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Session Report #4: November 18, 2012

Mike Esquivel
United States
Metairie
Louisiana
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Session Report #4: November 18, 2012
aka "Alfred, come down here and tell me who the hell this is posting on the blog!"


The Players
Amanda
Collin
Mike

The Rundown
Today, I'm going to be stepping in with the Session Report since Lee wasn't able to join us on Sunday. I may not have the blogging muscle that Lee has, but I'll try my damnedest anyway to entertain everyone with our latest game day and try to keep the look and feel of previous Session Reports.

The day started with Amanda and I running late (again). Luckily, aside from Collin, who was hosting, there wasn't anyone else joining us for the session. After looking at the big stack o' games that we had, we settled with starting the afternoon with a game of Farmageddon. We talked about playing with the expansion beta, but I was ill equipped to get a set printed up and sleeved, so we decided we'd do it on our next game day. Collin hadn't played with us when we last played with Lee, so this was his introduction to the game. After my dismal display in game playing last time, I thought I'd kick things up a notch and try to be overall ruthless. Throughout the game, with the combos I was pulling and the crops I was harvesting (which were stacking pretty high), you would have thought that I was winning. In the end, Amanda pulled through with the win, scoring 60, while Collin scored 55, and I came in dead last with a paltry 38. It was a shock, but Amanda managed to harvest fewer cards than everyone else, but because of the higher point values, outdid everyone else.

After some discussion on which game to move onto, Collin suggested one of the games that he purchased recently, Sixis. For those not familiar with the game, it's similar to Yahtzee, except you're trying to score off cards that lay in front of you. The cards are set up in arms or spokes going outward. Each player will sit between arms/spokes and can only score off the ones to the left and right of him. That means that the person to his left will also be scoring off of his left arm/spoke while the person to his right will also be trying to score off of the arm/spoke to his right. The cards each have certain dice combos that you need achieve. You do this by rolling your pool of dice and then making the decision which dice to keep, with values that can contribute to future rolls. Once a pattern show on a card is achieved, you may pick up the card for the initial point value of the card, or flip the card over to make it a harder dice pattern, but similar to the original, and with double the point value. The game runs quick, with game times ranging from 10-15 minutes. In our first game, Collin schooled us and rolled into victory with 260 points, with Amanda coming in at 70, and me fizzling out with a mere 50. (I scored ONE card.) Now that we felt that we had the hang of the game, we immediately followed up with a second game. By the end, Amanda came out victorious with a score of 205, with me coming in second with 125, and Collin rolling in last with 20 points.

The next game to pop up onto the table was a game that Amanda and I picked up the Friday prior, Reiner Knizia's Poison. The game is a risk taking card game, almost similar to one of our group favorites, No Thanks!. You have three cauldrons (represented by three game boards) in the center of the table. Everyone is dealt cards until the deck is exhausted. The game cards consist of 3 different potions types (red, blue, and purple) and poison. Each card displays a different number value at the corners. Players take turns playing one potion or poison card into a cauldron. The kicker is that you can only play a potion into an empty cauldron or a cauldron with the same color. You cannot have two cauldrons with the same colors, and poisons are wild and can be played into any cauldron. Once you play a card that causes the total point values of all of the cards in that cauldron to exceed 13, you have to take all of the cards, except for the one that you just played. You place the cards that you collected into a facedown pile in front of you. You CANNOT look through the cards you picked up. Once everyone has run out of cards in their hands, they count up their collected cards. If you manage to get more of a particular color than everyone else, you can discard all of those cards of that color. This does not go for Poison cards. You ALWAYS keep those. Otherwise, you count each card (individually, not by the point value), with each Poison card counting as TWO cards. The person with the least amount of cards wins the round. You play a total of rounds equal to the number of players. The person with the lowest total score at the end wins.

Amanda and I had played Poison a long while back and this was Collin's first go. By the end of the first round, we figured out that there's really on two viable strategies to the game. Either you want to get a LOT of cards of a color to guarantee that you'll have the most and be able to discard them, or you want to try to not get any cards. I went with trying to get large amounts. Amanda succeeded in the end by going the route of avoiding picking up cards. In the end, Amanda won with an amazingly low score of 4, I came in second place with 24, and Collin took his medicine with a score of 30.

