Thursday, June 27, 2013


So, here's my obligatory Kickstarter post.  Like many others, I was pretty hesitant to jump in the Kickstarter waters, because of the usual reasons - should I really trust a brand new designer who's game hasn't been vetted by a proven company, will the quality be up to standards, etc etc.   Well, eventually I caved and jumped into the Kickstarter pool.  I mean...they sure do make it tempting, what with various "stretch goals" and Kickstarter-only swag you can get.

So, what have I "Kickstarted" so far, and why?


This game by Darrel Louder was my first foray into Kickstarter.  At WBC 2011, I had met Chris Kirkman (aka Dice Hate Me), his wife Cherilyn (aka Monkey238) and designer TC Petty III.  They were demoing VivaJava, which would eventually be Kickstarted as one of Dice Hate Me Games first published works.  I really enjoyed the game, but I didn't take the Kickstarter plunge (I eventually picked up a copy at Prezcon 2013).  In any case, I started following the DHM gang, on twitter and via the podcast, and when they started talking about Compounded, my interest was piqued.  I'm not a chemist, but I am an engineer who managed to struggle his way through freshman chemistry back in the day.  As we all know, Euro games can take on any theme under the sun, but here was one based in science.  Cool!  The campaign mentioned that Compounded was a veteran of the Unpub process, which my friend Paul Owen had experienced.  When I asked Paul about it, he relayed that he had played Compounded and enjoyed it very much, and I believe he was already a backer at that point.  Well, that was enough for me...I created my Kickstarter account and backed my very first project.  It was amazing to watch Compounded reach stretch goal after stretch goal - I am very much looking forward to opening this up when it arrives in a few months!

Alien Frontiers

So, backing the 4th edition of Alien Frontiers was not particularly a stretch.  This was the original Kickstarter boardgame darling, becoming a runaway hit when first published in 2010.  My friend Brian picked up a copy somewhere along the way, and I enjoy playing it quite a bit.  When I saw them Kickstarting the 4th edition, I knew I wanted to get in on the action.  With the true enthusiasm of a convert, I shelled out for all the extra bling, including the various expansions and "rocket dice". 

VivaJava Dice

 This one was a bit of a no-brainer, as I enjoy VivaJava, and knowing the guys putting this game out, I"m relying on another quality game from DHMG.  Looking forward to rolling the dice on this one.  My only comment on the Kickstarter campaign...they need to lighten up and have some fun...a little too serious in the video ;)

 City Hall

 So this is an interesting one...this is my first Kickstarter project I'm backing with little to no background on the game.  I'm basing my support of City Hall based solely on a number of glowing reviews I've seen from people I respect on web.  I was not completely inspired by the video on the Kickstarter site, but again...I've seen enough people praising the game that I'm taking a chance on it.  Apparently this game had an unsuccessful first run on Kickstarter, but got picked up by Tasty Minstrel Games, who is running this Kickstarter.     Unfortunately, with a little over 24 hours to go, they're slightly less than halfway to their $30K goal.  For some reason, they went with a shortened 9 day Kickstarter run instead of the normal 30 days.  Not sure on the rationale behind that decision.

Brew Crafters

 Well, I haven't actually backed this one yet because the campaign hasn't started...but you can bet I will as soon as it debuts on Kickstarter.  I had a lengthy blog post about this game after I got to try it at Prezcon this year (it was going by the name "Brewmasters" back then).  I'm REALLY looking forward to this one, and think this game by Ben Rossett could quickly become one of my favorites.

Small World 2 (for Android)

I realized as I was about to wrap this blog entry up that there is one more thing I've kickstarted...and it's not a boardgame...technically.  As an Android user, I've been a bit jealous of the sheer amount of board games that have been ported to iOS.  There's been a few on Android (Carcassonne, Settlers), but nothing like the sheer amount on iOS.  So when Days of Wonder announced that they were re-doing their Small World app and would create an Android version if they met a certain goal, I was all in.  Curiously, after all the fanfare of the Small World Kickstarter campaign, Days of Wonder quietly released Ticket to Ride on Android.  Not really sure of the different approaches there...maybe TtR is so much more popular that they knew it would be a hit?

