and everything under the sun is in tune
Another meeting of the Sandy Hook Beer & Games Society. Ready on the table when I arrived was a Dominion tableaux made up of cards from the Hinterlands & Cornucopia expansions. The new stuff all seemed decent enough but with one exception, "The Jester," an attack card which seemed exceptionally obnoxious because it gradually fills everyone's decks with garbage. There was another card that helped players deal with the problem by giving them more cards in hand ("Embassy"), but even so I felt like the fun of the game—the challenge of putting together a good deck—had been severely undercut. By the end I had something like fifteen or twenty copper in my deck.
Next on the docket was a quick game of Sushizock im Gockelwok before the younger generation was chased upstairs to bed. When all the sushi had been scarfed it was discovered that the ten-year-old had beaten the four adults. Grounded! I like the game because it's fast and accessible and has great components, but I've played it a bunch now and I think I'm ready to take it out of heavy rotation and make it an every-once-in-a-whiler. Cheeky Monkey continues to hold the title for World Champion Light Filler Game.
It was then decided that the rest of the night would have a Star Trek theme (is that a tricorder in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?), so we tackled Knizia's co-op game Star Trek: Expeditions at the "admiral" difficulty level. I would give a nice thematic account of what happened, but to be honest we're only barely reading the cards at this point. You could try to blame Knizia but perhaps we're just eurogamers at heart. Anyway, we employed our usual approach of focusing on the on-planet crises and letting the Klingon ship beat the snot out of us, though I suppose that this time we didn't have much of a choice since the first Supplemental Log card turned over was Klingon Cloaking Device. Things were looking bleak towards the end but then Uhura a.k.a. Chrissy had a killer last turn during which she piled on a bunch of extra actions and blasted through all the final challenges. All this happened when we were on the very last stardate and the Enterprise was down its final click! The next Stardate card had a Klingon attack symbol on it, and we would have probably been kerploded out of the sky.
Now, some people have complained that something seems out-of-whack with the descriptions of the final outcomes—how can I have won the game if there is a civil war and near ecological collapse and the planet has joined the Klingon empire? Well, the way I see it is that the game is trying to simultaneously accommodate two different play styles. If the players want a binary do-or-die win-or-lose experience similar to Pandemic, then they will want to play at the Captain or Admiral difficulty levels, depending on how experienced they are with the game, and simply try to avoid destruction. Think of it as though the doughty Enterprise crew has gotten themselves in way over their head and they are merely trying to avoid a complete disaster and escape with their lives. Alternatively, players can choose Ensign or Captain difficulty (again, depending on their experience) and try to not merely survive but actually pull off a favorable-sounding outcome. This is perhaps a more theme-oriented way to play the game.
Next and last was the new Star Trek Deck Building Game which Chris Brennan had brought. We had tried to play this once before but Eric and I ended up being too...uh..."tired" to properly grasp the rules, but now we were alert and ready for some hot 'n' raunchy interstellar action. We decided to play the "exploration" scenario, since it is the most straight-forward of the three. Unfortunately, the game didn't go over terribly well; it just seemed to go on and on and on as Eric, Chrissy and I struggled to meet the challenges of the Space Deck. Afterwards, however, Chris B. started talking about how the game seems to be like a Dominion clone but it's not, in that it's not so much about constantly acquiring cards as it is about crafting a deck. I realized that he was right and that my approach to the game may have been flawed; rather than improving the cards I had, I just kept buying more and more.
Anyway, as of now I'm withholding judgment. It might well be a better game than I'm realizing. Still, though, I wasn't crazy about having to stare at all the cheesy & butt-ugly aliens from the TV show for several hours; I can only look at a Ferengi for so long before I find myself wishing for a better life.
Beerwise I enjoyed a stout from a Connecticut brewery, Calvary's "Nomad," followed by a Heavy Seas "Loose Cannon" IPA. The Nomad is nice because it has a rich stout flavor without making you feel like you've swallowed a bowling ball.