Saturday, April 09, 2005

Wonders of the World

It had better be good.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Game night – 2 April 2005

We had planned on playing Traders of Genoa, aka “Divisoria” (we could so retheme ToG for local flavor), but Erik called in sick and we hadn’t asked Titus to bring his copy along, so that game had to be rescheduled. Blame it all on Peking Duck. Get well soon dude, hope to see you and Annie for some tiangge action next week!

I was leaning towards traveling light, but in another effort to get Vinci to the table I decided to bring a second bag. Damned Eurogames big boxes don’t fit into my regular game bag that’s perfect for alea big box games. Packed in Nix’s copy of Evo as well, since that’s not been at the table in ages either. This all allowed me to stick three bigger game into the main bag (Torres, which Titus was asking for, Princes of Florence, which Frog asked for, and the too-big Bluff, which I can’t leave home anymore). Modern Art took the top space usually reserved for Silver Line games, and I tucked a bunch of the card games we’ve been playing so much of lately into the cracks.

After dinner, I brought out Falling since Titus and Nix were around and Javy and Greg hadn’t tried the game yet. Javy found the game’s premise rather silly (hey, it IS silly), but was willing to give the game a shot despite dire warnings from Frog.

Falling [5P]

Greg won the first game, and immediately declared he’d retire from the game undefeated. Oh well, a game can’t appeal to everyone, especially one as unusual as Falling. :) I don’t think Javy was too impressed either.

We had enough personnel for two groups, so after a bit of confusion as to who was playing what, we settled comfortably into a 5/3 split. Javy, George, Nix, Greg and Mog set up for some art gallery action in Modern Art, and Titus got his wish. Frog and I joined him for another playing of Kramer and Kiesling’s best game, the fantastic Torres.

Torres [3P]

Prince Titus was kind enough to set up the King’s Day One accommodations in a central location. This allowed all three Princes to easily deploy a tower guard for His Royal Highness in one turn. This resulted in the King’s Tower having a pretty decent base to build on, so Prince Rick decided to make himself at home. Sir Verdant and Sir Emerald joined Sir Green in guarding the King, with Sir Green ascending to a lofty height of four stories, and Sir Verdant having his back. This gave the forces of Prince Rick control of the King’s Tower. Sir Emerald remained on the ground floor per the King’s command. Prince Frog decided to deploy most of his orange men to the western side of the realm on this first day. Prince Titus remained in the area of the King’s Tower and its surrounding environs. At the end of Day One, the King was pleased as all of his potential heirs had obeyed his command. A feast for all the brave knights!

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Frog considers how to get to the King

Torres – Scores after Day One:
Prince Frog – 34
Prince Rick – 39
Prince Titus – 31

Prince Titus had earned the right to escort the King to his new chambers, and decided to house the King in a northeastern tower. Prince Rick dispatched Sir Moss to guard the King in his new quarters. Sir Moss was a slippery one, and despite the efforts of Sir Azure of Prince Titus’s command, Sir Moss made a mighty diagonal leap and landed on the second story of the King’s Tower, fulfilling the King’s command. Prince Frog eventually had Sir Tangerine in a similar position, but it took a bit more effort. Prince Rick continued to have the Royal Builders construct new stories in the former King’s Tower in the eastern reach of the Kingdom, and at the end of the second day, Sir Green was atop a lofty seventh story parapet with a majestic view of the countryside. Sir Sapphire was dispatched by Prince Titus to try to match the achievements of Sir Green, and with the help of the magical Royal Builders, he managed to claw up to the fifth story of the former King’s Tower, which Prince Rick renamed to The Tower of Leaves. The King was pleased once again as all three of the Princes had sent knights to protect His Royal Hide so there was much feasting once again.

