Saturday, June 1, 2013

Memorial Day Gaming

Not actually our incident - but similar
Every year since 1983, my family has gone camping over Memorial Day weekend.  With the exception of 1 or 2 weekends, we've always gone to Sherando Lake in the George Washington National Forest.  It is actually organized through my parent's church, and we usually get 120+ people in the group camp site.  We do all kinds of stuff - hiking, swimming, eating smores...and of course, gaming.  This year was a little bit exciting - on the way through the entrance gate, the park rangers warned us to make sure we put away our food at night.  Now...we've never seen anything much more than a racoon in 30 years at this place.  Well...ok, last year one of Brian's sons got bit by a copperhead...but beside that...  Anyway, at about 3:30 in the morning of the first night, I was awoken by the sound of my cooler being flipped over and rummaged through.  Hello bear!  I did what anyone would - made sure my box of games was safe in the truck!  Other than that bit of excitement, the only slight negative to the weekend was that it got chilly at night...actually, it got downright cold.  Which is great for curling up in your sleeping bag, but not so great for getting in some late night gaming.  Still, we managed to get a few in.

Hansa Teutonica

On Friday night (pre-bear visit), Tom, his wife Kelly, my sister Cathy and I broke out a favorite - Hansa TeutonicaCathy had not played before, and it had been a while for Kelly.  We had discovered recently that we had been doing end-game scoring incorrectly.  For the "keys" - you score for the number of offices in you largest chain of cities...not the number of cities.  I went with the strategy of claiming an office early in the city of Gottingen, hoping to get lots of points from people claiming routes there in order to increase their number of actions.  That worked for the most part - I got out to 7 or 8 points before anyone else started scoring.  I also claimed the office in Stade, scoring points when people wanted to increase their privlegium.  I wanted to then create a chain of cities between Lubeck in the east and Groningen in the west, but Cathy and Kelly both started claiming offices in Hamburg.  I decided to try and clear all the spots on my player board (for 4 points each), and get some points from the Coellen table.  Tom, meanwhile was creating a massive chain of cities in the south.  I knew he was getting points here and there, but I wasn't that concerned until he announced that he had connected Arnheim and Stendal, getting the 7 point bonus.  After that he was only a few points behind me.  At the end game, I got some fortuitous placement of "dinner plates" by Kelly that allowed to grab extra actions, and clear my player board.  I ended up in the neighborhood of 80 points, winning the game.


Tom had specifically requested to play Spartacus over the weekend - and we rounded up Brian and my brother Craig on Saturday night to throw some gladiators into the fighting pits.  I suggested we started at 4 influence - the "standard" game.  Considering we didn't get going until close to 10:00, and it was cold, we probably should have started at 7 for the "quick" game.  We had a good game, although considering everyone else in the campground was asleep, and how our voices carried, I'm sure there were some campers wondering what exactly we were doing.  I don't thing anyone exclaimed too loudly about the "Jupiter's Cock" card.  At about 12:30 or so, cold and tired, I requested we just make the next round the last one.  I thought Tom was running away with the game.  Turns out we had lots of intrigue in the last round.  I managed to shoot from about 7 influence to 11, and Tom and Brian got to 11 as well, with Craig at 10.  One more round and we would have had an absolute winner, although several of us had essentially turned in all of our slaves and gladiators to get to 11 already.  Basically, whoever was able to buy the Host card on the following turn would have won.  Good game...but maybe not late at night with the temperature in the mid-30s.


At the Game Parlor
This year, at the Prezcon auction store, I picked up Caylus for $15 or so.  I had heard good things about Caylus, in relation to Lords of Waterdeep.  I had heard Waterdeep called a "light" version of Caylus.  Tom and I played a "tutorial game" - or about 1/2 a game on Saturday to get the rules down, and then Craig and Brian joined us Sunday afternoon for a full game.  Wow - this is a great game.  I only see the vaguest resemblence to Waterdeep - in that you can buy building that other people then use - but, while I love Waterdeep, Caylus is definitely a deeper, more strategic game.  The key to the game, I think, is the manipulation of the "provost" - which dictates which buildings will be activated that turn...after people have placed their workers on them.  Manipulation of the provost definitely provides a "screw your neighbor" element - if you're willing to pay for it.  I think we had a number of rookie mistakes in our first game, particularly in how we built buildings - but Tom and Craig seemed to grasp it a bit quicker, and fought to the end, with Tom eeking out a victory.  I was neck and neck with Tom at the beginning, but had a disastrous turn where some of my buildings didn't activate, and never recovered.  As an addendum, this was played again on Tuesday at our regular game night - myself, Tom, Traci and a fellow named Randy.  I was much smarter about which buildings I built when - and used the kings favor track much more effectively, and managed to get a victory.  This is one I want to introduce to the rest of our group soon.

Ticker to Ride - Asia

Sunday night Tom, Cathy and I played a game of TTR on the Asia map.  I had not played the Asia map yet - which includes mountain passes (essentially discarding train pieces for points) and a bonus for most cities connected (slightly different than the usual TTR bonus of "longest train").  I managed to complete 5 routes, and just beat out Tom for the most cities bonus to win the game.  Not much else to say about the game - it's TTR, which is good when you want to pull out something that's easy or a lot of people know - and easy to play on a camp table.  I have not yet played the flip side of the Asia board, which is a team game - I'm eager to try that.

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