Session Buzz: February Game Day

Last Saturday, my game group had its monthly all-day game day.  I was glad to be able to make it out for a while – gaming time has been a little short for me over the last couple of months as I’m currently playing Augustus Gloop in a community theatre production of Willy Wonka.  This month’s game day was held at Mr. Sweets, our friendly local game store that specializes in games AND candy.  Here now is the rundown of the games I got to play, as well as a few thoughts on the experience.

image by BGG user bpovis
image by BGG user bpovis

I got there just as a game of Battlestar Galactica was cranking up, and knowing that would take awhile, my friend Brian and I pulled out my copy of Morels.  It was Brian’s first play.  Morels is a game of collecting mushrooms on a lovely forest walk.  On your turn you can pick up one mushroom from the path, or take all mushrooms from the decay, or play a pan, or cook three or more like mushrooms, or sell two or more like mushrooms for walking sticks that will allow you to go further on the path.

Brian started off the game getting two of the three Morels in the deck.  They’re worth six points each, and I wasn’t able to stop him from getting the third, so that was 18 points right there.  He ended up cooking a bunch of other low scoring mushrooms, and I was able to get more of the middle scoring ones, so the final score proved to be pretty close.  However, he also got a butter and an apple cider cooked, which gave him the 54-47 win.

This game has really blossomed into one of my favorite go-to two player games.  The ever-changing path really provides for some tough decisions to be made.  For the path, I do find that I like using the ring instead of the line of cards.  Just not as much shifting to do.

image by BGG user barandur
image by BGG user barandur

Brian and I had both called a seat in AquaSphere, which Ryan was setting up as we finished up our game of Morels.  We were joined by a guy named Cannon.  Ryan explained the rules, but no one at the table had ever played a full game (Cannon and I were complete newbies to the game).  This is a Stefan Feld game where players are scientists in an underwater laboratory.  As you play, you are programming robots to go off and perform little tasks for you. You can send them to collect crystals, or get you more time for movement and other actions, or dock a submarine, or expand your lab, or research new cards, or fight the octopods that are accumulating on the lab.  The game lasts four rounds, and there’s an intermediate scoring between each round.  After a final scoring, the player with the most points wins.

As with most Feld games, my eyes started to cross as the rules were explained.  However, as soon as we started playing, everything became clear and the game moved fairly quickly.  I tried to get all my submarines out for some bonus points at the end, but fell a little short.  I also forgot that I needed to be clearing out octopods or risk losing exponential points, but I was able to recuperate and lose fewer than I would have.  Brian did very well managing his resources, and ended up with the 90-69-56-55 victory (I was in second).

Feld takes a lot of flak for a) point salad games, and b) games with really weak themes.  This game has a relatively strong theme – well, strong compared to other Feld titles – and is very much a point salad game (point salad just means that there are lots of ways to get points).  I enjoyed this one quite a bit.  I think I might have done some things differently knowing then what I know now, but I was reasonably happy with my first performance, and did like the game.  Ryan, who owns the game and is a big Feld fan, didn’t end up liking it so much, but Cannon and Brian both did.

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

We had seven people standing around, and according to our group bylaws, that means we have to play 7 Wonders.  Unfortunately, no one had a copy, so I instead taught The Walking Dead Card Game (we were down to six at that point).  This is a repackaged version of Wolfgang Kramer’s 6 nimmt!  There’s a deck of 104 cards, numbered 1-104, and each player has a hand of 10.  A column of four cards is laid out in the center.  Everyone simultaneously chooses a card from their hand and reveals.  Beginning with the lowest value, each card is placed in the row where it is the next sequential number.  If you can’t place in a row because your card is too low, you take a row.  If you place the sixth card in a row, you must take that row.  Each card has a number of bullets on it, and you don’t want bullets.

Our game ended up lasting three rounds.  According to the rules, that’s how long a game is supposed to be, but I play by original 6 nimmt! rules which state that you play until someone has 66 points.  Joe had a rough first round, scoring 32 points, and I got hosed in the second round.  However, overall, it was Nolan that had the worst game, and he ended up with 85 points.  Ryan got the 19-32-39-40-48-85 victory (I had 48).

