Sunday, January 07, 2007

Game Day at the Condo

An unexpectedly warm and rainy winter day kept the skiers indoors. This was good news for sun-fearing gamers like me. We lounged around in t-shirts with the windows open and dug into the goodness...

A new game for me. As soon as we started playing, I knew who the designers were; this game had Brunos written all over it. And as expected, it was light, random, a little chaotic, and fun. I found the "passing the money around" thing a bit odd, but it did make up for those players who get the last few cards to claim. Mayors and saloons were brutal. As the game progresses, it becomes much more work to figure out who is leading so you can Dynamite them. All in all, it's a reasonable filler.

El Grande
The game of the day for me. I've owned it for quite a while, but never had the chance to play. This game is great--well deserving of a top-10 spot. I was worried it might turn out to be too chaotic based on some comments, but I found the chaos to be just right. The decisions on which bidding cards to play and which action cards to draw are excruciating. The one thing I was not expecting--even knowing the rules beforehand--was how much actions can affect other actions on a given round (eg moving the king to affect where others can place Caballeros, placing a scoreboard to block a future scoring action, etc.). The Castillo mechanic is fantastic; I need to learn to remember what in there better, since it cost me many points on one round (Castillo scoring as well as subsequent movement to a region). I knew I'd like El Grande, but I didn't think I would really like it. After one play, it's a solid 9. I wanted to play again, but others preferred lighter fare...

Black Vienna
I played this once before, and I was determined to not make any mistakes. Black Vienna is a pure deduction game, in a similar vein to Sleuth. It's not particularly difficult, but it's really easy to screw up. Any error will cascade into a completely wrong guess, or minimally some conflicting data on your sheet. Players draw a card and place it in front of a player. That player answers by placing 0-3 discs on the card. Then everyone gets quiet while they add the new piece of data to their information and try to deduce more information. As with my previous game, I made an error. Before I had even figured out one of the three solutions, Mike called "Black Vienna!" and was correct. I couldn't believe he had had enough information to do so. After correcting my error, I found that I wasn't that far from having 2 of the 3 solutions myself. Next time, dude!

Modern Art
A light classic that gets deeper with each play. I was bidding particularly conservatively this game, trying to force things too much. I need to learn to go with the flow of the artists and figure out what players are doing. After 2 rounds I was up to 325, but only ended with 428. The winner had something like 570. The one good play I did was to play a Lite Metal double auction card alone at a time when the player on my left was going to cash in on Yoko. If he passes, one of the other players would surely have played one, and he would have lost his turn. So he played Lite Metal, which meant he couldn't play Yoko and would not likely get another turn.

After my shameful mistake on Wednesday, I gladly accepted the chance to avenge myself. We had one new player who picked it up very quickly. After only 3 queries, I had found my partner, but hadn't exchanged any information yet. One of our possible missions was to move a pawn to Madame Zsa Zsa. This required knowledge of her attribute, so I pursued this when I couldn't encounter my partner. As luck would have it, my partner queried me next and I dutifully passed him my mission and my attribute; he now knew our mission: to move the Ambassador to the Embassy. On my next turn, I met the Ambassador, queried an opponent for attribute, and had to move the Ambassador somewhere. I wanted to move him right next to my partner so he could easily get him to the Embassy if that indeed was our mission, but I thought this would be too obvious, So I moved him next to me, and 2 spaces away from my partner. Strangely enough, this is the mission I completed incorrectly in my last game, so as soon as I knew it really was our mission, I went over all the facts again so as not to repeat my mistake. On my next 2 turns, I managed to get my partner's mission card and complete our mission!

A typical end to our game nights after all the wimps go home. We played 2 great, tense games. My defensive flicks and shots on goal were dead on tonight. I won the first game 1-0, and the second 2-1.

El Grande image by garyjames


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