Saturday, May 22, 2004

Session Report: GRAB Game Night- 5/21/2004

IQ-5 x3 Josh*** Chris

I saw IQ-5 at Gulf Games in Pensacola and I've been intrigued by it ever since. I ordered a copy from Funagain and got it just in time for our monthly gaming session. Josh showed up before anyone else and we decided to try it out. In IQ-5 each player has "pins" that contain two colored ends... red/blue, yellow/red, yellow/blue. Players take turns inserting a pin into the board in an effort to get 5 in a row. When you insert a pin into your side of the board, you are also adding a pin to the other player's side of the board (it stands between the two players like a Connect 4 board).

Josh won all three games. There is a heavy memory element in the game and he was able to keep track of the colors better than I did. I enjoyed the game, but I have a feeling the memory element will be too strong for it to become a favorite of mine.

Overall, it's a very interesting game with very nice components. Ben Baldanza talked the company into sending him a pair of pins that are red/red, yellow/yellow, and blue/blue. This mean you can't count on the fact that the color on the other side of a pin is different than a color on your side. I'm not sure if this will make the game better or worse. It seems it would make the memory element even heavier, which I'm not interested in.

Yinsh Chris*, Josh

My new discovered love affair with the Gipf series got quite the attention tonight. The first was Yinsh, which I had only played once and Josh had not played at all. I managed to win the game, which I take great pride in. Anytime I beat Josh in a game it is extra special, especially a true battle of wits such as Yinsh. I expect now that he has one play under his belt that he will take me next time... but maybe there won't be a next time.

I love Yinsh... and each time I play it I like it more. I look forward to MANY more games of this.

Auf Heller und Pfennig Chris*, Rob, Brian, Nick

We dug deep into my collection and found this classic which we hadn't played in a while. Rob managed only a few points (4 perhaps) in the first round. Brian and I got something in the 50's. Nick had 20. Round two went much better for Rob and he closed to within just a few points of Brian and I. In round three I was the benefactor of some ... we'll say generous placements by Nick and I managed to win by just a few points over Brian. Rob was perhaps 20 points behind us.

I'm really glad we got a chance to play this again. It's simply a terrific game with difficult decisions each turn. This is one of my favorite Knizia games and I need to make a point to get it out more often.

Hick Hack im Gackelwack Rob, Chris, Brian*, Nick, James

Nick suggested Hick Hack and Rob has been considering purchasing this for his kids so I gave in a played it. It's not one of my favorites... I'm not sure why, but we had fun with it. I've never won this game... in fact, I don't recall ever NOT finishing last. While it seems there isn't much to decide in this game, I think I've proven that it is possible to consistently make BAD decisions in this game. No matter. We enjoyed it, and I think it's something my daughter would enjoy, so I may pick up a copy to play with her. It would be a good introduction to some gaming concepts and some a chance to work on some light math.

Zertz x3 Chris**, Brian*

We now had 8 and we wanted to play 2 four player games, but when Nick talked Scott into Epic Duels I decided to take the opportunity to evangelise the Gipf series. Brian was anxious to learn some of the games. We started with Zertz. I had just finished reading the first half of Stephen Tavener's Zertz strategy guide, which I highly recommend, and I was anxious to give some of his tips a try. I won the first game very quickly, taking advantage of Brian's unfamiliarity with the game by quickly capturing three white marbles. In the second game I made a serious blunder. I attempted to set up a one for one exchange but didn't realize that I gave him a double jump. I couldn't recover and he won the game with 4 gray marbles. The third game was very close. We got to the point where either of us needed any marble to win. He had me trapped, where I couldn't take another marble without giving him one first. Then I realized that I could isolate a white marble, which I then removed from the board for the victory.

Now, back to the strategy guide for the more advanced moves. If you're at all interested in Zertz, read Stephen's guide. It will take several readings to digest it all, but it's time well spent if you want to truly master this wonderful game.

