Good news first: A certain box arrived today, containing approximately 79,000 plastic worms, and the magic I exchanged for the gift certificate I won from The Great Geek Game Giveaway last month! Yspahan and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective have been added to my collection. (I feel a mini-Grail coming on with the Yspahan: The Souks expansion! I’m not about to pay $35 for the Ystari Box to get the expansion for the one game in there I have. Grr.) I’m very excited about both of them, and am pestering Lane while he works about which one he wants to play tonight. Belfort will have to wait yet another night. It’s a resilient game. It will pull through.
Last night was Games Night at the FLGS, and this one is usually a good one, though any Games Night/Day is going to be less than perfect some of the time. Last night wasn’t bad. It was just… well, frustrating, in places.
We started out the evening with an 8-player game of Shadow Hunters. Apparently it was recently reprinted and already starting to get a little hard to find. It hadn’t been on my radar, so I don’t know if it’s actually hard to get, or only to people who limit themselves to brick and mortar. [All the OLGS I use have copies in stock, for the record.] Of the eight people playing, I think only two had played before, though most had played games like The Resistance where there are hidden roles to deduce, so the concept should have been familiar. Players were assigned a role, secretly, that would be a Shadow, a Hunter, or a Neutral character. The goal was to deduce, as much as possible, who was who, and then work to fulfill the win conditions of our role, which might, for example, be the elimination of all of one of the other teams. . In theory, it could have been a good game. There were problems though. The Cheaty Italian, of last week’s fame, wasn’t cheating, I don’t think, so much as he was not playing. He never drew one of the cards that allow you to gain information about a fellow player, and in general made no effort to deduce anything about anything. He just attacked everyone he was able. Likewise, the guy who spent 15 minutes, somehow, ordering pizzas online with his phone attacked with abandon, though he was also careful to heal every point of damage he took, so that he was still lily clean of blood near the end of the game.
The girl who got a phone call mid-game from the bloke she fancies, thus interrupting the side game she was playing on her tablet, did actually make efforts to identify players’ roles, but the distractions made her forgetful, so she would learn who someone was, and then spend another turn learning again. The guy across from me gave me shocked and pained expressions frequently, and I think toyed with the idea of flipping the table*, as it were, and just ending the game. It did, eventually, end, with pizza boy killing the last of his team mates, along with the last of his foes, in a burst of machine gun fire that raked everyone left on the board. It was kind of a relief.
As we were recovering from that, and discussing what to play next, I was gazing longingly at the brand new box of Caverna my commiserator from Shadow Hunters had just picked up. It was in-shrink, so I didn’t feel comfortable suggesting it if he wasn’t going to. The other guy who had picked it up at the same time had punched his immediately, but was the first one killed in Shadow Hunters, and went off to play another game with another group, the lucky bastard.
So while I was drooling over Caverna and discussing other options, the Cheaty Italian got shot down for Go (as in the ancient Chinese abstract game), and then somehow talked a critical mass of the conversation group into Backgammon, of all things. This made one guy nostalgic about his grandmother, with whom he had last played the game, thirty years ago, which was sweet.
Even after thirty years, though, he was able to teach me, since no one else was up to teaching, and I’d never played before. We played a team version, and I got the rules on a rolling, as-needed basis, so that I just about understood the game as we were finishing. It was short though, and we had fun marveling at the fact that I rolled doubles at least 8-9 times over the course of the game, which was weird, so it was a reasonably good palate cleanser, if a little odd.
Finally, we played Eminent Domain, which is a deckbuilder, but with a number of added mechanics, so it’s not just Dominion in space. This was one of those where for some reason I got confused several times, and felt pretty dumb, but I muddled through. In this game, you Survey for new planets, and then you either conquer them through Warfare, or you Colonize them (I suppose the idea is that the latter uses diplomacy and more or less mutually beneficial treaties). You can Research to get better Technologies, which allow you to do more per turn than the basic cards do. Different planets Produce different resources, which you can then Trade for victory points. Planets themselves are also worth victory points at the end. So you want a lot of planets, since the victory points you gain from resources and certain card powers are finite, and the final round is triggered by the last one being claimed. I went straight Warfare with my strategy. I never took a single Colonize card. A couple of my planets pumped out little ships, and I had the tech to turn them into big ships. It was a good system. I managed to set up a pretty sweet system for farming victory points every turn….just before someone claimed the last one. I didn’t win, but I wasn’t in last place, and I think I would do better next time.
Until that next time, I will have good gaming with Lane here at home, mother-in-law gaming this weekend (mostly Scrabble and No Thanks!, though we got her SET recently, and she likes that, too), and possible Redneck Small Town Gaming this weekend, without Cards Against Humanity.
Full disclosure: We like the owner of the Small Town place, but also he brought back a ton of demos from the trade show he just went to. It seems when you finished a demo, you could go back and they’d give you a Nerf gun, and if you could hit a game on the table, you won it. Well, he and his wife are country Southerners. Give them any kind of gun and tell them they can win free games, and it will go well for them. They came back with a ton of free games. I want to play those demos.