Gaming With "Strangers"
As much as I "hang out" online, it wasn't until tonight that I first met someone who I had only known from the Internet. A fellow BGG'er contacted me because my profile shows me in Maine. It turned out that we live very close. I was invited to his regular game night. And what a night it was.
A quick game of Can't Stop on his custom board filled the time until everyone showed up. I've played this hundreds of time on BSW, but it still felt weird to have to move the pieces myself. Also, when my guys fell, there was no scream. I think his game was broken.
There were a couple of newer gamers, so we ramped up to For Sale. This was a new one for me. I could play a new game every night. One minute's rules explanation and we were off. Another minute's rules explanation for the second phase. Simple and elegant filler. It compares well to High Society for me. Different systems, but equal kinds of thinking. And what a nice box!
We had a tough timing deciding on the next heavier 6-player game. We chose Shadows Over Camelot. As we were setting up, the pizza came. After the pizza break, we lost one player, packed up SoC and pulled out Railroad Tycoon. This was fine with me since I had never played it before. Another new game!
The overall experience was fantastic. My host was blessed with a virtually non-warping board. Four binder clips kept it in place and flat. I had anticipated this game, so had read the rules just before. Still, I was completely new to the tactics and strategies. I drew the Pullman tycoon card (6 points if first to Level 6 Locomotive). To accommodate this, I decided to build many short links (if possible)--something that would benefit from my rush to an expensive train. Overall, I got caught up in the tactics of the turn, trying to squeeze as many points out each round rather than looking at the long-term picture. I ended up with a 6-7 link track along the southeastern coast. I was the first to Level 6, but this bonus was not enough. I ended up in 3rd place, having issued 4 shares.
The balance is very nice in Railroad Tycoon. One player went for New England, I went for the southeast, and the other three fought a vicious battle for the midwest. The game was close for a long time. Some turns there was heavy bidding for first (mostly because of the card drawn), and some turns there was none. Despite the over-production and the size of the game, playing it was not at all physically cumbersome. My brain, however, was focused on the board for 3 solid hours, and it seemed like 1. I'd play this again any time.