Wednesday, June 26, 2013

2 Weeks of Tuesday Nights

Well, I've been a little lazy and haven't posted in some let's correct that.  I have two weeks worth of gaming to talk about, from our regular Tuesday night game nights...

Two weeks ago we had one of our larger crowds, with eventually seven of us turning out.  Before everyone got there, Brian G., Paul O., Glenn W. and myself got in another game of The Great Heartland Hauling Co.  I've blogged about this game recently in two posts - here and here.  Not much more to say this time, other than I enjoyed my first 4-player game.  I was teaching two newbies, and Paul O. hadn't played since last WBC, so we just played the basic game.  Again, I'm itching to use the "inspansion" cards...

Next, Mike R., Stacy and Carson joined us for a 7-payer game of Pacific Typhoon.  This is an interesting card game, in the growing genre of "semi-cooperative games", in which players must work together during the game, but those alliances can fluctuate as the game goes on, with only one winner in the end.  Set in the Pacific theater of WWII (and the sequel to the earlier Atlantic Storm), Pacific Typhoon consists of two decks of cards - the battle deck, and the "force" deck.  On each turn, the starting player for that turn turns over two cards on the battle deck, and decides which of the historical battles represented he or she wishes to fight.  The other battle is discarded.  The starting player also determines some other info such as potentially the time of the battle (day or night) and whether it will be aerial, surface or undersea (or combined!)  Then each player needs to decide which cards from his hand of "force" cards he will play.  Note that each player will have a hand that consists of Japanese AND Allied cards, and on each turn he must decide which side to fight for.  This is the key element of the game, as it leads to a lot of table talk, and deals being brokered.  Cards are played, attack points totaled, and a winning side is declared.  The player who contributed the most to the winning side then gets to keep the battle card for points, and divvy up the spoils of war (i.e. the losers cards) as he sees fit.  There are more elaborate rules, such as which cards can be paired, and certain cards that cause automatic kills on other cards, cards that can only be played in certain years, etc.  The game continues until the entire battle deck has been emptied, and the winner is the player with most points from captured battle/force cards.

Now, I had a bad night.  I'm trying to not let that affect my opinion of the game.  In fact, it's a fun game, and the cards contain a wealth of historical information.  But it just wasn't my night, and I was stuck slogging through a 2+ hour game, in which I knew in the first 15-20 minutes that I had no chance of winning.  That's my big complaint this game - that it took too long.  I think this game is suitable for about 1 hour.  Now...we had a lot of newbies, and a few like me that hadn't played in a year or more.  So there was a learning curve at the beginning, and with more plays I'm sure we would be faster.  But I still might lessen the battle deck by about 10 cards (5 battles).

After Pacific Typhoon, Brian, Paul O., Carson and myself got in a game of Lords of Waterdeep.  Not much to say about this one - Brian won by completing 11(!) quests that were all relevant to his lord.  I'm beginning to believe more and more that concentrating on completing as many low to mid-level quests is the way to go.  Sure, those 25 point quests are nice...but they take a lot of work.  I still enjoy Lords of Waterdeep quite a bit, but I've played it a LOT in the last year or so, and I'm definitely looking forward to the expansion

OK, fast forward a week, and I managed to get in two more games.  I was running late, and missed a game of The Walking Dead between Brian, Carson and Mike R.  Once I got there, and they finished up, we settled on a game of Airlines Europe.  I first discovered this game at Prezcon 2012, and enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy.  Unfortunately, it hasn't made it to the table a lot, and I was glad to get a chance to play it again.  At first glance, it looks like a "Ticket to Ride with airplanes", but gameplay is radically different that TtR.  In this game, you are an investor, buying stocks in different airlines, and working to make those airlines more lucrative.  Since more than one player can own stock in an airline, multiple players can be working together to drive up the value of airlines, all while trying to become the majority stockholder.  It's a very interesting mechanic, and leads to some interesting player interaction.  In our game, I managed to pull out victory by being the majority stockholder in 3 of the highest valued airlines.  This one needs to get to the table more!

Lastly, we played a game of Kingsburg, which was new to me.  I've heard of Kingsburg before, and know that is has a relatively good reputation, so I was interested in trying it.  This is a "dice placement" game, in which you roll 3 dice, and place them on a board in order to take advantage of various "advisers".  Typically they enable you to collect resources, which then enable you to buy certain buildings...which then allow you to bend the rules in certain ways.  The game is played over 5 turns, with each turn consisting of 4 seasons...the winter season being where you have to fight off invading monsters.  This threat of the monsters at the end of each turn has you scrambling to build buildings that give you defense or use your precious dice rolls to hire guards.  The various tiers of buildings offer you different benefits, like any euro, you have too much you want to do, and not enough time to do it in.  I enjoyed the game, and the dice rolling mechanic was fairly novel, but I was not blown away by it.  I think Brian hit it on the head at the end when he stated that he never felt like he was building his town.  You marked your buildings on a grid-style board, and that was it.  This is another in the category of "I'll play it again, but I won't push for it". 


  1. Like you, I definitely liked The Great Heartland Hauling Company a lot more this time than the first time I played. I felt like I got the hang of the whole "keep on truckin'" paradigm. I could definitely play it again any time; it's a terrific filler.

    I agree with you that Pacific Typhoon took longer than it should have. Two and a half hours is a long time to play a game that has no "arc" to it. It's really just hand after hand, with no building or strategy from one hand to the next (other than deciding to save some cards for later). For all of that, though, I really like the game a lot. Maybe it plays faster with experienced players.

    I think you're right about Lords of Waterdeep, that small quests that satisfy your Lord's special victory conditions are the way to go. I enjoy that game a lot even though I don't have the hang of it.

    Airplanes of Europe sounds a lot like Chicago Express, in which you invest in railroads and try to boost your income. I'd really like to try it.

    1. I think you hit on something with your "no arc" comment, Paul. That's a very good point - you're not building an empire, or a power grid, or anything like's just repetitive, hand after hand of the same thing. Of course, most - if not all - "traditional" card games are like that.

      I think you'd like Airlines Europe - it sort of similar to Chicago Express...but kind of distantly. It takes some effort to realize that you're not playing "Ticket to Ride Airplanes", because the map and "feel" of the components is similar...but once you get past that, this is an interesting game. My understanding is that it's basically a rethemed version of another train game - Union Pacific.