This is my first attempt at a session report on this blog. These will appear sporadically throughout the year, and I’m still working out how I’d like to do it. Today, I’ll be telling stories about three recent games I played.
This first session report assumes some knowledge of Cribbage. If you want to know more about the game, see my review.
My father and I play a lot of Cribbage when we see each other. It’s a tradition that dates back to how he and his father played on their visits. And so, I often end up giving him some kind of Cribbage related gift around the holidays or his birthday. Last year for Christmas, I got him an elk antler board from Cabela’s, and this past summer for his birthday, I got him some plastic playing cards (Copag). My friend Robbie turned me onto these – if you’ve only played with paper cards, you are missing out on the smoothest shuffle EVER.
Anyway. I gave the cards to him when my parents visited over the summer, and of course, we played Cribbage with him. He then proceeded to win every single game. I finally got one win in our last match of the visit, but it didn’t ease the pain that much.
Cut forward now to this Christmas. My wife and I were visiting my parents, so we busted out the elk antler Cribbage board and dad’s plastic cards. And we kicked off our first game. It was a typical match for us – very close throughout. However, as we got close to the end, I was pretty sure I was going to be a little short. It looked like we had about two hands left with my dad having first count on the last hand, and he was close enough to then end that I was almost convinced that he would win.
Sure enough, he scored enough on that hand to get to 120 points (the first player to 121 is the winner). I was stuck at 112. The next hand was my deal, so there was really only two ways that I was going to pull this victory off;
- I needed to peg 9 without him pegging anything.
- If that didn’t work, I needed him to get zero from pegging and have zero in his hand.
Neither scenario seemed likely. I was dealt 2-2-2-9-10-Q. The 10-Q went to my crib as I was trying to have some good pegging cards. It didn’t really matter what went to the crib since I would likely never see it. I don’t remember what got cut as the starter card. I probably didn’t even look – I knew I’d cross that bridge if I ever got to it.
Dad led the pegging with a 3, which was not good for anything in my hand. If I played a 2, he likely had a 10 for 15 and the win. So I played my 9, hoping he didn’t have another 3 or a 9. He didn’t, and played a 10. Here was my only chance. I played a 2, bringing the count to 24. And then he said the only word that I wanted to hear.
I played a second two for a pair – two points. I then played my third two for a pair royal – six more points. That eight plus the point for “go” meant that I pegged 9 to my father’s zero. I won.
My father’s mom had a saying that I grew up hearing – “Win without crowing, lose without whining.” And yes, my father did remind me of that. But I’m sorry – after an epic comeback victory like that, you have to take a victory lap.
The Christmas Game originally came out in 1980 from Holiday Games. It is an uncredited design, but I guess we can credit it to Charles Darrow because it’s basically a mediocre Monopoly ripoff. The game is played on a square board, and you roll dice to move clockwise around the outer track. The object is you want to collect all six different gift values – 1, 5, 25, 50, 100, 200. To collect a gift, you land on the space and pay that much money. Along the way, you may land on special spaces that make you draw from a particular card deck – Santa is always good, Scrooge is always bad, and the Reindeer could be good or bad depending on the roll of a die. There’s also the Post Office and Gift Wrap in the corners, both of which make you lose a turn. There’s Christmas Club, which allows you to collect all money that has been paid in fines since the last time someone landed there (it always gets seeded with $50). Then there’s the Traffic Jam, which makes you sit there until you roll doubles or a seven. There’s Sales Tax, which makes you lose half of your money. And of course there’s GO, which gives you $50 every time you cross.
This game is terrible. It’s worse than Monopoly because it expressly forbids you from making deals and trading, which is one of the few skill-based aspects of Monopoly. This game then becomes completely skill-based, and can be won and lost based on how well you roll dice – if you’re able to get the exact number you need when you need it. But it’s a family tradition, and we always play it on Christmas Eve. Why? Who knows? It’s a family tradition, and we can all have fun with this game when we’re together once a year. It’s been every couple of years lately as we don’t always make it to my parents’ house.
