Sunday, September 24, 2006

Games Played September 23, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Mason was out of town this weekend, so our gaming didn’t count in our family records. However, the rest of us had a lot of fun, playing a lot of quick games. We managed to play seven games of 5 or 6 players on Saturday afternoon. We usually get in maybe four, at most, but those are more complicated games that take longer to play. Alphabetically, these are the games we played.

All six of us played Bohnanza. Sue was one of the first of us to score gold, and she harvested enough beans for 8 gold in one turn! Wow! She won with a score of 13, while Katrina was last with 3. I do not recall a wider score spread in this game for us. Results: Sue first; Dan second; Natalia third; me fourth; Joel fifth; Katrina last.

Flea Circus is a very quick-playing game, and this was no exception. I usually do okay in this game, but really couldn’t get going this time. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; Dan third; Sue and me (tied) last.

We hadn’t played Hunters & Gatherers for a while, and Joel asked for it. He really likes this game and plays it very well; in fact, he ran away with it. On one of the very last turns, he managed to connect a valley where he had placed the “stonehenge” piece to a large valley where I had managed to outnumber Dan, when I had connected two of my valleys. Joel stole the huge valley from me, after I had stolen it from Dan. That pretty well eliminated me from being competitive in this game. Results: Joel first; Katrina second; Sue third; Dan fourth; me last.

We were trying to think of games we had not played for some time and games that did not take long to play. One of those was Pick Picknic, an extremely light and fast game. I have always enjoyed this game. It looked like Sue had wrapped up the scoring, until the last round. I managed to play a fox of the same color that Dan, Joel, and Katrina had played birds, so I collected the value of their cards, and barely won the game. Results: Me first; Sue second; Dan third; Katrina fourth; Joel last.

Joel really enjoys Ticket to Ride, but doesn’t usually get to play, since it allows only five players. Whenever one of us is not at gameday, he asks for TtR. This game played fairly quickly, and Katrina just whipped us all badly, with the longest train and a handful of completed tickets. Results: Katrina (high score of 143); Sue second (score of 113); Joel third; Dan fourth; me last (score of 84). Oh, that hurt! Also, in the family gaming records of games that count, I hold the high score of 142, and Katrina topped that (too bad it doesn’t count – whew!).

Trumpet is another reasonably quick game, especially with six or seven players. Natalia decided to join us, so we had six this time. This is a fun game, and I was very fortunate to be dealt Trumpet cards often and at the right time. On the last hand, Sue was three spaces from winning, and I was one behind her. On one of the first tricks, Dan played a Trumpet card to take a trick. I was sitting like the cat that ate the canary with two Trumpet cards in my hand and a couple of good trumps. I used a Trumpet card to leap over Sue, after having to follow suit and losing two tricks, leaving me with some good trumps and another Trumpet. I won the next trick with a high trump, and then led the last Trumpet to the final trick, to win the game. I had a good lead late in the game, but couldn’t draw a decent hand for several rounds. Sue passed me, and Dan and Katrina were gaining rapidly, before I got a couple of good hands. It was a tight finish. Results: Me first; Sue second; Dan third; Katrina fourth; Natalia fifth; and Joel last.

Another game we had not played in a long time was Vampire, the Kinizia card game. I have mixed emotions about this game, but I will play it when someone wants to. I really prefer it as a 3- or 4-hand game. Maybe it was a “senior moment,” but I totally forgot how to play this game, and had to be reminded of the rules. My play reflected my memory loss, too. Results: Joel first; Sue second; Dan third; Katrina and me (tied) last.

It was a fun day of family gaming, once again. Late in the afternoon, Katrina and Sue took Natalia to a friend’s birthday party and sleep-over, and then the two of them went shopping. That gave Joel, Dan, and me a chance to play Memoir ’44 for the first time. I purchased the game earlier this month and managed to play two times, solitaire. That’s not really too hard for me, with my poor memory. I can repeatedly switch sides of the table, easily forgetting the cards on the other side each time. I found the game to have lots of possibilities and looked forward to playing against an opponent. Dan and Joel are big fans of HeroScape, and I used to play wargames many years ago. The Memoir ’44 rules were easy for all of us to grasp quickly. Joel and I set up as the Axis, with Dan as the Allies side. After we set up the first scenario (Pegasus Bridge), I went through the rules at a fast pace. Both Dan and Joel frequently commented that many of the rules were very similar to HeroScape. I expected Dan to win the game, but thought it would be a good learning experience for Joel, with me to point out things on the cards as we went. Joel caught on to everything extremely quickly, based on his highly successful play of HeroScape. Very soon, he was suggesting which card we should play and how we should order the units, and I could seldom recommend anything I thought was better than his ideas. Fortunately, I left the dice-rolling up to Joel, and he has amazing luck with dice. It was not long before we won the game, much to my surprise, and primarily due to the dice rolls. Dan made no mistakes that I was aware of, but couldn’t get the dice rolls that Joel could.

We decided to play the same scenario, with the same sides, a second time. This time, Dan won, but (just for fun, of course) Joel rolled the dice that we had planned, based on the card we were going to play. His roll would have won the game for us, if Dan had not barely beat us.

