Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Birthday dinner gaming

Yesterday was my beautiful wife Kathy's birthday, and we celebrated by having our good friends Glenn, Jeff, and Rebecca over for dinner and boardgames.  We customarily get together every few months or so to socialize, most recently in November when we played Tsuro and Settlers of Catan at Jeff's house.

(c) Fantasy Flight
Used by permission
One of the greatest game discoveries we've made with this group is Citadels (designer Bruno Faidutti, numerous artists, publisher Fantasy Flight), which I've written about many times here as a staple two-player between Kathy and me during our many cocktail-hour sessions.  But of course this Bruno Faidutti piece of brilliance is at its best with a larger group, and five might well be the ideal number.  I had the misfortune of sitting to Kathy's left, where she could do the most damage as the person most capable of reading my mind.  She assassinated my character twice in a row before I finally learned how to second-guess her and avoid the assassin's blade.  (We were reminded of a previous session of Citadels where our efforts to knock each other off kept hitting Jeff instead as an innocent bystander.)  In the end, I had the warlord but failed to knock down one of Rebecca's districts, even though she was in the lead with seven.  The next turn, she built her eighth and won the game by three points, making my error all the more ignominious.

(c) Calliope Games.
Used by permission

We had enjoyed Tsuro (designer Tom McMurchie; artists Shane Small, Cathy Brigg, and Sarah Phelps; publisher Calliope Games) so much the last time we got together that we brought it out again this time.  We like this game because it's quick and fun.  Some people think it's a little random and uncontrolled, but I really think that some strategizing and anticipation can help to maintain the best chance of winning.  Nevertheless, I got knocked out relatively late in the game, and Jeff won with only two empty spaces left on the board.

Our first game of Chrononauts (designer Andrew Looney, artist Alison Frane, publisher Looney Labs) went rather quickly, which is just as well, since it pretty much served as either a refresher (for those who had only played once) or an instructional round (for those who hadn't played before).  The right cards fell into my hands, and I was able to manipulate the timeline to my liking in just a few turns for a quick win.  The game was so fast, in fact, that not one artifact had been played before the game was over.

(c) Looney Labs.  Used by permission
Since the game ended so abruptly, we decided to play a second round.  This time, everyone was really trying to undermine each other, and some great twists and turns emerged.  Early on, Glenn played the "Cure for Cancer" ("in easy to swallow tablet form").  I played "New Mission" on Glenn to switch secret missions with him.  When I saw that the mission I had taken from him required "Cure for Cancer," on the next turn I played "Get There First" to steal his "Cure for Cancer" as well.  But Rebecca immediately keyed on the fact that the "Cure" was important to me, so she played "Get There First" to steal it from me.

There was also quite a struggle to determine the fate of Adolph Hitler in 1936.  Because so much of the downstream timeline was affected by whether the assassination attempt on Hitler was successful or not, we kept reversing each other's actions on that linchpin.  John F. Kennedy's fate in 1962 presented a similar venue for contention.  In an effort to keep Rebecca from undoing my efforts to get Hitler killed in 1936, I played "Your Parents Never Met" on her so that she would get a new ID and become (I hoped) no longer motivated to have Hitler open the 1936 Olympics.  But in the end, Glenn ended up patching the timeline in a way that satisfied Kathy's goals and allowed her to win the game.

We all had terrific fun.  There is really nothing quite so satisfying as an evening spent with friends, and dinner and boardgames provide a rich context for socializing and sharing good times.

1 comment:

  1. You had me at "my beautiful wife Kathy," LOL. It was a fabulous way to spend my birthday! Next time, I'll be in your head during the ENTIRE game of Citadels. You may want to sit to my right. ;)