Saturday, October 30, 2004

Duell, Cosmic Eidex, Die Fugger, and Von Kap bis Kairo

Rob hosted this month and even though I arrived late, I got plenty of good gaming in.

They were playing Goa when I arrived. Brian also arrived late so I decided to teach him Duell. James Miller game me a copy of this a few weeks ago and I really like the game. We played with the advanced Duell rules (which use the round modifiers and parries, but not lunges). Of the round modifiers, I like the open round the best. I wouldn't want to play every round this way, but it changes the game significantly and keeps it fresh. I think I will play with the lunge rule from En Garde next time.

With 6 players we decided to break into 2 groups of 3. One group played Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride while we played Cosmic Eidex. Josh and I had played several times and Scott had played once before, but this game always requires a rules refresher. Since everyone had played before, we decided to use the special powers. My power allowed me to refuse the selected trump (which is determined by the last card dealt) and use the trump determined by the second to last gamer. Josh's power allowed him to swap the value of 2 consecutive cards, which could determine whether or not he took a trick in certain instances. Scott's power allowed him to steal the card I put face down and swap it with a card in his hand. Scott's power seemed farily useless. He used it often, but it rarely helped him. Both Josh's and my power seemed very useful. Josh won. I had a chance, but slowed down my trick taking too early and ended up just a few points shy of Scott, putting me in the middle (I'm sure if you've never played this game you have no idea what I'm talking about... sorry about that). I highly recommend Cosmic Eidex for groups that like odd trick taking games. It's a game designed for 3 players only, which makes it difficult to get on the table, but also ideal for what is often perceived to be a tricky number of players to accomodate.

Next, the other group played Evo while we played Die Fugger and Von Kap bis Kairo. I really like both of these games. It was my first playing of Die Fugger. It's very clever. I think it has just the right amount of tension. I consistently found myself wishing I could a little more on my turn, but not so much that it was frustrating. Josh won this game but just a few points. I look forward to my next playing of this.

Josh had modified his version to use chips rather than the cards to keep track of the value of a commodity. He also uses the chips to indicate how many of a commodity have been played. The chips start above the card. When the first card has been played, move the chip to the top of the card, then to the middle, bottom and then below. When a chip is below the card, the next time that commodity is played the round ends. It's much easier than try to count the cards constantly to see how many of each have been played.

I had played Vom Kap bi Kairo once before and was excited to give it another shot. I managed to win by moving forward whenever possible. Josh and Rob tried to time a run at the end of the game, but Josh had forgotten that you could pay 10 to move ahead and failed to account for that during the final bid. I out bid him and was able to go first and finish my track. I really like this game and look forward to playing it again.

Next up... Great Lakes Games.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Grand Rapids Area Game Day

On Saturday, October 9th the Grand Rapids Area Boardgamers hosted a game day. This is our 6th if I recall correctly and we had 20-25 people. Several people came over from Lansing and James Miller made the trip from Akron, Ohio. We started at noon and played until about 1:30 am. Thanks again to Tony and his church for allowing us to use their facilities (at no charge even!)

I played the following games:

Duell, Das Motorsportspiel, Power Grid, Robo Rally, Thingamajig, Goa, Tichu


I had played En Garde several times so I was very excited when James Miller gave me a copy in Cleveland a few weeks ago. This was my first chance to try to new version. I taught the rules to Kelly and we played several rounds with the basic version. We then added the special action cards, which change the rules for both players for a round. When reading the descriptions of the cards I wasn't particularly impressed, but I really enjoyed them, especially the "open cards" option. I wouldn't want to play an entire game with this option, but it's fun to mix it in periodically. For those that have played and enjoyed En Garde, I highly recommend buying the new version. The interlocking board is a great improvement over the board that you build with cards from the previous version.

Das Motorsportspiel

Dave promised to bring this game and he didn't let us down. I had played it once before a few years ago and remembered enjoying the game. My memory didn't let me down. We played a 3 lap race with 6 players and we used a 45 second timer. I think the timer is a MUST for this game and will be required equipment for me in the future for any racing game. It added the tension that necessary for these games to shine.

If you are a fan of racing games, I highly recommend Das Motorsportspiel. The movement mechanics are fascinating and the penalty system is easier than Formula De. Movement works like this. Each turn the player rolls 1 - 3 dice. Two of the dice are standard 6 sideds and the other is a 6 sided with 1:3, 1:2, and 2:3 on opposing sides. When you roll, you may choose to roll 1, 2, or 3 dice (you must always roll the red die). Then you decide if you want to use the number rolled or the number on the opposite side. You then determine which order you want to use the dice and move your car. You may only switch lanes while using a die with a "diagonal" number on it (2, 3, or 5). Speed is regulated by the corners. Similar to Formula De, each corner has a number, but in FD that determines the number of stops you make in the corner (which can be difficult to remember). In Motorsportspiel the number represents your maximum speed in the corner (the maximum individual die roll) in the corner. If you speed or cannot use all your movement (because you are blocked) you receive penalty flags. The flag system is very easy to use (much easier than the FD system for damage, but a little more difficult than FD mini).

Power Grid

This is one of my favorite (perhaps THE favorite) game from last year and I was anxiously looking forward to getting it in during the day. Bruce and his wife Michelle had never played, so I taught them and they really enjoyed it. So much has already been written about this game so there is little need for me to comment on it here, except to say that once again it was a very enjoyable game... still one of my favorites and I look forward to playing it again.

