Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Small World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small World. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2012

PrezCon 2012 - Part Two

Small World
Among my goals at PrezCon this year was to learn Small World, which my buddy Grant Greffey is running as the Game Master.  I participated in his demo for new players, which was well-attended by upwards of eight people crowded around the table.  Small World  is a relatively easy game to pick up.  Grant is especially fond of it for its replayability.  The random combinations of races and special abilities make for some dynamic game interactions.

Later that evening, we played the first heat in the tournament.  I placed fourth at my table and learned (as I have so often heard but failed to incorporate) the importance of timing when it comes to placing a race into decline and starting the ascendancy of a new one.  I did reasonably well with "forest orcs" in the first several turns of the game but held on too long to "wealthy wizards," whom in retrospect I should have placed into decline after just a turn or two in favor of some more effective race.  The winner was Nathan Twigg, a regular face at PrezCon and a fun opponent.

The bottom line of course is that I learned how to play SW and found it to be a fun, light game.

Can't Stop
After my exhaustive statistical analysis of Pass the Pigs and the stark realization that I am mathematically too cautious in my approach to push-your-luck games, I vowed that I would approach Can't Stop with a more aggressive style.  That approach did not serve me well at all late Thursday night, where I busted on countless attempts to close out a category.  I really have to spend some serious number-crunching on that game to figure out the right approach.

Midnight gaming
My friends and I have taken to meeting at midnight to play together because, you know, 14 hours of gaming can't possibly be enough for one day.  So Grant, Keith F., Brian G., Tom S. and I were joined by Michelle H. (who was at my Can't Stop table) for a six-player round of Alhambra.  I did abysmally poorly.  It was so bad that at one point after the second scoring round, Eugene Y. (a very experienced and knowledgeable player) looked at our table and was astounded at how low the scores were - mine in particular at about nine points.  He asked me if I'd ever played before, or if I even knew how to play.  I told him that I'd placed in the semifinals the previous year, and he was just dumb-founded that we could have been so far into the game and have scores so low.  It was about the strangest game of Alhambra I'd ever played.

After Alhambra, we still weren't satisfied, so Keith, Brian, Tom and I stayed up for a round of Citadels.  None of the three of them had played a four-player round of Citadels before; Keith and Brian had only ever played three-player games.  The dynamic is completely different with four players (and a better game, really) since each player gets only one role, and two roles are visible face up and known to be out of play.  I built some substantial high-scoring buildings, but had only got to five districts before Keith finished with eight and won the game.

[Next post:  Friday's experiences going down in flames, settling Catan, learning to acquire, and bringing more people aboard trains, planes, and automobiles]

Friday, February 17, 2012

PrezCon: The first casualty of battle is the plan



PrezCon!  I get excited just thinking about the name.  My favorite convention.  So convenient to northern Virginia, such a friendly and yet competitive gaming community.

I felt a little burnt out after five solid days of PrezCon last year, so this day I'm going for just four days; I'll arrive on Thursday and go through Sunday.  My gaming friends Keith F., Brian G., and Tom S. will arrive a day ahead of me, on Wednesday.  My buddy Grant plans to arrive in time for the first events on Monday evening and stay the entire seven days.  Hard core, baby.  I don't know how people do a solid week of intense boardgaming.  People like that must pace themselves better than I do.

Excerpt of my PrezCon
schedule ... for now ...
Every year I go to the PrezCon website and agonize over the schedule.  Every year I carefully prioritize my gaming preferences and put together a perfectly-crafted sequence of events that will take me from breakfast to midnight of solid gaming for the duration of my stay.  And it seems that every year my plan flies out the window within two hours of arrival.  I always seem to get re-directed to some new discovery and find myself playing something I never thought I'd try.  I think that's the magic of a game convention - the impetuous spontaneity of pick-up games and demos and vendors and auctions.  Grant said he's given up on even trying to make a plan.  He just plays as the spirit moves him.  All the world is his gaming table, and all of us merely opponents...

I've written this before, but I'm not afraid to repeat myself.  The best advice I ever got when approaching PrezCon came from Convention Director Justin Thompson:  "Learn at least one new game; buy at least one new game."  I have three demos in mind for games that I want to learn this year:
  • Acquire
  • Small World
  • Command and Colors: Napoleonics
1976 3M Edition
I'd actually seen a demo of Acquire (designer Sid Sackson, artist Kurt Miller, publisher Wizards of the Coast) once before, at my very first PrezCon, and bought a copy on eBay shortly thereafter, but never got a chance to bring it to the table.  But when Little Metal Dog Show explained why Acquire deserves the title of a "stone cold classic," he reminded me of how much I liked what I saw in that game years ago.  So now I'm going to blow the dust off the box and get reacquainted with this Sid Sackson masterpiece.

Grant is running Small World (designer Philippe Keyaerts, artist Miguel Coimbra, publisher Days of Wonder) at PrezCon, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never actually sat down and played the game before.  So I'm setting SW as a specific "learning goal" for PrezCon this year.

Cover Design by
Rodger B. MacGowan
Copyright ©2010
I also want to get my hand back into wargaming.  Now, the Richard Borg series of historical strategy games (Battle Cry, Memoir '44, Command and Colors: Ancients, Battle Lore) aren't exactly the kind of hard core Avalon Hill / SPI wargames I grew up on, but they will scratch the itch for now.  And I haven't done Napoleonics in a very long time, so Command and Colors: Napoleonics (designer Richard Borg, artist Rodger MacGowan, publisher GMT) seems like a good new title to learn.

As for buying at least one new game, well, I'll bring my wishlist, but there's no telling what I'll come home with.  Here's my top seven, in no particular order:
  • Fairy Tale
  • Le Havre
  • Chicago Express
  • Traders of Carthage
  • Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War
  • High Frontier
  • Saint Petersburg
Finally, of course, I'll be demonstrating Trains Planes and Automobiles three times at PrezCon.  I've mentioned before that PrezCon has a special place in my heart as the place I sold TPA two years ago, so it's nice to come back and show it off as a finished product.  The family game format is a little off the conventional PrezCon path, but I'm hopeful that for a few people, it will be the new game they learned at PrezCon, and maybe one or two will even pick up a copy.  I just want people to have fun playing it.