Dan emailed me today that he and Joel played four more times today, using three other different scenarios, and Joel won three of the four, again with his dice rolls. I believe he understands the game well. We hope to introduce Mason to Memoir ’44 this year and play with two teams. I’m looking forward to it.

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

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Games Played September 16, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

On our way through Broomfield CO, we stopped at TimeWellSpent and picked up our game order. Dave Jones is great to have a conversation with regarding games. I would guess that he has played most (perhaps all) of the games he sells, which is really neat. Sue decided to reserve Category 5 (6 Nimmt), Dragon’s Gold, and Hoity Toity for future birthday and Christmas gifts for me (October and December are not far away, so I think I’ll survive). That left Memoir ’44 and Elfenland. Well, Memoir ’44 will not be a game played by the whole family, although I’m looking forward to trying it with Dan, Joel, and Mason. So, the whole stack of new games boiled down to one new one to try this weekend – Elfenland.

When I first heard about Elfenland, I wasn’t too interested, because I didn’t think the family would enjoy the theme, but I was convinced otherwise by folks on BGG and after reading reviews and session reports about the game. The fact that we enjoy other games by Alan Moon was a major influence, too. I’m glad I decided to try it, because it went over very well. What really amazed me was how quickly Joel (age 8) picked up the rules, after I read them through one time. I think he actually got the idea of the game quicker than I did, but maybe that’s not saying too much. Anyway, we played it, enjoyed it, and agreed that we look forward to it again. Dave Jones had told me that he considered this game to be one of those rare ones that plays well with 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 players. We certainly enjoyed the 6-player game. I think that we are already fairly comfortable with the rules, and I am eager to go again. Results: Katrina, Sue, and me (tied) first (17 cities, no cards left); Mason fourth (15 cities, one card left); Dan and Joel (tied) last (15 cities, no cards left). That was a tight first game!

Next, we played 7-player Bohnanza. Natalia and Joel always do well at this game. Results: Sue first (14 gold); Joel and Natalia (tied) second (13 gold); Mason fourth (11 gold); Dan fifth (9 gold); me sixth (8 gold); Katrina last (7 gold). The scores were really spread out in this game.

Finally, we had time for a game of Settlers of Catan, as usual. This was a good game, with lots of jockeying for position. I believe the Longest Road card was held by three different people. Joel was almost the only one buying Development Cards and easily held the Largest Army card. Near the end, Katrina and Mason both had 8 points. Katrina earlier missed a play that would have given her the Longest Road, and that might have won the game for her. As it was, Mason had the Longest Road. It really looked like one of them would soon win. Then, Joel’s turn came up. He said, “I need a 9,” and immediately rolled that number. As soon as he did, he said, “I win!” We all couldn’t believe it. He had played seven Soldier cards, and we sort of assumed his eighth Development Card was probably a Soldier, but it was a VP card. His dice roll allowed him to build a road and a settlement, and that won the game for him. He had it figured precisely before his turn came around, and he played it perfectly. Great finish! Results: Joel first; Katrina and Mason (tied) second; Dan and me (tied) fourth; Sue last.

During the afternoon, we also went outside (except Mason, who was a bit sleepy and chose to rest) to play Bocce. I won both Bocce games, but unfortunately they don’t count in our family gaming records. Oh, well. . .

I have now removed the shrinkwrap from the Memoir ’44 box, but I’ve not taken the lid off it, until I have time to sit down and thoroughly enjoy going through it all. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that this afternoon.

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

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New Games Order

One key to happiness – GAMES

I finally placed a new games order. I held off until we had played all of the ones we acquired in late 2005, and that took us a while. We certainly can’t be sitting around with no new, un-played games on the shelf!

I have listed my criteria for new game purchases on an earlier blog entry.

Thanks much to Mary, Susan, and Dave for the great suggestions for some excellent family games that they added to my blog. I looked at each of those suggested and narrowed my list to about 8 or 10 games to research on BoardGameGeek (BGG). I read reviews, session reports, info in GeekLists, and comments posted in Forum threads, and I reviewed comments and reviews posted in a wide variety of game blogs. Finally, I checked several online game sources to see what was available and the cost. The game highest on my list was To Court the King, a new U.S. release by Rio Grande Games of Um Krone und Kragen, but its availability has been delayed. Guess it will have to wait for a future order. I have bought games from several online businesses, but prefer to deal with Time Well Spent, since the business is located about an hour’s drive from my house. I can pick up the order with no shipping charges, and because I plan to be driving through Broomfield, Colorado, next week, the timing was perfect.

My final order consists of just four games, but I think the family will enjoy these. I only buy games playable by at least six people (and not party games). I have read about 6 Nimmt (Category 5) for several years, and finally decided to buy it. All seven of us should be able to enjoy this game. We all like card games, and it appears to play fairly quickly, with simple rules.

Hoity Toity seemed to be a game six of us could have fun with, so it’s in the order. This is the Uberplay, 2004, version for 3-6 players. Scott Nicholson’s video review of this game was a big help.