Torres – Scores after Day Two:
Prince Titus – 128
Prince Frog – 114
Prince Rick – 127

Prince Frog decided that the King was not safe in the eastern reaches of the Kingdom, so he sent Sir Marmalade to spirit the King away to the southwest. Also, Prince Frog was very concerned that Sir Green and Sir Sapphire were generating too much favor for their Princes, so he pulled a significant number of strings to get Sir Orange into The Tower of Leaves. The valiant Sir Orange was conversant in the secret passages of The Tower of Leaves, having been a stonemason himself, and he found a way to emerge onto the sixth story of the mighty fortress. It was an amazing performance. Sir Sapphire and Sir Green were not idle, and each increased his presence by a story more. Over in the latest King’s Tower, Sir La Salle and Sir Ateneo worked on getting to where the King wanted them to be. They both succeeded spectacularly. Sir La Salle’s maneuver involved cajoling the Royal Builders into uprooting a nearby tower structure and transplanting it into the side of the King’s Tower. Two quickly-built new tower floors later, Sir La Salle was in position per the King’s command. At the end of the day, the reckoning of favor was very close between the mighty, cunning and debonair Princes. The King was pleased with the perfect safety accorded to His Royal Behind, so a sumptuous feast unrivalled in the history of the Kingdom was held. At that feast, the King announced his heir.

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Note the huge Tower of Leaves near the top!

Torres – Final Scores:
Prince Frog – 251
Prince Rick – 263
Prince Titus – 258

So it came to pass that Prince Rick was named heir to the throne of the Kingdom. He eventually married Princess Jessica Alba, had many beautiful children and ruled the Kingdom wisely, ushering in a new Golden Age of prosperity.

While the succession of the crown was being contested, the art speculators at the other table had completed all four seasons with the following results:

Modern Art [5P]

Final Scores:
Mog - $511,000
Nix - $428,000
George - $309,000
Javy - $287,000
Greg - $282,000

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Javy greedily fingers the cash

Myles walked in as the art galleries were closing their doors for the night. This led to Bluff being brought to the table for six-player lying, cheating and stealing. Deej arrived to fill up the table.

Bluff [6P]
Winner – Myles

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Myles displaying his winning "game face"!

During the Torres game, while Frog was struggling with his entrée into the big tower, Titus and I broke out some Brawl decks. Titus was toting his promotional Ting Ting deck, while I decided to try one of the newer characters that we hadn’t seen in action yet. This would be the Catgirl, Nickie.

Brawl [2P]

Nickie is a tricky character to play, running an enormous seven Clears and sporting limited Hits in all three colors. She has a single Reverse and a couple of Doubles, so there’s a bit of sneaky potential, but without any Holds, Presses or Nulls it would be tough against Ting Ting. Ting Ting is a fairly straightforward fighter, dominant in Red, with a bunch of bases, a few clears, a couple of Doubles and her infamous three Wild Blocks. My lack of experience with Nickie showed in the final tally of a race to seven wins.

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Nickie wishes she had a better player

Brawl – Final Record:
Ting Ting (4-1-2) d. Nickie (1-4-2)

Frog still wanted to play Princes of Florence. Hey, it’s my favorite German game, but it’s not exactly one that you’d want to start playing at 12:30 am. Titus and Myles begged off since they had to leave shortly (Myles had work at 1:30 am) so with assurances of brisk play, we launched into five-player Prince of Florence as our closer.

In the meantime, Titus and Myles had a few minutes of gaming left, so Titus pulled out the third Cheapass game of the night – the Tom Jolly and James Ernest collaboration Light Speed.

Light Speed [3P]

After all the ships had flopped onto the table from hyperspace, and all the shots had been fired, Myles emerged victorious.

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Titus seeing who shot who in Light Speed

The Princes of Florence [5P]

If we were running on fumes at this point, it didn’t show. (Despite the hour, we hadn’t really played anything too taxing yet. Torres is a light, breezy game. It was Brawl that took a lot out of me due to the adrenaline surge.)

