Monday, January 05, 2009

New Web Address for Me

My web postings are now displayed at:

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I see that the "new" Blogger is as poor as the "old" one, so I've moved Games Gist to WordPress at:

See you there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Testing BGG Images

One key to happiness – GAMES

Testing BGG Images

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Monday, January 29, 2007

Games Played January 27, 2007

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a limited time for games on Saturday afternoon, but enjoyed what we did play.

We first played Elfenland, which I have extended with additional player pieces to accommodate 7 players, but Joel elected not to play, so we had the regular 6 players. It was a fairly tight game, and I thought I had a chance to tie for first or at least finish second, but Dan and Katrina came on strong in the last round to pass me. Results: Dan first; Katrina second; me third; Kassi fourth (first time to play this); Sue and Mason (tied) last. We all enjoyed it, and I believe we will see it played more this year.

Next up was a new game – Loot. Katrina was driving Natalia to a friend’s house at this time, and Dan and I played a couple of 2-hand games of Loot, while the rest of the group was bowling on the Wii. I had played Loot with a friend and won both 2-player games. I later took the game to a local game group night, played it 4-handed, and lost terribly. I beat Dan in both of our 2-player games today, but did not do well in the six-player game. I guess I should only play this one with a single opponent. Results: Kassi first; Dan second; Sue third; Mason fourth; me fifth; Katrina last.

We finished the afternoon with a game of Hunters & Gatherers, with 7 players. This was Dan’s day for gaming, and he pretty well left the rest of us in the dust on this one. Results: Dan first; Mason second; Sue third; Katrina fourth; me fifth; Joel sixth; Kassi last.

Dan won two of the games we played and finished second in the other one. A great day for him.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to play and count family games for the next two weekends, and I’m looking forward to trying more of our new, un-played games. Guess I’ll have to wait a while…

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Monday, January 15, 2007

Summary of Family Gaming for 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

During 2006, our family gaming group of 8 players played 31 different games a total of 136 times. We only count the games that all 6 adults play (5 adults early in 2006, before Kassi joined us). There were other games played, but not counted, when one or more adults were not present. Here is a summary of our year.

32 plays: Bohnanza
25 plays: Settlers of Catan
9 plays: Carcassonne
7 plays: Around the World in 80 Days
5 plays: Flea Circus; Through the Desert
4 plays: Alhambra; Boomtown; Hunters & Gatherers; Nertz; Ticket to Ride; Trumpet
3 plays: Royal Turf; Station Master
2 plays: Cartagena; For Sale; Frank’s Zoo; Marco Polo Expedition; Pickomino; Tongiaki
1 play: Australia; Canyon; Catego; Dragon’s Gold; Elfenland; Fill or Bust; Hacienda; Hearts; Hoity Toity; Mississippi Queen; Oh Hell

Game wins, including ties:
Mason ------ 32
Katrina ----- 27
Dan -------- 26
Sue --------- 24
Joel --------- 23
Gerald ------ 14
Natalia ------ 7 (Natalia played only a small number of games)
Kassi -------- 5 (Kassi joined us in September)

Points for game finishes, as a percentage of games played
Joel -------- 20.8%
Mason ------ 18.3%
Katrina ----- 17.4%
Natalia ----- 16.9%
Dan --------- 16.6%
Kassi -------- 15.2%
Sue --------- 14.3%
Gerald ------ 11.9%

This indicates that although Joel won only 23 games, compared to 32 for Mason, he finished better in a higher percentage of the games he did not win than did anyone who had more victories than he did. It could be argued that he was the most successful game player in the group, although he did not play as many games as the adults. The same reasoning shows Natalia as more successful than Dan, Kassi, Sue, or Gerald, for the number of games she played.

Notes (wins included ties for a win):
Dan was the only winner of Catego and Fill or Bust. He shared with most wins in Alhambra; Frank’s Zoo; Hunters & Gatherers; and Royal Turf.

Gerald was the only winner of Canyon and Dragon’s Gold. He shared with most wins in Elfenland.

Joel had the most wins in Bohnanza; Carcassone; For Sale; Tongiaki; and Trumpet. He shared with most wins in Hunters & Gatherers and Pickomino.

Kassi shared with most wins in Frank’s Zoo and Hunters & Gatherers.

Katrina had the most wins in Around the World in 80 Days; Station Master; and Through the Desert. She shared with most wins in Elfenland; Flea Circus; Hunters & Gatherers; Royal Turf; and Settlers of Catan.

Mason was the only winner of Australia; Oh Hell; Cartagena (2 times); Hoity Toity; Marco Polo Expedition (2 times); and Mississippi Queen. He shared with most wins in Alhambra; Pickomino; Royal Turf; and Settlers of Catan.

Natalia had the most wins of Nertz.

Sue was the only winner of Hearts. She had the most wins in Boomtown; Hacienda; and Ticket to Ride. She shared with most wins in Elfenland; Flea Circus; and Royal Turf.