Well, I think that sums up my Kickstartering...I don't expect I will jump willy nilly at every thing that looks remotely interesting.  I'll likely continue to back only projects by people/companies that I'm comfortable with - as it is, the one campaign that I've backed with little to no personal knowledge of seems that it's likely to fail.  And I didn't even mention The Emperor's New Clothes controversy....

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". 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Atlantic Star and Tzolk'in

I haven't been quite punctual in blogging about our regular Tuesday night game I'll combine the last two in one post.  I learned two new interesting games in the last two weeks (plus snuck in a game of Power Grid, to boot). 

Atlantic Star

The Love Boat?
Two Tuesday's ago Mike R, Tom, Traci, Carson and myself made it out to the game parlor.  We were joined by a 6th player, a gentleman on business travel who was looking for a game.  The First thing we broke out was a game Tom & Traci had brought, called Atlantic Star.   The theme of the game is that you are organizing cruises in 4 major bodies of water - the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Pacific.  Each cruise has a certain color assigned to it, and each has number of "stops" (3,4,5, and 6 respectively).  You complete a cruise by collecting a number of cards equal to the number of stops required. 

The ship cards
However, it's a bit more complicated than that - of course.  The cards, which show images of various ships, contain letter-number combos in various colors (corresponding to the 4 different cruises).  You have to collect cards that have letters in sequential order, in order to play them to complete a cruise.  So, for example, you have to collect cards that have a yellow A, B and C in order to complete the Baltic Cruise.  Now, the numbers connected to the letters indicate the overall "value" of your you want to get letters that have higher numbers associated with them.  The trick is, you can't have more card in your hand than 2 over the cruise you're trying to complete - so, for example, to complete the Baltic Cruise (3 cards), you can't have more than 5 cards in your hand when you play the cards to complete it. 

The "value" of your cruise does not correspond to victory points, though.  When you complete a cruise, you write the value of your cruise on a little marker, and then put it on one of 5 scoring columns on the score board.  The different columns have different scoring ladders.  If you are the first to complete that particular cruise, you can choose which column to use...if not, you have to put your marker in the column that has already been chosen for that cruise.  The markers of the different players are arranged on the column in order of cruise value.  So, if you complete that Baltic Cruise at a higher value than other players, you will go ahead of them on that column, potentially bumping them down.
Setting Sail at the Game Parlor

So, how do you get new cards?  You buy them.  You start the game with $18000.  There will be 4 face up cards, in slots costing $0, $1000, $2000, and $3000.  On your turn, you can pay to get the card of your choice.  As each slot is taken, the remaining cards slide down.  You can also pay $2000 to wipe the board and put 4 new cards out.  You do not "earn" more money during the game...but you can borrow from cruises that you have already completed...which will lessen their value, potentially causing them to move down on their scoring column.

This is an interesting card/set collection game.  I can't say I loved it, but I would definitely play it again (it helped that I won).  The most interesting mechanic, in my mind, is the scoring table, and choosing which column to put various completed cruises in, and how much to borrow later - do you risk letting someone else sneak in above you? 

Just a quick note that we also played Power Grid that night.  Tom and Traci had never played before, so we played the base game, with the German map.  Power Grid is always fun, and in this case Mike R. pulled ahead early and went on for the win.  We let him start in a good position, and he went unchallenged for much of the game, while others of us battled it out for one corner of the map.  We had higher power plants come up early, and I bought them early, thinking to secure my capacity, and then concentrate on houses.  But, it was one of those games where game end was triggered...and the number of houses powered was actually I wasted a lot of money on unneeded capacity.

This past Tuesday, I was the only one from our "regular" group to be able to go to Game Parlor Tuesday night.  I've gotten to know some of the other regulars there, so I figured I'd show up and see if I could get into a game.  I wasn't disappointed, as I joined Malcolm, Carl and Jeff for a game of Tzolk'in - which I had seen played a lot in recent months, and was intrigued by.
A crystal skull? Wasn't there an Indiana Jones movie...nevermind...