It was probably a mistake to allow Deej to take three Builders at reasonable prices early in the game. Another mid-round snafu allowed Nix to pick up a cheap jester. I don’t really know it that was a mistake though, as most of us had just three works left to play (Nix had four) and the jester sold for 600 florin. Or maybe we just screwed up at one in the morning. I’d managed to get a jester and a builder, and with four works and eight actions I was resigned to a one-building, one-work pattern for the rest of the game. I scored a Prestige that gave me 7PP for a jester, a builder and two landscapes, easy enough, but two other Prestige Cards that may have been useful to me later I buried in a fit of paranoia. That burned me later when I won another 200 florin Prestige Card and drew nothing but dreck. Stupid. Deej was happily filling up his Palazzo, and he also managed to pick up a Recruiter, giving him five available works. If he managed to get them all off he’d be in a great position. Nix was building up infrastructure to fire off his final four works, and eventually assembled four jesters.

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When you have to pay 1,000 florin for a forest, all you can do is laugh

The pivotal play came in the turn six auction, where I needed a forest for my last two works to make the minimum, and to add power to my remaining Bonus Card. Frog picked a lake to auction off, and George bid on it. This stunned the table, but George was later revealed to be holding a Bonus card powered by lakes, besides not having any other landscapes so the lakes were the only thing that provided incremental prestige. Anyway, Frog bailed on the lake with much muttering, and picked a forest. Ack. So I bid on it and the whole table erupts in disbelief. The hell can I do, it’ll wreck my final two turns if I don’t get it. Frog bid it up to 1,000 florin and I’m forced to bail. So much for those plans. I still get my round six work off, but net three prestige less than I planned from it.

In the turn seven auction, I’m forced to go for the forest again, and George goes for a third lake for reasons already stated. We both win the landscapes, breaking Frog’s All Three Landscapes prestige card and reducing the power of a couple of his bonus cards. With all that carnage, the race for fame was down to Nix and Deej.

The Princes of Florence – Final Scores:
Deej – 58 (Most builders)
Rick – 54 (1 jester + 1 builder + 2 landscapes)
Frog – 40 (Most forests)
Nix – 56
George – 35

I whiffed on that second prestige, and it was pretty awful since I had zero chances to fulfill any of the five cards I drew. I sucked even more because the last two cards I drew were two top two I returned earlier. If I didn’t bury the other two, I’d have drawn them and gotten a card with a condition that I eventually completed (2 large buildings). Ah, well. Such is the story of a five player Princes of Florence game, which ended past 2 am and clocked in just over 90 minutes.
I still didn’t get Vinci to the table, sadly. Frog is going to take a look at A Game of Thrones to see if it’s something he’d like to play next weekend. I want another go at Princes. And a go at Vinci. We’ll see what turns up.

Review - Roberto Fraga's Dragon Delta

In Vietnam, a traditional rite of passage has young men crossing the Mekong Delta. This is a race, and the first one to get to the opposite side wins. Unfortunately, something happened on the way from Europe to North America, and the Mekong Delta became the Dragon Delta, and now there’s some sort of dragon living in the water.

Dragon Delta is a game by Roberto Fraga, published by Eurogames. It comes in the standard Eurogames square box. The nice linen box is filled with mostly air, with the usual cardboard insert dominating the middle of the box. The nice, four-fold board is linen-finished with vibrant colors. The player pawns and flat, circular grey ‘stones’ are made of wood. The ‘planks’ are made of thick cardboard. Finally, the game comes with some smallish command cards for the players. On the whole, the package is very nice.

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The Game

Dragon Delta is a programmed race game. Players choose five cards each turn, and then execute the commands one at a time in player order. The first player to reach the island opposite his starting position wins.

There are six islands placed around the edges of the game board. Each player starts on his own island, and his target island lies across a body of water that has several little outcroppings of ground scattered around it. The player needs to make his way across.

To do that, he has to place stones on the islands to serve as anchoring points for his planks. Then, he has to lay a plank of sufficient length to get from his starting island to the first stone, and then to the succeeding stones. The other players do the same until there is a veritable web of planks spanning the delta.

All of this work is accomplished by each player choosing commands from a set of personal cards. Players have cards to place stones (2), place planks (2), move their player pawn (3), remove a stone or plank (1), and nullify the actions of other players (5). From this set of 13 cards (assuming a six-player game), each player chooses five cards and lays them face down in front of him, in the order he wants them executed. Thus there are five rounds of actions per turn. Once all players are ready, the starting player flips open his first card and executes that action. Then the second player follows, until all players have executed their first action. The start player then does his second action, and the other players follow. This continues until all the players have executed their five actions. The start player pawn then passes to the next player, and the choosing of five cards is repeated.

