February 17, 2005

Session Report for February 10, 2005

by Susan Rozmiarek

It was the second and final week of ďCĒ games and we even snuck in an early ďD.Ē There were two tables of games going on tonight, one with heavier, head-thumpers and the other with lighter fare. I was feeling a bit tired, so I stuck with the easier and shorter stuff tonight.

 

Fairy Tale

This is the second Japanese game we own now, the first being Mermaid Rain. Fairy Tale is a card game, with a theme I donít understand at all. The fantasy art on the cards is really nice, though. Itís basically a set collecting game. You are initially dealt five cards. Then starts a furious drafting round where you take a card from your hand and pass the rest to your neighbor. You keep repeating until all hands have been passed around, shrinking by a card each pass. You end up with a hand of five cards again. Now players simultaneously select three cards, one at a time, to play in front of them on the table. Some cards have actions that are performed when they are played, usually causing cards of certain suits to be turned over or turned up, sometimes including those of other players.

This whole sequence of dealing, drafting and playing cards is repeated four times. Players will end up with a total of twelve cards played before them. The cards that are turned up will score points for the owner. The various cards, however, interact with each other, sp that certain sets and combinations will score more points. This makes for all kinds of decisions in the drafting round, as you have to consider not only what cards you need, but also what cards the other players need. Often you have to decide between a card you really want and one you donít want another player to have.

All in all, this game was very well received. Itís obvious that we need to play it again, as we were all just learning the game and the cards. We let Doug collect a nice set of multipliers and matching cards that handed him a resounding victory. We certainly wonít let that happen again!

Results: Doug 58, Susan 48, Ed 47, Mark 43, Adam 40


Some of the Fairy Tale cards.

Colossal Arena

This is a remake of the old Knizia classic, Titan: The Arena. I had played another version of it, Galaxy: The Dark Ages, but I remember it as being much more complicated and fussy. Plus, I didnít really care for the space theme. Since so many people rave about Titan: The Arena though, I was eager to play this new version that was supposedly faithful to the original one.

I was not disappointed. This is a rather fun game of bluffing and betting on different creatures fighting in arena battles. On your turn, you either place a bet on a creature or play a matching combat card on a creature. Combat cards determine a creatureís strength for that round and are played over any current card on that creature. A round is over when all creatures have at least one card and there is a single creature with the lowest combat strength. That creature is eliminated. A neat twist is that each creature has a special power. If you play a combat card on that creature and you have the most bets on it, you get to use the power.

At the end of five rounds, you get points for each bet token on surviving creatures. Bets placed in earlier rounds are worth more. You can also place one secret bet in the first round of play that is worth the most. Each player only has five bet tokens so you must choose wisely where to place them.

I got dealt three high cards for the Wyrm, so I placed my secret bet on him, thinking I could keep him alive. The funny thing was that he lasted the entire game without anyone placing a single open bet on him. I was careful not to seem too interested in him, lest the others get suspicious. I also got an early bet on Colossus. His special ability allowed me to pick up bet tokens placed on eliminated creatures. I was able to use the ability at least once before Mark and Doug eliminated him. The rest of my bets I tried to spread out between creatures on which either Doug or Mark had a bet. The game ended up being pretty close. I thought the game was quite good and certainly more enjoyable than Galaxy. There is a fair bit of luck with the cards you draw, but I like the angst of deciding where and when to place bets and when to play a card to try and save or eliminate a particular creature.

Results: Mark 10, Susan/Doug 8

Dancing Dice

We needed a quick game to play while waiting for the other table to finish up. Dancing Dice is rapidly becoming a game of choice for this situation despite its early ho-hum reception in our group. Iím finding this game seems to fill the same niche as Trendy in our group. There doesnít seem to be much ďgameĒ there, but with the right group it can be quite fun with lots of laughs. It has the potential to be tedious and repetitive, but it isnít because it plays so quickly.

As usual, there was a lot of moaning and groaning over hideous dice rolls. Mark, with his two left feet, was the first to go out, followed by me. Doug proved to have the most stamina. If Iíd only switched my two dances in the last round, I would have been victorious instead.


Mark, Doug and Susan filling time with some Dancing Dice.

Cluzzle

Iím actually starting to thaw a little bit toward party games. With the addition of Cluzzle, we now own three I like, the others being Moods and Thingamajig. Iím finding that at long as the game doesnít involve pop culture or singing, Iím okay. Cluzzle involves creating clay sculptures, invoking those warm fuzzy memories of playing with Play-doh as a kid. In each session in Cluzzle, each player gets dealt a card with a list of things. He chooses one and makes a sculpture of it. After everyone is done sculpting, players try to guess the identity of each sculpture. Players are allowed to ask two yes or no questions to other players each round. Then players write down their guesses and reveal them. A correct guess give points to both the sculptor and the player making the correct guess. The twist is that the session lasts for three rounds of questions and guessing. More points are awarded for correct guesses each consecutive round. So, you want to make your sculpture easy enough to get guessed correctly eventually, but not so easy that it gets guessed early.

After getting all the rude comments about the brown clay out of the way, we got down to sculpting. I was able to guess Marks first sculpture, The Great Wall of China, in the second round, after thinking it was a guard rail in the first. He then moved on to flat things, which I couldnít guess for the life of me. One was a golf course, which I thought was a footprint, and the other one was a surfboard. I almost guessed Mikeís cotton candy, thinking it was an ice cream cone and then a snow cone and finally a tootsie roll because Mike said it had something in the middle. Edís cornflakes were easy, but I thought his blackboard was a billboard. Incredibly, Mike guessed it right away. He also guessed my lumpy vase correctly, which was stumping everyone else. As a matter of fact, Mike pretty much steamrolled over us in this game. It wasnít even a contest. Poor Ed was not able to make heads or tails of any of our masterpieces. He was so disgusted that Iím not at all sure weíll ever get him to play the game again.

I doubt that Iíll ever be really good at this game, but it felt like more of a fun group activity than a competitive game so it doesnít really matter. Even Mark liked it. (Did you hear that, Ed?)

Results: Mike 18 (yowsa!), Susan 9, Mark 7, Ed 3


Cluzzle, round three.

Money

We ended the evening with a quick hand of this Knizia set-collecting game. Fortunately, Ed, Mike and Mark were all competing for the same denominations while I was able to collect a big set of the unwanted currency. Ed started off insisting he was totally hosed, but managed to come in second. Afterwards, a furious argument ensued between Mark and Mike, with each blaming the other for allowing Ed to sneak ahead of them.

Results: Susan 760, Ed 540, Mark/Mike 510

Other games played: Capitol and La Citta


Early in a Capitol game with Marty, Mike, Adam and Ed.

Apparently you must stand to play La CittŠ or at least it helps you think better

For more pictures from this gaming session and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at February 17, 2005 5:26 PM

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