 
EBay Auction Game (Dale, John, Jeff, Mike) 
Atlantic Star (Dale, John, Lucas, Mike, Scott, Cheryl) 
Axis and Allies (Dave and Jeff) 
Rise of the Luftwaffe (Dave and Jeff) 
HamsterRolle (John, Lucas, Mike, Cheryl) 
Last Chance (Dale, John, Lucas, Mike, Scott, Cheryl) 
Mr. President (Dave and Dale) 
Union Pacific (Cheryl, John, Scott, Lucas, Mike, Jeff) 
Nicht de Bohne (Cheryl, John, Scott, Lucas, Mike, Jeff) 

Details:

Urland (Cheryl, Scott, Lucas, Dave)

I can't remember who won, but it was someone with legs or muscles or something like that. Someone send me an update on what happened.

Web of Power (Dale, John, Jeff)

Got in a quick game of this favorite of mine. Somehow, I still get surprised by the lack of alliances between Schwabia and its neighbors (not with Italy nor with Lothringen). I won due to some lucky advisor placements. I managed to win by using my most-recent-favorite strategy of winning the cloisters in France and then placing advisors wherever I can. I think one of the reasons that I like this game so much is that in my 25 games or so of this one, I still haven't found one single optimal strategy. It is this variance of possible winning strategies that keeps me coming back to try it again to see if I can figure it out. Jeff's first time at the game proved to be quite good as he came in a strong second.

EBay Auction Game (Dale, John, Jeff, Mike)

Nice little $4.99 game - we sadly had much fun with the little computer yelling out when we could play. There are 3 objects for bid at any given time, and the computer just spits out colors at random. If your color is announced, you have 4 seconds to make a bid on an item (if you want to). At the end of each round (of about 30 total), the computer will decide if any auctions are complete. If any are, whomever has the highest bid wins the item. Each item has an actual value that can be either the same, above or below the estimated value. At the end of the game, you total up the actual value of all of your auction winnings.  If you manage to collect three things in the same group, all their values are doubled. I think John won this one as he had sets of 3 in at least two different colors. Pretty good light fun for a filler. Total time about 30 minutes including an in-depth review of the rules (all 4 of them).

Atlantic Star (Dale, John, Lucas, Mike, Scott, Cheryl)

The bulk of the group then moved on to Atlantic Star, the new re-release of Showmanager by Dirk Henn. Quite fun - and basically the same game as Showmanager other than one small rule change (you can have 2 extra cards left over when you "produce" your last cruise instead of 1). Anyways, in this card game, you have to construct the best cruise lines to win, and I can't remember who won but I think it was Scott or Cheryl. Someone please fix my memory!  Scott and John tied - memory fixed by JP.

Axis and Allies (Dave and Jeff)

In this game between two veterans, Dave (the Axis) triumphed over Jeff. I don't have any more details other than that.

Rise of the Luftwaffe (Dave and Jeff)

This is a neat (and surprisingly quick for something produced by GMT) game which pits two airforces against each other. I only saw glimpses of the game, but it appeared to be card-based and pretty quick to pick up. I don't even know who won this dogfight.

HamsterRolle (John, Lucas, Mike, Cheryl)

Time for a quick dexterity game as we waited for the wargames to end. After a quick rules recap, the game was underway. Mike came away with a close victory with Cheryl close behind. It will likely be forever uncertain if a certain crease in the table cover helped anyone as it took us 2 or 3 turns to realize that this crease stopped the Hamsterrolle from rolling

Last Chance (Dale, John, Lucas, Mike, Scott, Cheryl)

With the wargame almost over, time for one more quick dicefest. Last Chance is a game that combines elements of Yahtzee with betting. It's pretty fun (unless you're like Dale and Mike and tend to bet the farm way to early and put yourself out of the game). There are 2 bets to be had each round (of seven total rounds). First, you can make a bet to try to roll the dice pattern on a card within the alloted number of rolls. If you successfully do this, you win the card and amount printed on the card (between $1500 and $4500). Second, if you're not rolling, you can bet up to $1000 on whether you think the roller will succeed or not. The winner is whomever has the most money at the end of the game AS LONG AS you also have one card in your hand (i.e. were successful rolling at least once). John ended winning this one rather handily.

Mr. President (Dave and Dale)

To round out the night, I talked Dave into a game of one of my old 3M favorites. In retrospect, my memory of the game was probably better than the reality of the game. In a somewhat lopsided battle, the Republicans (me) won the election after the Democrats conceded even counting the ballots after it was discovered that I had visited 36 states and Dave had only been to 23. I think that my 3 major press endorsements seemed to skew the balance of this game too much. Again, fun but not that fun.

Union Pacific (John, Scott, Cheryl, Lucas, Mike, Jeff)

I think Cheryl won this, but I don't know much else.

Nicht de Bohne (John, Scott, Cheryl, Lucas, Mike, Jeff)

I think Cheryl won this, but I don't know much else.

That's it! Thanks again to Scott and Cheryl for hosting!
Report by Dale. - top