Ettienne Fourie(saffa)South Africa
Finally, the day for out first session has arrived! We had a nice list of gateway-ish games ready for the evening. We also had a guest (B) who would be joining us for the evening. Keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of the games we'll be playing for the next couple of months will be new to half the group.
We kicked the night off with a quick game of Big Bang Theory. With some awkward, nerdy humour the game can either be a lot of fun, or fall flat with some of the cards causing players to go "I don't really know what this is". Luckily for us, everyone watches and enjoys the show, so we got off to a relaxed start with quite a few laughs in between. The Pope with a Jetpack was a definite hit. The game got rated an 8 out of 10*. It'll get played again.
Next, Dealer pulled out Escape: The Curse of the Temple. He recently started distributing it locally and has had good feedback on it. The game looks very nice component-wise and is quick to explain and set up. It also only lasts 10 minutes max. It's a frenetic 10 minutes though. And very fun. It was so nice, we played it twice. 9 out of 10 for the group. Will hit the table in the future.
It was at this point that B, who considers himself a serious gamer, started dropping strong hints about wanting to play Netrunner. He's convinced the base game can be used for a 4 player game. While I don't doubt that something to that effect can be managed, we were 5 players. For a serious gamer, expecting one person to sit out (obviously not him) just so that he can play a game that's not a good fit for the group dynamic... that's just bad form . This wouldn't be the last time we heard about Netrunner and playing it 4-player being do-able. At first we told him (kindly) that it's not going to work. Eventually we just ignored it. And moved on to the next game, which was...
Elder Sign. This is something I've had my eye on buying as I was looking for games that I could solo. I've played Arkham Horror before and was slightly underwhelmed by it. I think it just took too long and had too many dice throws. Mainly I think it just took too long. This is supposedly a better, shorter version, although slightly less thematic. Anyway, we gave it a go and managed to save the world from Yig (I think). It got close with a couple of investigators going mad, being devoured and, in my case, being damned useless. Although, there was one point where I managed to basically roll well enough to clear an Other World Gateway on the first throw, and managed to do it on the second, only to realise that I'd moved to a different location And we had been struggling for 3-5 turns to get that location... Needless to say, my actual location was a magnificent flop. This one ended up being a bit of a hit and miss. The group rating averaged out to a 7, but A and P both felt that they just rolled dice and didn't really understand why they were doing it. Towards the end they realised how everything fit together and indicated that they have a better grasp of what is required. So, not a sure-fire winner here, but that might change with additional plays. I ended up buying it.
With only a short amount of time still left before most of us had to return to our families, A noticed a bright, neon-infused box. He asked if we could play it, although it only played 4. B indicated that he was not interested, but we could go ahead and he'd watch (especially after Dealer mentioned that it's a short, family game). The game? Bloqs Maestro. A game where you have to try and be the first to build a 3x3 cube (or as close to it as possible) using chunky, neon Tetris shapes. It's a roll-and-move game where you take the piece indicated by the space you land on. Sometimes the space awards you a card that you can use to acquire a different shape or screw other people over (like stealing a shape from them). This, supposedly short, game ended up lasting over an hour as guys pained over where to move (forward or back) and which shapes to take from whom. I suppose it can be a thrilling, cutthroat experience for the players, but having to watch it? B fell asleep at the table. The other guys seemed to have enjoyed it. I wasn't impressed. Whether it's the fault of the game or the gamers, I don't know, but playing 3D Tetris shouldn't have a Free Parking Monopoly-esque feel to it. I believe we ended up giving it a 7.
And that's where we called it for the night.
* Just a quick note on our ratings. Seeing as two of the guys haven't had any real exposure to the current crop of available games, they don't really have a frame of reference against which to measure the games we're playing. As P rightly pointed out, an 8 for Big Bang Theory won't mean the same as an 8 for Elder Sign because they're two completely different games. But we're fine with that for now. As the guys play more games of a similar nature/mechanic, they'll build up their frame and revise their rating the next time we play a particular game. That's why some of the ratings to follow might be mindbogglingly high. It's just that "these games are so cool and nothing I've ever seen before!"