This is the first installment of what I hope to make a weekly post. Every week I will review my various experiences in the world of gaming. This may be as simple as what games I played and my opinion of those games, and as complex as game design updates or interactions with business insiders. The goal of this column is two-fold: One, is to provide consistent updates regarding my gaming activities. The second, and by far more important, is an attempt to engage all of you in discussion about you gaming activities during the previous week. I would love to hear your opinions of the various games I played and whether you agree or disagree with my assessments of them. It is my sincere hope that these posts will create a great deal of discussion on all things geek, so do not hesitate to join the conversation in the comments here, or on the Facebook page. I would love to hear from you regardless of the medium. So, without any further ado…this was last week in games.
Sunday the 30th was the final day of a full on gaming weekend here at the house. I was joined early in the day by my old friend Jim Benny. After reminiscing about the old days when we played countless games of Magic the Gathering together, we got down to doing some gaming.
First up was Artus, by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. The premise is that a king and princes are seated around a table during a great feast. Each player controls a set knights and attempts to score the most points by crowning new kings, moving from high-scoring seats, and fulfilling conditions on various scoring cards. Players use cards from a deck that allows them to move their knights and a deck that allows them move and or crown kings/princes to set themselves up to make the best use of their scoring decks. The trick is that both players will eventually try to perform all of the same tasks, but generally not at the same time causing a tug of war situation to occur. The player who is best able to optimize these challenging elements will score the most points and win. In addition to jockeying for position around the table amongst the moving knights and princes, players must also contend with a table that always rotates to keep position with the current king or to accommodate the newly crowned monarch. With so many moving parts Artus provides an excellent two player game that forces players to employ both strategic thinking and cunning tactics.
Having played before and being the owner of the game, I taught Jim to play and as you might expect cruised to an easy victory in the first game. However, Jim being the veteran gamer that he is, he quickly realized his mistakes from game one and wanted a rematch. He led by large margin throughout most of the game, but I had managed to position myself to take advantage of some the most powerful scoring cards and surged back to steal a hard-fought victory! Despite losing, good sport that he is, Jim admitted that Artus is a quality little game.
After Artus, another old and dear friend, Kris “Hub” Hublar showed up and the three of us got into two games of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Deck Building Game. Having played the Fellowship of the Ring edition of the same game it took very little instruction for me to get up to speed on the rules. However, knowing the rules and being familiar with the card set in a deck builder are two entirely different things and although it was a close game, the first one went to Hub. In the second game, I got off to a great start and proceeded to build an insanely smooth deck that seemed more like something out of Dominion than the Lord of the Rings deck building series. I suffered virtually no set backs, my defenses were up at all times, and I thinned my deck into a finely tuned machine! Unfortunately for me, this is not Dominion, and in my deck thinning zealotry I trashed from my deck a few too many cards that would have put me over the top in victory points with Jim taking the win instead! All in all, it was a decent game that I enjoyed playing with two good friends. While I am not huge fan of this particular game, I found it to be a major improvement over the Fellowship of the Rings edition. If you insist on buying one of the two make sure that it is this one as it is a far better game.
Monday night was an IGS playoff game of Agricola with the Farmers of the Moor expansion. Steve, Nate, Rich and I were all preparing for some hardcore farming competition. For those of you who are not aware of Agricola, I consider it one of the finest games I have ever played. Already a highly complex game, it only becomes an even richer experience when the fantastic Farmers of the Moor expansion is added. If you own the base game and have been on the fence about purchasing this expansion you should do so without delay as I cannot recommend it highly enough!
It was a very challenging game as I tried a heavy building strategy, but never really managed to establish a quality food engine. This combined with the latest possible arrivals of the two family growth actions made for some difficult situations. Although I managed to get to five family members their late arrivals made filling out my farm all the way a little out of reach. With my accumulation of negatives being somewhat off-set by my factory like production of improvements I still managed to post a respectable score of 42 points. However, with a last turn renovation of his drafty wooden shack hell-hole to a slightly more cozy clay house, Rich was able to snatch victory from my clutches by one point! A well fought battle as usual sir. One day I shall have my revenge upon the fields of battle…er farming that is.
Tuesday was filled with some playing of the game Larceny with the Children and working on the review for the crew at Waning Gibbous Games. A full review and description of the game with the kids can be found here. Don’t forget, Larceny is currently an active Kickstarter project. If you might be interested in helping to fund its production I suggest that you hurry!
Saturday, was a project filled night for most of the family. Heather, Katie, and I all sat in the kitchen crafting to one degree or another. While the girls worked on scrap-booking projects I was working on a prototype for a game that I have designed tentatively called Legacy Wars. It is a two player fantasy themed card game that I have high hopes for. I will be attending a local game design/playtest meet-up on Saturday the 19th and hope to have it working smoothly by the time I let strangers play it. After a few goldfish tests and a rewrite of the timing rules I feel very good about this game.
Sunday was mostly made up of watching the Colts defeat the Seahawks and keeping an eye on my fantasy football team. Hey, that is a form of gaming. However, I also played the boy two games of Chess. I taught both of the kids a few years ago and they both enjoy pulling out the Chess board from time to time. While I am faaaar from being an expert Chess player, I am decent and will beat most opponents who have not studied the game. Despite being beaten once again, the boy played his finest game of Chess against me yet. I have no intention of letting him win, but I do take it down a couple notches and offer advice so that he can learn from the experience. While I was never in any danger of being checkmated he did manage to get up on me in piece count when I made a move that he previously would have missed. I was very proud of the improvement he showed. We played a second game, and as a gave him the new-found respect due to his previous performance I played a little harder on him. This one went quick, but he still had fun and I can see that he is starting to look ahead at the consequences of his actions. Well done Chess!
After finishing our Chess games, I played a game of Scotland Yard with both Katie and Jarrett. They played two detectives each and I took on the role of the criminal mastermind known only as Mr. X! They are easily the best and worst team of detectives I have ever seen. While they are trying to work out their moves together Katie tries to be secretive by writing her ideas on a notepad and Jarrett points at the board and gets loud. They argue, gripe, whine, yell, grumble, pout, rage, and finally settle on moves that they both agree upon. To watch the process is hilarious as they seem like the worst of enemies while forming their plan, but then peaceful as can be once it comes to fruition.. Long story short, the did not catch me. Nobody catches me. I am the invincible Mr. X and have not been captured in almost 30 years of playing this game. Muhahahaha! That being said, we always have a blast playing this one and the kiddos are getting closer each time!
As you can see, it was quite the game filled week! All around good times with family and friends. I will be celebrating my birthday this coming weekend with lots of games and lots of friends, so I have no doubt that next week’s report will be just as eventful as this one! Let me know how your week went and what you though of mine. That way we can all talk about not just my, but our Last Week In Games!