The next game to hit the table was Quoridor. This abstract game looked like a four-player chess game, with each player starting on one side of square board, and with only one piece, trying to move it one square at a time (forward, back, left or right) and trying to get to the other side of the board. Each player also got wooden pieces called "fences" that you can place anywhere on the board (between squares), to slow down and impede the path of your opponent. Though the game said 2-4 players, the rules talked about everything EXCEPT 3-player games. We tried it anyway. The first game was interesting. It appeared that each of us was close to winning at least once throughout the game. In the end, Collin barely won it. We jumped immediately into a second follow-up game. This time, we were a bit more cold, calculating, and ruthless. With everyone watching everyone else, doling out punishment equally, we eventually walled each other in, causing a complete stalemate.

The next game up was Timeline: Inventions. The game is interesting as you are dealt cards with historical events, discoveries, or inventions on them. Each side displays the same picture, but with one side displaying a year in which the discover/invention/event took place. The side displaying the year is always facedown until after played. The first card is drawn from the deck and the first player chooses one of his cards to decide if that event/invention/discovery took place before or after that card. The card is placed and then flipped to show the year. If the person was correct, play passes onto the next person. If the person was incorrect, the card is moved to the correct position in line and the person draws another card. This goes around until someone runs out of cards in their hand. As the game progresses, the timeline created by the played cards increases and you need to get more specific on figuring out where cards belong.

The game proved one thing to us. We don't know our history as well as we should. Collin was the first to go out and bested Amanda and myself in his historical knowledge prowess. (Or he guessed that many times correctly!)

Now, the next game to hit the table was one that I backed on Kickstarter, Donald X. Vaccarino's Gauntlet of Fools. I was excited about the game before I got it, but after people started receiving their copies, I started hearing reviews online about how mediocre the game was. This upset me and caused me to not even want to break open the game for awhile after getting it in the mail. Well, this time, since Collin had mentioned wanting to try the game a couple of time, I decided to suck it up and give the game a chance.

Gauntlet of Fools is split up into two different phases, The Boasting Phase, and the Gauntlet Phase. In the Boasting Phase, a number of hero class cards are drawn equal to the number of players. The same amount of weapon cards are drawn and placed with each hero. These combinations work in the way that Small World does. Each Hero Class and each weapon has its own unique abilities. The first player decides which hero class/weapon combo they want and takes it. The next player decides if they want to take one of the remaining heroes or steal the one that the previous player(s) has/have taken. Now, to keep people from stealing your hero, when you choose them, you have the opportunity to take "Boasts." These are negatives applied to your hero. (Negatives to defense, negatives to attack, dice rolling 1 or 2 don't count in your attack roll, etc...) The point is to make your hero unattractive to the other players so that they don't steal them from you. If you steal a hero that's been chosen, you take it with all the attached boasts, AND you have to add one more. Once everyone has a class/weapon pair, we head into the dungeon for our encounters. Each monster drawn from the Encounter Deck is fought by everyone at the same time. First you determine if you kill the monster, then you determine if the monster hits you (whether you killed it or not), and then you take damage and/or collect your treasure. There are other cards in the deck that may help or hurt you along the way. Once a hero has accrued four points of damage, they are dead. EVERY hero in the group WILL die. The point is to have collected the most money by the end. The deceased hero with the most gold wins the game.

The game was a first time play for all of us. After determining first player, our play order was decided. Amanda chose the Berserker armed with a sword. She took her boasts and play passed to Collin. Collin chose the Necromancer armed with a cleaver. I went last and chose the leftover class; a Zombie armed with throwing stars, and also avoided taking any boasts at all. Then, it was off to the dungeon. Play went well and Amanda was able to hack and slash things left and right. Both Collin and I died a good ways into the dungeon, but with my Zombie class ability, I managed to return from the dead for at least two more turns to get more money. Not long after I died (again), Amanda's Berserker bit the dust. We counted our loot and I won the game with 25 gold, Collin coming in second with 20 gold, and Amanda trailing with13 gold.

