March 31, 2010: Games Day

Participants: Gili, Nadine, Abraham, Elijah, Cliff, Emily, Eitan, Bill, Jon

Despite my efforts, there was a Games Day this year. Gili hosted as I wasn’t able to, and fun was had. I only showed up at 5:00 or so.

Age of Empires III

Jon 115, Nadine 110, Gili 109

First game for each of them, second game (first three-player game) for me. We had no conflicts during the game. That may have been because of the personalities of the players, or that investing in conflict takes a lot of precious resources for little reward. Though it causes the other players to have to invest a little in defense.

Otherwise, the game was tighter than the two-player game, but just as good. I was pretty sure that Nadine was kicking our butts, as she got her economic engine off to a fantastic start. Toward mid and end-game however, I/we were no longer sure, as I had several discovered territories and Gili had a nice bonus buildings. We were right, as it came down to the wire.

Nadine might have won if she had invested in more buildings earlier. Gili would have won if she had succeeded in her last discovery attempt (a loss of 7 or 8 vps). So, yeah, that little part of the game is somewhat annoying, but it is actually a minor part of the game. And you don’t even have to spend your time on discoveries, if you don’t want to.

Nice game. Looking forward to playing it with four and five players.

Nadine adds: Age of Empires III is a good basic Euro.

Blood Red Sands (RPG)

Bill (GM), Elijah, Abraham, Emily, Eitan

Bill says: By the end of the session, we each had 0 victory points.

We were mostly able to learn the rules, but there are still some points that need clarification. The ordeal creation portion of the game took several hours, probably because we were still learning the rules. This was bad for the hero player, because he had to be out of the room for that period. He thought he finished his character very early but actually had not, because he had not made the background. I didn’t explain this to him initially because I wasn’t there when he thought he finished and also because I was so involved in the ordeal creation and answering rules questions. Also, being a lot like Universalis, I’m not sure this is appropriate as a pickup game, since (in my experience) this type of game seems very dependent on the personality mix of the group.

There was one contention for the position of Chronicler, which was successful. Since I was very inexperienced and the other players were very very inexperienced, play was a bit rocky after that, but picked up after a while. The total length of actual play was fairly short though, because most of the play time was consumed in ordeal creation.

During the only clash that happened that night, I was constantly referring back to the rules for clarification because I didn’t have a full enough understanding, which took away from the overall play experience and I think gave the rules the appearance of greater complexity than there really was.

The end result was that after the game, at least one player had the impression that the Blood Red Sands was more complex than D&D 4e. I don’t believe it is, but I blame my shallow understanding of the rules for that impression. To play it successfully as a pickup game, I think at least one player has to have a deep understanding of the rules and none of us did last night.

David & Goliath

Abraham+, Elijah, Nadine

Played as a filler.

El Grande

Abraham 111, Nadine 103, Elijah 100, Gili, Cliff

Nadine says: It was a great game, very close, with each player in the lead at different times. At the start of the third scoring round we were all within a few points. In the last turn, Gili put the king in Abe’s region to keep it away from where her guys were. He scored with it 3 times – once when he took score one region, when I took score all the four regions, and at the end of the game. Cliff hadn’t played before but is a war gamer and caught on quickly, though he missed how the castillo works the first scoring round.

Hunting Party

Jon 25, Nadine 9, Gili

First play for me, second for Nadine and Gili. I scored a pretty combination of cards at the start of the game: a) pay 3 to take back a share, and b) eliminate the cost of some other ability. So each round I got back a share, for free. I won when Nadine ended the game and I had lots of cash.

It’s an ok game that seems somewhat unbalanced and not quite the sum of its parts. There’s not much game there. On the one hand, it’s better than Clue, with which it shares a genre. On the other, the mechanics just aren’t that interesting.

Nadine adds: Hunters doesn’t feel strategic, and is too long. I shouldn’t have fought at the end but forgot that I only get a share of the money. If I hadn’t, the game would have gone on for at least half an hour, and I don’t think I could have won. I should have gotten more than I did for guessing right and having all the right things, though of course that’s at the expense of keeping shares. Jon had good cards and played well with lots of money the whole time.

Shadows Over Camelot

Abraham, Gili, Elijah, Nadine, Emily, Eitan, Bill

The loyalists won. Bill was the traitor, but he only arrived for the last two rounds of the game, and so didn’t have much chance. Nadine adds: Shadows is always a lot of fun somehow.


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