I got this game because it’s the only version of 6 nimmt! available now.  The theme is practically non-existent, and the cards are not great quality, but I love the quick play and fun luck-pushing aspects.  There’s a heroic variant where you try to get points that I have yet to try – I still like the original game too much.

image by BGG user Mr Penguin
image by BGG user Mr Penguin

Looking for another quickie, we pulled out Tsuro and played a six-player game with the same group (substituting in Brian C for Ryan).  This is a tile placement game about building a path.  You have a hand of three tiles, and on your turn place one.  Your piece then moves along the line created all the way to the end.  If it goes of the edge of the board or crashes into another tile, you lose.  The last one standing wins.

This game is usually over very quickly.  I got first blood, sending Joe off the edge, but on the very next turn, Brian C sent me to my doom.  He, the other Brian, and Nolan all went out after that, leaving Brad as the only one standing, and surprised that he had won – the others had knocked themselves out without him having to intercede.

The first time I played Tsuro, I was not a fan.  But it’s grown on me since then.  It’s luck-driven, sure, but it’s quite beautiful and does have a decent amount of strategy to it – at least, for a really short game.  There’s player elimination, but it usually happens so quickly that you hardly notice.  This one was fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

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

The Battlestar Galactica game was finally over, and some of our group merged with some of their group to play In The Year of the Dragon.  I was all Felded out for the day, so I volunteered to teach Brian C, Joe, Nolan, and Brad the game Sheriff of Nottingham.  This is a bluffing game where players are trying to sneak goods past the Sheriff, perhaps bribing him not to look in their bag.  Each player gets two opportunities to be Sheriff, and everyone else has to present a bag of one type of goods.  You can have whatever you want in the bag, but you have to declare the exact number and only one type of good.  If you are caught in a lie, you have to pay a penalty.  If you get falsely accused, the Sheriff pays you.  In the end, you want to have collected the most goods, snuck in the most contraband, and collected the most gold – the player with the highest monetary value of all these things is the winner.

As I mentioned, I was the only one to have played before.  Everyone quickly got into the spirit of the game.  I was the first Sheriff, and didn’t open any bags.  A little bit of contraband snuck through, but I also got bribed $5 not to open one bag, so I was OK.  I unsuccessfully tried to sneak something through in all of the first rounds, but I ended up with a lot of stuff.  In the second round, I had several rounds in a row where I had four or five of the same good and was able to really build up my market.  I ended the game with no contraband, but I was in second place for every single good.  I wound up coming in second for the game.  First place had a lot of cash left, as well as some good contraband.

I really enjoy this game.  I’m not good at bluffing, but this game makes the process more fun for me than in most games.  Definitely recommended if you haven’t tried yet.

image by BGG user angelkurisu
image by BGG user angelkurisu

I ended the day with a two-player game of Innovation.  This is a civilization card game where players are trying to be the first to get a certain number of achievements (with two players, six).  On your turn, you get two actions.  You can meld a card from your hand to the table, placing on top of same colored piles and continuing a splay if applicable.  You can draw from an age deck that is equal to the highest level top card in your play area.  You can achieve if your score is high enough.  And you can use a dogma action of one of the top cards in your play area, though if someone else has equal or more of the matching symbol, they get to do the action first.

This was Brad’s first play of the game.  He started out by building up his civilization quickly, getting to age 3 before I got out of age 1.  I decided that I needed to try to focus on my score so I could get more achievements, and I ended up getting to four.  But then the power of his civilization caught up to me, and he was easily able to get to six.

I love this game every time I play it.  It never plays the same way twice.  To some people, that’s too much chaos, but I really like it.  Brad enjoyed it to, so that’s good.

All in all, a very fun day, even though I won exactly nothing.  But I liked everything I played, and had a great time with some fun people, so I consider that to be a win.  Thanks for reading!



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