Elfenland sounded like a neat game that is in line with our enjoyment of Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Around the World in 80 Days, and Hacienda. I know all these games are very different, but there is a somewhat common flavor to them, in my mind. I believe Elfenland may have some of that flavor.

Finally, I chose a game that is really designed for 2 players, but can be played by more. In fact, this game will not be one that the family plays together, because I’m sure Sue and Katrina will have no interest in it. Memoir ’44 is in the order because so many people have recommended it so highly. I come from a wargaming background, so this should not be difficult to pick up. Dan and Joel are very much into HeroScape, and I think this game will be even easier to learn, easier to set up, and challenging enough for them. I expect they will borrow this game a lot, but I also want to play against them sometimes. Perhaps Mason (who likes Risk) will find this an interesting game, and we can play 2-on-2.

So, that’s my pending order. I’ll pick it up at Broomfield next week, and will be eager to play some new challenges. However, I think one or two of these will be put aside as gifts to me for my October birthday or for Christmas. Well, if we play the others soon, I will just have to create another game order before Christmas! I know I’ll be looking for To Court the King, and if the re-release of Ave Caesar is available, that probably will be included in my next order. I would also like to get Diamant, someday. Fun times!!

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Games Played September 2, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Another fun day with the family. Sue and I fixed a simple, but delicious, meal with a recipe called Lumbercamp Falls Skillet – a one-dish meal that we’ve enjoyed two times in the past year. I got the recipe several years ago from Midwest Living magazine, but only got around to trying it late last year. In a Dutch oven, we cooked some bacon (which was removed, drained, and crumbled for the topping), sliced potatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper, smoked sausage, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Along with a fresh salad, tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, and a brownie sundae dessert, it makes a great and quick meal for seven people. Everyone ate a lot! Then, it was on to gaming.

We had played two games of Hacienda back in April, and we decided to try it again. The first time we played, with the symmetrical board, Dan and Mason tied for the win. The second time, with the asymmetrical board, Sue beat us all very well. In this third game, also asymmetrical, we were all a little more knowledgeable and played a little more defense, but Sue again took us to school in it. She claims to not really understand the game and asks questions during the play, and I noted that it sounded a bit like a “first-time” poker player asking whether having two of one kind and three of another was a good hand! Results: Sue first; Katrina second; Dan third; Mason fourth; me last. It appears to me that Sue is becoming a more aggressive game-player. In the last several games of Settlers, Through the Desert, and Hacienda, Sue has played more defense than I ever recall her doing in the past. She is also winning more games and placing better in the others. It has been an interesting recent change in her gaming style.

Next up was Through the Desert. In the past games, Katrina had two wins, Sue had one, and Dan, Mason, and Katrina tied for the win in the fourth game. With five players, the board fills up quickly, and the game ends fairly quickly. Three players were trying for the longest white caravan, so the camels went quickly. I managed to have the longest caravans in both purple and blue, which was a nice surprise, and I enclosed two small areas, but was blocked from completing two other areas. However, Mason enclosed two sizeable areas and won the game. Results: Mason first; Dan second; me third; Katrina fourth; Sue last. Sue prevented me from getting two additional areas enclosed, so she definitely understands this game. I did a lot of defensive playing last time we played TtD, and I came in last. Sue was last this time. I’m thinking that this game definitely rewards offensive, rather than defensive play, as many or most games do. I’m also thinking that I need to learn this game better – I’m the only one who hasn’t won a game of it!

Settlers of Catan was our next game, where Dan and Mason have a nip-and-tuck rivalry going for most wins. Luck definitely plays a role in this game. I have had good luck with the Development Cards in several games, but this was not one of those days. I bought 8 cards and received 7 soldiers and one Monopoly card. Dan bought two cards and got one Road Building and one VP! I did have the largest army, eight total points, and was beginning to think about winning this game, when Dan announced that the game was over. Results: Dan first; me second; Mason and Joel (tied) third; Katrina and Sue (tied) last. Mason and Dan are once again tied for most victories, with 19 each. They are hard to beat at Settlers.

We played our usual seven-hand game of Bohnanza toward the end of the day. Joel won with 14 gold, followed by Natalia, Mason, and Katrina with 13 – a close finish! Results: Joel first; Natalia, Mason, Katrina (tied) second; Dan fifth; Sue and me (tied) last (with 7 – Joel doubled our scores). Joel is a great game-player. I recently posted a photo of him on BGG with our completed Settlers game of last week. He and Natalia have each won more games this year than I have, as has everyone else in the family. But, that’s okay. I love playing all these different games, anyway.

We finished the day with four hands of Nertz, but decided not to keep score. Katrina won two hands, Natalia won one, and I won one, but I’m glad we didn’t keep score, because I believe my scores for the other three hands were all negative!

Next weekend, we will have visitors from out of state. I doubt whether we will play any games with the whole group, so I don’t expect to have a report next week. It is possible Sue and I will play some cards with her sister and brother-in-law, while staying at a cabin in Estes Park, Colorado, the following week, but we won’t have any game results to add to our family gaming records next weekend.

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