August 24, 2005

Susan's Gulf Games Report Part 4

by Susan Rozmiarek

Well, I made an error in my Part 3 report. The Liarís Dice tournament was Saturday morning, not Friday. I swear the days just seem to blur together at these things. Iím usually in a very tired state and having too much fun to keep track of the time or what day it is.

Itís always sad when Saturday rolls around, as you know that Gulf Games is coming to a close. Saturday is always a short day of gaming too, due to the scheduled activities of the evening. By this point, I donít really care all that much what games I play; I just want to spend time socializing with friends before I have to go home.

Princes of Florence

I usually like to ease into the day with something light, but I couldnít refuse to play my Most Favorite Game Ever. I hadnít played it a really long time, but I only needed a very light rules refresher. My fellow Princes were Michael Bland, Scott and Cheryl Tullis and Chris Comeaux.

I started off by buying the first builder for a rather high cost. I often use a builder strategy with this game and Puerto Rico if Iím able. What can I say, I like to build stuff! I was able to get my second and third builders rather quickly and cheaply. Alas, I neglected my works a little too much and made a key error in not getting one more out in time. This not only cost me the victory points for the work itself, but also prestige points from one of the cards I was holding. This put me in last place. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I wish that I could have immediately played the game over. Scott, Cheryl and Chris all scored 56 points, with Cheryl winning the tiebreaker. Michael followed with 45 points and I pulled up the rear with 41.

Fjords

Kim Berg happened to be walking by the table as Princes of Florence was finishing up, so I insisted that she play a game with me. She suggested we try Fjords. Neither one of us had played before, but we read through the very short rules and after a few clarifications from Ed, we got started.

This game should be called Go Carcassonne, as it shows a bit of resemblance to both those games. Tiles are drawn and placed in Carcassonnian fashion, forming the board. When a player places a tile down, he may choose to place on it one of his limited farm pieces. Once all the tiles are placed (that can be), a territory grabbing phase of the game starts that feels a teeny bit like Go.

I happened to place my farms in a better position than Kim did. I say ďhappenedĒ because at the time I didnít know what I was doing. We were both basically just spreading our farms out, I think. I was able to add more territory at the edges of the board beyond my last farms, while Kimís ended up more in the central areas where I could cut her off.

While not spectacular, both Ed and I liked the game enough to pick up a copy from Ward.

TransEuropa

At some point this new version of TransAmerica appeared in Jay Tummelsonís stack of games. Finding players to play it was easy, and Kim, Sheldon and Laura Smith, and Robert Wood all joined me to build train tracks across Europe.

As it turns out, the game is played almost exactly like the original. The new map does make it feel a little new, but it is mostly the same game. As far as I could tell, the only difference is that wonky rule in the original about moving the barrier after the 2nd round has been dropped in TransEuropa. I never played with that rule anyway.

One really bad round put me out of the running, but it was a fun game. The European map makes the game feel a little different, but not enough to compel me to purchase it.

I would have been very disappointed had I not gotten to play some of Mark Jacksonís ďfluffyĒ games with him. Not to worry. The rest of the afternoon was a FluffFest that took us right up to an early dinner.

Viva Topo!

The bits in this game are waaaay over the top and way cool. The chunky, wooden mice have string tails and felt ears. The game is a literally a ďroll your dice and move your miceĒ game. Itís very similar to Midnight Party with a hungry kitty replacing the ghostly Hugo. It was fun, but I missed chanting ďHugo, Hugo, HUGOĒ whenever the die was rolled. I played with Mark and his nephew William. Markís mice bravely avoided the Bad Kitty and were able to claim the Big Cheese for the win

Tief auf Tier

I saw this in Adam Spieltís catalog when placing an order and thought it looked really neat, but more for the kiddies. So, I didnít get it. Well, now I wished I had as it turns out that this is nice little dexterity stacking game. Each player has an identical set of wooden animals in all manner of shapes that he is stacking in pyramid-like fashion in front of him. A roll of a special die determines how he must try to add to his stack on his turn without causing any animals to fall. The goal is to be the first player to get rid of all of your animals. The animals are absolutely spectacular with each one nicely painted and detailed.

Jeanette Vander Ark joined Mark, William and me for this fun, simple game. Amazingly enough, my hands remained steady and I won. Obviously, I had not yet received my normal dose of caffeine for the day!

Bis Bald Im Wald

Kevin and Lenny Leo now joined Mark and me for this very simple memory game of hunting animals in a 5X5 grid of facedown tiles. This should have been easy but was ridiculously hard for us, proving that memory games should always carry the warning label ďkids only.Ē Kevin the Kid was leading when we had to abort the game for dinner.

After dinner, it was time for awards and the prize table. It takes a very long time to get through all this, but I wouldnít miss all the laughs for anything. Itís the perfect cap to a wonderful week. Since we are always leaving early the next morning, I never stay up to play many games afterwards, but I did manage to play a few. Actually, I could have played more, but I was too busy socializing!

Diamant

Itís amazing how fun this ridiculously simple push-your-luck game is. Especially when you get to watch Craig Berg and Ed bumble their way through the caves without collecting a single jewel the ENTIRE GAME. Take my advice, donít ever go exploring with these two as they are disaster magnets. Those of us who werenít so greedy included Gail, Vicki, Kevin and me.

Pickomino

I ended my Gulf Games on a great note with another playing of Pickomino with Sandi, Kim, and Vicki while chatting and enjoying some wine. Kim barbecued an amazing 12 worms.

Sunday started with loading up the games, a few quick goodbyes, and then a heck of a long drive back to Texas. It is now a month later as Iím writing this and reliving the great memories. Wow. Despite the absence of some old faces and the addition of some new ones, Gulf Games has lost none of its magic. My family is indeed blessed.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at August 24, 2005 9:24 PM

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