December 7, 2005

National Games Week Report

by Susan Rozmiarek

While it could easily be said that “every week is Games Week” in the Rozmiarek household, November 25 was special because it was part of National Games Week. Eleven gamers descended on The Game Ranch, the home of Ed and Susan Rozmiarek in Liberty Hill, Texas for an entire day of eating, drinking, socializing and playing board and card games. A total of 13 games were played. Here are some comments on the games that I played.


Who wouldn’t like a game about barbecuing worms? Okay, what a strange theme for a game, but what a fun game it is. Six of us “pushed our luck” rolling dice to claim the domino-like tiles depicting worms. Marty jumped out to an early lead, but then became an easy target for worm thieves. Ed couldn’t roll a high number to save his life and spent most of the game worm-less, while Paul and Kevin eventually emerged as new leaders. In the end though, it was quiet Jon who eventually amassed a pile of worms to end the game and earn the title of Worm Grillmaster.

Susan, Kevin, Marty, Paul, Jon and Ed (taking picture) start the day off with a "quick" game of Pickomino.

Techno Witches

The silliness continued with this game of high tech witches racing not on broomsticks, but on vacuum cleaners. The goal was to be the first witch to fly her vacuum cleaner through a sea of obstacles and get to the goal. You did this by programming your witch with various curved flight path pieces and then executing your program. If your witch hits an obstacle or another witch, she has to stop and lose any remaining movement for that turn. Kevin’s witch veered out of control off to the side and had to loop back around, essentially putting him out of the race. I made a beeline through the middle and narrowly beat out Jon and Marty who were close behind me on either side. This is a very cute game requiring some spatial skills. It felt a bit too simple, but there are additional scenarios in the rulebook that look to be a bit more challenging.

Susan, Jon, Marty and Kevin race their brooms in Techno Witches.


While waiting for the other games to finish up, Jon, Marty, Kevin and I decided to push our luck some more and play this out-of-print dice game from Reiner Knizia. This one has a great deal of “take that” and is always fun. Unlike my dismal performance rolling the dice earlier in Pickomino, this time I jumped out to an early lead and hardly looked back for the win.

Carcassonne: The Discovery

Now it was time to leave the fluffy games behind and play something a little more filling. Not that a Carcassonne game is all that heavy, but it certainly requires a little more thinking. This was yet another shiny new game that Marty brought and, being fans of the Carcassonne series, we were all eager to give it a try. Kevin bowed out to go elsewhere, and Lauren and Dan joined Marty, Jon and me. The major departure from the basic Carcassonne in this new variation is the fact that, instead of placing a meeple on your turn, you can pull one of your meeples off the board and score regions, even if they are incomplete. In fact, you have to use up a turn to do this to score at all as completed regions don’t automatically score. This made for some interesting meeple management decisions because you only have a few of them and completed regions score more points than uncompleted. The scoring of the different types regions was also a little different and very fiddly to me. The new terrain and graphics of the game combined with the scoring rules made it hard for me to see the values of regions. My confusion was reflected in my pitiful last place scoring. Still, I liked the game and would play it again. It seems to have a little more strategic depth than the original game. Dan trounced us!

Susan, Lauren, Marty, Jon and Dan discover what's new with Carcassonne: The Discovery.


I was pleased to find that this excellent new game by Klaus Teuber plays equally well with three players as it does with four. I pursued a different strategy this time as I was getting more influence cards than gold. I used them to place permits wherever I pleased and went after the windmill locations for trade points. Dan seemed to be rolling in gold most of the game but couldn’t quite catch me. Both Dan and Mark tried to gang up on me towards the end, but it was too late. I managed to place a final building and win. It was definitely to my benefit that I had already played the game several times and they had not.

An overhead view of the Palazzo and Elasund games.

Code 777

This is a long out-of-print deduction game that I’ve never had a chance to play. Jeff had a rather nice homemade copy made with mahjong tiles. I love deduction games despite being horrid at them, and jumped at the invitation to give it a whirl. I really, really liked it and I am now trying to figure out how to make my own copy as it is almost impossible to find a used copy at a reasonable price. I wish somebody would republish it and save me the trouble. One of the nice things about it is that it is little less likely that the game gets screwed up by a player accidentally giving out incorrect information. I lost horribly, but who cares? It was a fun challenge.

Jeff, Susan, Ed and Jon play Code 777.

Age of Steam

As the grand finale of a day of gaming, Ed and I played this brain-burning game with Jeff on the Ireland map. We have a bunch of new maps for this game, but this is the first time either of us had played on any but the original. I’ve actually only played the game twice. We fully expected to get a spanking from Jeff, who is a very experienced player and we did! Still, it is a very pleasant mental exercise and we need to play it more if we ever hope to get better at it. I did achieve my goal of not going bankrupt easily enough, but I had to borrow heavily (and sometimes unnecessarily) to do so. Great game!

Age of Steam later in the game.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon and evening than playing good games with good friends. We hope to carry on our tradition of a monthly games day through the next year and beyond.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at December 7, 2005 8:44 PM


Wow! It sounds like you all had a good time during the 2005 National Games Week! Do you mind if I use any of your pictures on our site?
Chris Fossum
Matthews Simmons Marketing *Games Quarterly* National Games Week

Posted by: Chris on February 13, 2006 4:23 PM
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