Tamsk x2 Chris*, Brian*

Rob and told Brian about the hourglass game, and since Brian enjoyed Zertz so much, we decided to give it a try. Once again, I beat him in the first game, but he demanded a rematch, which I gave him and he got his vengence.

While I really enjoy Tamsk, it seems like strategic than the other Gipf games, but that is likely because I don't know the strategy. It's the weakest of the series, yet I still really enjoy the game.

Yinsh Chris*, Brian

We still had some time while the other table was finishing up Hansa, so I continued through the Gipf series with Brian by busting out Yinsh. I took the first point, and then traded points with him... giving him one to get one in return. We battled for a few more minutes and I managed to win when he missed the fact that I had set up a very simple move for the victory. He was looking to set up a complex move for the win, but missed the fact that I had set up a very simple move for the victory.

I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of this game, but I've never played an experienced player, so my 3 and 0 record is probably not valid. I feel like I have no concept of the game opening. Much like Dvonn, there is probably some very important moves that done during the opening, but it feels like I'm just guessing. Since I enjoy the game, I expect to have many opportunities to figure it out.

My feeling is that the game is more tactical than Zertz, Gipf, or Dvonn. But again, that's probably due to my lack of experience with it.

Zircus Flohcati Dave, Brian, Chris*, Nick

Dave and Nick wanted to get one more game in before they left. He recommended ZF (the older one... ZF the Elder I guess) and I was happy with the choice. Brian collected many high numbered cards, but because he was only taking great cards he was the target of the action cards, which let us pick good cards from his hand. I managed a few sets and Nick ended the game with the gala show. I won by just a point over Dave as I recall, which Nick being just a couple of points behind. I think this is a great filler that probably doesn't get played as often as it deserves.

Funkenschlag Chris*, Josh*, Scott

I had been itching to play this game all night... all week in fact. I talked Josh and Scott into playing it. It lasted a bit longer than any of us had hoped, but we all really enjoyed the game. Scott had never played. Josh had played once and I had played twice. We all played conservatively and this really caused the game to last longer than it needed to. I believe it clocked in at over 3 hours.

I felt like I played very well. I did buy a power plant that never got used (the 8 I believe). The game ended when Josh connected his 22nd city. There was a bit of controversy... well, not really controversy, but and unfortunate event at the end. We all thought Josh had only connected 21 cities, but after recounting at the end we realized he had 22. We had apparently miscounted earlier in the game. Since the number of connected cities determines the turn order and has a huge impact on the rest of the game there was no way to determine what would have happened had we counted correctly. It was an honest mistake and I don't think it really changed the outcome. So, Josh finished with the controversial 22, I had 21, and Scott had 20. Since we thought Josh only had 21 cities during the last turn and I had more money, Josh declared me the winner, but it really didn't matter. I was very pleased with how I had played and enjoyed the game thoroughly in spite of the problem in the end.

I could have won the previous turn but I was 3 dollars short of connecting to a 20th city. I expect I spent over $1000 during the course of the game and I was a mere $3 short from victory. What's more, I had purchased extra resources during the purchasing phase because I assumed the game would go another round. Poor planning on my part, but it is so difficult (well, it's not difficult, but it's a bit of a hassle) to figure your total cost for a building phase, especially when you are connecting 5 cities in one turn that I didn't realize I had the opportunity to win. I was also very pleased with a decision I made during the round to purchase a garbage plant and then buy all the garbage so Josh couldn't power all of his cities. This, combined with better planning would have given me a very rewarding victory.

Wow! What a great game... easily a 9 for me. I just got Power Grid yesterday and I'm anxious to see if we can get the game down to 2 hours consistently. If so, the game will likely hit a 10 for me... joining very elite company (Tichu and Crokinole).

Games played by other players
San Juan
Ticket to Ride
Star Wars:Epic Duels x3

Lunch session: Ticket to Ride

At lunch yesterday I managed to score 14 points in a game of Ticket
to Ride. I had a plan, and it was actually very fun (and tense)
trying to make it work, but needless to say, it didn't. I kept the
following 2 routes

LA to Miami
Vancouver to Montreal

My plan was to build across the US and then down the coasts, but
when players started building down the east and west coast early in
the game I decided to build down the coasts first and then connect
them. Well, I ran out of time and didn't get them connected. 2 20
point routes, neither of them connected... ouch.