Two games had a 4-way tie for most wins: Hunters & Gatherers (1 game each) and Royal Turf (1 game each). The only time we played Elfenland, it ended in a 3-way tie. Katrina and Mason both won Settlers of Catan 6 times. Joel had the highest number of wins in one game, with 9 victories in Bohnanza. We counted Nertz 4 times, and Natalia won 2 of them.

It was a great year of games, and we are certainly looking forward to at least as much fun in 2007.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Catching Up - January 15, 2007

One key to happiness – GAMES

So far in 2007, we have played 10 games that counted on our family records, but I did not post here the results of January 6, so this will only cover the games we played on January 13, in alphabetical order. Mason is off to a fast start, winning half the games we have played.

We played our usual 8-player game of Bohnanza. We have played this game twice this year, and Joel has won both times. There was a lot of trading in this game, perhaps more than in most of our other games, for some reason. Poor Natalia could not get anything going and didn’t have good beans to trade at the right time, so she had a terrible game. I don’t think most of us had any idea that Joel had as much gold as he did, and we were surprised that he won the game. Results: Joel first; Sue second; Katrina and Kassi (tied) third; me fifth; Dan and Mason (tied) sixth; Natalia last.

We played Pickomino for the fourth time, and Kassi won this one. With 8 players, it seems normal for several players to finish with no worms (zero score), and this was no exception. Kassi won with 6 worms, and Sue, Joel, and I finished with zero. Results: Kassi first; Dan second; Mason third; Katrina fourth; Natalia fifth; Sue, Joel, me (tied) last.

It had been a long time since we played Pick Picknic, and had never played with 8 players. It was a wild game, and we learned that we needed to deal only four cards to each player, rather than five or six. We began the game with five cards each, but had to switch to four during the rounds. As foxes captured bird cards, the draw stack got very small before the end of the game, with a high percentage of them being foxes. Next time, we’ll start and play with only four per player each round. Results: Dan first; Kassi and Mason (tied) second; Joel fourth; me fifth; Katrina sixth; Natalia seventh; Sue last.

Settlers of Catan is still a favorite at our table. Surprisingly, Joel opted out this time, to play some computer games, so we played with six players and the regular rules. After the first two rounds (two turns for everyone at the table), I had not received any resource cards from the dice rolls. However, I did manage to do some trading and buy a development card. It was a Year of Plenty. I also rolled a seven, so I got to steal a card, and with that I bought another development card, which was also a Year of Plenty. In the meantime, almost everyone else was building roads and settlements, and I was feeling pretty lousy about the state of affairs. One of my problems was that I had ended up with settlements on two #4 Ore hexes. Suddenly, 4 began coming up on the dice rolls, and I gradually made some progress. I had a settlement on an 8 and on a 6, and it was about three rounds into the game before either was rolled. I managed to make some decent trades and continued to buy development cards. Throughout the game, I purchased seven development cards and received this amazing combination: 2 VPs, 2 Year of Plenty, 1 Road Building, 1 Monopoly, and 1 Soldier. That was what kept me in the game. Near the end, it was obvious that Mason, Katrina, and Dan all had 9 points; most of the players did not realize that I had 2 VP cards and was at 7. During the last round, it seemed certain that Dan would win, but he was low on resource cards, did not get a lucky roll, and no one would trade with him. On my previous turn, I had bought a Monopoly card and was watching the resource rolls closely. On my turn, I rolled a 4 (I was holding 10 Ore cards at the time and was scared I would roll a 7), which gave me four more Ore, and Katrina received two, in addition to those she already held. I knew some other players had Ore, so I played the Monopoly card. I ended that play with every Ore card in the game in my hand (none left in the draw stack), a first in any of our games, I believe. With some trades, I managed to build two roads, a settlement, and upgrade a settlement to a city. That gave me 9 points. I was holding three Ore cards and doing my best to trade, so I could buy another development card (at the end of the game, we discovered that the next development card was a VP, so I would have won the game with that purchase). But, I couldn’t get the win. Katrina was the next player, and she was really whining about my Monopoly card play, because she was holding the winning resources, until I stole all her Ore. She was not able to pull out the win on her turn. By the time the dice got back to Mason, I had managed to do another upgrade and had reached 10 points, but there were still Mason, Sue, and Dan to play before me. I thought I had a possible win, but Mason had a perfect dice roll for himself and won the game. Everyone was very surprised to learn that I had 10 points, which put me in second place. Results: Mason first; me second; Dan and Katrina (tied) third; Kassi fifth; Sue last.

Another game we had not played for a long time was Take It Easy. Kassi had not played, so it was new to her, and everyone decided to play. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; Kassi third; Dan and Sue (tied) fourth; me sixth; Mason seventh; Natalia last.

At one point of the day, Katrina decide to pass on playing the next game, so we got out Hare and Tortoise and taught Kassi the game. It was a close finish, with Mason winning just before Dan, followed by Sue, me, then Kassi. I like that game, but Katrina doesn’t, so it seldom gets to the table.

