Game Night at the Condo
Some game nights can suffer from severe logistics problems: players showing up and leaving at random times, people needing to eat, the distraction and temptation of Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, and the transition time between games. One of the more ambitious gamers and myself decided to keep a supply of 2p games on hand to fill the gaps...
I think I've reached the first level of play. Some of the more simple patterns are starting to become second nature. I am now looking a move or two deeper, and am able to see sequences of sacrifices to gain a ball or two that helps me. When the "board" gets smaller, it's very tough to find locations to place new balls without giving the game away. I like Zertz easily as much as Yinsh, Dvonn, and Punct. A huge advantage is its 10-minute playing time. I can't imagine a game ever taking more than 15 minutes. On the other hand, I have played games of Yinsh that lasted over 45 minutes.
Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation
My first time playing. It seemed rather random, but I am told that after a few games, the subtlety of play will become apparent. It was very quick, and at no time was anything unclear. I had a chance to get Frodo to Mordor, but the enemy brought 3 minions to The Shire first. Note to self: remember the victory conditions.
Fantastically well-produced, silly-fun game slightly reminiscent of Crokinole. Players "tumble" dice down a wooden layered board trying to land them in the high-scoring regions (up to 4x). Dice can be knocked around and out of play (shuffleboard style). It goes without saying that every single die roll ends with simultaneous screams of joy and lament as 6's get knocked off the board or flip to their 1 side. A great filler that might fill the entire evening if you are not careful.
My first time playing. You get a card with a bunch of words on it. You have to choose one of those words and make a clay model of it. If player(s) guess it in round 1, you and they get 1 point. If they guess it in the 2nd round, you and they get 2 points, etc. So the trick is that you want your model to be guessed, but not right away. Before each round of guesses, there's a 1-minute period where you can ask up to 4 yes/no questions of any of the other players' models. Again, if your question is too helpful, you might be giving away points. Cluzzle is more fun than I would have guessed, and I am looking forward it playing again.
I went for the middle ground this time, trying to keep from running too low on cards. This resulted in me being 3rd or 4th for most of the game. I fell behind in tiles, camels, and scoring markers. The player who went 1st most of the time won the game handily.
It's been way too long since I played this. We had 3 players--1 new--and about 1 hour. We used the variant that the first chooser is always the player currently in last place, randomizing it if there's a tie. I like to get creative with the card splitting. Rather than make equal piles, I sometimes like to make big piles with many points and small piles with few points. A common mistake is to make a pile with just a Doge in it. If you are left with it, the other players will most likely leave you no place to score. I focused on just getting my cubes on the board, and ended with a huge final scoring.
San Marco image by jenoe