Since there are only 80 points in the track, to an unaware observer,
it looked like I finished in the thick of it, of course I was lapped
by everyone.

Even though the results were terrible, it was very fun trying to
make it work. Obviously I won't try that plan again.

So, can anyone else beat 14?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Lunch session: Flaschenteufel

Rob I, Jim I, Chris L

Previoulsly, Rob had only played a few hands of Flaschenteufel and really didn't like it. Since we had 3 players today, we talked him into giving it another try... and then we made him lead the first trick of the first hand. He plunked the 15 yellow out there, and immediately realized that it was a bad play because Jim and I both got rid of low yellows. Rob was stuck with the only low yellow left and eventually ended up with the bottle. Rob ended up with the bottle the second hand as well, although it wasn't apparent that he had done anything wrong. I believe I got stuck with the bottle in hands 3 and 5 and Rob got it hand 4. We finally managed to get Jim the final hand (due to a bad play on his part), but he still won the game handily.

I think I underestimate the power of short suiting yourself in blue or red in this game. Jim short suited himself consistently and was able to dodge the bottle nearly every hand. If he hadn't misplayed the last hand he would have dodged it again. Next time we play, I will short suit myself every hand if it's at all possible (unless I have a lot of low yellows).

Monday, May 17, 2004

Very close game of Ticket to Ride

We played Ticket to Ride at lunch today. The final results were very close. Jim won with 115. Rob and I both had 114. Chris Clark was in the 70's. Chris took an additional route card toward the end in hopes of getting some easy points. He didn't get one he could connect, so he had to take the negative points. Jim had the longest train and connected only two routes (both were in the north). Rob connected three routes and then used his turns to take long routes on the board for maximum points. I connected 4 routes.

Very interesting session. Three different strategies all had virtually the same result.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Kitchen Table Gamers game day

We traveled to Cleveland for the weekend to participate in the Kitchen Table Gamers game day. It was the first time the KTGers attempted this and they did a fantastic job. I feel really good about it because it was inspired by the game days we have had here in Grand Rapids which some of the KTG crowd attended in January. Craig, James, Michael, Mike, and John did a terrific job organizing the event. They did a few things that we didn't think of (like providing a map of area restaurants and a sheet of sources for more information about the types of games we play). I will suggest we do this for our next event.

They had 50 people in attendance, which is a great turn out, especially for the first event. As it turns out, the room would have been too small if more people had been there. If they plan to expand, they will need to find a different location.

The gaming started at 10:00 am and we played until 11:30 pm. I had a great time and I'm very glad they invited us to attend.


We arrived Friday evening and squeezed in 1 game before we decided to go to bed.

Ticket to Ride Chris, Elaine, Kim, Craig

This is one of my favorite new games of the year. I believe it's the 4th time I've played it and I finally managed to win. I kept my three original tickets and didn't take anymore for the rest of the game. My tickets were for Seattle to LA, Seattle to New York, and Dututh to El Paso. I begin by building Seattle to LA, and then ignored my western train and begin working from Duluth to New York. I was nearly shut out of El Paso, and had a bit of difficulty getting from Duluth to Seattle to finish my Seattle to New York route. After the Northern route was finished I still had to get to El Paso and the only route left was LA to El Paso, which takes 6 black trains. I spent 3 or 4 turns drawing cards to get a trains I needed... getting 2 wilds on my last draw. I plunked down my 6 black trains to complete all my routes and this prompted the game end condition since I only had 2 trains left. On my last turn I placed them at the end of my train, which gave me one contiguous track that included all of my trains (and the 10 point bonus for longest train). I believe I won by 30 points (with 150 points or so). I think Craig noticed that I was very vulerable and attempted to block me on the black track, but was unable to get the cards he needed. This would have devastated me and I expect I would have finished last.

