$10.00
CBBS event on Saturday has the gang I'm playing with (4,5)
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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A Cryptic Session Report


CBBS Guild Page
Previous Session Reports

It was on the otherwise completely unremarkable evening of August 15, 2009, that twelve gamers coagulated in the official CBBS Gaming Hippodrome. The assembled included, but may not have been limited to, Tim, Nyck, Nathaniel, Andy, Lynette, Sandy, Mike, Kris, Scott, Counterclockwise Scott, Eric, and, eventually, Brian.

Note: there was a distinct lack of photography in evidence at this Game Night, which can only be attributed to Tim's crippling stupidity. Thus, for many of the games listed here, your humble scribe has attempted to pictorially recreate, if not the facts, at least the essence of the game as it was played during this session.

Also, the quality of the photographs that were taken are singularly poor. We must blame that on the lack of decent photogenic subjects
.


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1. Board Game: SET [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:983]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:35pm
End time: 6:45pm


To get our brains ready for some serious gaming action, and to introduce Nathaniel to a traditional straggle-inner, we dealt out a deck's worth of SET hands. Following the tradition of only giving credit to those who actually find at least one SET, we must note that Tim, Nate, Nathaniel, and Andy all accomplished exactly that.
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2. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:6827]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 6:45pm
End time: 6:55pm


In a rare, but legal, break from protocol, we engaged in a second straggle-inner, as we still had many stragglers expecting to find their way in sooner or later. Hence, it was Krypto time.

Today's Krypto puzzle is:

1 3 14 5 13 ==> 22

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Solution provided by Scott, in impressive time (under a minute):
(5*13)-(3*14)-1 = 22

Additional solutions, from the Krypto solver:
(1+(13*3))/5+14 = 22
(14*5)/(3-1)-13 = 22
(14+1)*3/5+13 = 22
(13+5)*(3-1)-14 = 22
((5 - 1)*13 +14)/3 = 22
14/(1 - 3/5) - 13 = 22
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3. Board Game: Byzanz [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1680]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start Time: 6:55pm
End time: 7:45pm


We heard rumors that other gamers might be on their way, but we simply could not keep playing puzzlers all night. So we split the difference, and started a couple relatively quick games that could handle a couple extra players if they showed up. And, indeed, Kris and Mike did show up just in time to join in, with Kris heading to Table One and Mike joining Tim, Lynette, Sandy, and Andy at Table Two to play Tim's new acquisition, Byzanz.


Unfortunately, the results of this game shall forever remain shrouded in controversy, as we played one important rule wrong - the person who takes the "1" bidder card does NOT get any cards; the one card in the lot goes directly to the market. We played the last bidder gets a card, and then another card gets sent to the market, which is why we were six cards short at the end of the game. It also meant that passing on every lot to try and be the last bidder was usually a much better strategy than it should have been, as with five players the market almost always has a juicy lot, which the "1" bidder gets first crack at; that plus a free card is just too valuable.

Nevertheless, the game was played, with Lynette the "winner" with 28 points, followed by Andy with 24, Mike with 21, Tim with 20, and Sandy with 18.
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4. Board Game: Bacchus' Banquet [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3291]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 7:00pm
End time: 7:35pm


Meanwhile, on Table One, Nyck splained the gluttonous game of Bacchus' Banquet for Scott, Counterclockwise Scott, Nathaniel, and Kris.


Alas, while we can say with certainty that Scott won, we can provide no other details - not because we are being recalcitrant, but because the score sheet says nothing further. Perhaps the note taker was too busy in the vomitorium to offer anything else.
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5. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:108] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:00pm
End time: 9:45pm


Entering the heart of Game Night, we had eleven gamers; that naturally suggests a 4-4-3 split, but instead, just to be saucy, we decided on just two tables with a 6-5 split. We so crazy! Eric had arrived mid-game and was checking out Small World, so it was decided that Tim, Nyck, Andy, and Counterclockwise Scott would join him on Table Three for the experience.