We are off to a fast start on games in 2007, with five games played and counted on each of the first two game days. Now, I’m looking forward to bringing out one of our new games – which one to do first? My choices are Ave Caesar, Silk Road, Drakon, Loot, or Top Dogs. Also, I want to play Dragon’s Gold again soon. I’m leaning toward Drakon next time we play. Unfortunately, next weekend is busy for everyone on other activities, so no game day for us. So many games, so little time – what a nice dilemma.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Monday, January 01, 2007

Games Played December 30, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a fun final day of gaming for 2006, playing six games (five different ones). Mason finished the year with a bang, winning three of the six games. Dan had hoped to catch Mason in total year wins, behind by only four at the beginning of the day, and tied with Katrina. But, Mason’s three wins sealed the title for him, and Katrina won a game (while Dan didn’t), so she finished second in number of wins for the year. And Kassi topped off the day with her fifth win since joining our family gaming group in the fall. It was a really neat day.

Here are our games played, alphabetically:

All 8 of us played Bohnanza, as we frequently do. We have played more games of Bohnanza than any other during the year, which reflects its popularity with us, as well as the fact that it plays great with 8 people. It looked like a fairly close game, until the very end, when Katrina pulled away from the group by a good margin. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; me third; Dan and Sue (tied) fourth; Mason sixth; Natalia seventh; Kassi last.

Carcassonne came out and was enjoyed much this year. Dan got on two large cities very early, but had terrible luck with them. One of them acquired two cathedrals and was connected to by Kassi and me, but we were unable to complete the city and got no points for it, while we each had two meeples tied up for much of the game. Dan’s other city was stolen by Joel, leaving Dan with almost no points for all that work. We played with The River II expansion, an item I received for Christmas, and enjoyed the additional small touches it added. I drew the river tile with pigs in the field and decided to take a chance on reaping some points with it. So, I placed a farmer on it immediately, a risky approach. Later, I added my own pig to the same field, and it was looking good, until Mason managed to connect a field he was on to it, and he had his monster meeple on his field, late in the game. I kept trying to connect two other fields, each with a meeple of mine, but could not get the final connecting tile before the end of the game. So, I had three farmers tied up for very little payoff. I didn’t do well, but Dan set a new low score record of 33. Oooh, bad day at Carcassonne! Results: Mason first; Katrina second; Joel third; Sue fourth; Kassi fifth; me sixth; Dan last.

A new game I received for Christmas was Pickomino. This game has been around for a while, but didn’t attract my interest until this year, when several people mentioned it as a good game for 7 players. It was fun! It played quickly, so we played it twice. Later, Natalia played it with Dan, Katrina, and Joel at their house, and she liked it, so we may be playing it with 8 players in the future. Game One Results: Mason first; Kassi and me (tied) second; Dan and Katrina (tied) fourth; Sue and Joel (tied) last. Game Two Results: Joel first (8 worms); Dan second; me third; Mason and Sue (tied) fourth; Katrina and Kassi (tied) last – with zero worms.

Royal Turf has long been a favorite of ours, and it was Kassi’s first time to play it. We play two races and total the money to determine the winner of a single game. Results: Mason first; me second; Katrina third; Sue, Dan, Joel (tied) fourth; Kassi last.

We finished the day and the year with our second most-popular game – Settlers of Catan. I finally got around to painting Kassi’s playing pieces purple, one of her favorite colors. The natural wood I had left them as originally looked very much like the white road pieces that Mason always uses, and it was a little confusing when their roads connected. I guess the paint job passed along some luck to Kassi. She managed to get the Longest Road fairly early, and no one got the Largest Army. With our special 7-player rules, we play to only a score of 7, so the game is fairly quick. I stole the Longest Road from Kassi, when her score was standing at 6, but she managed a great die roll on her next turn, re-took the Longest Road and placed another settlement, winning the game! Results: Kassi first; Dan second; Mason and Katrina (tied) third; Joel, Sue, and me (tied) last.

We had a great year of gaming. We modified a number of excellent games, to allow for 7-8 players, and we enjoy getting together almost every Saturday for lunch and games. What could be a more fun family tradition?

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Catching Up

One key to happiness – GAMES

We have been so busy since Thanksgiving that I haven’t had time to record our games. Well, maybe I’ve grown a little lazy, too. And, my memory isn’t what it used to be, so I’m not sure how many details from the last two weeks of gaming I can even recall. Perhaps I’m getting too old for this!

December 2, 2006

I’ll list the games we played, alphabetically, since I can’t recall the actual order in which they were played. Around the World in 80 Days is still one of my favorite games, and it is a lot of fun with 7 players. I do recall that it was an interesting finish. Sue had reached London just before me, with a total trip of 78 days. She, and almost everyone else assumed she had won, since everyone else had taken more than 80 days, and I was the last one coming in. I thought I might actually win, but too many Delay and Storm cards ate up my nice timetable. However, I managed to finish in 80 days, so I got second place, surprising everyone. Results: Sue first; me second; Katrina third; Kassi fourth; Dan fifth; Joel sixth; Mason last.

Seven-player Bohnanza is always a winner at our table. Results: Dan first; Joel, Sue, Kassi (tied) second; me fifth; Katrina sixth; Mason last.