I really like this game I expect it will win SdJ this year, which would be well deserved.

Coyote Michael Green, Mike Agams, James*, Chris, John Palagyi, Craig

I really enjoy the game, although I'm tempted to play next time without the special cards. It makes the game very random.

Attribute Michael Green, Mike Agams, James, Chris, John Palagyi, Craig, John Morgan*

I had played Attribute on BSW, but never face to face. Once we got the scoring straight we had a great time. We had a few other people join us part way through the game.

Frank's Zoo Chris*, Kim, Michael Green, Sarah

My 5 year old daughter wanted to play the where the animals eat other animals. Michael had never played the game so we asked him to join us. We played one hand, without any of the special scoring. Sarah actually did very well, although it was difficult for her to hold her cards. I think she is just about ready to play this without help... except for perhaps a card holder.

Tamsk Michael Green, Chris*

I got to play several Gipf series games over the weekend. I've played Tamsk before, but it had been a couple of years. Michael made a mistake early by allowing one of his timers to run out because he wasn't paying attention. In the end, that proved to be fatal for him. Great game. I love the whole series.

Yinsh Michael Green, Chris*

After Tamsk, Michael offered to teach me Yinsh. I had a copy on order, so I was very excited to give it a try. He warned me in advance that he had never scored more than 1 point in his several previous games (it take 3 points to win). He did manage to score 2 against me, but I pulled out a victory. Again, fantastic game. I can't wait to play it again.

Puerto Rico Ken Boone*, John Montville, Craig, Chris

John had never played, so I explained the game to him while Craig greeted some visitors. I attempted to start producing coffee early and did get off to an early lead, which is typical for me, but half way through the game I could see that I simply wasn't able to ship enough to make it work. Nobody else was making coffee, so the ships were filled with other commodities and I never managed to get my own ship, so my coffee didn't ship. I did manage to sell it a few times, which got me some big money, but by then it was too late. I finished fourth (behind the newbie AND Craig... yikes) and Ken won, quite handily.

Coda x2 Renee, Craig*, Chris, Rhonda*

I really enjoy Coda. I think it's a great filler and a good introduction to deduction games. I meant to pick up a coopy but forgot. I will be buying this soon.

Gulo Gulo Chris*, Sarah, Mick Adams, Todd Adams, James Miller

Sarah talked me into Gulo Gulo. She explained the rules to me (quite well actually) and we talked a few bystanders into joining us while they waited for their pizza. I managed to win, but it's a kid's game, so that really didn't matter. We had a lot of fun with it and I'll be adding it to my buy list. Now, I just hope I can convince my 1 year old that the pieces are not giant M&M's. She seems to think Gulo Gulo is German for Candy Candy.

Thingamajig Craig*, James, Kim, Chris, Patti, Nikki, Elaine

Another favorite of mine with the right crowd. James is notorious for very clever and obscure clues. Craig managed to win, but he told me later he was cheating... sharing his answers with Nikki who was really stuggling. No matter. Great fun. The best clue of the game was one that we came up with later... "This is where Ernest and Julio were hanged." The answer... "gallows" of course.

Coyote x2 Nikki, Chris*, Patti*, Elaine

Another session of Coyote. This seems to be a big hit with the kids. I noticed we were gietting a lot of funny looks from some of the kids at another table (who were in the middle of a 3 hour game of Ticket to Ride). I returned the favor when they played Egg Dance later.

Squint Chris, John Palagyi, James*, Patti, Elaine

I used to really like this game, but I guess I've grown a little tired of it. It's still fun with a big group and we had a good time with it, but I probably won't be looking to pull it out a lot in the future.

Cartagena Chris, John Morgan*, Patti, Mike Adams

I really like Cartagena with 2 or 3 people. With 4 or more it's just okay, but we needed something quick and a couple of the people listed above hadn't played it, so I suggested we give it a try. We played with cards hidden (Jamaica I believe), which is actually the way I prefer to play with more than 2 people (Dave VanderArk will be happy to hear this as I was previously a Tortuga fan and he is anti-Tortuga).

