Sunday, March 05, 2006

First Plays this Weekend

Quite apart from the Elsom Horror described below, it has been a big weekend of gaming. Friday night was the Critical Mass meeting where I finally got to play Torres, after getting it for Christmas. I was hoping it would be a lighter game than it is, because the bits would appeal to non-gamers and I would be able to play it more regularly. However, as it is, it's a game that appeals to me, it's just harder to find opponents.

Also on Friday night I played Domaine, still my favourite game. I have played this too much against beginners, and this time I was up against Leister and Pryllin, both of whom know their gaming. I made some classic mistakes - overextended an underdefended domaine, and built a wall to give Leister a huge domaine when there wasn't much hope he'd be able to make it himself. Pryllin noticed that I was still in a position to win, and prevented that, and then ended up being in a king-maker position. He decided to punish me for making the stupid mistake that put Leister in the lead, and I ended up coming last. Oh, if only if only if only. If only I had the sense to play cautiously against good gamers.

Saturday morning at QUGS we started with an 8 player game of The Great Balloon Race. It's an excellent game which even 5yos could play, so I need to find a copy. Can't see it at any of the on-line stores though :-(.

I then played my first game of El Grande. It was an OK game, though there is something about placing bits to take influence that I just can't cope with. I noticed it in Himalaya and Louis XIV, same as in this. It seems to me that there's always an arms race to dominate the valuable spaces, so rather than waste my pieces there I go somewhere else. That means that the valuable space is gotten cheap, and the player who got it seems to be completely unhindered on the rest of the board. Hmm, maybe need to practise that. Anyway, I came 3rd out of 5 in El Grande, so I did at least some things right.

After El Grande we played Medici, which was on my to-play-in-2006 list. It;s one of those auction games where you need experience to know how much things are worth. I had some minor successes in the game, but paid too much a couple of times. I think I came second last out of 6.

Next we played Amazonas, one of my favourite games. I taught it to 3 newbies. One player understood straight away. Another player had to ask maybe 7 times what the income cards did. Another player arrived late and got no rules explanation at all, other than "do this now". I passed up the first native (first round) to get ahead in the race for camps. I had 5 different samples by the end of 7 rounds and took the 5 point token. By the end of 14 rounds I had all my camps built. I ended up with 14 points. The guy who'd spent the entire game asking what the income cards did had finally sorted it out and got 14 points as well. The guy who understood what he was doing had got stuck behind other people in the camp building race, and came last (frustrating!). And the guy who still hasn't heard the rules got about 12 points I think, which is respectable. On a countback I lost to the other guy who had one more research token. We'd let him take the first round native for one silver, and that was about what won the game for him.

We finished up yesterday with Modern Art. Another auction game where you don't know how much things are worth! I made some awful mistakes, but I think in general my play is too conservative. I don't want to get involved in bidding prices up, but when a last round Krypto sells for $100,000, it probably would have been smart to be involved in that auction. Auction games aren't really my thing, but maybe with practice I will enjoy them more.

So that was another two games off the must-play-in-2006 list. Those still on the list are: Traders of Genoa, A Game of Thrones, Goa, Puerto Rico, Illuminati, Honor of the Samurai, Princes of Florence, 6 Nimmt!, Tichu, Backgammon and Scrabble. Better buy a Scrabble set I suppose, that could help.

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