August 10, 2005

Susan's Gulf Games Report Part 3

by Susan Rozmiarek

The late nights and noisy neighbors were taking a toll on me. I slept in again this morning, missing the Liarís Dice tournament. Iíd just as soon gotten the rest though, as Iím horrible at Liarís Dice and am rather burned out with it as well. It was nice having a quiet room all to myself for an hour or two.

 

 

Pickomino

My first course of the day was barbecued worm, an excellent light appetizer. This game is already a favorite of the group at home. The theme is bizarre, but itís yet another nice push-your-game enhanced by chunky domino-like tiles. There was some discussion about when to flip tiles; it appears that some groups have been playing it slightly differently. I tied for first with Chris Comeaux and Jim Cobb, with Chris winning the tiebreaker, followed by Eddie Bonet, Chris Lohroff, and Jeanette Vander Ark.

Amazonas

This game grows on me the more I play it. Itís not without its flaws, but if youíve read my review, you know it has several features that I like. Warren Madden and I taught it to Jim Cobb and Leon Hendee. It is very easy to explain, so we were playing in no time. Itís at its best with a full complement of four, as there is usually more competition for locations and this proved to be the case in our game. Warren and I seemed to be always vying for the same spots. I ended up getting the last bonus token for having all types of specimens, which cost me. Warren won with 13 points, followed by Leon with 11, me with 10 and Jim with 7. I think Jim got a little hemmed in by starting on the edge of the board rather than near one of the more central locations.

Einfach Genial

Next, Peter Hendee joined Leon, Jim and me for a partnership game of Einfach Genial. This is by the far the most enjoyable way to play. I was paired with Peter. Like most games, both teams started out getting big point gains in certain colors by capitalizing on the big rows being formed. Soon however, a few straggling colors on our scoreboards made it obvious where the battles on the board were going to be. A vicious struggle ensued with lots of defensive placements. I loved it, as always, even though Peter and I were unable to catch up and get the points we needed.

King Arthur Card Game

Jack Lindsay and I realized we hadnít played a game together yet, so we sat down with Chris Comeaux and Tim McCarthy to learn this game from Jay. It turned out to be a very simple but enjoyable game of card collection. There is an array of quests to win of varying point values displayed on the table. To do this you collect knights in several suits by drawing from a deck. These knights are then used in sets of the same suit to defeat various foes. The foes are arranged in rows on the table below the quests and can be refilled as they are defeated down to a certain number in a row. Players collect the foes they defeat to use to fulfill quests. Each quest has a different requirement to fulfill it, based on the colors and numbers of the foes cards. There were also some sort of tokens, but Jay didnít think they added much to the game and we didnít use them. My explanation makes it sound confusing, but in fact it is very simple, probably too simple for many people. I enjoyed it though, and I think it would be a fun game to play with my kids. I plan to pick it up when it becomes available. The scores were fairly close, ranging from my winning score of 45, down to 36.

Prototype

Jay then taught Chris, Jack and me a very nice abstract tile-laying game. It had a clever mechanism involving how you created and scored certain colors. I liked it, although the placement options seemed a little limited. Not everyone agreed with me about that, however.

Eleusis

Wow, was I ever surprised to find Michael Weston suggesting a deduction game! Okay, not really. If you are a fan of deduction games, Michael is your man. And actually, if you want to nitpick, Eluesis is an INduction game, a slightly different beast. I actually find induction reasoning easier than deduction reasoning which Iíve heard is a female characteristic. But I digress. Eleusis is a game by Robert Abbot that uses standard decks of cards. A favorite game of mine, Zendo, is based on Eleusis. With Zendo, players are trying to guess a rule by building arrangements of colorful plastic pyramids and being told whether or not their arrangement follows the rule. In Eluesis, players lay out cards in a row trying to figure out a pattern rule the cards must follow. Eluesis has a bunch of chrome added to allow for a scoring system, but the idea is the same. So, I was definitely happy to try it and sat down with Michael, Valerie, Scott Alden and Philip Sasse to play.

At first I couldnít make any sense of the cards at all, which was frustrating. Suddenly, I it clicked and I saw the pattern. Well, a pattern, anyway. Too bad it wasnít the right one. Valerie saw it, too. So, more frustration ensued, with more possible patterns of mine shot down. Valerie was able to figure out the rule eventually. I canít remember what it was, but it was hard. Once the round ended and the rule was revealed, I dropped out of the game so I could go take a break from gaming. I desperately needed one!

I missed the pretty pyramids and the tactile enjoyment of fiddling with them, but Eleusis is a neat game to play with standard playing cards. All the fussy scoring rules are not necessary for me though; the satisfaction of discovering the rule first is enough for me.

