The initial board layout of Samurai. It had been awhile since we’d played but we all were back up to speed on the rules pretty quickly in this great offering from Reiner Knizia. When I bought this game it was one of the last ones around and it was going out of print. However, I think more have been printed and it’s available from most online ‘designer game’ stores.

Lisa is contemplating her final move which ended the game clinching her victory and taking the final three pieces. I’ve never played a game that had one each of high hat, rice paddy, and buddha and the final player was able to play several tiles to ensure dominance over all three final pieces.

Game Night – May 2005

This month’s game was Rich’s unopened copy of San Juan by Andreas Seyfarth. It’s been a little while since we’ve played but this lighter “card game” form of Puerto Rico is pretty darned good. I have to agree with Ken though that I think the game would be better with 4 instead of 5. With 4 players, you would always have 1 unchosen role at the end of each round leaving you more unsure of how the round will play out. When you’re sure somebody has to Build, Trade, or Produce every round, then it leaves a little bit to be desired. However, that being said, I do like to play this game.

I felt a little bad at the end because the final score left me the winner but I have no idea how that happened. There was some question about how I counted my cards etc. and it felt like a ‘dirty’ victory. I even zoomed in on the final shot of the table and counted my Victory Points again and I think I was right on. I feared I might have counted my Chapel cards as violet cards but I hadn’t. The killer card, I believe was the Hero card that I purchased late in the game for 5 VPs that is worth 5VPs in the end.Enough gibberish…here are the pictures and ridicule. Keith showed off his new Canon G7 to one up my Canon G5 and I’ve included a few of his shots as well.

April Game Night – 2005

This month’s game was Keith’s copy of Kill Doctor Lucky from the venerable Cheap Ass Games . We tracked down some colored poker chips to act as our pawns (CheapAss games sometimes require you to borrow common parts from other games….’cause, well, they’re cheap asses).

The game requires you to move your pawn around a set of rooms on the assembled paper “board” either drawing or playing cards, and/or attempting to murder the ever moving Dr. Lucky. Your attempts to kill Dr. Lucky with your weapon cards (our favorite was Ken’s massive blow with the “Monkey Paw”) can be thwarted by other players tossing out “Failure” cards.

We all felt that the game’s feel didn’t change too much during play and it stagnated while we ran through the Failure Cards until somebody messed up letting an attacker win.

It probably deserves another play using some of the proposed variants described in the author’s “commentary” track in the rules. Keith seemed especially keen on the “kill other players” variant. I can’t say why but I felt a little concerned for his soul…

We then played three rounds of 6-Nimmt, a good filler game to close out the night early. Thanks go to Paul for hosting and I hope Ken didn’t keep anyone up too far past their bedtime.

March Game Night – 2005

This month’s game was Ticket to Ride. Ken was gracious enough to bring his copy and after a quick run through the rules we were off and running. Well, most of us were. Keith was mostly hoarding cards with all of his “blind” draws. I have to give him credit though. If it hadn’t been for Rich’s underhanded train placement Keith would have been the easy winner. Rich actually caused Keith to lose the game at the end when he tied me but had to “take back” 9 points for not meeting one of his goals. Keith, you should blame Rich.

February Game Night – 2005

Ken was supposed to bring Ticket to Ridethis month. It was his big chance. It was the whole reason he bought the game.Every fiber of his body wanted to participate by bringing the game. Ken, however, let us all down and forgot it at homeand didn’t realize it until he walked in the door.

Thanks Rich for hosting this months get together. Paul showed up againand we’re very happy to see him back. I brought my wooden Carcassonne – The Cityto show to everyone. I haven’t played it yet and don’t like tobring a game to AGN unless I’ve played it. It’s so much harderto learn a game when nobody has played it yet. However….in this casewe had to learn a brand new game (see note above about Ken sucking at remembering Ticket to Ride)that Keith brought (thank goodness for Keith).

This month’s game was King of the Elves by Alan Moon. Note Alan Moon also designed Ticket to Ride but we didn’t getto play that game this month…’cause of Ken sucking so bad at rememberingto bring the game.

It took us almost an hour to go through the rules. In that hour, there wasplenty of grousing and complaining (see note above about not bringinga brand spankin’ new game to AGN). However, with encouragement we madeit through the rules and began playing. As it turns out, it was a nicegame. We only played 3 of the 5 rounds and that took us 2.5 hours. There were times when play was very slow but I think it’s a game thatspeeds up the more you play it and get settled in to what your optionsare when it is your turn.

After 3 of 5 rounds, Rich came out on top followed closely by Keith, then me, Ken, and Paul.

Category Nimmt

An update from Noah’s teacher:

I am going to try to play Category five with just 3 children today. THey seem to end up with different numbers of cards in their hands. I think with the smaller group they can keep track of who has layed their card in the middle and who has not. Also some are still struggling with which number is bigger so the smaller group will help them to teach each other rather than take the card and put it where it belongs. The great thing about the game is that there are 106 cards. So 3 groups of three could play at one time with one deck. (only each child gets 9 cards to begin rather than 10)

This is your brain on games…any questions?

My recent game order included two copies of Category 5. This is the retooled US version of 6-Nimmt which we’ve played numerous times in the Analog Game Night group and with family and friends. A copy of each game was destined for Sophie’s and Noah’s classrooms at Indianola Alternative Elementary.

Noah’s teacher is always looking for inventive ways to teach math and this game has really hit the spot. Here are Sarah’s comments:

We are using the game as a math menu choice because it is getting the children to practice the order of numbers and will help to build number sense.

It is great because the children are helping each other recognize if the number card they chose will work because it is “larger” than the cards laying in the middle. Joushua, for instance, was confused for awhile but got the hang of it once he played the game the second time.At the end of the game, they are also grouping the cards into similar groups so that the counting is easier. also a number sense builder!!! For example fives are easier to count when they are together. Then by 2s and finally one by one.

Thanks for the great game idea!!! I am always looking for games that get kids to manipulate numbers, group together numbers for adding, and that are challenging and fun. Thanks for the game!!!

Ticket To Ride

My latest game shipment came in and the kids and I tried out Ticket to Ride by Alan R. Moon. Ticket to Ride won the Spiel Des Jahres (Game of the Year) 2004, International Gamers Awards Best Strategy Game Nominee 2004, Deutscher SpielePreis (6th Place 2004), and Games Magazine Best Family Game Nominee 2005. This game will stay strictly at home and cannot be brought to Analog Game Night. Ken bought this game as well and wants to contribute a game to our game night playing festivities.

Ticket to Ride plays quickly and is very easy to learn. The kids had no problem at all picking up the rules. It took about 45 minutes to play which included the learning phase. It’s got a fairly significant luck component with the “draw your blind train cars” action. They do try to mitigate this somewhat by exposing the top 5 cards from the draw pile. There are still plenty of tactical plays that can made that can greatly affect other player’s ability to meet their hidden Ticket Card goals. So be forewarned that others can (and will) sense the end-points you’re shooting for and will attempt to block you from completing your task (the nerve of some kids…I mean people!). Speaking of nerve, Sophie kicked our butts by constructing several 5 and 6 segment routes and meeting all of her Ticket Card goals….plus she got the longest route bonus. I made all 5 of my Ticket Card goals but they were, unfortunately small in value. Noah didn’t meet two of his three goals so he got docked the value points for those.

The other games I received are Carcassonne – The City, Carcassonne’s new more strategic big brother (comes in a wooden box!) and Battle Line, a Reiner Knizia designed 2 person card game. I’ll throw out reviews of those as soon as I get a chance to play.