Saturday, June 17, 2006

Weekend Gaming

For lunch we had over a good gaming crowd: Nadine, Brendan, and Josh from the group, as well as my son's friend and her parents. I was looking forward to some nice games in the afternoon.

We opened with Apples to Apples, both because Brendan wanted to play and we never get to play at the group, and because we had a chance to hook in the non-gamers for a few rounds. It was the quickest A2A games I've ever played. Seven players, and it lasted 9 apples. The mom got 3, Eitan won with 4, Eitan's friend got 1, and 1 other went to someone.

[Side note: Apparently, there are Yiddish and Jewish versions of this game, and they are working on a Hebrew one (actually, the work is outsourced). I suggested to them to make an Israeli one in Hebrew, with Hebrew and Israeli cultural references. Has anyone seen any of these versions? Or are they still in production?]

Anyway, they left, and we took the time to get to know the game Lift Off, which we only briefly tried at the group. It is a simultaneous quick-play game (like Spit), but a cute game for all that. Each player has planets on which to play his cards, and another player is also playing on the same planet. You turn over your deck, and for each card you can either play on a planet, cycle under the deck, or discard.

The first trick is that blue cards only go on planets or other blue cards, a single yellow card goes on a blue card, and red cards go onto yellow or red cards. The first to finish his deck yells "stop", and play has to stop.

You then get points for having played a sufficient number of blue cards to support the red cards that you played. I.e. you will score a red card only if certain number of blue cards were played as well. To complicate matters, each planet has different requirements, and the cards played by one of your opponents on the same planet can affect your score on that planet.

It is a hard game to master quickly, but after few rounds you begin to make heads and tails of what cards need to go where. It is fun, but you have to like that kind of pressure and quickness thing.

After that we played El Caballero. I had only played it one time and thought that it was a glorified Carcassonne. I liked it, but I was hoping to find more to the game. I was very surprised to find it.

For some reason, the previous games that I played had open boards where the caballero tiles didn't really crowd out the play area. In this game, the players played many caballero tiles to the point that the available locations to play were very constrained. This made for super-interesting gameplay, rather than the opposite. Since you can do actions in any order, you could sometimes block off the entire board with caballero cards before having to play your tile, which could then be played on the other side of any of your cards.

It all got very interesting. Once again, we had to end the game at the end of the first scoring round. Nadine was leading. I have to up my assessment of the game. And we still haven't even tried the expansion parts to the game.

Nadine had to go, and Brendan and Josh tried two player Lift Off while I excused myself. When I returned, I tried them on 3 player Caylus. Neither of them had played before, while I had not tried it 3 player. We made it almost to the second scoring in about an hour and a half. Brendan was entirely bored, while I was happy, and Josh looked somewhere in between. Caylus just isn't doing it. It really is a bit too long, and too fiddly.

To end the evening, we played two hands of Rook. The we briefly went out to the Israeli book fair.

Neither my Ethics 6.0 nor my Web 3.0 articles have received much in the way of comments. Oh well. You write what you have to write, and hope it connects. I welcome any comments you may have about either of them.

Meanwhile, after being a runner up on one of the headline contests on Overheard in New York, I was invited to apply as a headline writer for their new version, Overheard on the Beach. We'll see how that goes.

Note: I forgot to add that I played a few games of Magic with Josh before lunch. I taught him how to Rochester draft. That, and the fact that he hasn't played in five years and was used to sixty card decks, didn't serve him well. My deck was fairly neat and tuned, heavy with fliers and easily walked him. He had too little mana in both games, first because he didn't add enough, and second because his cards cost too much to cast.

His Magic collection consists of about three decks and an Illusionary Mask.

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