The game is subtitled "The Mayan Calendar"...but no worries, you're not playing to end the world.  One look at the board, and it's easy to see why I was intrigued.  The board is dominated by 6 gears in the middle, 5 outer gears driven by a larger central gear.  There is no easy way to explain this game without actually playing it, so I'm not really going to try.  Suffice to say, it's a worker placement type game, where you place your workers on the gears.  Each smaller gear has a track around it, and when you decide to remove your worker, you will get the benefit of the space he has stopped on.  This includes getting resources, extra workers, building buildings and temples, etc...

Just another cog in the gears....
As with most euro games, there are multiple ways to score points, and thus paths to victory.  You can buy buildings that are wroth straight up points, buy buildings that score you points for owning other buildings, move up on the temple track, get crystal skulls that will earn you points, yada yada.  The key mechanism, as you might expect, has to do with the big gears.  On your turn you can either place workers, or remove them, but not both.  You have to plan when you place your workers, so as the gears rotate, they will get to the proper spots at the right time.  There is a mechanism to change who is the first player, and when that happens, the new first player has the opportunity to turn the gear 2 spaces (the game lasts one full revolution of the large gear).  This ended up biting me in the 2nd game we played (a 3 player game, as Jeff left after the first game).  I had set myself up in good position for the final 3 turns - or so I Carl took the first player token, and moved the gear 2 spots, effectively giving us only 2 final turns.  This really screwed up my plans and cost me a bunch of points.  Ah well.  I really enjoyed this game...I thought the gears might be a gimmick, but this is a very deep and strategic euro game.  I would definitely play it again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Trivial Matters...

Am I the only one that thought it was the "genius" edition?
In a recent IM conversation with my friend Paul Owen, the subject of Trivial Pursuit came up.  I think we had been talking about making loads of money as a game designer (which, far and away, most game designers do NOT), and I said something like "If only I'd had the brilliant idea to come up with a game where you race your friends to answer trivia questions".  If you don't catch the sarcasm there,  most aficionados of today's hobby boardgames would likely consider Trivial Pursuit an inferior game - the game is just roll and move, and answering random questions - you hope to get lucky in that you know the answer to the questions you get.  There's no real strategy, and you can't "learn" the game, other than going out and trying to learn all sorts of trivia.

Interestingly, Paul brought up another trivia game he had owned, called Isaac Asimov's Super Quiz.  On the face of it, while still just a trivia game, IASQ offers a little more in the way of "strategy".  When answering a question from a specific category, you can choose to answer an "easy", "medium", or "hard" question, for 1, 2 or 3 points respectively.  The objective is to be the first to get to 35 points.  So, that sounds good - you can go for easy questions in subjects you are not strong in, and go for the gusto in your favorite categories (I'm unsure if you have to get a minimum score in each of the categories).  So, why then was Trivial Pursuit such a run away success, while IASQ was virtually unheard of (well, I hadn't heard of it, was successful enough to spawn two more editions)?

3 point Question:  What are the 3 laws of Robotics?
My first thought was subject matter - I assumed from the name on the title, that the game might be all science fiction, or at least "sciency" type questions.  Wrong...the categories are Geography, History, Movies, Science, Sports & Games, and Words - very similar to Trivial Pursuit's Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, and Sports & Leisure.  However, I still wonder if Isaac Asimov's name on the cover did in fact turn some people off - people who were familiar with Asimov might have assumed, just as I did, that the game was science fiction based.  On the other hand, perhaps Asimov's name did nothing at all for most people - even considering he's once of the most famous science fiction writers...sci-fi is still a niche subject in the grand scheme of things, so John Q. Public may have seen the box and simply said "Isaac who?".  Apparently Asimov had a running newspaper column called "Isaac Asimov's Super Quiz", from which the board game was derived...but I never recall seeing that particular article in any papers I picked up when I was younger, so I'm unsure that was enough to guarantee brand success. 

My next thought fell to game play and/or components.  IASQ appears to be just several boxes of cards in different categories, and a score sheet (I'm unsure if you just get to pick which category you want every time it's your turn, or how that works...).  In TP, you roll a die to see what space you land on - now most hobby boardgamers decry random roll-and-move mechanics these days, but to most of general society, that mechanic is almost mandatory in their definition of a "board game".  And, it does add some chance and randomness to the game ("come on, come on...I really need a 5 here....").  Add in the "roll again" spaces, and you do get a certain amount off tension in the game. 