We tried a new game -- Reiner Knizia’s game Catego just came to my attention, thanks to Mary (sodaklady on BGG). It’s a very simple dice game, and we gave it a try. It’s designed for 4 players, but (naturally) we tried it with 7. It needs a little tweaking for that many players. Mary had suggested playing with three dice, rather than two, and we believe that is a good idea. Next time we play this, we’ll use three dice and see how it works. In our first 7-player game, with two dice, the results were: Dan first (a runaway win); Mason second; me third; Joel, Katrina, Kassi, Sue (tied – no points) last.

We introduced Hunters & Gatherers to Kassi. It is a fairly quick game with 7 players, and we all enjoy it. Joel has always liked this game, and the results showed that. Results: Joel first; Katrina second; Sue and Dan (tied) third; me fifth; Mason sixth; Kassi last.

We got in a lot of games this day. Settlers of Catan was the other one. Dan and Mason continue their competition for the most wins of this game; today, Dan pulled ahead by one victory. Our modification of the rules and the addition of some components, to accommodate 7 players, is working well. Results: Dan first; Sue and me (tied) second; Joel, Mason, Katrina, Kassi (tied) last.

Wow, three last places for Mason – not his usual game day, although he did well in Catego.

December 9, 2006

Kassi’s daughter joined us today for one game, before going to her aunt’s house to help bake Christmas cookies. Andra is a delightful fifteen-year-old who fit right in with the group. Like her mother, she is a good card and game player. Of course, she was at a definite disadvantage, with 9 of us playing Trumpet, and this being her first time to play and to meet all of us. Trumpet is a good game for 2-9 players, and I think would be fine with 10. Results: Sue first; Kassi second; Dan third; Mason fourth; Katrina fifth; Natalia sixth; me seventh; Andra eighth; Joel last. It was a very tough game for Joel – the luck of the cards. He tied Dan’s record low score of being on the fourth space when the game ended. Of course, Dan is happy to have someone sharing his misery with that dubious honor.

After Andra left, we introduced Kassi to Carcassonne, a game we all enjoy. Results: Dan first (106 points); Katrina second (105); Mason third (88); Sue fourth (87); Kassi and me (tied) fifth (75); Joel last (73). It was a very tight finish, with Dan winning by one point; Mason and Sue were separated by only two points; and Joel just missed tying Kassi and me for fifth place.

We finished the day with Bohnanza. Results: Kassi first; Joel and Dan (tied) second; Mason and me (tied) fourth; Katrina fifth; Sue last.

December 16, 2006

We had time for only one group game today. We had a birthday party for Natalia and Joel at our house, following lunch. Joel turned 9 years old last week, and Natalia will be 11 next week. We brought out Hunters & Gatherers again. I think Kassi was interested in trying to improve her last-place finish in her first game of this, two weeks ago. Boy, did she ever! Results: Kassi first; Mason second; Dan third; me fourth; Sue fifth; Katrina sixth; Joel last.

After Mason and Kassi had to leave early, Dan, Katrina, Joel, and I played Scavenger Hunt for the first time. It is a funny game, with many similarities to Magic: The Gathering in play. But, the theme (scavengers fighting over animal carcasses) is quite unique. The mechanics work great with the theme, and I’m sure we’ll play this some more. It is designed for six players, but Sue has no interest in it, primarily because the theme turns her off. I could easily extend the game for 7 players, but I don’t believe there will be a need to do so. I think Mason would enjoy it, and maybe Kassi, too. We’ll find out some day. Unfortunately, I did not write down the order of finishing in this game, but I know Katrina won. Near the end, it appeared I might win, but Dan stole one of my carcasses, reducing my score. Then, it looked like Joel might win, and then Katrina. On the last round, Katrina grabbed a carcass and indicated she had won, but I interrupted her and played a Skullduggery card that made her return the carcass to the savannah, and we thought the game would continue. Then, Katrina played a Skullduggery card that allowed her to ignore my card, and she won the game! Quite a finish.

Finally, we opened Top Dog and tried it. After Dan, Katrina, Joel, and I played a game, Sue and Natalia joined us for another. As soon as I read the rules to this game, I immediately said to myself that it is very much like For Sale. Joel noticed the same thing as soon as we began playing. It is a fun, quick game, and I think we will play it as a filler, like we do For Sale. I will need to create another two decks of cards, to allow for 8 players, when I get time. Again, I didn’t keep a record of who won the games (I just know that I did not win either of them).

We acquired Scavenger Hunt and Top Dog (and Loot, which we have not played, yet) when Jason Little, of St. Louis, sold me his extra copy of BattleLore. I could not believe he was so generous as to include in the shipping box these three card games as gifts for us. What a fantastic surprise. And to top it off, he included the DVD movie Elf, one I had been considering purchasing. I think Jason is Santa Claus’s disguise in real life, but I don’t know how Santa had time to pretend to be Jason at this time of year. If you are reading this, Jason, we again thank you very, very much. We expect to get much enjoyment out of the card games and the movie, and Dan and Joel are certainly looking forward to opening BattleLore soon.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Holiday Gaming

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had the entire family at our house for Thanksgiving Day and for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, plus my wife’s mother was with us. Some years, we have convinced her to play some games with us, but she is 98 years old now, and she said she would prefer to watch. She is a very active, healthy, and sharp lady, and although she did not want to play our games, she did watch, ask questions, and even gave some advice now and then. We decided to play games that she knew or would enjoy watching, so our lineup included simpler card games, except we did play Settlers of Catan once.

