Games, games and more games!
We always host a large games day on the 29th December, and this year was no different, replacing our usual Friday games night for this week. This was one of our bigger ones, with 15 players attending in total.
The house was ready and Sami left to pick up one player from the station. The first gamer arrived, Colin, and we had ten minutes before we expected someone else, so he pulled out Bollox to fill in the time. The first game he was pretty blind, and the second time I was, so those games were over pretty quickly. The third nearly went to me too, as Colin didn't see how to block me one turn until I pointed it out to him - unfortunately for me that cost me the game, as he then managed to turn the game round for the win. The fourth game I decided to play a slightly different strategy, and won - my comment at the end "That game was rather different from usual" was met with "Yes, I didn't win." from Colin - at which he pointed out he couldn't crow, as he'd only really won one game so far!!! Colin got a bit too cocky after that, and the next two went to me very quickly, before we decided to change the game, as no-one else had arrived.
We pulled out Quarriors!, a recent quick filler, and one we knew we could add players to as they arrived. Sure enough we had just opened the box when I saw a car coming down the drive, and that car was followed very shortly after by another one. Neither Ray or Gill knew Quarriors, so we had to take time to do a quick rules explanation, and had just started the game proper when Matt and Sami returned. We offered to break into two threes, but someone suggested that a game of Magic: The Gathering would be an option, so they vanished upstairs to play that. It was a very quick game of Quarriors - Ray's first purchase was the dice that made it hard for other players to cast spells, followed shortly after by another one. He was fairly good at rolling them too, which did make it difficult for the rest of us to score with our little brown pawns and do any early culling, although very few creatures were ever killed when they did come out. I got an early 8 roll, but the 8 creature wasn't one of the best ones. Ray then rolled two of his dice together, along with a pawn too - scoring 7 in one go if no-one could do 6 damage to him, which in a 4 player game was enough to win. I only had low attack creatures, Colin re-rolled most of his dice to try his best to stop him but only got Quiddity, and Gill had alreay used all her good dice, so that was that!
By now we had two more players, and needed to split into two tables of four. Ray, as the winner, was asked to choose games, and came down with two - El Grande and Show Manager, and as everyone was happy with one or the other of them, those were the two games to hit the table. Just as we were about to start the doorbell rang, and another couple arrived, one player joining each table. The El Grande game was very tight after the second scoring round, with James and I on the same score, and Sami not far behind. Sami had a strong third round, but ended up one point behind me at final scoring, while James streaked ahead, very happily as it's not a game he normally wins!
We then mixed things around a bit, and Nigel suggested that Fiona might like to play Vegas Showdown. It was a very bizarre game, with no-one filling in their casino end before end-game, and only one player filling in the restaurant end. The scores were very close going into end-game, but the more experienced players then managed to stretch their slight lead.
After that was lunch, and then Nigel suggested I might like to try Star Trek: Expeditions. It's a coop, which I'm not greatly fond of, but I'm also a Trekkie!! We found two other Trekkies to join us, and started. I enjoyed my one play, but would wonder about replayability as there is only one decision tree for the major events in the game. It also seemed remarkably easy on yellow level - even with all four of us being new to the game. I would hope it is more challenging at red level, without being impossible.
All the other tables finished just before we did, and two new players arrived, meaning there was a large number of people milling around downstairs trying to choose games. One player asked if anyone upstairs was interested in TurfMaster, or perhaps Elder Sign, and got two yesses from me and Nigel, and the other tables worked themselves out, leaving holes for our other two tables. Unfortunately our end-game was rather slowed by lots of players coming up to spectate and ask about the game, and as it was a coop, that basically slowed the game down to a halt at one point! Grrrr! Eventually we did finish and set up the Turfmaster, using one of the boards from Course Collection 1. Mike is always good at this, but today he just seemed to be charmed, winning all four races!!! I really don't know how he does it.) In the third race it looked like I would beat him into second, way ahead and needing just a four on the dice round to go past, but James rolled a 3, and I then had no card remaining to satisfy the handicap, so had to watch all the other horses pass me :-(. Luckily my other horse was then second (we were playing two horses each). Despite that I was able to get enough points to come second, but miles beind Mike.
