Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Chicago Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago Express. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

The game time conundrum revisited

A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved.  I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves.  It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My candidates for the 2014 Dice Tower Top 100

(c) Queen Games
Used by permission
The Dice Tower is soliciting People's Choice votes for its annual Top 100 Games.  At the risk of exposing my idiosyncratic taste in games, here are the twenty for which I voted:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

PrezCon 2014 Part 5: Finals

(c) Rio Grande Games
Used by permission
Saturday of PrezCon was a wonderfully full day of gaming.  It started at 9:00 AM with a game of Power Grid (designer Friedemann Friese; artists Antonio Dessi, Lars-Arne "Maura" Kalusky, and Harald Lieske; publisher Rio Grande), which I love but really don't play well.  We played on the original map of Germany, and I started in the north, where I found myself immediately in competition with Henry Ho.  I think the two of us beat each other down pretty aggressively, stealing cheap connections and forcing each other to leap-frog one another in order to expand, so we both ended up finishing poorly.  James Henderson, against whom I'd also played Acquire earlier in the week, narrowly won our game over Joe Rudmin in second.  I placed third powering 12 cities.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PrezCon 2014 Part 1: Thursday

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed four days at my favorite gaming convention, PrezCon.  There were several hitches this year, a few things that didn't go right, but nevertheless I had a great time.  The next several posts will share some highlights.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spring game photos

I've been gaming, and photographing, but not posting so much over the last month, so I thought I'd do a little catch-up with a sampling of the things my wife and I have been playing.

Pinot grigio, Anchor Steam, and Traders of Carthage
Traders of Carthage
I've mentioned this obscure favorite a few times and actually posted about this game, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to include my photographic effort to incorporate the juxtaposition of the drinks, the game, and my lovely opponent across the table.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PrezCon 2013 - Saturday

Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery
On Friday, during my walk-through of the vendor area, I'd seen Spartacus (designers Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski, and Sean Sweigart; artist Charles Woods; publisher Gale Force 9) laid out at the Gale Force 9 booth.  In fact, it was the only game that GF9 was selling at PrezCon.  The demo at the booth had given me a mistaken first impression:  The rep behind the table started talking about the combat mechanics, which seemed good but not great as skirmish mechanics go.  He kept saying, "There's a whole lot of other stuff with influence and bribery that's really important, too," but the impression that I left with was that the combat was central and that there was some kind of wagering that went on around it.  I just wasn't impressed.  That is, until Saturday...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

PrezCon 2013 - Friday

(c) Meridae Games
Used by permission
Garden Dice
Glenn and I met Doug Bass of Meridae Games for a demo of Garden Dice (designer Doug Bass, artist Joshua Cappel, publisher Meridae), which I'd seen on Kickstarter and which is now available.  Garden Dice is an interesting game of dice allocation in which players use a roll of four dice to acquire seeds of various values, plant them in a garden based on grid coordinates from two of the dice, and subsequently water and harvest them for points.  There are run and set-collection bonus scores at the end of the game.  The most interesting part is the geographic element.  Watering higher-value plants benefits adjacent lower-value plants, regardless of who owns them, so there is an opportunity to take advantage of an opponent's placement to get watering and harvesting actions for free.  Players also can add a sundial to the garden to modify the grid coordinate dice rolls or a garden gnome to improve rolls for acquiring seed, watering plants, and harvesting vegetables.  Players can further introduce a bird to the garden to eat other players' seed or a rabbit to eat vegetables before they are harvested, although seed can be protected by an upgrade of the sundial to a scarecrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Countdown to PrezCon

Okay, it's that time of year when my favorite convention, PrezCon, happens in Charlottesville, Virginia, the week of President's Day.  I've got a preliminary schedule laid out, which is pretty much carved in sand - except, that is, for Pillars of the Earth, which stands like an immense cathedral, a great pillar, on the landscape of my convention plan.  (I'm running the PotE tournament, so I'm pretty committed to it.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

