Impromptu Game Day – October 22, 2011

A friend of mine organized a small gathering yesterday and we all took a vacation day to play games at his house. We all struggle with getting some of those unplayed, older, and rarely played titles to the table and these gatherings provide a great opportunity for us. I’ve said it many times before, but I’m always amazed at how few games we can play in a day. I always have unrealistic expectations of burning through stacks and stacks of games by the end of the day but, reality bites.

We started the day with an unplayed title, Metropolys. The steam-punk reminiscent box art has always kept me wanting to give it a try. The game is really an abstract with some theme thrown in. The board depicts a map of a city with regions separated by canals. Each region is divided into smaller colored regions divided by streets. Tokens of various types are placed on some of the regions and your job is to take control of the small regions, vie for the good tokens (shunning the bad), as well as grabbing control of the larger canal-separated regions. Every player starts with the same set of 13 buildings (think Mexica) numbered 1 through 13. The start player places a numbered building in one of the small colored regions and subsequent players must pass or place a larger numbered building on a different colored regions that is adjacent to the last building bid. The winning bid grants the colored region to the player and the building is turned over and becomes permanent fixture of the board. Play continues until somebody runs out of building. Cards dealt randomly to players at the beginning of the game give players hidden goals that grant points if achieved (e.g. 4 points for each group of 3 connected buildings). It’s a very simple game that has it’s place as a opener or filler game. It’s relatively light but fun. The artwork is really great.

Next up was a really old title, El Grande. I’ve played it twice in the last 8 years (about 2-3 years apart) so, to stay on track, it was due. My fellow players were new to the game but I think they liked it. The game is very chaotic with the max number of played but was relatively controlled with the number we had. I was glad to get this area majority game back to the table after a long hiatus. I usually find myself fighting too many losing battles with too many different players but I stuck to my plan this time and it seemed to work. The power of grabbing second place in many places can really make or break you.

Next up, was Steam. Stacked somewhere in my weirdness is the love/hate relationship I have with train games. I don’t like them, play poorly, and don’t understand why but yet, I find them intriguing. When I’m not playing, I want to play. However, when I am playing, I wonder why I want to continue. We were all new to Steam but I taught it and we got under way. As usual, I found myself having chosen poorly where to start and I immediately saw that I would be squashed between two players who quickly staked out large territory to the east and west greatly limiting my ability to effectively/efficiently branch out. I should have started multiple lines when I recognized this but was too timid. The game punishes you mercilessly for making the wrong decisions and rewards those that can pull ahead early. Mid-game, I found myself having to pass a couple of times on one of the steps of the Move/Upgrade phase because I had no cubes to ship. I was too scared to either start a new track and/or upgrade a town (new cubes!) or raise too much money just building trying to make something happen. Timidity is the path to destruction. In the end, we were separated by only a few points but each of those points were teased out of nothingness. I hate it. When can I play again!

Next we grabbed a quick dinner; a giant burger that sat in my belly like a rock. I think the additional beer I poured on top helped immensely! We played a quick two-player hand of Haggis to remind ourselves how to play but then started thinking about what to play next.

We thought about pulling out Container but the beer, the food, and the time started affecting our ability to grok a new set of rules so we decided to pull out Dominion and call it a night. We pulled a random set of cards from lots of different versions including the Prosperity Colony, Platinum, and Peddler cards.

The early game was riddled with Pirate Ships and Thieves so Moats were in short supply. My stock of Quarry cards came in very handy. A thief stole my recently purchased Platinum card (!) but finally, my Explorer started paying off with a few Province cards I had and I ended up a solid second place. Dominion is good. That’s about all I can say about that.

That’s about all I’ve got. Thanks guys, let’s do it again soon.

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