The game didn't last long at all and now that we were really clear with the rules, we immediately jumped into a second game. Since I won, I got to select last again. Amanda selected a Ninja armed with a bow, and with a couple of boasts. Collin chose a Knight armed with a wand along with some boasts, and I took the leftover class once again, a Trapper armed with an axe. Afterwards, it was off towards the dungeon. Collin had a class ability to look at the top two encounter cards in the deck and then reorder them to his liking. In one particular encounter, I chose to use my weapon's ability, which allowed me to double my strength rolled, but causing my strength to be zero during the next encounter. The amount of treasure collected was one gold per every 5 points of damage done. With my big doubled score, I banked big money. But, our next encounter meant that I was going to attack for zero no matter what. Our next encounter brought up against a Troll. If you do not defeat the troll on your first attempt, you MUST fight him again. The zero attack that I had continued into that secondary encounter as well. I got hit twice by him and collected no money. Throughout the run, Amanda's Ninja kept missing everything with her bow due to a hangover (she did awesome against a swarm of bees, though), and Collin kept screwing with all of us by determining the encounters beforehand. In the end, we all still died (as expected), but once again, I came up the big winner with 18 gold, with Amanda coming in at a close second with 15, and Collin bringing up the rear with 7 gold.

This was the point where we broke for a food run. After consuming mass quantities, we jumped into the next game, Seasons. Amanda and I had played the game once before, playing the beginner game, and only against each other. Collin had played several times before online. It only took a few minutes to go over player turn order and we were able jump directly into the game. In the Beginner/Novice mode, you play with pre-set cards, but in the normal and advanced mode, you draft cards instead. Every player is dealt 9 cards. You choose one and pass your hand of cards to the left. This continues until you only have one card left to pass. You then form your first, second, and third year libraries and then start the Tournament. Each player is playing a sorcerer competing in a three-year long tournament to determine who will be the new Archmage. As the year progresses, you enter different seasons. Each season has its own set of dice. The first player of the round rolls the dice and then chooses one. The rest of the dice are passed to the next player and they choose one, and so on until everyone has chosen one. You are then able to play the action on the face of the die you chose, summon power cards, and do other unique abilities that you have available to you through bonus actions and your card powers.

The game was a relatively low scoring game. I summoned creature that allowed me to whittle down my opponents' crystals (victory points) throughout the game. Everyone managed to inch forward and progress through their own power cards. By the end of the third year, we totaled the number of crystals collected, points totaled from summoned power cards, and subtracting penalties from either having cards still in your hand or penalties from choosing to take bonuses throughout the game. I emerged the winner and new Archmage, totaling 132 crystals, Amanda came in second with 114, and Collin followed-up with 92.

At this point, it was getting late, but we couldn't end the evening without 1 round (or 17) of No Thanks!. No Thanks! never fails to entertain. It's proved that a game doesn't need to be overly complex to be interesting and incredibly fun. At the end of the first game, Amanda won with a score of 42, with Collin coming in second with 62, and me dragging in at last with 68. Our second game started off rough with high number cards popping up constantly throughout the beginning of the game. By the end, Amanda and I totaled in with the same amount, 56... but Collin snuck by us with the win with a score of 47.

After that, we were done. We had a ton of fun with the new games we played and with our old favorites. After discussing the games, we came up with the unanimous decision that Gauntlet of Fools was the favorite of the day. It made me feel a lot better having backed it up on Kickstarter and well worth the price paid. It will most definitely see more play time. Sixis and Quoridor weren't bad, but were our least favorite of the day. Farmageddon will most likely keep seeing the table and we're all rather eager to try a four player game of Seasons. Poison wasn't a huge hit, but it wasn't a flop either. I think the game would probably play better with more than three players. No Thanks! is a no-brainer and will be played at least once (or 24 times) a game session.

That's it for our session report. Due to the holiday, we MIGHT not be gathering next Sunday. If there is a gathering, Amanda and I won't be amongst the crowd. If not, then we'll be back the Sunday after next for our next game day.


The Statistics
# of wins per players
Amanda: 4 (Farmageddon, Sixis, Poison, No Thanks!)
Collin: 4 (Sixis, Quoridor, Timeline: Inventions, No Thanks!)
Mike: 3 (Gauntlet of Fools x2, Seasons)

# of games played
12 plays of 8 distinct games

Median year of games played
2008

Average playing time
45 mins

Total Time Spent Playing (according to game lengths on BGG)
4 hrs 55 mins

Total Time Actually Spent Playing
Around 9 hrs
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