Thanksgiving Day
We started with several wild games of Nertz. With 8 players, the large dining table is the center of a madhouse, with cards flying through the air in a frenzy. I was always at one end of the table, and it was virtually impossible to play on card stacks at the other end. It was not unusual to have as many as three players trying to play the same card on the same stack at the same time, which always brought howls of laughter and/or pain. With 8 players, the game is so chaotic that we choose not to count the scores in our records. It is simply a crazy, fun time that we all enjoy. Sue’s mother taught her this game when she was a young girl. Her mother (and we) later taught our kids (Katrina and Mason), and more recently, she (and all of us) taught our grandchildren how to play. I also learned the game when I was a teenager, so it is one that has a lot of family history for us, with Sue’s mother involved in passing it along to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As we were playing today, she was sitting by me, and she occasionally pointed out to me that I had missed a play. Quite amazing for a 98-year-old!

We played two games of Frank’s Zoo. We do not play with the “lion” rules, but only with the basic rules. With 7 players, we have only a few cards in hand, and it is not uncommon to have singles only. However, Dan was the first player in the first game, and he had four elephants and three of something else. By playing those sets first, he was out (winning the game) very quickly. The second game was closer, with no more than two of a kind played at any time. Results of Game One: Dan first; Joel second; me third; Kassi fourth (her first time to play, and we didn’t even do a good job of explaining the game in advance – she is an excellent game player); Mason fifth; Sue sixth; Katrina last. Results of Game Two: Kassi first (she certainly learned this game quickly); Katrina second; Mason third; Joel fourth; Sue fifth; Dan sixth; me last (couldn’t get rid of a mouse).

The only other game we had time for was Bohnanza. Natalia chose not to join us, even for Bohnanza, which was a little surprising. Results: Joel first; Dan, Katrina, and Kassi (tied) second; me fifth; Mason sixth; Sue last.

It wasn’t our usual day of gaming, but it still was fun.

We had a little more time for games today. We even went outside for a game of Bocce, before starting inside games. We again played Bohnanza, and again Natalia chose not to play. Results: Dan first; Mason and me (tied) second; Joel, Katrina, and Sue (tied) fourth; Kassi last.

We played three games of Circus Flohcati, counting the combined scores as one game for our records. Natalia did join us for this one, but she really wasn’t in a good mood for games. Results: Sue first; Kassi second (her first time at this game); me third; Joel fourth; Mason fifth; Dan sixth; Katrina seventh; Natalia last.

Settlers of Catan was our final game of the day, and we were testing our new revised rules, to allow for 7 players. The modifications worked well (at least I thought so, since I won). Results: Me first; Joel, Dan, and Mason (tied) second; Sue and Kassi (tied) fifth; Katrina last. Our rules changes for 7 players will be described in a future article here.

We are expecting to get back to our normal game day agenda next Saturday, and I’m looking forward to it.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

West Denver Gamers, November 16, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Had a good time at West Denver Gamers last Thursday. Only three of us were available; we hope the crowd will expand after the Thanksgiving holiday.

I had never played Puerto Rico, as it is not likely to be popular with our family game group. Because it is such a popular game with the BGG crowd, I was interested in learning what it was all about. Iain brought it and willingly taught Reed and me how to play. We had both read the rules and other info found on BGG, so we knew the basics. It didn’t take long to confirm our information and start the game. I have to agree that it is an excellent design. I now know why it is a hit with so many people. Too bad it couldn’t be expanded to accommodate 7 players; I might be able to convince the family to give it a try in that case. I didn’t do well in this first game, but Reed did very well. I knew I needed to have at least one large purple building before the end of the game, but I never managed to buy one, which is reflected in my score. We hope to play again next week, to get a better feel for it. Results: Iain 47; Reed 45; me 36.

Reed had to leave after that game, so Iain and I played a 2-hand game of Through the Desert. Iain, not surprisingly, is an excellent game player, and TtD is a game he likes to play. I had played one game of TtD with two players, online. All my other games have been with 5 or 6 players, and I had forgotten to think “larger” with fewer players. Still, I felt reasonably good to lose by only 5 points.

We had time for a short game, and I had brought Station Master, which was new to Iain. I enjoy this game very much, but had never played with just 2 players. I am used to having five or six or seven trains to deal with all through the game, and having just two trains at a time threw me for a while. Iain got off to a very fast start. I believe he had over 50 points when I was still in the single digits; I was beginning to feel embarrassed. I gradually gained on Iain, connecting some negative-point cars to the trains where he had more passengers. At some point, late in the game, I managed to catch Iain, primarily by reducing his score, while maintaining mine. By the end of the game, I had pulled out the win, with a fair difference in score, so I didn’t lose every game of the evening.