Robo Rally

I had been playing a lot of Roborunner (a play-by-email version of Robo Rally) which has really renewed my love for this game, so I was more than happy to play when Sam and Nick asked me. We played 2 boards with 3 flags in an effort to keep the game to about 1 hour. We played without the option cards (in an effort to keep the game to an hour). Playing this game with a couple of younger players is always a treat. It's fun to watch them get excited about pushing people off the board and shooting each other. I managed to stay out of people's way for the most part (except when James shoved me off the board) and won the game. I have to get this out more. It never disappoints.


Ugh... I really like this game and usually do very well, but for some reason I just didn't do very well. Personally, for me Thingamajig is not so much about the score. I prefer to try to come up with clever clues and acknowledge those who come up with great clues during the game. I erred several times with clues that were WAY too easy. 3 times out of 5 all of my opponents guessed my word, which is just not good... but it was great fun. One clue that I recall was given by Elaine, and I can't believe I didn't get it.... "Sean Young's Runner" for "Blade". For crying out loud this is one of my favorite movies. I just couldn't get there for some reason. Oh well, it's still one of my favorite party games, particularly with a group that enjoys giving clever clues.


Again, much has been written about Goa. I will simply say that it is an amazing game. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I am in awe of people that can come up with such a complex set of mechanics that really seem to work together. It will take at least 1 or 2 more games before I really figure this thing out (I felt like I muddled through this first session with no real direction) and I'm just not sure I want to invest that much time in it. If it takes 3 plays to figure the game out, then I really have to play it 4 or 5 times to make my final judgement, and considering that I often don't play games that often (and a brand new crop is on it's way from Essen) I may just write it off as a brilliant game that just isn't for me. I will probably try it once more, especially if it's an opportunity to teach a few new players.


We had time for one more game and I knew Tony, James, and Josh don't get to play Tichu as often as they would like, so I suggested this. This is probably my all time favorite game. We gave Tony a quick refresher and it took a couple of hands for him to get back into the game. James and I jumped off to a 500-0 lead after 2 hands (Tony made a few mistakes, allowing us to go out 1-2). As is often the case with Tichu (the scoring system allows for huge score swings) Tony and Josh made a huge come back. The pulled within 90 at 945-855. We managed to set Josh's Tichu and score a few points, making the score 985-815. James and I played the last hand strictly for points, making sure we got 20, which would put us over 1000 and winning the game. Josh made his Tichu, but we made 35 points and won.

Another very exciting game. I was concerned after the first 2 hands that it was going to be a rout, which happens quite often with Tichu. If I have 1 beef with the game it is that. TOO often games end 1000-200 or something similar because one team gets a steak of several great hands. In spite of that, it remains on top of my list of all time favorites.

All in all, a GREAT day! Next gaming session: Great Lakes Games in Toledo in November. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Enchanted Forest again

Sarah wanted to play Champion Forest (her name) again last night. This time, we followed the rules. I had forgotten about the 3 options when you roll doubles (look at any unoccupied tree, move over the stone bridge, change the top card). The game went much better. It still took us a very long time to find the first symbol, but the game moved along after that. She won this time, but there were a few times I made wrong moves on purpose to keep it close early. But from the halfway point on, I played it straight.

I have been working with her on how to act during and after a game. I've have been explaining that it doesn't matter if you win or lose. What matters is that you do the following:

Play by the rules
Play nicely
Play your best
Have fun

At the end of every game I ask her if she did each of these... often to console her after I win. Last night, when she won, she explained them to me. It was a precious moment.

This morning on the way to school, she said playing games is a LOT more fun than watching TV and she really enjoys spending time with me. What a kid!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Enchanted Forest with my daughter

We recently implemented a new punishment/reward system for our 6 year old. She LOVES Spongebob, so I bought her a Spongebob refrigerator magnet set. When she does something good (like get herself ready for school without fussing, helping her 2 year old system pick up her toys) or goes several hours without fussing or talking back, she gets to move Spongebob 1 space closer to the jellyfish (Spongebob's favorite activity is jellyfish hunting). If she messes up, Spongebob moves back. It's actually kind of funny... yelling at your crying child to "move Spongebob back." Anyway, I digress. Her reward for Spongebob making it to the jellyfish (basically, she has had a very good day) is that she gets to play a game with Mom and Dad. Last night, we picked Enchanted Forest (SdJ winner from 1983).

She has played other memory type games, so I figured she could handle that aspect of the game. I had to help her with the movement a bit. She understand the mechanics of the movement, but often didn't see how she could change directions to get where she wanted to go. The other things she struggled with was keeping what she saw a secret. If she found the symbol we were looking for, she wigged out, which obviously gave me information that I shouldn't have had. No matter. We had great fun with it. She especially liked knocking Dad back to the village by landing on me... and, surprisingly, when I did this to her she didn't get upset about it.

Anyway, I recommend this for 6 year olds (even 5 year olds) that can remember where things are placed on the board. Incidentally, I DON'T recommend trying to play the game twice in a row. It's very very confusing.

Also, it's fun to come up with your own names for the pictures. For example, the boots from Puss in boots are known as magic roller blades in our house. And the "table that laid itself" is known as supper.