Five of each player’s cards are colored dragons, the dragons matching the colors of the other players. If a player plays a dragon, he nullifies the action of the corresponding player for that round. A player can only play one dragon per turn.

When a player places a stone, that stone may no longer be moved unless it is removed by an action card. The stone may not be removed if there is a plank anchored on it. One of the small outcroppings may only support one stone.

Each player has six planks or differing lengths. When playing a plank, he must choose one of the planks in his supply and play it onto the supporting stones without pre-measurement. If it’s not long enough, then the plank may not be played in that spot. The player must find another place to play the plank or lose the plank. One stone can only support up to three planks. When placing a plank, it should be placed flat on the stone “when possible”.

One of the command cards allows a player to take a plank. He may take a plank of any color, as long as he only has one of each length of plank, and he cannot have more than two colors of planks (including his own) in his supply. He also cannot take a plank if there’s a pawn on it.

When moving, a player must fulfill the move indicated by his played card. If his is unable to do so for any reason, he falls into the water and must return to his start island and try again. I don’t know why the dragon, which eats any s that fall into the water, won’t eat the player.

The first player to get to his target island wins the game.

Strategy

Dragon Delta is supposedly a game of bluff and doublethink. With so much chaos, it’s nigh impossible get any kind of results from planning. Strategy? Just getting your first two actions in a turn to work the way you envisioned is a Sisyphian task.

Reviewer’s Tilt

First off, the theme of the game is really strange. You’re young men racing to get across the delta, right? How then are you able to place stones anywhere on the board? How do your guys take a plank from across the board? And how do you happen to be carrying six planks on your back? Finally, there must be some sort of magic involved somewhere, as it is not clear how these young men cancel each others’ actions. Do they chuck pastrami sandwiches at each other, which they can’t avoid eating due to the strain of carrying six planks around?

On to the mechanisms. Dragon Delta has some interesting ideas applied to the “programmed action” mechanism. Unfortunately, some of them just don’t work.

The first and most glaring is the dexterity “sub-game” of placing planks on stones. Since no one wants to lose a plank, players tend to choose long planks to anchor on the stones. Three ends of overly-long planks anchored on a stone tend to result in the topmost plank end falling off the stone at the slightest bump, upsetting a section of the board (especially if there was a pawn standing on that plank). Even worse, if someone plays the “remove plank” action and tries to take the bottom-most plank on a stone, there’s no way to do it without wrecking a whole section of the board. Imagine a plank that’s at the bottom of a stack of three plank-ends on both anchoring stones. How the heck are you supposed to take the plank without devastating that section of the board?

The plank idea is interesting, but the execution is a failure.

Then we have the programming. Five actions per turn is too much. Most other programming games stick to three actions. There’s a reason for that. Choosing blind actions takes a bit of guesswork. The first guess has a reasonable chance of being successful. Each succeeding guess built on the first has a lower probability of doing something productive or expected. By the time the third guess comes around, the board will look nothing like anyone planned on unless they were very lucky. The fourth and fifth actions are akin to sewage thrown at a ceiling fan – no one has any idea where it’s going to end up. All you know is that there is a high probability of random stinkage.

There’s also the element of directed “take that”. The null cards are another interesting idea, but in a game that’s already chaotic, they’re an unnecessary injection of direct screwage that makes the entire game a total schmozz. With up to five other players to screw, and five different actions to choose from to screw, and up to five other players who can choose to screw you, there’s just no way to use the null cards productively unless there’s a player that’s one step away from winning. By then, the game’s already in the toilet.

What eventually happens is that players take the first two turns to place stones and planks, and maybe move a space or two. Some players will start using the null cards just because they like the screwage. After two turns, the board is a mess of planks which tend to topple over. Come the third turn, players pour on movement, nulls and plank removal randomly, hoping that when their turn to move comes around they’ll be able to go somewhere in the general direction of their target island. The players have to tolerate repeatedly fixing up the board after some planks are removed. Some players fall into the drink, so move a bit, some move a lot. However, there’s no difference between the results of the guy who takes fifteen minutes to plan his sequence of moves, and the guy who chooses his actions randomly. If that’s the case then what’s the point? Everyone just choose some random non-plank, non-stone actions and let’s see the results. Better yet, let’s just play something else.

