Session Buzz: January Game Day

Every month, my game group (the Northwest Indiana Boardgamers Association) tries to get together for an all-day game day.  January was no different for us.  Here is my session report for the day.


image by BGG user huffa2
image by BGG user huffa2

I was the first one at the facility since I’m one of the guys with the key (we meet at my church).  My friend Robbie was the second one there, and after we finished setting up, he pull out his copy of One Zero One (2013, David Harding, Grail Games).  This was a Kickstarter game he had received recently, and just a two-player game.  The idea is that one player is 1, and the other is 0, and you are trying to have control of different lines.  You take turns playing a card to a line, using the ability if it has one – enter pushes a card down a line, delete removes a card, copy lets you place another card, if 0 then 1 lets you change a card, and so on.  When a player has gone through their deck, the game ends and you add up the points for each row you control.  The player with the most is the winner.

This was my first time playing the game, and I found it very engaging.  It’s a simple game to understand – you want the most cards in a row to control it, and you want to try to manipulate the code to get the most of your number in each row.  My inexperience shown through as I ended up losing 50-10 – I controlled the 10 point line, and Robbie controlled the 20 and 30 point lines.  It was a tie for 40, and no one got on the 50 point line.  Fun game, I’d be happy to play again.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Rob showed up while we were setting up One Zero One and ate his breakfast as we played.  When we finished, we grabbed Red7 (2014, Carl Chudyk/Chris Cieslik, Asmadi Games).  Rob had never played, so after a rules explanation, we got started.  This is a game that if you’re not winning, you’ve lost.  You either play a card in front of you to win the current rule, or discard a card to change the rule, or play a card then discard so you are winning the new rule.  If you can’t win, you’re out.  We played with the advanced scoring rules, with your winning cards removed from the game as your score.

I won the first hand with the Red 7 as the highest card.  Rob won the second hand with a Blue 7 as the highest card.  I got 12 points in the next hand with the most cards of one color, and then won the game in the fourth hand with the most cards of one number (I had three sevens for 21 points).  I think I’m not going to play this game anymore without the scoring rules, unless we’re playing a practice learning hand.  Robbie and I both love the game, and I think Rob liked his first play.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

More people had showed up at this point, and while a couple of guys played another two-player game, five of us (Matt, Robbie, Rob, Steve, and me) sat down to play Hanabi (2010, Antoine Bauza, R&R Games).  This is a fireworks themed co-op that won the Spiel des Jahres in 2013.  In the game, you are trying to put cards down in sequence from 1-5 in five different colors.  The trick is, however, that you cannot look at your own cards.  On your turn, you can play a card and risk being wrong, or you can discard a card for a new one (and a new clue token), or you can spend a clue token to give someone one piece of information – all cards in their hand that are a certain number, or all cards in their hand that are a certain color.  At the end, you see how you did by counting up your successful fireworks.  However, if you got three wrong, you blew up and lost.

We had all played before and were pretty familiar with the conventions of the game.  And we did really well for the most part – usually when I play, at least one number gets locked out because someone discards the last copy of it.  This didn’t happen at all in this game, and we got all the way to the end without any wrong guesses.  One guy was holding three of the fives, and the other two were known by the person holding them.  However, we ran out of the deck, and had to play out the rest of it knowing we couldn’t get a perfect score (the one guy still had three fives and we didn’t have any available fours on the table yet).  So two guys randomly played a card on the off chance they got the right one (they didn’t), and I ended the game by playing a 4 I knew I had.  We ended the game with 18 points, which is pretty good.  I’ve never gotten a perfect score, and I think it’s probably harder to do with five players since the cards get so spread out.  I think we did the best we possibly could – no mistakes, great clues, and a fun game.

image by BGG user Funforge
image by BGG user Funforge

To keep the continuity of Japanese themed Bauza games, I pulled out my copy of Tokaido (2012, Antoine Bauza, Funforge).  We played with the same group as Hanabi minus one (Robbie, Rob, Steve, and me).  I was the only one who had played, so I taught.  In the game, you are traveling down the Tokaido (Eastern Sea Road) from Kyoto to Edo.  Along the way, you can stop at shops for souvenirs, landscapes to complete panoramic paintings, temples to make offerings, hot springs for some refreshing points, or encounter spaces.  The game uses a time track mechanism where the last player always goes next.  Every so often, there’s an inn everyone stops at for food.  Once everyone has reached Edo, the game is over.  You check your points, assign final bonuses, and declare a winner.