More people were finally arriving today and one of those people were none other than my online friend and gaming foe, Mark ďFluffdaddyĒ Jackson. I wasnít able to get a game in with him until that evening, but was it ever worth the wait.

Shadows Over Camelot

Oh joy! I was finally getting to play this game of much inflated hype. Ed and I had been salivating over our copy for weeks, intimidated by the rules and afraid of testing it in our group, lest it bomb because of our inexperience. Most of us were new to the game and Mark explained the rules. They were very confusing to me and I assumed theyíd make sense after we stated playing (they did). We decided to be brave and play with the traitor even though it was the first game for most of us. Mark said that heíd go over the special traitor rules one the traitor was revealed. Alas, this decision was to cause me grief later.

Character cards were passed out randomly to the players - James Miller, Michael and Wendi Green, Robert Woods, Mark, Ed, and me. Ed got to be our noble leader, King Arthur. I got Sir Kay, Arthurís Seneschal. In other words, I was ďEdís little secretary.Ē Goody. That got a few laughs around the table. Then the loyalty cards were passed out. I carefully peeked at mine to discover that I wasÖthe traitor. Arrrghhh!!! I hardly understood the game at all and I had to play the hardest role??? Of course, I was now dying to flip over my character card to see what advantages, if any, I got once I was discovered. Alas, doing so would have the clued in the others so I had to play in ignorance. I decided to sit back and bide my time.

So, I kind of flitted from quest to quest helping out a bit here and there, but not doing anything too spectacular. At this point, I had no clue how to hurt the good side. I now know that getting Lancelotís armor would have helped me a lot in spreading my evil. I spent a number of turns at the Round Table just drawing cards. I was very careful to phrase questions like I was on the good side, but not talk too much. Unfortunately, several quests were completed quickly and I realized that my best chances for winning was to keep my identity a secret in the hopes of being able to turn two swords to black at the end of the game.

Once the good side had enough white swords on the table and the danger wasnít as great, the accusations of traitor started to fly. First James accused Robert, and then Robert accused Ed. Now it was Edís turn.

**Okay, I now need to take a break in my narrative and impart some wisdom and advice to any gaming newbies reading this. An important rule in gaming is, never, EVER play a bluffing game with your spouse. Trust me on this one.

Ed wasted no time in accusing me, his ďloyalĒ Seneschal, as the traitor. Rats, my game was up. Nobody else seemed to have suspected me at all, but itís hard to fool somebody youíve lived with for almost twenty years. I finally got to look at the back of my character card. Fortunately, I still think Iíd played it the right way and hid my identity for as long as I was able. If only Iíd gone after that armor, though. Now it came down to me trying to flip bad cards and get out those siege engines, my only chance for victory due to the number of white swords already on the table. The game came down to the wire. Ed was able to play a card that allowed him to rearrange the top five cards in the Black deck, but he was obviously sweating about the order. Apparently, he did the right thing, allowing the game to last long enough for it to get back to him. He drew a Dragon card, ending that quest, even though it was a victory for me. However, the two dark swords completed the circle and ended the game. Rousing cheers went up from those goody-goody Doers of Good.

Did the game live up to its hype? I thought it was FANTASTIC. This was due in no small part to the great group of people playing. I only hope Ed and I can carry over that spirit when we try it here at home.

Yinsh x2

I now faced a parenting dilemma that almost always occurs at Gulf Games. My own child, the one who practically refuses to play any games with me at home, has been following me around and begging me to play a game with him. Now, of all times, when I have a chance to play with all these folks that I only see once or twice a year. Ah, well. Iíve got to the right thing as it IS a family vacation and I need to nurture his interest in games when I get the opportunity as well. The game Shea was all eager to play was Yinsh, no less. I warned him that it took practice and I would probably beat him, but he rose to the challenge and still insisted we play. I won easily, but carefully showed him what I was doing. As it was now after 11 pm, we took it up to the room and played it again before bed. He was already starting to pick up on some of the strategies. I hope his interest carries over to home this time.

Up next: the final day, including Princes of Florence, Fjords, Trans Europa, Viva Topo!, Tier auf Tier, Bis Bald Im Wald, Diamant, and Pickomino

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at August 10, 2005 2:23 PM

Comments

Interesting reviews. I never knew there were so many board games made. I've been sticking to the old Monoply and Sorry games that I've had in my closet for years. It's interesting how board game downloads are nowhere near the authenticity of the original board games.

Posted by: Darius Young on August 10, 2005 11:41 PM

RE: Shadows Over Camelot

You make the comment: "Now it came down to me trying to flip bad cards and get out those siege engines."

Note that as a revealed traitor, you can simply add a siege engine to Camelot on your turn (instead of drawing a card).

Posted by: Greg Aleknevicus on August 17, 2005 10:33 PM
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