In the end, Dragon Delta is a pointless exercise. I don’t mind light games with doses of luck, chaos and screwage, but this game has too much of everything. It’s not even relatively short or light! There’s no satisfaction in winning since you know it isn’t due to anything you did in particular. It just ended up that way. Dragon Delta, sadly, just does not work.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Game Night – 25 March 2005

Javy was around for this session, an occurrence that’s been in far short supply these days. It was good to have him aboard. Also joining us for the first time was George’s sister Mira. Always nice to have someone new to indoctrinate into the hobby!

With the personages assembled, I took the opportunity to haul Frog and George’s criminally underplayed copy of Pueblo off their shelf. Javy, George and I enjoy this game, and Nix wanted to try it after watching the game last Thursday. We elected to not use the always-entertaining Sacred Burial Grounds with two people new to the game. George signed up as Mira’s adviser, and play began.

Pueblo [4P]

I was feeling creative, so I attempted an unusual tactic. I had played a colored block near a corner, and that spot had some space left, enough to accommodate a couple more blocks. I decided to “waste” my next neutral block, leaving me space to cover my colored block with another of my own colored blocks, in an attempt to stay grounded as long as possible.

Not only was it a bad idea, but my timing was off and the other three players gleefully pounded that corner of mine with the Shaman. The old coot thwacked me with sixteen points of Shame in the first four turns of the game, making my task very difficult indeed.

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It didn’t help that the other players were handling the game very well. Javy, who holds the record for worst Pueblo score EVER (it was something like 108 Shame, if I recall correctly), was doing very well. The sisters were pristine at this point, and Nix only had 4.

I managed to hold off any more damage until the Shaman came around, building into the cracks and creases that the others were leaving. It wasn’t much. This was the toughest game of Pueblo I’d played yet. After a couple more turns the score was 10-5-10-19, with Javy leading. The Shaman eventually made his way all around again to Rick’s Folly, and the other builders (damn them) stuck me with another 7 Shame. Aaaaah! At the end of the main building proper, Javy was leading the way.

Pueblo – Scores before Final Inspection
George/Mira – 18
Javy – 9
Nix – 19
Rick – 26

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My only consolation was that other than Rick’s Folly, the rest of my building blocks were decently hidden. There were spots here and there, but I’d hopefully make up some ground. Shows you what I know about this game.

Pueblo – Final Scores
George/Mira – 38
Javy – 26
Nix – 36
Rick – 44

So Javy finally wins one, and a very nice win at that, while I lose my first game of Pueblo ever, coming in dead last. I hate this game, and I can’t wait to play again. It’s brilliant. But next time, we play with the Sacred Burial Grounds, hmmm? Stupid old coot hasn’t heard the last of THIS Master Builder.

Pueblo took less than an hour. Since Javy couldn’t stay a lot longer, we pulled his second most favorite game, Puerto Rico, off the shelf for a quick 5P game.

Puerto Rico [5P]

Seating: Nix, Rick, George, Javy, Frog

Ahhhh… second seat. Oh well. This installment of our ongoing Puerto Rico Wars wasn’t good for me. Not only did I get second seat, but my initial cash crop investment in Tobacco was headed off by both Frog and George, forcing me to switch strategies. In a fit of insanity, I took the Settler three times in the next five turns, piling up a bunch of quarries. Nix, who had invested early in a construction hut and a hacienda, made the most of it and ended up with four quarries himself. Of course, the other three people had all the goods. If we misplayed this, we’d get whacked with the shipping stick and it wouldn’t be pretty.

Nix eventually compiled all five goods via the hacienda, and got a factory out early courtesy of his quarries. I took a harbor, as did George who had the only other quarry. Javy built an office to leverage his coffee plantations. Frog was already shipping a lot early via corn, and ended up investing in a wharf to keep that going. It became a race, Nix and I attempting to build out as fast as possible while shipping a bit, and the others trying to get as many goods out as possible before the game ended.

