January 16, 2006

Nobody But Us Chicks - Day 2

by Susan Rozmiarek

Once again my arrival was perfectly timed as I showed up as Caylus was being set up and I was able to jump in as the fourth player. This time it was Anye’s turn to make the airport run, so in her place was Robin who had arrived the evening before.



I had only played Caylus twice before and the first time it was with a few key rules wrong. I hadn’t really figured out any particular strategy and had spent those first two games just kind of reacting to my situation each turn with no real long term plan. I thought the game had promise, but I really was baffled as to what all the fuss was about. Since then, I had started to pay attention to online discussions about Caylus and picked up a few pointers while avoiding in depth strategy articles. I like to discover at least a few things myself. :-) So, this time I started the game with a plan, which was to try to focus on those favor tracks. My hope was to try to always grab that spot that grants a favor for a purple cube and a dollar. (Sorry, I don’t own a copy of the game and so don’t know the proper names of things in the game). Unfortunately Robin kept grabbing that spot before me so I was forced to go after my favors by putting all my efforts into building in the castle. I then used my favors to generate victory points and cash on those two particular tracks. And guess what?!?! It worked! I won my first ever game of Caylus, after losing my first two games horribly. I probably wouldn’t have pulled out a victory if the very experienced Valerie hadn’t been experimenting with a new strategy. After finding herself always a bit behind me in castle building, she switched to trying to collect gold cubes for victory points and it didn’t seem to work for her. Robin and Sharon pursued more of a “building” strategy, but Robin was more successful by focusing her early efforts on using those favors to move up the favor track with the buildings. She was able to get second place behind me. I really enjoyed the game this time since I had a better understanding of it. I STILL think it is a bit overrated but I do want a copy once it becomes available again.

Sharon, Robin, Valerie and Susan start off with Caylus.

Who says women only like to play light games? The other group (Debbie, Anye and Robin) was playing Jenseits von Theben and Keythedral.

Freya’s Folly

This game got a lot of positive buzz at Essen so when I spotted it in Valerie’s stack of games I asked if she would teach it. The game is themed around dwarves mining for jewels which are then used to create jewelry for points. Everyone has a set of dwarves to send into the mine depicted on the board and move to different rooms to collect the jewels there and return to the outside with them. The item of jewelry, the gems needed and the points for making it are depicted on cards that players may claim. Doing any of these things – moving, claiming cards, or making jewelry – take an action point and players only get two per turn. There are also some special cards that can be claimed and used to allow a dwarf to move more spaces, carry more, steal, etc. Once a player has completed six items the game ends. The game is very tactical and the movement of the dwarves reminded me a bit of Cartagena. Dwarves can jump over up to two dwarves for quicker travel. Spotting these possibilities and/or setting them up are key to winning.

Sharon started quickly fulfilling the requirements for some of the lower valued jewelry and created a panic amongst Valerie and me. We had both been greedy and gone deep into the mine to get goodies to fulfill the requirements for the more valuable jewelry. I got caught by the early ending and couldn’t get out with my valuable booty but Valerie managed a spectacular last move that tied her with Sharon for the win. I really enjoyed the game and would love to find a copy. Unfortunately, they seem to be scarce and very expensive.

Hey, That's My Fish!

We had only a short time before dinner, so we tried my new copy of Hey, That’s My Fish. This game was previously published as Pingvinas by Bambus Spieleverlag and is very pricey and hard to find. I was thrilled to hear that it was getting republished by Phalanx and Mayfair in a readily available and affordable edition. The game is a very, very simple one with rules that even a very younger child could understand. However, the tactics are a little more challenging. The board is composed of hex tiles that depict 1-3 fish on them. Players have several penguins on the board and are trying to collect the most fish. On each of their turns, players move one of their penguins to an empty tile, moving in a straight line without passing over any gaps in the board or through other penguins. They then pick the tile that their penguin had been standing on to keep as part of their “catch.” Players keep doing this as long as they have a legal move. Once nobody has a legal move, the game is over and players count their fish to see who has the most for the win. While it seems important to run around and grab the more valuable fish tiles, it is also important to not let your penguin get isolated on a small island with few legal moves left. Cutting off other players’ penguins is evil fun! While the game play feels like that of a typical, simple abstract game, the theme actually fits very well and adds a lot. The wooden penguins are rather cute. I am looking forward to playing this again.

Everyone now took a break from gaming to walk around outside and down to the lake, take pictures and playing with two very friendly dogs from next door. The weather was gorgeous as we are having an extremely warm and dry winter here in Texas. Valerie grilled chicken breasts while a few assistants helped make salads and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. It was rather late by the time we finished dinner, so I decided to go ahead and drive back home. I hate long drives in the dark and the road out was very dark, curvy and hilly with lots of deer around.

The back deck.

Valerie and Sharon get wacky on the boat dock. If they keep rocking it like that, somebody is going for a swim!

Robin and Valerie catch some afternoon rays.

Look at that yummy, healthy home-cooked dinner! Are you sure that we're at a game con??

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 16, 2006 1:48 PM

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