But what about components?  As I mentioned, IASQ appears to be just cards, pen&paper.  Trivial Pursuit had, of course, their famous "pie" scoring token, which served as both a score keeper, and your pawn to move around the board.  As I told Paul, there was something innately satisfying about seeing that little empty shell slowly fill up with the different colored pie pieces.  I don't think you can mention Trivial Pursuit without people immediately thinking of the pie pawn.  The circular pie pawn, or a triangular pie piece seems to be depicted in some sort of fashion on the box of nearly every version of Trivial Pursuit - it is the iconic symbol of the game, and it seems to have caught the imagination of the public.

May the Pie be with you.
Speaking of "versions", Trivial Pursuit appears to be second only to Monopoly in creating specialized versions of the game.  Beyond it's generic "Genus" versions, there is everything from decade specific (the 1980's) to Disney to a "World Cup" edition.  From my vantage point right now, I can see the "Star Wars" version sitting on my shelf.  So, they definitely had a handle on marketing...although if the original game had not been so popular, I'm not sure they would have had the chance to expand so much. 

So, what am I to conclude from this?  I'm not entirely sure.  I definitely think components matter in a game.  Given two games that are very similar, superior components can help turn a good game into a great game.  Was that the case with Trivial Pursuit?  From my conversation with Paul, I had the impresstin that IASQ was out concurrently or even prior to TP.  Not the case - Trivial Pursuit was first, in 1981, IASQ in 1982.  So perhaps TP really did tap into an unmet need first - a casual, easy to learn social game, and IASQ just tried to capitalize on that that.  I welcome any further thoughts on the matter...but right now, I'm craving a piece of apple pie for some reason...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Great Heartland Hauling Co. revisited

In an earlier post I commented on my first play of The Great Heartland Hauling Company, by designer Jason Kotarski, published by Dice Hate Me Games.  In that post, I commented that I had been looking forward to the game, but was a little disappointed in the experience.  Specifically, I was a little unsettled by the mechanic where you HAVE to move at the beginning of your turn, and I felt it was a little out of theme.  I speculated that early prototypes had likely involved being able to pick up/deliver before meeting.

Well, Jason, the designer, replied to me on twitter.  "No prototypes involved being able to pick-up/deliver before moving. Forward motion creates tension."  Furthermore, on the theme, his comment was "Thematically, my thought has always been; truckers are on the go. Gotta keep in the road to make $$$."

Well, I had been thinking more on my early impressions, and I wanted to try it again, so I picked up a copy for myself (and let me just say again - I LOVE the "18wheeleeples").  After it came in, I got a chance to play a 2-player game with my wife, Becky.

Let me say right off the bat, that I 100% agree with Jason's first comment - the forward motion does create more tension.  In fact, I think if you were able to pick up right in the same spot where you had delivered, it would be a much duller game.  So, from a game design aspect, I completely understand the rationale behind the mechanic, and think it was a smart decision.  Theme-wise, I still think I disagree with Jason somewhat.  In order to maximize $$$, you wouldn't make half your trips with an empty spots on your truck.  However, this is really a minor nit to pick.  Hobby boardgaming has exploded in the last decade or so - with a million games with a million themes.  A lot of them are very pasted on, while others excel in tightly knitting the theme to the game.  I think Great Heartland Hauling Co. falls somewhere in the middle for me.  I don't think I quite get fully immersed in "simulating" a trucker out to maximize profits...but the 18wheeleeples and card-created map which resembles the maps I used to love looking at as a kid on long road trips - they do provide quite a bit of atmosphere and thematic elements.

So, in the end, I'm glad I picked a copy for myself.  I can see it being a good "filler game" (and I mean that in a good sense) between meatier games.  I also see this getting more play time with Becky.  I will say, that like Ticket to Ride, I think this game plays better with more players.  It makes the game that much more tense having to worry about 2 or even 3 other players blocking you out of certain spaces.  But it's still a fine 2 player game.  With Becky, we just played the base game, but based on my first play of the game, I'm also still of the opinion that I like including the truck stop "inspansion" cards over just playing the base game. 

10-4 Good Buddy!

(Did I already mention that I'd like to see an expansion that comes with a little black trans-am meeple so you can play as "Bandit"?)

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.