So, if this game is so bad, why are we getting a session report on it? Well, because there’s one space I haven’t told you about – The Super Shopper. If you land on this, you roll the dice. If you get double ones or double sixes, you win automatically. It’s an awful mechanism – the luck-based instant win – but while I was growing up, it never happened.
Then, in 2010, I landed on Super Shopper on my first time around the board. There are two Super Shopper spaces, one on space #1 and one on space #25. So it was the third or fourth turn when I got there. I rolled, and got snake eyes. Double ones. I won! And there was much rejoicing! Since I won so quickly, we played for second. I don’t remember who got that.
We missed 2011 because we were all at a wedding in DC, but we got back to it in 2012. This time, I ended up on Super Shopper much later in the game. I think my father had five gifts and just needed one more for the win. I had a low number of gifts, and it was likely that I had to win here or I wouldn’t. So I rolled, and got snake eyes. I won. And there was much rejoicing. I think we called it after that.
We missed 2013 because we were in Phoenix visiting my wife’s mother. But we did play this past Christmas, with much joking beforehand about whether I’d be able to get the Super Shopper again. I tried to handicap myself by trying to get it out of my system before we played. I must have rolled the dice fifty times, and didn’t ever get snake eyes or boxcars.
We started playing. I made it a full lap, but landed on Super Shopper in space #1 after passing GO for the first time. Here we go. I shook the dice and then kind of threw them across the table with my eyes closed. You know, kind of like Mel Gibson in Maverick.
Snake eyes. I won. And there was much rejoicing. Well, from me anyway. My mother screamed “NOOOOOOOOO!”
We kept playing, and a little while later, my mom got second place after rolling double sixes on a Super Shopper. We kept playing (and it did go on far too long), but my dad eventually got third by collecting his sixth gift while my wife spent most of the game on Traffic Jam.
So, to answer your question about why you’re getting a session report on a dreadful game, it’s because I wanted to brag about my three straight wins by rolling snake eyes on Super Shopper.
A hobby game now. Legendary is a deck-building game set in the Marvel universe that came out in 2012. I got it with some Christmas money, and my wife and I were excited to introduce it to some friends who are BIG comic book fans. We talked it over beforehand, and they wanted to choose their own team/villains/henchmen/mastermind rather than use the training scenario. So, our team consisted of Black Widow, Captain America, Emma Frost, Gambit, and Thor. The henchmen were the Sentinels and Hand Ninjas, while the villains were Hydra, Brotherhood, and Enemies of Asgard. They wanted to face off against Magneto. I selected the scheme randomly, and we got the Midtown Bank Robbery, which would cause us to lose if eight bystanders got carried away by escaping villains.
It started off bad. We couldn’t get any fight going, and villains were escaping right and left. We also lost six bystanders quickly, some of which had come out of the deck and some of which got placed thanks to Scheme Twists. We were working off three and four card hands for much of the first part of the game.
Then, we caught a break. Some easy villains started coming out, and we didn’t have scheme twists to deal with. We started beating dudes in the street, at least one per turn, and were building up our decks with some good heroes. Then Ymir, Frost Giant King came into the street. He had to be beaten by a strength of six. He quickly took a bystander, then was in the bank when a scheme twist came out, meaning he got two more. There were a couple of implications here – if he escaped, we would lose, since two more would do us in. Also, since each bystander added to the strength of the villain, he was now at a strength of 9 and looking pretty imposing.
But then I was able to build an attack strength of 20 for a turn. This was largely due to having a Thor that allowed me to use all my recruit points as attack. So I was able to take out Ymir, hit Magneto for the first time, and then take out a Hand Ninja for good measure. From there on, it was all but over. I got to hit Magneto one more time, and my wife landed the final blow that won us the game. I don’t play the game so that there’s one winner – it’s stupid. As my friend Brian puts it, it’s a race to see who’s the most cooperative-est. I play that we all win, but there’s an MVP of the game (we all get the trophy, but someone’s going to Disney World). So we won, and I ended up with MVP.
So there you go. Hope that was interesting to you. I’m really not trying to toot my horn about what a great gamer I am – I recognize that luck played a huge role in the Cribbage and Christmas wins. These were just recent memorable experiences I wanted to share. Thanks for reading!