Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Unexpected Gaming, and an Unexpected Game

8 October 2005

The weekend looked bleak for gaming. I was flying out to Singapore early on Sunday for three days of meetings, and didn't think I could make game night at The Lily Pad. My dear wife prodded me to go, however, because she knew I needed the distraction. Game night charges my batteries and gives me the social and creative outlet that I don't get at work. I just had to make it home early to catch some sleep so I could catch my 8am flight out.

9 October 2005

Large turnout at The Lily Pad, but the game that made it to the table once again was Traumfabrik. Sadly, I found that my camera had died in the two weeks that I didn't use it, so I was unable to start taking my customary game night pictures again.

There were eight people so some teaming up was necessary since everyone wanted to play. We haven't had a hit this big since Puerto Rico. My memory is starting to fuzz out from the volume of T-fab plays we've been generating, but I do remember that Nix and Tala curned out the night's biggest film - a $200 million box office smash with Nicole Kidman starring as Maximus in the Martin Scorsese-directed Gladiator.

I was attempting to grasp the timing of T-fab but again it eluded me. I got one film completed early, a decent $100 million production of Braveheart with Ashley Judd in the lead role (hey, it was a night of strong female lead characters). After that I was unable to complete a second film, falling one tile short of getting my huge Raiders of the Lost Ark production into theaters. The film ran out of cash, and my pathetic total box office take of $300 million put me firmly into last place, over $200 million behind the fourth place WB of Erik and Annie. Pathetic.

T-fab is giving me the hot Reiner flashes that I got from Taj Mahal and Modern Art - I can't seem to win the damned game, and I struggle to do well. All the hallmarks of what usually is a great game in my book. It helps that we all have so much fun playing the game.

I had to leave just as Princes of Florence hit the table. Regretfully, I headed home, visions of jesters and builders dancing in my head as I listened to Mark Jackson talk to Mike Siggins about Freidrich in the car.

10 October 2005

Sunday, I arrived in Singapore. The first thing that appeared on my Blackberry after I turned it back on was a message from Wilson Tan confirming our meetup to play. Things were looking up. After settling in the hotel I grabbed a cab and heading for the best FLGS in Singapore, Paradigm Infinitum. I was famished so I stopped by the Burger King in the store building's basement and ran into the people I was to meet - Wilson and Siow Hwee and their loverly wives Shih Huei and Janey, plus little Becky.

The stop at Paradigm looked uneventful. They had some new stuff in, but it was uninspiring. They had Dungeon Twister, but I don't have a lot of use for 2P games. Besides, it's got plastic miniatures and is "expandable". Those are always warning signs. Adding those factors to the new designer and a publisher without a good track record and it's a pass for me.

The other game I was taking a good look at was the Face 2 Face Games reprint of Reiner's Rheinlander. Now this is a game that's got a decent reputation, but from the information on the Geek I was pretty sure that I didn't need it in my collection. Reiner's already staked out a sizable chunk of my mid-length, mid-weight games with Traumfabrik, Modern Art, Through the Desert, Samurai and Colossal Arena, plus Euphrat & Tigris to a certain extent. I knew I was going to get RA in a few weeks. I'd rather wait on Stephenson's Rocket and Medici in 2006. Besides, the SG$100 price tag almost made me choke considering the component issues of the game.

There were some other interesting items scattered around. A copy of Struggle of Empires was on display, but not only was it more expensive than Rheinlander, I wasn't interested as Martin Wallace is currently on might "don't bother" list until he puts out a game better than the tepid Age of Steam. Another interesting item was a copy of the OOP RGG reprint of Goldseiber's Mississipi Queen. Too bad I'm not into race games at all. I'll probably play it, but I wasn't about to buy it, OOP or not. Siow Hwee had it and wasn't too impressed. Finally, Wilson pointed out a copy of the lui-meme werewolf cards, The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow, on the shelf. I've always thought that having a nice set of werewolf cards just to drive the theme home when the occasion arose would be useful, so I took that.

While Wilson was off lecturing a friend of his he ran into on the salient points of our hobby (the fellow ended up with Bang! and Coloretto I think, which wasn't bad), I noticed a blue box with the Hans im Gluck logo on one of the shelves. Expecting some lame game, I pulled it out. Reiner Knizia. Clash of the Gladiators. Wow, another OOP game.

Now, this isn't exactly one of Reiner's Finer Games by the BGG rating scale. Not really surprising, because this is a Reiner Dicefest. Now, the good doctor does do dice games, and he does them well. Exxtra, Easy Come Easy Go, Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck... They're all light dice games. Besides, Reiner wrote the book on dice games. So this game, with its theme of gladiators duking it out with wild animals and each other in the Colosseum - yeah, that's right up my alley. The design appeals to the old-time AD&Der in me, so it became my purchase for this trip. I think the game group will enjoy it.

So, I paid for the games and they gave me a big pastic bag so I could put the Kosmos La Citta the Wilson gave me in trade for Java into it along with my new purchases. This was turning out to be a good trip.

We went over to Wilson's office to play a game. Wilson's office had a nice meeting room with a large table. The game of the day was Euphrat & Tigris, which I promised to teach complete with theme. :-) After about 20 minutes of rules, we were off. Siow Hwee had played before, so his seating to my right was something I took note of. Not that it much mattered in E&T but it was good to be prudent. After the initial Kingdom buildups, I erected a Political/Commercial Monument to the north of the Tigris. Siow Hwee waged war and succeeded in exiling my King, but my Trader held his ground, lasting the entire game entrenched beside the Monument. A huge was for Agriculture was waged to the east, and I successfully ejected Siow Hwee's Farmer from the area, following that up with destroying his Priest's power base. The gods were smiling down on the Archer Dynasty.

Siow Hwee attacked a couple of times, both ending in futility. Janey: "he's not a very good player." Laughs all around. Apparently Janey kicks Siow Hwee's butt in E&T.

Endgame had a couple of large wars smack in the middle of the twin rivers. Wilson was doing very well, but I knew he had the same problem as I did - we were both weak in agriculture. The difference was that I had accumulated three treasures. Hoping that that would be the difference, I ended the game by accelerating time.

I had barely won with a score of 8. Siow Hwee had 6, Shih Huie 5, and Wilson 4. It was a very good game for the first time of Wilson and Shih Huei.

We all had to be somewhere, so we packed up with promises of playing more games when I next made the trip to Sing.

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