WBC: Acquire and acquisitions

Early in our game of Acquire.
I had a majority holding in Worldwide
(the purple hotel to the right), but
that wasn't enough to prevail
One of the great things about game conventions is that I get to play games that I never play at home.  One of those is Acquire (designer Sid Sackson, artist Kurt Miller, publisher Wizards of the Coast), which I played at WBC last week with Roger B. of Providence, Rhode Island, and the GM, Cliff Ackman of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  I first learned Acquire in a demo at PrezCon some years ago, and even bought a copy on eBay, but didn't give it much thought until my friend Rebecca E. remarked on it in comparison to Chicago Express last year.  That comment, plus a Little Metal Dog Show endorsement as a "stone cold classic," re-fired my interest, and I made a point to play Acquire at PrezCon last February.  I am definitely on a learning curve with this game.  I love the tense jockeying for majority shareholder investment, although I think that the tile draw aspect can introduce too much of a luck factor sometimes.  In our game last week, Roger couldn't draw a tile to start a hotel chain to save his life.  I thought I played reasonably well, but not well enough to beat the experienced Cliff.  I do very much enjoy Acquire, though, and I hope to get to play it more often.

Friday, February 24, 2012

PrezCon 2012 - first day

I arrived at PrezCon first thing Thursday morning to demonstrate Trains Planes and Automobiles (artist Sean Cooke, publisher Blue Square Boardgames) at 9:00 a.m.  I shared the Promenade Ballroom with the Stone Age demonstration, but perhaps the hour was too early, because no one showed for either demo.  I have two more demos scheduled this weekend - one for this afternoon, and one for tomorrow morning, so I hope to get a little more visibility for TPA in the next couple of days.

Risk
Randy Dean found himself running the Risk tournament, and he hadn't even brought his copy of the game (nor had I brought my son's), so he ran out to Target and picked up a copy of the current edition before yesterday morning's first heat started.  I had assumed, since only two hours had been scheduled for the event, that we would play the new, objective-based rules.  As it turned out, neither Randy nor any of the other players at the table had ever seen the new edition before.  They were all surprised at the arrow-shaped armies and had no interest in playing anything other than conventional Risk.  So we adapted the new-edition components to the original rules.  Since the new-edition cards don't have the 19th-century infantry-cavalry-artillery symbols for reinforcement turn-ins, Randy established the rule for this tournament that four cards yields armies on the original progressive scale of four armies for the first turn-in, six for the second, then eight, ten, 12, 15, 20, and so on by fives thereafter.

The result was an old-style game in which I started with positions in South America,  North America, and northeast Asia.  Randy got knocked out of the game by Joshua S., who took Randy's cards and ended up getting two consecutive turn-ins for armies.  In retrospect, I was in a position to try to knock off the other player at the table (whose name escapes me) to go after his cards and then face off Joshua in a super-power slugfest.  Instead, I tried to knock down Joshua first, which I didn't yet have the strength to do.  At the height of my position on the board, I controlled Europe, North America, and South America, while Joshua was holed up in Africa and the other player in Australia with a stronghold in southeast Asia.  But I couldn't deliver the knock out, and Joshua was able to get another big turn-in, break out of Africa, and take me out of the game.  At that point, the other player conceded the game, and Joshua won the heat.

Our game did in fact exceed two hours, so I was unable to make the first heat of Down in Flames.  I expect to play that later this morning.

Although the session was fun in its own right, I stand by my often-repeated position that the newer edition of Risk is a much better game.  I don't expect to return to any later heats of the tournament here at PrezCon.

Command and Colors Napoleonics
I attended a demo of Command and Colors Napoleonics in my effort to learn at least one new game and to play at least one wargame this year.  C&CN appears to be a more complex iteration on the series of Richard Borg card-driven wargames.  It includes the attached-leaders element of Battle Cry (as you might expect in a 19th-century wargame) as well as some of the command card innovations and unit-type specialties of Memoir '44.  The handling of infantry vs. cavalry seems particularly interesting, as well as the counter-strike element of close combat.

Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to participate in the tournament itself.  It may have been just as well.  Again, the game master was thrown into the event at practically the last minute, so he made the decision that the tournament would be handled as a single-elimination event.  My limited experience in competitive play suggests that a single-elimination format is not well suited for a two-player game, but I didn't stick around to find out how well it went.

