January 22, 2006

Session Report for January 21, 2006

by Susan Rozmiarek

We thought that we werenít going to have a very good turnout today as a few of the regulars couldnít make it, but we were pleasantly surprised by a few unexpected folks Ė Jon made it after all and the ever busy Mike C showed up as well. We also had new guy, Josť and Helen, who used to be a regular back at our old house. Hopefully they had a good time and will be back.

GemBlo

As soon as we had six, we pulled out Gemblo. Wow! Was it ever cutthroat with this many players. I felt like I was fighting for an opening on so many fronts. It was painful choosing where to make my placements. Real estate disappeared quickly and I ended in the middle of the pack, score-wise. Mike pulled out an impressive win with only 3 gems left. I have a feeling that this game is going to be one of our top fillers for six players for a while. It plays quickly, looks gorgeous, and everyone seems to like it. Iím afraid Blokus is even looking more pale and anemic in comparison. The fact that Gemblo handles up to six players is such a huge plus.


Mike, Ed, John, Paul, Mark and Susan play a nice friendly (ya, right) game of GemBlo to start the day.

Mesopotamia

I got to play this game twice tonight, once with four players and another time with three. I am still really impressed with this game, but Iím going to have to get a few rule clarifications. A new low in juvenile humor was reached over the question of whether or not a player could hold his wood while increasing his population. ;-) Good grief, the things I put up with! At least that was clear in the rulebook. The real glaring flaw that we discovered is the fact that 20 rocks (as listed in the component list) are too few for the four player game. It encourages a rather vicious competition for them which I donít care for, but even worse it makes it easy for somebody to eventually have no chance at all of winning the game. Not quite eliminated, because they can still go through the motions, but whatís the fun of that? I donít quite understand why the number of rocks is not scaled equally for different numbers of players. This is easily fixed, however, because the game came with twice the listed number of rocks. Regardless of any official ruling, we plan to play with a pool of rocks equaling 7 times the number of players. This should still encourage a little competition for them and still makes it possible, but unlikely, that a player will get in the position of not having a high enough mana level to make all of his offerings.


Is Mike sleeping through Mesopotamia? John, Jon and Susan hope not.

Near the end of Mesopotamia.

Poison

We needed a fast filler while waiting for the Railroad Tycoon game to finish up and this Knizia game of brewing potions was suggested. It reminds me a lot of Too Many Cooks and little of Coloretto. I actually like both of those games better, but Poison is a pretty decent game too.

Il Principe

I had eagerly wanted to try out our shiny new copy of Hacienda, but I bailed when I saw Mike setting up his new copy of Il Principe. This game has gotten a lot of positive buzz and I wanted to see if I needed to own it. It turned out to be one of those games with a lot going on, making it hard to grok the rules the first time that you play. There are several different ways to score victory points and it is difficult to decide what to focus on before seeing how a game plays out. On top of that, we got some pretty big rules wrong that will completely change the game. Even so, I was very intrigued by it and Iím eager to play it again, this time with the correct rules. It packs a whole lot of punch into a very short playing time of about 45 minutes. Despite how soon the game is over, you actually seem to accomplish quite a bit. We will definitely have to pick up our own copy of this one.


Susan, Mike, Mark and Jose try out Mike's copy of Il Principe.

The Il Principe board and some cards.

The Hacienda players were all raving about that game so Iím just going to have to coax my kids into playing with Ed and me. I donít think that Iíll be able to wait until the next game day.


Paul, Helen, Jon, John and Ed go south of the equator with Hacienda.

Paul, Jose, Mark and Ed relive the 1830s and fight it out to be the best Railroad Tycoon.

Hey! Thatís My Fish!

Mike had only enough time for a short game so we pulled out this one, which seems to take longer to set up than to actually play. Iíll have to time how long it takes to explain the rules; they are so simple that I bet it took less than three minutes. My experience paid off as I was able to capture the most fish, but the scores were close. I think I liked it better with fewer than four, as you seem to have a bit more control, but it was still fun. And letís face it; those penguins are adorable!


Susan (slightly hidden) teaches Jose, Mike and Helen how to catch fish in Hey! That's My Fish.

Hey! That's My Fish mid game.

I finished up a fine day of gaming with my second playing of Mesopotamia. I rarely want to play the same game more than once in a single evening, but this is one of those rare games that instantly hits a sweet spot with me.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 22, 2006 9:39 PM

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