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The pivotal play came in what turned out to be the next to last turn. Frog had the opportunity to end the game via slave exhaustion (due no doubt to my settler frenzy and building boom) but chose not to, trying to get one more shipping round off on Nix. Nix had a strong position, having built both the residence (good) I had the fortress, and Javy had the Guild Hall. In the final turn, Javy took the Mayor early, to prevent any large buildings built that turn from getting manned. Nix built city hall, Javy and I built hospices, which eliMirated all the buildings that Frog could afford. With one final round of shipping done, the scores were tallied…

Puerto Rico – Final Scores (Shipping+City+Bonus):
Nix: 7+22+7 = 36
Rick: 11+19+5 = 35
Javy: 17+17+6=40
Frog: 26+13+0=39
George: 20+14+0=34

If Frog had gotten a hospice, he would have won. If he had ended the game the turn earlier, he also would have won. Nix wasn’t in the running after all, due to pathetic shipping. Javy took the win with a nice, balanced approach. Great game, the best we’ve played in quite a while. I still prefer 4P to 5P PR, but sometimes 5P produces really good, tight, nerve-wracking games.

Javy took off after the game, and we settled down for some dinner. Mikko joined us at this point. When the plates were taken care of and the huge tub of Blue Bunny was put away for the next week, we turned to some lighter games.

Falling [6P]

Nix took on the task of teaching the group James Ernest’s Falling, a really fun real-time game. Having played before, I was at an advantage, moving the Hits and Splits off of me to the newbies while stockpiling the Skips and Extras. As usual, the game didn’t last long, and we all hit the ground. I hit the ground last, giving me the “win”.

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We played a second game, and this time Frog got the win. He hated the game though, so we chose a more traditional game next.

Mamma Mia [5P]

Nix again took on the task of teaching the game to Mira, who was the only one who was new to the game. I’ve got a really crappy memory, so when I play Mamma Mia I resort to hand management and short-term recall of what the last two players threw in. If a lot of recipes go into the deck, I’m usually screwed. As was the case here. Lots of recipes into the oven, really bad luck with the ingredients in hand, and the result is predictable:

Mamma Mia – First Round Scores:
Frog – 3
Rick – 0
Mira – 2
George – 2
Mikko – 3

The second round was no better for me, and Mikko lost his timing, resulting in him having no recipes played into the oven. Man, if there’s a recipe for sucking at Mamma Mia, that’s it.  However, I still had no complete recipes, so who am I to talk?

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Mamma Mia – Second Round Scores:
Frog – 4
Rick – 0
Mira – 3
George – 3
Mikko – 3

To end the second round, only mushrooms were left in the oven. Six of them. Mikko had drawn the Mamma Mia card, so he took advantage and converted his Minimale. I ws next, so there was just enough of the Shrooms for me to complete my own Minimale. That avoided the shutout! Actually, I did ok in the last round, making up some ground. We couldn’t beat Frog though, since he had a good memory and was actually trying to remember everything that went into the over.

Mamma Mia – Final Scores:
Frog – 6
Rick – 4 (all in the last round!)
Mira – 4
George – 3
Mikko – 3

That took around 45 minutes, so we launched into another filler, this time a bit more stupid. Boy, we didn’t know the half of it.

Give Me the Brain [6P]

This is one of Nix’s and Tala’s favorite fillers. It’s got a fun theme, but the mechanisms of this game are fairly unstable, as this game demonstrated.

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Nix explained the game for around five minutes. Ok, no problem (I had played before). So, we deal the cards. Then we bid. Nix wins the bid. He takes the brain. He plays Work Sucks, discarding his whole hand and drawing four new cards. He also fails the skill roll for Work Sucks, dropping the brain. We bid again. Nix wins control of the brain again (remember he dropped it so the 1-4 cards are 31s for him). He plays a one-hand brain job. He fails the skill roll, dropping the brain again. We bid again, and he wins yet again. He plays his last job. Game over.