The Finger of Fate chose Tim to start, so he naturally took the Dragon Master Amazons; when it took the others a couple turns to realize they needed to trim back his territories, it looked like he might have built an insurmountable advantage. However, Andy's Giants were soon in decline in the out-of-the-way North, and at least three turns of six extra points each put him back in contention. But Nyck's powerful troika of Spirit Ratmen, Merchant Ghouls, and (especially) Seafaring Sorcerers were soon major contenders as well. The Ratmen spread everywhere, as Ratmen are wont to do, and since they never went away on their own it was impossible to get rid of them completely - indeed, one Ratman in a mountain space lasted the entire game, giving Nyck about half a turn's worth of extra points.

We were all soon impressed with the Seafaring Sorcerer combination, as once they made it to the inner sea, they basically could attack anywhere on the board; that made it really hard to avoid leaving lone units within striking distance. Nyck also had the advantage of going late in the round, so on the final turn, when everybody squeezes as many points out as possible, he managed to find three single units from different players right next to each other for easy pickins.

And those three points would make the difference, as he tied with Andy for 97 points at the end of the game; Tim was close behind with 95, while Counterclockwise Scott had 87 and Eric, who had done yeoman's work earlier in rooting out some pesky Ratmen, was rewarded for his efforts with 82 points. The tie-break is number of units still on the board at the end, which was won easily by Nyck with his two declined-power races and the replicating Sorcerers.

It was agreed that this was a very interesting game and nobody was quite sure who was in the lead at any time.
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6. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:995]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 8:*0
End time: 9:20pm[/i]

For the six-player game of this split, Around the World in 80 Days was chosen because it can, in fact, handle six players. Lynette, Sandy, Kris, Nathaniel, Scott, and Mike were the circumnavigators.


Nathaniel raced around the board to get to London first, but took 82 days to do so, and thus could only hope the others could not finish in time. Alas, Scott managed to reach London with one day to spare, while Kris had 6 days in hand, and Mike, the big wiener, took a mere 72 days to traverse the globe. Lynette and Sandy decided simply to stay in New York and become Rockettes.
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7. Board Game: TransAmerica [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:705]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 9:30pm
End time: 10:00pm


Small World is not, alas, Short World, and thus when Table One was done traipsing around the world they needed another short-ish six player game to take them to the reconfig. This time they decided to stay closer to home, and simply travel around the USA in TransAmerica. The engineers were, of course, Mike, Lynette, Sandy, Kris, Nathaniel, and Scott.


Apparently this game was a bloodbath, as only Lynette (the victor) and Mike (the runner up) remained above water, as Sandy, Kris, Nathaniel, and Scott were all sent careening into the Pacific Ocean as penance for their horrible railroad building skills.
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8. Board Game: Flix Mix [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:3120]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start Time: 9:55pm
End time: 10:00


This time it was Table Three that needed a quick game to get to the reconfig - very quick, as TransAmerica was mere minutes away from conclusion. Fortunately, this was plenty of time for one round ofFlix Mix, and when Eric had to leave Nyck, Tim, Andy, and Counterclockwise Scott formed an adequate foursome for playing.


Nyck reigned supreme by getting all his cards out first, while Andy was frustrated with just one card left to play. Tim apparently just wasn't trying hard enough, as he had a shameful two cards left, while Counterclockwise Scott was hampered by his allergies and was left with four cards in hand.
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9. Board Game: Ra: The Dice Game [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:808]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:00pm
End time: 11:00pm


With eight gamers left, the two-table split became much more natural. Tim took this opportunity to force Andy, Nyck, and Counterclockwise Scott to play new acquisition Ra: The Dice Game.


While Ra: The Dice Game scores exactly like Ra, it plays rather differently. It actually plays very quickly, with only a couple cycles in the round before the Ra track runs out; there are also limited opportunities to slow someone else down, since you can't call Ra or take a lot that's great for them. The primary way to mess with someone is probably the Monument track, which offers a rather nice set of decisions about whether to play offensively or defensively, or to try and shoot the moon and do both.

