Niagara Gamers' Report

Our game group is from the Niagara Region in Southern Ontario. We play mostly in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Grimsby. We like hard games and strong beer, though we will occassionally play lighter games for fun (though we'd never be caught dead with lighter beer).
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Family/President's Day Gaming with Uber-Famous Podcasters

Rob Leveille
St. Catharines
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Okay, it’s the Monday after Niagara Boardgaming Weekend and we’ve schedule some gaming. Scott and Ryan from the U.S. (Syracuse and Rochester) join Derek and I (go Canada!) at my place for some statutory holiday gaming goodness. Its not everyday I get two celebrated gaming podcastors in my basement (Scott from BGWS and On Boardgames, Ryan from How To Play and Ludology ( Ryan also slums it with some little-known "Dice Towel" podcast.

After a nice greasy breakfast, we start good and early with a game of Indonesia. This game just does not get to the table often enough. Every time I play it, I fall in love with it a little more. It’s Derek’s first time playing, so he’s feeling out/up the concepts. He opens with acquiring a shipping company; I pick up the other one. Scott and Ryan decide to become producers. As Derek expands his shipping through a quick acquisition and merger (where no one else can bid), Ryan gets sick of having to pay him and picks up a little short-line boat fleet of his own. I add some rice production to the mix, and Scott expands like there’s no tomorrow. A key moment in the game is when Derek leaves himself a little short on cash and I merge/steal his 3-part shipping company. Along with my 2-part shipping company, it gives me almost all of the shipping in the game. This should give me a clear win; but I get a little greedy and merge Ryan’s little shipping line with my 2-parter, forgetting that Scott has tons of money. He steals it out from under me, but gives me some hefty coin in the process. Ryan pulls out a comfortable win with his solid production, giving as much shipping profits to Scott over me. Derek takes a comfortable third place, announcing that he really enjoyed the game. Scott’s over-bid on my shipping line took him out of contention, but knocked me into a solid second. An excellent game with excellent gamers.

A couple more bodies have joined us, so we split into two tables. Richard (not a podcaster but a Niagara Gamers founding member, and the subject of an Origin's-based documentary short - Left Behind) and (Micah Fuller(amateur game designer and all-round nice guy; not sure what he's doing hanging out with us) go off into the corner to play The Mines Of Zavandor while Derek, Ryan and I opt to relax with a simple game of Tigris & Euphrates. Derek has played before, but only once and needs a refresher. Luckily, we have the How To Play podcaster right there to teach it to him  The game starts well, a little bit of to and fro. Derek probingly tries to be a dick (in a game he knows better, he does away with the probing and just dicks) to test out the rules. I lose too many significant battles by a single tile and rapidly lose ground in blue cubes, with no saving moves in sight. I guess Ryan is qualified to teach games to the masses as he easily triples our scores. Another game that needs to hit the table more often, if just to not get my ass handed to me again.

Ryan leaves us, and the remaining five try out Junta: Viva el Presidente!. I always enjoyed playing the original Junta, especially with the right people (usually a certain group of Syracuseans – hi Ron!). This version eliminates the tedious elements of the original and replaces it with speedy dice-play. It left in the all-important bribes and bluffing. We have a blast stabbing each other in the back, with Richard suffering probably the most stabbings. A couple of turns manage to just prevent Derek from snatching the win before I pull off a couple of lucky plays and steal victory. Lots of fun, good end of the evening game.

Derek leaves us and we decide to try another of Scott’s new games: Horse Fever. This is an Italian horse racing game with a 30’s noire/gangster feel to it. Each player owns a stable and can buy horses to race. Then the players can play dirty tricks on the horses or attempt to acquire useful helpers. The racing itself was rather exciting; the dirty tricks are a fun reveal, and each new movement card had us cheering our horses on. If you should happen to run low on money, you can always borrow from the mob. But be careful: if you can’t pay them back, you can’t win (dead men collect no VPs). Oddly, finally cash is not the victory condition. Various criteria earns victory throughout the game: winning a bet (1 for show, 3 for win), owning a showing horse, meeting secret objectives and winning a VP auction at the end of each race. This game is a lot of fun and I am currently trying to track down a copy.

Thanks to all for coming it. It was a great cap to the weekend.
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