Steve didn’t really understand the movement at first and took off down the path, meaning he had several turns to wait between turns.  Everyone quickly got into the spirit of the game, trying to specialize in certain things and trying to block others from doing what they wanted to.  Rob got a lot of points from souvenirs, and was in first at the end of the game.  When we awarded the final bonuses, he was ahead of me by six points, so we thought he had won.  Then we realized we hadn’t awarded the temple points.  He hadn’t contributed any money to the temple, and I had come in second.  My seven points there meant I won by one – had he contributed one dollar to the temple, he would have gotten two points and won the game.  Everyone enjoyed themselves – Robbie was even looking into how he could get the collector’s edition while we were playing.

image by BGG user Henning
image by BGG user Henning

At this point, some people sat down to play XCOM: The Board Game while others ran off to get lunch.  Greg and I were standing around, so I pulled out Famiglia (2010, Friedemann Friese, Rio Grande).  This is a two-player only game I got for Christmas.  You’re trying to build a gang through set collection.  You begin with a hand of four zeros, one in each color.  You then take turns claiming cards from the street – you can take a zero for free, but to get any other number, you need tow of the next lower number (two 1s to get a 2, two 3s to get a 4, etc).  You can utilize card powers – accountants allow you to trade cards in your hand with cards you have played, brutes reduce the value of cards in the street, mercenaries can be used as wild cards, and the Famiglia cards are worth more points.  Once all cards are in play, the game is over and the player who has collected the most points is the winner.

This is a game that takes some getting used to.  Greg was new, and took a little bit to figure it out, but he got it by the end and was pulling off some nice combos.  However, I had been able to collect a lot of red cards and ended up winning the game 100-68.  We enjoyed it – it’s a great quick two-player game.

image by BGG user bodam2005
image by BGG user bodam2005

After I taught Famiglia to Greg, he taught me Hemloch (2011, John Clowdus, Small Box Games).  We actually played the Midnight Edition, which he had just gotten as part of a Kickstarter – it includes the base game and the Long Shadow expansion.  It’s an area control game where you take turns playing two minions to different locations around the city, trying to be in control of each location in order to place markers there.  You score points for your markers, as well as potions, trinkets, and scepters you collect throughout the game.

I didn’t really get into this one.  It’s a base-attack game, and I usually like those, but this one seemed way too short.  Each round is called a day, and you get to place markers after the first four days.  However, we didn’t get through a second set of four days because all scepters, trinkets, and potions were taken.  I was not prepared for the end of the game, and Greg beat me 21-12.  It just seemed like the cards weren’t well balanced, and the special abilities of the locations weren’t that great.  I’d play again, and it might be better now that I sort of know what’s going on, but it was really a Meh for me.

image by BGG user bpovis
image by BGG user bpovis

After we wandered around and watched more games, and more people went off to lunch, I taught Greg Morels (2012, Brent Povis, Two Lanterns Games).  This game is all about collecting, cooking, and selling mushrooms.  Cards are laid out in a line to simulate a walk through the forest.  On your turn, you take one from the forest, or take the decay (cards that have left the forest because they weren’t taken).  You could also cook three or more like mushrooms for points, sell two or more like mushrooms for walking sticks that help you go farther in the forest, or play a pan.  When all cards have left the forest, you add up your points from cooked sets to find the winner.

This is another toughie to get your head around, but Greg picked it up pretty well.  I won the first one we played, but Greg turned around and beat me in the second game we played.  In the first game, I got two sets with apple cider attached, and that helped me to my victory since that add five extra points.  In the second game, I wasted entirely too much time with two Chanterelles in my hand, not remembering that the other two in the deck were already gone.  We both enjoyed it, despite the fact that (as I realized later) we played a rule wrong – we destroyed the decay after three cards instead of four.

image by BGG user dchott
image by BGG user dchott

The last game I played that day was the second game of Morels.  But before that, my friend Kirby Taught Greg, Jeff, and me Lagoon: Land of the Druids (2014, David Chott, Three Hares Games).  This game, which was Kickstarted last year, is all about druids trying to influence the creation of the world to make a certain energy to be dominant.  On your turn, you can use druids to move, summon other druids, use tile abilities, explore old tiles, or even unravel tiles (remove from the board and keep for points).  It uses some rock-paper-scissors elements as blue beats yellow, yellow beats red, and red beats blue.  When all tiles have been placed, the game is over, and the player who has scored the most points is the winner.

When we started out, it looked like red was going to be the winner, so I started trying to get blue tiles so I could unravel yellow tiles in order to score.  But then yellow started to win, and unraveled tiles of the winning energy are worth nothing, so I had to shift my focus.  I ended up tied for second with Jeff at 6 points, but Kirby blew us all away with 12 (Greg only got 5).  It is a beautiful game, and I liked it, though the down time between turns was bad.  I think I’d probably like it better with fewer players.


Other games played that I didn’t get in on included Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Lords of Waterdeep, Luchador, and Omen: Reign of War.  I also got to witness the over-produced bit of madness that is the Small World Collector’s Edition.  Quite extravagant.  Overall, it was a fun day – hope you enjoyed reading about it!  Thanks for reading!

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