We hope to see more folks at the next meeting, but with the Christmas holiday season coming up quickly, people may not have as much time to devote to game meetings for the next month.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Games Played November 11, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a fun day of games on Saturday. Kassi wasn’t able to join us, since she was on vacation in Hawaii! We did finally play the last of our un-played games – Hoity Toity.

Hoity Toity is an interesting game. I think we need to play it at least one more time to get a real feel for it. With six players, there are a lot of “conflicts” each turn. Rarely did anyone find themselves alone in either the Auction Hall or the Castle. We did not pace ourselves as far as spending our money, so the game dragged to a close with everyone trying to steal collectibles from each other, and rarely did anyone risk an exhibit near the end. Results: Mason first; Dan and Katrina (tied) second; me third; Sue fourth; Joel last (he didn’t care much for this game and might not play it again, very soon.

Next up was Marco Polo Expedition. Mason OWNS this game in our group. Before today, we had played it four times in the past year, and he had won every game! Near the end of this game, Mason was trailing the rest of us by several spaces, but he had been hoarding cards for some time. We knew he was planning to make a run for the finish, and we were all trying to beat him to it. Finally, he started moving, leap-frogged us, and indeed won the game, again. Results: Mason first; Dan and Sue (tied) second; me fourth; Katrina last. Someday, perhaps, one of us will beat Mason at this game (maybe).

We hadn’t played Carcassonne for a while, and decided to bring it out today. Early in the game, Dan was on two cities, each with a cathedral, and the cities were growing well. I managed to connect and join him in one of them, while Mason did the same in the other. Fortunately, just before the game ended, I managed to complete the city we were sharing, and Dan and I scored a bunch of points. He and Mason did not get the other city finished, so they got no points for it, since it contained a cathedral. Although I led from about mid-way through the game, it appeared Mason would win, because he managed to grab almost all the trade goods (each of the three worth 10 points to the person with the most in them). On my final tile placement in the game, I was able to finish a city that contained a wheat, and managed to tie him for that item. That preserved my win, and in fact, when we counted the farmers/fields, Dan passed Mason. Results: Me first; Dan second; Mason third; Katrina fourth; Sue fifth; Joel last.

For a rare event, Joel decided to opt out of playing Settlers of Catan today, so we had a five-player game. I was first player and placed my first settlement on an 8-8-9 combination. That should have almost guaranteed me a win. We started out fairly evenly, but soon Sue and Katrina began edging away from the rest of us. When Sue stole the Longest Road from Dan, and Katrina got the Largest Army, it was just a matter of time. On the last round, both Sue and Katrina had 9 points, but Sue played before Katrina and managed to get the victory. Katrina had the required 10 points, but didn’t get the chance to play and win. Results: Sue first; Katrina second; Mason and me (tied) third; Dan last.

We ended the day with a 7-player game of Bohnanza. I thought I was doing okay, until we counted the gold at the end. In fact, I did do well, but so did everyone else. The winning amount was 12 gold (a 3-way tie), followed by 11 gold, and finally 10 gold (3-way tie). That was a very close game! Results: Joel, Mason, and Sue (tied) first; Natalia fourth; Katrina, Dan, and me (tied) last.

I am continuing to work on expanding games for 7-8 players. We need to test many of them, to be sure the modifications will work, and I’m looking forward to that. Now, we have no un-played games, so perhaps I’d better get busy working on a new purchase list!

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Friday, November 10, 2006

West Denver Gamers, November 8, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

West Denver Gamers met for the second time, although it was an “interim” game night. The group has planned to meet two nights a month, but five of us were ready to meet between those weeks. We played two games and looked at and discussed five others, if I recall correctly.

Iain had asked me to bring Coloretto and Silverado; he brought Speed Circuit and Puerto Rico; and Glen brought I’m the Boss and Samurai. We didn’t get to Samurai, but did see the others. We had hoped to play Puerto Rico, but some time and tables were occupied in Barnes & Noble by an elementary school poetry reading, which didn’t finish until about 7:30. I brought out Coloretto. The other four had not played it, but it is an easy game to learn. We played three quick games: Reed won the first one; Iain won the second; and I can’t recall who won the third. Everyone caught on quickly, making good defensive plays even in the first game.

Iain explained Puerto Rico to the three of us who have not played it, and we hope to play it at the next session. I showed Silverton, which Iain was particularly interested in (and at his request). He and I both have an interest in the railroad history of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain area, and it is neat to see the small towns (some no longer in existence) on the mapboard. Silverton is primarily an economics game, based on railroads. It is a good solitaire game, which is the only way I’ve played it, but I expect it would be more fun with three or four players. Iain may decide to purchase it, and we hope to perhaps have the opportunity to play at least a 2-player game someday.

Iain also showed us his copy of the 3M edition of Speed Circuit, the one that has the racetrack board wrapped around the box. I had the football game made like that, and Reed had the golf game of the same style. It was a successful series of games. Reed had an uncle who worked for the 3M company at the time those games were produced, and he said they always got some of those 3M games for Christmas. Lucky guy!