The other interesting thing is how quickly the Pharoah track fills up; by the second round both Tim and Nyck had the max 12 pharoahs, which is the kind of thing that never happens in Ra. The niles do not fill up quite so fast, as big nile rolls are usually used to flood, instead.

Ultimately, the deceptively short playing time hid the fact that scoring points with Ankhs and Suns is probably a really good thing to do; Tim got an early "three sun, two ankh" five point roll, and remained ahead most of the game because of it. Nyck made up some ground with a big civilization score, but in the end Tim prevailed, 37 to 31. Andy and Counterclockwise Scott both scored big with Niles, but some big civilization hits (and rolls with one or two suns, which don't score anything) cost them both, and they finished with 27 and 25 points, respectively.
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10. Board Game: Euchre [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:989]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 10:05pm
End time: 11:00pm


It was on or around Mike's birthday, and thus he demanded to be allowed to play Euchre. Kris was his partner, while Lynette and Scott teamed up to try and vanquish them.


Alas, their attempts were in vain, as Mike and Kris rolled to a victorious 10 points before Lynette and Scott could even score nine.
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11. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:497]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:05pm
End time: 12 midnight


Yet another reconfig was in the cards as Mike and Kris turned into pumpkins but Brian arrived and Nathaniel was refreshed from his gaming break. Thus, we still had eight gamers, and Lynette, Scott, Andy, and Brian celebrated this fact by playing Qwirkle.


There is no evidence that this game was played by the actual rules; in fact, the scoresheet notes that someone cheated, but that it was impossible to know who. But it was probably Lynette, as she gathered the winning total of 118 points, while Scott earned second place with 107, Brian gained 102, and Andy sloshed to a 85 point defeat.
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12. Board Game: Thebes [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:262]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 11:15pm
End time: 12:20am


Thebes is a perfectly acceptable four-person game to begin at 11:15 in the PM; it is fun, moves along pretty quickly, is fairly easy to pick up, and allows for periods of unbridaled cussing. Tim, Counterclockwise Scott, Nyck, and Nathaniel were the erstwhile tombraiders.


One of these days Tim is going to remember what colors go with each other for the presentations, as he almost always specializes in two colors that do not work with each other that way. Nevertheless, he got an early lead in Green and Purples, and got to them first, while Counterclockwise Scott headed out to yellow and blue. Nyck was focussing on the lecture circuit, while Nathaniel was gathering orange.

Counterclockwise Scott held the early lead with a fortuitous early dig in yellow, but Tim managed one more dig overall and was closing the gap; he even managed to find enough yellow to complete a minor presentation. Those four points don't seem like much, but they are certainly more effective use of time than doing a late dig in a depleted bag.

Finally, with just a few more weeks left in the game, Counterclockwise Scott did some calculimination and figured that an extended dig into the green bag made more sense than a truncated dig plus a trip to Paris to present; that decision paid off as he gathered the 7 point treasure, which had somehow eluded Tim despite his many months digging there. When Tim could not unearth a presentation he could give nor some more knowledge to steal yellow or purple away in his remaining weeks, that 7 treasure would provide the margin of victory, as Counterclockwise Scott had 55 points to Tim's 49. Nathaniel did quite well in unearthing his 42 points worth of treasure and knowledge. Nyck gave all but one of the lectures, but his lack of field work was too much to overcome, and he came in last with 38 points.
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13. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1164]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:01am
End time: 12:21am


The Qwirkleites finished about twenty minutes ahead of the Thebesians, so the only reasonble thing to do, given the hour, was to play Zirkus Flohcati. The players remained Scott, Brian, Lynette, and Andy.


It was an excruciatingly close match. Despite the fact that Lynette always galas, it appears that Andy gala'd this time around - and those ten points were critical, as his 54 point total was exactly ten more than that of Scott and Brian. Lynette came in a distant fourth with a mere 43 points.
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14. Board Game: Palastgeflüster [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:932]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 12:30am
End time: 1:30am


With three more defections we were down to five; as Tim had just gotten his hands on a copy of Palastgeflüster, it seemed like a perfect time to take it for a spin. Andy, Scott, Counterclockwise Scott, and Brian were the other non-weenies at the table.