Give Me the Brain
Winner – Nix, with no one else getting to do anything

I seriously doubt that we’re going to see Give Me the Brain again anytime soon. Sorry Tala.

In an effort to actually play a game where people got to do stuff before it was over, I brought out Bohnanza, which I had stuck in my bag for some reason that I no longer remember. It’s been a while since we played the bean game, and a lot of the folks at the table had never played (I think it was just me, Frog and Mikko that had played before).

Bohnanza [6P]

I actually find Bohnanza inoffensive, pleasant and just a bit boring. It’s better if everyone plays fast. Good thing that people caught on pretty fast, and the game proceeded briskly. People were harvesting beans a bit too early though, and more people bought the third bean fields than I would have expected.

I was in a color mood, nursing red, black-eyed and blue beans for most of the game, but made four gold from a nice full wax bean plantation. As is usual I don’t buy the third bean field. Nix compiled an impressive coffee plantation, perhaps leftovers from that Puerto Rico game. Mikko was in the running with green beans and chili beans.

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There was a decent amount of donations since people had different plantations (six is probably the best number of players for Bohnanza), and the trading was brisk.

Bohnanza – Final Scores:
Frog – 7
George – 8
Mira – 6
Nix – 11 (4 cards)
Mikko – 11 (3 cards)
Rick – 7

Ooh, nice tiebreaker win by Nix. Bohnanza will never be a favorite of mine due to its languid pace and a tendency for players to lose focus, but at least it goes quickly. God forbid we ever add any expansions into this game. It’ll see some action a couple of times a year maybe, when we need a change of pace, or there are lots of newbies.

George took Mira home, so Frog and Mikko paired up to play the A Game of Thrones CCG. I pulled out its sister, the Call of Cthulhu CCG to play with Nix. He had the Mythos, I had the Investigators.

The Call of Cthulhu CCG [2P]

I had a pretty decent draw, expanding to four domains and drawing the Miskatonic Library early. This allowed me to get the tomes from the deck, giving an additional way to put early points on the stories. As usual, the Mythos deck was slow out of the gate, but was spitting out resources. My humans did well early, even getting some help from a Government Task Force while investigating certain rumors.

That was until some calamity occurred at the investigation site, and all hands working on that story were lost. (Nix played The Great Old One Rises – ouch). The Mythos deck had enough resources by then to bring in a couple of Shoggoths to augment the two cultists. I took a shotgun to the cultist named Tim, preventing him from murdering any more scholars and cops, but it was too late. The cultists eventually succeeded in summoning The King in Yellow, and with the Mythos ahead two stories to one, it was a lost cause.

I’m considering removing The Great Old One Rises from the Mythos deck, as it has the potential to completely ruin the day of the investigators. Maybe in a few more plays, if it keeps being the gamebreaker.

George had returned by then, so we played one more game as a closer.

Paris Paris [3P]

We’ve been enjoying Paris Paris a lot lately, having played it around six times in the last two weeks. It’s a perfect mediumweight game, requiring a bit of thought and planning, some spatial visualization, and it’s got just a bit of luck at the end. Not bad, it’s the best Michael Schacht game I’ve played.

The game was pretty even early on, with all three of us jockeying for business sites at the intersections. I had the blue special tour tile, but was struggling to maintain a position there due to the tile draws, so I had to diversify as best as I could. Nix was doing very well, spreading out and getting great results from the small tours due to great timing. With five stacks to go, the scores were very close 18-18-17, with George behind by just a tick. The grand tour display was full though, so several grand tours culMirated the main part of the game.

Paris Paris – Scores before Special Tours:
George – 32
Nix – 39
Rick – 36

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We revealed our special tour tiles, and I got hosed. Not only was I unable to get a foothold in my own blue line, the other two lines I was into heavily, green and orange, were not going to have special tours. Ouch.

Paris Paris – Scores after Special Tours:
George – 50
Nix – 61
Rick – 43

We doubted that the bag bonus would help George catch Nix, and it turned out that Nix and I were tied with 5 houses in the bag, with George having 4. Nix wins.