Glen brought out I’m the Boss to end the evening. None of the rest of us had played it, so it was a learning experience for us. This is a negotiation game, with lots of “gotcha” opportunities. During the game, I drew most of the I’m the Boss cards, while getting hardly any other useful ones. Fortunately, that gave me many opportunities to stop other negotiations and be in the position of attempting to make deals in my favor. I was very surprised when we counted the money at the end of the game and found that Glen and I had tied for the win. It was a fun game, but I’m not sure whether it would be popular in our family group. I’m thinking it would get very chaotic with 7 players, although it would be easy to expand it for that size group.

It was a fun evening. I suspect that some of us may meet almost weekly, with the official game nights set for twice a month. It is already providing an excellent venue for learning about games I’ve heard about, but probably would not purchase or have the opportunity to play, otherwise. It appears that many of us have very different collections of games, although we mostly like the same types. It will be interesting to see how the group develops over the next several months.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Games Played November 4, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a great day of gaming today. Joel was attending a friend’s birthday party in the afternoon, so he only played one game with us. Natalia played two games, so everyone was involved.

We started with Settlers of Catan. With six players, it’s a busy map. We had few good numbers on wheat or ore tiles, so there was a real shortage of those important resources. However, one of the ore tiles was an “8.” I was first player, so I placed my first settlement on that tile, which also bordered a “9” and a “10.” Those numbers paid off quite well for me (one being brick and one being wood). I also managed to place my second settlement on a “6” sheep tile, which did pretty well. Even with those locations, I got off to a rather slow start, with rolls of 11 and 4 coming up often. Fortunately, I was able to do some good trades early, which allowed me to begin buying Development Cards. I soon accumulated three Soldiers and grabbed the Largest Army card. During the remainder of the game, I purchased five more cards, receiving another Soldier, a Year of Plenty, a Monopoly, a Road-Building, and two Victory Points. That is one of the best sets of Development Cards I have ever had in this game. The game developed slower than usual. We were well into the game before anyone could upgrade a settlement to a city. Towards the end of the game, I suddenly realized that I had five settlements placed, the 2-point Largest Army card, and 2 VP cards, for a total of 9 points. I miscounted Katrina’s points, thinking she had only 8, but she also had 9. At that point, I acquired the Road-Building card and needed only one more card to be able to build a settlement, which would win the game. I acquired the necessary card in a trade, before my turn, so I was “looking good.” Then, Sue built a settlement at the only point where I could have built, and, alas, I had overlooked the fact that I had no more settlements to place, anyway. I had to upgrade to a city or acquire another VP card. I don’t believe anyone else realized I was sitting with 9 points (not knowing I had 2 VP cards). On my next turn, I managed to trade just enough to upgrade to a city and win the game. I was as surprised as anyone at the table. It was a good start for me, giving me three consecutive game victories, counting last week’s two wins. Results: Me first; Katrina second; Sue third; Kassi, Mason, Dan (tied) last.

Natalia said she would like to play Flea Circus (Zirkus Flohcati), so that was next up. Because it’s a fast game, we play three games, totaling the scores to count as one game. After the first game, I was in next-to-last place. In the second game, I managed to draw the card I needed, with only one more left in the deck, to complete a gala. This is not often possible, when playing with seven players, before the deck runs out. In the first game, Natalia had 9 of the 10 different colors when the game ended, just missing getting a gala. The gala points (we decided long ago that 15 is the best score for a gala) put me in first place for the two games. Naturally, whomever is the leader on the score sheet gets hit by the special “stealing” cards from other players, so I knew it would be difficult to stay ahead of Mason, who was trailing me by just six points. However, I managed to take a good card from his hand, and I finished with enough points in the third game to have first place for the overall game. Results: Me first; Katrina second; Natalia third; Dan fourth; Sue fifth; Mason sixth; Kassi last (this was her first time to play).

Next, I pushed to try a new game I received for my birthday – Dragon’s Gold. This is a fun game, and I expect we will play it some more. The colors on the score cards are not very clear; the gold looks like yellow and the red and purple colors are almost indistinguishable on the card, which was misleading for our first time to play. The adventurer groups always managed to agree on the division of the treasure, although I think the negotiation will be tougher in the future. I managed to kill one dragon by myself and collect 6 treasures, and I acquired two magic cards during the game. At the end of the game, there was one dragon with treasure on it, and the Black Diamond was in the dragon’s hidden treasure. Fortunately, I was in the group that killed the dragon, along with three other players. I offered to take only the Black Diamond and let the others split up the rest of the treasure, which was agreeable to all of them. It was a perfect deal for me, since I did not have a good variety of gems. I also had the most purple gems, and only one of my gems was wasted by the curse of the diamond. I had acquired quite a bit of gold and silver and three magic objects (red treasure pieces). When we added the scores, I came out on top. Results: Me first (41); Mason second (34); Dan third (31); Katrina fourth (30); Kassi fifth (26); Sue last (19).