This game is fun enough to play, and provides an interesting challenge in figuring out what your optimal move is, but there are a number of issues with the game. First of all, the graphic design is a problem; the writing on the help cards is very small, the icons on the top of each card aren't helpful, and the colors on the player help cards are not completely obvious from across the table - so you are always having to remind yourself who is yellow and squinting to puzzle out what a Wachter does. A bigger issue, however, is the scoring, which is very coarse and almost always leads to ties; more importantly, it will almost always lead to situations where at least one player has almost no chance of winning during the final rounds.

If it were a little easier to help other people then this might not be such a problem. Let us postulate that Tim, Scott, and Counterclockwise Scott all have three points, while Brian and Andy both have two; this means some natural partnerships should arise. Brian and Andy both need either one of them to go out in order not to lose; thus, they should try to work together. Meanwhile, Tim, Scott, and Counterclockwise Scott would all prefer to go out themselves, but mostly need the other two not to go out and for themselves not to be balked. So they should push to go out if they think they can, or else hammer somebody else who is in trouble, or join with Brian and Andy to get one of them out to keep the game going.

In practice, what actually happened in this situation was Brian kept hammering Tim, because he had a bunch of green cards in his hand and didn't have any choice. Tim's surplus of Hoffnars eventually caught up with him, and when he was balked Scott and Counterclockwise Scott shared the victory.

A joint win is not really a bad thing, of course; in a way it's kind of interesting, as it becomes kind of a team game with the teams undefined at the beginning (the same thing can happen in games like Cosmic Encounter or Dune). But we will probably still try some alternate scoring next time around - perhaps something Prism-like, with one point for each card down, zero points for being balked, and a bonus if you go out.
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15. Board Game: Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game [Average Rating:6.35 Overall Rank:2639]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Start time: 1:45am
End time: 2:00am


When the others had left, Tim and Andy discovered they had one more game in them this night. That game was Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game.


From the first inning, it was clear that Andy's team was the superior one; while Tim occasionally reached base via error or walk, the big bats were all on Andy's side, with at least four home runs hit during the game. True, it was a little odd to bring in a relief pitcher in the second inning, but once he got a key strike out Tim was never really in the game, and the final score was 11-6.

We did play one rule slightly wrong - the relief pitcher/pinch hitter card should be played immediately upon drawing it, not as part of your regular turn. This could not possibly have altered the outcome of the game, but it was wrongly played nontheless.
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16. Board Game: Miscellaneous Game Accessory [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:2589]
Tim Shippert
United States
Richland
Washington
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Ladies and Gentlemen, consider the humble Goldfish cracker.

It ranks amongst the most perfect gaming foods, a savory compliment to the sweet M&M. Like its cousin the Cheese-It, the Goldfish cracker is baked and therefore not greasy, offering no threat to game components. It is also relatively healthy, at least no less so than any other cracker. And it is tasty, with Mozzarella and Ranch flavors offered on this Game Night.

So why should it be that nobody, save myself, eats these things? Why do goldfish and Cheese-its always survive Game Night mostly uneaten? Perhaps it is some kind of conspiracy to destroy the baked cheese snack industry. Or perhaps the other members of the CBBS are simply unaware of the superiority of these snacks. I may have to offer nothing but goldfish crackers one of these Game Nights, so as to provide proper instruction to the uneducated.


Or perhaps one should not draw too many conclusions from this Game Night, as many snacks were left uneaten, with no rhyme or reason apparent to this reporter. M&Ms, Almond Roca, chocolate and vanilla dipped pretzels, even the swedish fish were not fully consumed on this day. On the other hand, the Planter's Digestive Health Mix and the baked Kettle Chips were gone in the blink of an eye.

It would be helpful if the CBBS would snack in a more consistent manner in the future, to assist preparation.
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