After that it was dinner-time (already!), and while eating my 4 year old son asked if he could join in for a game of Dominion. I asked if anyone was willing to give him a game, using just the base set, anf two players volunteered. We kept the Witch and Thief out and selected randomly from the remainder, and although my son's favourite Council Room wasn't in the game, it was a fairly friendly set with lots of card draw. It turned out to be a joint win for Kathy and I, on exactly the same number of points, with my son next and Ray behind. My son then left and we played another game, this time using the Dominion: Hinterlands expansion, which I hadn't tried before. I wasn't too impressed with the set from my one play - nothing particularly exciting, and the feel of the particular cards available was a very negative set, so the winner, Kathy, emptied two stacks by going for a Duchy/Duchess strategy, with a third stack emptying almost automatically by being about the only good buy (silver being bad because of the theiving card in play).
Next we wanted a quick filler for 6 while my husband put the kids to bed and another game finished. I suggested The Bucket King. There was some joking at the start thhat I would win because, although this appears a luck dependent game, skilled players do a lot better over time, according to stats that I and another player in the game had done on it. As the game progressed it became quite clear who would lose, as the player on my right seemed not to be able to play on any colour and his pyramid was falling down very dramatically. I and the player to my left lost a few buckets here and there but were very protected by him, so were well ahead when he went out, and then it was just a question of which of us would be first, but I was lucky enough never to lose more than a pair of buckets, while Gill's pyramid came down in clumps, and she was also running out of cards trying to stop it happening further! Another win to me for the stats!
One player asked if I could teach him Finca next. I was happy to do so, having not played for a while. It was clear early on that I was doing well, as the only experienced player, and I quickly got a bonus for all 6 tile numbers, but then stalled and struggled to score many points, while several of the others were mopping up points from 5 tiles. Luckily late game one did come my way, which was enough for the win. The player who had no zcoring bonus tiles did manage to come third though, to everyone's great surprise|
Power Grid: The First Sparks was suggested next, and though I hadn't heard particularly positive things about it from my husband and cousin, I wanted to give it a go myself. We all built four houses on the set-up turn, and then two of the players built to 4 on the next turn, while Nigel and I stayed back on 3 for turn order advantage. We then realised that we might have broken the game, as they only produced enough to power their 4 houses, leaving none to spare to buy another plant next turn (yes, I know they are technologies or someting, but none of us could manage to use the correct terminology because of the link to Power Grid!). We paused the game in case it totally put them out, wondering whether we had to restart, but then realised that the next turn they would get more food, as the stockpiles would grow bigger, so it would be ok - sort of! It certainly gave those two players some problems early on, so I would be more aware to warn new players in a future game, but as it happened they were both able to catch up fairly well. The player who knew the game came first by one house, with me just beating one of the other players by 2 food on a food tie-break. Overall I liked the game, as a lighter version of Power Grid, but do agree with my husband that it's not worth buying, as we have enough of that genre, and if we want Power Grid we can play it often enough anyway - it's one of our group's favourite games!
I was in a mood for a light party game finisher after that, as were most of the others. After some discussion our table ended up playing Wits & Wagers, using as many of the second edition rules as I could remember without checking! My husband seemed to be very good at guessing, totally randomly, the right answer, and as everyone's betting was atrocious, he pulled ahead. However, on the last "all-in" round the card chosen was "The first year the Nobel prizes were awarded", which just happened to be something I knew the exact date for, from my days of playing lots of my self-written PC version of Chronlogy game. I put down the year before, and went all-in with my money. Ray decided I wasn't bluffing, so put in all his money too, which was rather more than me (I was fourth going in to that round cash-wise!). No-one was else bet high on it though, so we ended first and second, with my husband getting third (although he really deserved first!). We then had ten minutes before the other tables were finishing, so pulled out Take it Easy! to finish with. It was a fairly low scoring game, as I drew very few 9s, and not many more 7s and 8s! The first two players were the player who consistently scored most numbers, and my husband with his ridiculous number of 6s!
All in all I had a very fun day of gaming, although it was hard work with the high number of players attending, and I was reminded of why we have previously capped these days at 12 players!!