There was just enough time for an eight-hand game of Bohnanza to finish the day. As always, there was a lot of wild trading taking place, and the game played quickly. I scored slowly at first, but managed to get some good collections of Black-Eyed and Soy Beans near the end. Just before the cards ran out for the second time, I was able to trade a Wax from my hand, giving me the opportunity to play two Soy Beans on my last turn. That trade put me in a tie for first place with Natalia. Results: Natalia and me (tied) first; Mason, Sue, Dan, Katrina (tied) third; Kassi seventh; Joel last (a very rare finish for him).

I couldn’t believe that I managed to sweep the group today – four wins (including one tie) out of four games. Since I won the two games we played last week, that made six consecutive victories for me in October and November. I still will not catch Dan, Sue, or Joel in wins for 2006, let alone Mason or Katrina, who have a good lead over the rest of us, but it does feel good to finally get some wins this year.

The only new game we haven’t yet played is Hoity Toity, and I look forward to trying it. I’ve spent some time this past week working on modifications of our 5- and 6-player games, to accommodate 7 players. Kassi won’t be with us next weekend (since she will be vacationing in Hawaii!), so we won’t be trying any of the modified games with seven players. I do look forward to trying them in the future, though.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

West Denver Gamers

One key to happiness – GAMES

Last Thursday evening was the first game night for a new group called the West Denver Gamers. I was one of nine people who attended, which I thought was an excellent turnout. "citizenk" (username on BGG) organized the group and found a good place to meet – Barnes and Noble at Denver West. Sue and I were with Natalia and Joel earlier in the evening, so I wasn’t able to get to B&N until almost 9:00pm. The group had already played Formula De and had just started Bohnanza. After that game, five of us decided to stay a little longer, and we played Through the Desert. Although I finished last, I definitely enjoyed the game. The group seems to be a very congenial collection of folks who enjoy games, and I’m looking forward to more game nights with them.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Games Played October 28, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We managed to play only four games in October that counted in our family records. It was a very busy month for all of us, on other activities, and it felt good to get back together and play two games this weekend, anyway.

I have begun giving serious thought to the challenge of modifying our Eurogames that are mostly designed for 5 or 6 players, to allow simultaneous play by our 7 or 8 regular players. It is an intriguing issue.

This week, I brought out Around the World in 80 Days. With one simple modification, it worked perfectly for seven players, although it was designed for a maximum of six. It was Kassi’s first time to play this game, but she learns new games quickly, and she did well for a first time. I trailed the pack throughout the game, until the last turn, sometimes by as many as four cities. However, I drew some good event cards, as well as travel cards, so I was able to make a quick run at the end. I had hoped to do better than I did. I was holding an Elephant card and was ready to move from Bombay to Calcutta, but Sue’s play just before my turn resulted in her drawing the Storm event card, so I had to discard the Elephant card and take a full 12 days for that leg of the trip. It appeared that Katrina had it wrapped up, with a total of 76 days, after Sue finished with 80 and Joel with 79. But, I was able to use an event card on the last turn that brought me to London in 75 days. Joel had just played the Express Train event card, and I was holding the Princess card, which allowed my to use his played Express Train in my turn. That saved me just enough days to beat Katrina. Results: Me first (75 days); Katrina second (76); Joel third (79); Sue fourth (80); Kassi fifth; Mason sixth; Dan last. I believe this will definitely be a game we all play in the future.

As (almost) always, we played Bohnanza, although Natalia chose not to play this time. I had no idea who might win, since many stacks of gold looked similar in size, so I was very surprised to learn that I won by beating Joel and Dan by one gold. Results: Me first; Joel and Dan (tied) second; Kassi fourth; Sue and Katrina (tied fifth); Mason last.

We expect to play more games next weekend, and I hope to have at least one or two more modified for more players by then. It was an interesting month of gaming for the family – of the four games that counted in our records, Katrina won two and I won two. I still trail everyone badly in wins this year (at least Katrina, Mason, Sue, Dan, and Joel), but it feels good to be winning a few, although it’s late in the year. At least I wasn’t completely shut out of wins in 2006.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Games Played October 14, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Mason and Kassi were not with us this weekend, and the rest of us had a busy morning visiting the Arborteum’s fall festival and pumpkin patch. We went to the Cavaliere home after lunch and played four games, before deciding we were tired and needed to go home.

We played Elfenland, first time with just four players. I do like this game, but could not get things arranged the way I needed them this time. Katrina scored very well in the first round, and no one caught up later. Results: Katrina first; Sue second; me third; Dan last.

Six of us played For Sale, and it was a close finish. Results: Joel first; Sue second; Dan third; Natalia, Katrina, and me (tied) last.

This was also the first time we played Station Master with just 5 players. That is a really neat game, with frequent (and often large) changes in scores. Sue was outstanding, finishing with a score of 337! Results: Sue first; me second; Joel third; Katrina fourth; Dan last.

The fourth game we played was Ticket to Ride. Joel really enjoys this game and always wants to play when Mason or someone else is not present for games, but he had some bad luck today. Results: Me first; Dan second; Sue and Katrina (tied) third; Joel last.

It was a fun day, although the results won’t count in our family gaming records. Sue and I will be out of town next weekend, so our next family gaming day should be October 28.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming