Wed evening we played Magic: the Gathering, which I hadn't played in some time. We drew random cards, built decks, and battled for 2 out of 3 games. I built Black/White, splashing red for a Fireball, and heavy on the creatures. Ben built Black/Blue. Both of us had a lot of fliers.
The first game I drew rather poorly and lost. A late Pox evened the score a bit, but wasn't enough to save me. In the second game, we both had light land pulls, but I played the swampwalker I had swapped in from the sideboard. The third game was very close. Twice during the game, a series of spells or attacks cleared the entire creature space leaving us both with nothing but land out. It cam down to the wire, with me at the advantage, but Ben somehow managed to find a way to get through the last point to kill me right before I could kill him.
Some people complain about Magic because of the collectible aspect of the game or because in order to compete at fancy tournaments you have to buy the latest cards. What a bunch of bollocks. Ben and I had one of the finest gaming experiences ever Wed night with nothing but pulling random cards from his antiquated collection.
A couple of thousand Magic cards costs tens of dollars and provides an incredible, portable game play (both during the game and outside the game) and a replay value far and above just about any board or computer game.
I brought a few games with me that I thought my 7 year old niece could enjoy, and Winner's Circle, Knizia's horse racing board game, one of them. It manages to take a simple dice driven horse racing and betting game and turn it into something light and fun, with a nice balance of luck and thought, and decent player interaction. It's too light for my game group, though.
I didn't think Ben would like it, because dice don't tend to like him. Given that warning, however, he found it tolerable, especially since my niece enjoyed it enough to want to play a second time. Tal also joined in the second game, while I went to read.
The game I played was close, but I managed a close win.
The Menorah Game
I brought a copy of It's Alive to show them, but Tal prefers to play with the original theme and graphics, as does my niece. They played a few games. The only shame about the newer nicely published version is that the graphics are less appropriate for younger players. It's a favorite game of kids I know ages 7 and up.
Unlike my game group, Ben made the mistake of letting his religious gaming buddies read the unadulterated rules to Amun Re before playing it, and since then they won't try it. Religious problems with the theme. I solved that in my group by tweaking the theme somewhat.
Saarya agreed to play with Ben and me. I started with strong pyramids to their strong farmers, which is generally a disastrous way to start. I fully expected to lose, especially when Ben tied me at the end of the first era. Now I didn't even have a token lead to build on, and far less money than either of them, too.
My building certainly fell behind in the second era, but I managed to secure the provinces I needed to fulfill two bonus cards in my hand. One of the provinces I needed wasn't a problem, as it was the least desirable of those on offer; the others I got by the skin of my teeth.
Saarya ended up deciding the game by choosing which side of the river he wanted to secure best pyramids. He took the side in which he was competing with Ben, leaving me to gain the bonus on the other side. That was just enough to let me win by 3 points over both of them.
Surprised the heck out of me.
And by the way, this was the first time I noticed that in the second era you only choose among provinces that were also available during the first era. I had always simply drawn new provinces from all possible cards in the second era. I'm not entirely sure which is the better mechanic.
Mainstream media always compares new board games to Monopoly, even when the comparison is not exactly warranted. In this case, the Islamic game Heaven's Gate is called the Islamic version of Monopoly, even though it's clearly a trivia game, not a real estate game. And there are no dice.
It differs from Monopoly in that the players do not roll a die but instead pick the card on the box they arrive in. On these cards there are questions to answer such as "Who is an unbeliever?" or "Name the four sects." Those who gain 2,000 points at the end of the game earn the right to go to the Heaven.Speaking of Monopoly, the usual crowing and complaining is going on in response to the final release of the UK's new Monopoly version, in which only some cities managed to get on the board at all, but the ones in the cheapest spaces are complaining anyway. Your fault for not cheating and hacking the contest like the other cities did, so shut up.
Scotland Yard, the old game of chasing Mr X around London, is going live via mobile devices, Ravesburger, and T-Mobile.
Cranium WOW is looking to set the world record for number of simultaneous players this Saturday night.
Another card game shooting. People, if you can't manage to avoid being violent during the game, don't be violent in the same location in which you're storing drugs and stolen police equipment. And if you can manage to avoid being violent during the game, maybe blabbing during a card game about a murder you committed at some other time is also not such a bright idea.