A Few Acres of Snow
At the adjacent table to the C&CN event, my friend Keith F. was trying his hand at the hot new game A Few Acres of Snow.  What was disappointing to him, though, is that the game master, Bruce Reiff, told participants that AFAoS is "a broken game," that the British player can not be stopped if he uses a strategy called "The Halifax Hammer," and that even three or four recent game modifications to mitigate the problem do not fix the game.  Although Bruce felt that the game was not well suited for competition, he continued to run the event "for fun" and to teach it to newcomers like Keith to familiarize them with it.  Keith ended up playing as the British against a very experienced player; I think his experiences with it were mixed.  He said the comparison many people make to Dominion holds up as deck-building wargame.  For my part, the bottom line of this event is that I am taking AFAoS off my wishlist.

Chicago Express
I got very excited about Chicago Express when Kathy and I played with our friends Sheila D., Keith R., Rebecca E., and Jeff W. some weeks ago.  It struck me then as the perfect capitalist game in which players invest in railroad companies and direct their development in an attempt to maximize income and make the most money.

I got to play in the first heat of the tournament here yesterday against Jim [missed his last name], Pat D., and Demy McB.  As it happens, Jim and Pat had played once before each, and Demy had never played before (but is a quick learner, as I've played her in a number of other games over the years), so the level of competition was fairly even among us.  I ended up owning three of five shares of the New York Central plus one share of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and I won the game in a fairly close finish.

[More entries to follow as time allows, and I will add pictures, links, and details to this entry as well.  PrezCon continues...]

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicago Express: Where has this game been all my life?

(c) Queen Games
Used by permission
I gave our good friends Sheila and Keith a copy of Chicago Express (designer Harry Wu, artist Michael Menzel, publisher Queen Games) for a wedding gift.  I had never played before, but I was looking for something suitable for two to six players - something they could play together as a couple but that our occasional "game night" group of friends could play as well.  CE came up pretty high on the boardgamegeek rankings, and the reviews looked promising, so it felt safe as a gift choice.

Sheila and Keith hosted a dinner party last night, and we got to play a six-player session.  None of us had ever played before, so I read the rules beforehand.  The game struck me as the perfect implementation of capitalism in game form.  Railroad company shares are sold at auction.  Company dividends are distributed among shareholders based on earnings.  Stockholders - or board members, if you like - direct the investment of capital raised from the sale of shares to invest in railroad expansion and development to improve the company's earnings.  I have never played an 18xx railroad game, but I have the impression that CE is a kind of "18xx light."

We had a really great time with this game.  I was very pleased that it was a relatively easy game for all of us to learn even though we had no one at the table who had played before.  (The only open rules question for us was whether money is "hidden" or "open"; the boardgamegeek consensus seems to be that money in any game is open unless the rules specifically provide for hiding it, as in St. Petersburg.)  I think as we played, we all overbid pretty heavily for stock certificates.  More players chasing a fixed number of shares, which were the only source of income - supply and demand at its finest.  We had so many auctions that three railroads had only just reached Pittsburgh when Rebecca triggered game end with an auction of the last share of the New York Central after the Pennsylvania and B&O had already sold out.

Part of what struck me about this game is a complete absence of luck.  I didn't really think about it until the game was over, but there is not a single card draw, dice roll, or bag pull in the entire game.  As one reviewer mentions, the only "random" element (if you can call it that) is the seating order around the table and determination of starting player.  The rest of the game is determined entirely by the decisions of the players at the table.  Even more than Puerto Rico (which I consider a brilliant design), CE is entirely in the hands of the players.

The more I think about CE, the more excited I am about it.  I've put it on my "must have" short list.

1962 3M edition
Rebecca mentioned that CE reminded her of Acquire.  I have only played Acquire once, at PrezCon, and I loved it enough to buy it on eBay, but haven't had the opportunity to play since.  I had recently read mention of Acquire when Little Metal Dog Show called it "a stone-cold classic" in a post about ten days ago.  Rebecca and I agreed that we should bring it to the table at our next opportunity.  Since that conversation, I ran across an interesting boardgamegeek thread comparing the two games.  This is another game that I need to bring out soon.

So many games, so little time.