January 17, 2006

Nobody But Us Chicks - Day 3

by Susan Rozmiarek

Well, this morning my timing wasn’t so perfect. I was running late because I had to backtrack and get my camera, which I had forgotten. There was no way I was going to go without it since today was the last day and the day when everybody would be there. So, when I walked in, Union Pacific was being explained to a full contingency of six players. Although I would have gladly watched, they decided to put it up and split into two groups.

Roads & Boats

This game is in my top five games of all time even though I’ve only played it a few times and those were spaced at least a year apart. I call our copy “My Precious.” It’s fiddly as all get out and can feel mostly solitaire (although certain scenarios can encourage some really vicious play) but it’s got some of the hallmarks of games I truly enjoy – puzzle-like turns, pick-up and delivery, building things, resource management, and a game story arc that Valerie aptly described as a “snowball.” It’s got way too many bits to keep track of, but I love fiddling with them and pushing them around. It’s played on a variable hex board with different types of terrain. You start out with a few donkeys, some boards and some stones. With these you start building things like sawmills and quarries to get more resources. Eventually you start building a network of roads and better transport to move your resources to other places to build more factories, mines to get gold, boats to travel the seas and build oil rigs to get fuel, etc. The goal is to have the most wealth at the end of the game. Wealth comes in the form of gold, coins and stock certificates as well as how many bricks a player has contributed to the “wonder,” a clever mechanism that drives the game to its end and is only partly under the players’ control. The game takes hours to play and builds slowly, but it is completely absorbing for me.

Sharon had played only once a long time ago and Anye and Valerie were new to the game. So, I chose a beginning scenario with a very symmetrical board that encourages a more peaceful game. Although the player order was challenged a few times to see who got to use a factory that turn, no walls were built or resources stolen the entire game. This game saw a lot of wonder bricks being built each turn, driving the game to an earlier finish. I had abandoned my brick building halfway into the game to concentrate on getting a gold mine set up with good transportation to a mint. I would regret this later. I had my gold in hand and was one turn away from starting to mint it into coins when I got caught by the game ending. Valerie had already been extracting gold from her specialized mine for several turns and easily had enough for the win. Sharon’s and Anye’s diligent wonder brick building put them in the middle two spots and I was at the bottom. Argghh!! I was so close! A few turns with that mint and I might have won! Oh, well. It was a lot of fun and I wish I could get it to the table more than once a year.

Just a light game of Roads and Boats with the girls.

The action at the other table: Robin, Mary and Debbie playing Jenseits von Theben.

Smarty Party

We wanted to play something that could handle the whole group and a party game was the only option there. So, Smarty Party was suggested. I’ve never played this game, but as I’m not all that fond of most party games; that’s not surprising. Since this is a trivia game, I was worried that I’d be totally clueless but I knew enough to scrape by. The person currently in last place gets to be the “reader” and pulls a card that has a list on it. Example: “birthstones” or “characters from the TV show Friends.” On your turn you have to guess an item on the list or you get points (which are bad). The person reading can subtract a few of their points by betting correctly whether or not the group will guess a certain number of items. The last person to guess correctly in a round gets the “Smarty Pants” and doesn’t count one of their point tokens earned by an incorrect guess that round. The “Smarty Pants” is one of the coolest game bits ever – a little pair of rubber pants. The game itself is okay, but just isn’t really my type of game. I had a great time though, but that was because I was playing with a fun bunch of players!

Big game of Smarty Party.
We took a break in the middle of the game for dinner and then finished it afterwards. I reluctantly decided to call it a night and said my goodbyes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m able to go again next year. Anye and Valerie have already chosen the new super secret location, but this time I’ll have to fly.

General thoughts and comments:

Valerie and Anye did a fabulous job putting this event together in a relatively short time. The little house they found was not much to look at, but it was very comfortable inside and roomy, at least for the gaming (I didn’t sleep there). The view in the back was fabulous. The place seemed well-stocked with the essentials and they even had a nice gas grill. I guess the biggest complaint that I heard was that it was a little far from the airport.

I don’t think I’ve EVER eaten this healthy at any gaming get-togethers, including my own! Fixing simple lunches and dinners is definitely the way to go if you have a kitchen available. It was certainly less expensive and less time away from gaming than going out to a restaurant, particularly since restaurants seemed far and few between out there. I think I actually lost weight instead of gaining from all the nibbling I normally do. It helped having fresh fruit available for snacking.

Who knew that there are so many game geeks lurking beneath the exterior of some very nice, “normal” women??!? Talk about blowing away a few stereotypes; did you notice the games played in my reports? I didn’t see a whole lot of “fluff,” not even in the piles of games brought. These women were into the serious stuff! It was great! And from a few snippets of conversation I heard, it would appear that a few of them didn’t even get into gaming until being exposed to games through their husbands. I wonder how many more of us are out there, waiting to get hooked? Maybe I’m not the enigma that I think I am. :-)

In conclusion, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Valerie and Anye for all the work that they did. What a great idea! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of it. I hope to see the event grow; this was certainly a great start with a great bunch of women.

The "Chicks" - Me (Susan), Debbie, Robin, Anye, Valerie, Bree, Mary, Sharon

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 17, 2006 11:17 AM

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