Bluff Chris, Chris, John Morgan*, Chloe, Craig

I was trying to score a late night game of Time's Up and we needed something to do while we waited for a few people to finish up. John and I were the last two remaining. But his 4 dice to my 1 was too difficult to overcome.

Time's Up Chris/Kim*, Craig/James, Mike Adams/John Morgan

Without a doubt this is my favorite party game, especially with the players listed above. The game always provides us with many laughs, and this was no exception. We had the usual set of confusing words. For example, we had King Kong, Stephen King, Martin Luther King Jr., and Don King. We had a couple of very difficult people as well... William Faulkner being the most difficult. The best clue I remember was James's attempt to get Craig to say Mata Hari. He said something like "This is a guy... from India I think. His last name is like "not bald."" Believe it or not, Craig did not get it.


Craig taught me Zertz, and then kicked me around. We also played Gipf, and as I recall I won. I have really fallen in love with the whole series. During each game I think "this is the best game in the series."

After Gipf we invited the wives to join us for Beyond Balderdash, which we aborted after 3 rounds because they weren't really enjoying it. I want to try it again, perhaps at a future Gulf Games event. We got Attribute out again and had a great time with it. As is often the case, Craig interrupted the game several times with stories from his comical past. I don't know if his family just has a lot of odd things happen to them or if they just remember them better than most families, but they seem to have an endless list of odd stories to tell.

In summary, Craig and the other KTG'ers should be very pleased with the event. The attendance was very good (capacity at times). There was plenty of refreshments and games to choose from as well. As far as I could tell, everyone seemed to enjoy the day and I expect future events will be a well attended as well. I'm always looking for excuses to spend time with these guys. Please let me know when the next one is scheduled and I will definitely plan to attend.

Game weekend at the Bergs'

We again had the pleasure of visiting the Berg family for the weekend and it was a terrific time. They are SOOOO much fun to be around, not to mention that we often get to play lots of games together.

On Friday evening we played Ticket to Ride, which is one of my favorite new games of the year. I won for the first time by connecting my two tracks on my last turn, thanks to the fact that I drew 2 wild cards on my previous turn.

On Saturday I attended the Kitchen Table Gamers first game day. We had a great time. Attendance was in the 40's. I got to play several Gipf series games, including Yinsh. It's a fantastic game. I am absolutely in love with the Gipf series. Over the weekend I also played two games of Tamsk, 1 game of Zertz and 1 game of Gipf. These are truly brilliant games. The other highlight of the game day was closing out the night with Time's Up, which is one of my favorites. Kim Berg was my partner and we rolled to an easy victory by winning all three rounds. The game highlights were trying to describe William Faulker (we all knew he was an author, but nobody knew anything he had written) try to not get confused between Don King, Martin Luther King Jr., King Kong, and there was someone else with a list name of King that I don't remember. Another hilarious time.

After the game day we returned to the Berg's where Craig regailed us with hilarious stories of his families exploits, including a very funny story about how he lost his glasses while watching Sixth Sense at the theater.

On Sunday we played a few more games, include Attribute with Kim and Elaine. I really like this game and I will be busting it out when I get the chance. It is a lot more creative than Apples to Apples.

We got home after 10PM. The girls FINALLY fell asleep when we got off the highway in Grand Rapids. It was a pretty gruelling drive home, but it was well worth it.

Friday, May 14, 2004


Well, my lastest gaming obsession is called SuperPlexus. It's a marble maze and it's very addictive. My current best scores are 32 seconds for level 1 and 67 seconds for level 2. I have not yet conquered level 3.

My left elbow hurts from playing with the stupid puzzle for so long. Perhaps I should take a few days off... but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Welcome to my game blog

I'm not sure why I think you'd care about what I have to say, but I wanted a place to save my ramblings on games and this seemed like as good a place as any.