March 22, 2006

Game Day Report for March 11, 2006

by Susan Rozmiarek

We were quite worried at one point that we were not going to be able to pull off this game day. At mid-week several of our regulars had declared themselves unable to attend and we had only gotten just one other RSVP. Just as we were about to cancel, we got a slew of affirmatives that included several newbies and some not-as-regulars, giving us a good crowd after all.


This is a cute little memory card game. Iím not sure exactly what the theme is, but it has something to do with islands. During the game, you add numbered cards to the table, hoping that the total doesnít equal the number on island cards that other players have in their hands. If the new total does match, the player holding that card smugly announces that fact and you get a card with what looks like a footprint in a pile of vomit. And thatís bad, because the person with the fewest of these ďvomitĒ cards at the end of the game wins. Numbers on island cards that you hold in your hand or that havenít been drawn yet are safe. Players draw more island cards during the game, always showing the other players what they pick up so it gets harder and harder to remember what everyone has. Mark always thought I was bluffing when I played a card while stating that I THOUGHT it was safe. I was bluffing a few times, but usually I really didnít have that card in my hand and so really wasnít sure. So, I suppose that I was really bluffing about bluffing. Or something like that. I usually have problems with memory games because I have a bad one (memory, that is), but apparently this game didnít tax me too much because I actually won!

Mark, Susan, Kevin, Mike C (not shown) and Ed start off Fettnapf while waiting for the other gamers to shown up.

Flower Power

The brave and foolhardy diehard gamers scooted off to fumble through Die Macher for the rest of the day and night, leaving Ed and me alone to amuse ourselves with a two-player game until somebody else showed up. We chose this old favorite and were soon planting our colorful gardens. Ed tried a new strategy of planting many small beds instead of going for the larger ones. I was a little worried at the start because he was filling his space in a very organized and methodical fashion while I was tossing out my flowers all willy-nilly around my garden. (Which just so happens to mirror how we approach gardening in real life!). His strategy almost worked. In the end though, some lucky tile draws completed some big gardens of mine and I was able to capture the win by a few points. By-the-way, whoever pointed out to me that one of the flowers looks like a very personal part of the female anatomy, ďthanksĒ a lot. Grrrrr.


Iím sure the flame will burn out eventually, but for now my torrid love affair with this game continues unabated. We played on the asymmetrical side and Iím going to have to side with the legions of gamers who prefer it to the symmetrical ďdog bone.Ē The dog bone works, but it is downright boring compared to the other side which is deliciously brutal, especially with five players. You can forget about rolling in money with lovely, long land chains Ďcuz it ainít gonna happen on this board! I went with my usual strategy of trying to connect to as many markets as I could right away as well as getting out at least one hacienda before the first scoring. Plunking down watering holes just before scoring is another one of my tried-and-true strategies but it was hard to do in this cash-strapped game. I actually had to harvest one of my land chains which I had never done in previous games. It also quickly became apparent that staking out claims on the board early even with only a single land tile was necessary if you wanted to be able to have any hope of connecting to certain markets. Newcomer Kat proved that she wasnít shy at all and almost completely blocked me from one market early-on. Curses! When the scores were being tallied at the end it looked like Ed was going to hand me my first Hacienda defeat ever but I actually won with tiebreaker, having a measly two pesos over his zero. Whew. I remain undefeated in about five games, including both online and face-to-face.

The non-symmetrical Hacienda board is much more meatier that the symmetrical side.

I bet this poor game was wondering if it would ever get dusted off and played after getting plucked off the prize table in the second round at Gulf Games several years ago. Iíd read the rules before but there are a few vagaries that had me puzzled. Fortunately, not only had Tim played it before, but heís one of those rare gamers (at least in our group) who are willing to make up house rules on the spot and happily move on.

Tycoon is an older business game by Wolfgang Kramer about flying to different cities and building hotels and factories in order to have the majority there when a payout occurs. Buying the plane tickets and buildings cost money of course, which is extremely tight. So much so in fact, that it reminds me a little of Age of Steam where you have to start the game out borrowing heavily and then spend some time sweating until you eventually manage to get your finances back in the black. Just as in real life, this sort of situation causes me no end of stress. Fortunately, this was only a game because I never did quite manage my loans very efficiently. Iíd be living under a bridge in a cardboard box by now if this had been real life. Unfortunately, this game devolved into one of group-think among a few participating tycoons with much discussion and advice being doled out on other playersí turns, dragging the game out to horrific lengths. Heh. Otherwise, I think it is a rather interesting game, even it does feel a bit outdated. I think Iíd like to play it again and include Mark, who tyrannically insists on everyone playing their own game and would crush such table talk with an iron fist. Anyway, at least I took my turns rather quickly without encouraging comments. This obviously had quite a negative impact on my score, Iím sad to say. Iím too ashamed to reveal my paltry earnings other than to say they put me in a very, very distant last place. Hey, at least I paid off all my loans!

Long time no-show Seth and Rikelle play Tycoon with Tim and Susan.

Thatís Life!

We needed a short final game for Seth to sneak in before anyone in his family noticed that heíd started playing another game. So it was Kramer again for me with this light luckfest. This game reminds a bit of Parcheesi in that you roll dice and move your pawn down a path and try to protect them in some cases by not leaving them by themselves. Itís very tactical and luck heavy with the simplest of decisions but it is pleasant enough for a light filler game. I won, but only due to some last minute lucky charms. My little victory at least soothed my bruised ego at being the Worst Tycoon Ever, but not much.

Seth ponders his fate during That's Life with Kat, Dan and Susan.

Early on during That's Life.

Ad Acta
Youíd think a game with ugly components, one of the most boring themes ever, and extremely confusing rules would never come off the shelves unless it was to go to the trade pile, right? Wrong! This odd sounding game appealed to me for reasons unknown back when it came out and I was determined to play it eventually, even it took years which it obviously did. Dan and Kat were persuaded to join Ed and me in giving it a whirl. Newbies to the hobby are great because they often donít know any better and are willing victims.

Ad Acta has the very exciting theme of filing folders in an office. Yes, you read that correctly. This is a game about the tedious office duties that many people have to deal with on a daily basis. I guess that is why many gamers were turned off. Fortunately, I was not similarly prejudiced as the tedium in my old day job involved microscopes and Petri dishes. To make matters worse, the game play is even drier than youíd expect with that theme and the mechanisms are very hard to wrap your head around at first. At least Ed and I had the foresight to stumble through the confusing terminology in the rules and play a few trial turns earlier in the week.

The goal of the game is to get your file folders, represented by cards in your player color, filed into a central filing cabinet for points. Different folders earn more points depending on which partition in the filing cabinet they end up in, if they manage to get filed at all. Players have a nearly identical set of these file folder cards and on each one there are icons at the top indicating which players have to ďprocessĒ it before it can be filed. Players have a mat in front of them representing their inbox and outbox. At the beginning of the game players receive an equal number of file folders (a mix of theirs and other players) to be placed in their inboxes. They then spend a limited number of action points on their turn to process files and place them in their outboxes. They indicate this by placing a real paper clip over their icon on that card. This bothers a lot of people who canít stand to see cards in a game abused in such a way, but I thought it was clever. Players can also use action points to make another player process a file folder. At the end of a round, a messenger comes around and collects all the file folders in outboxes and redistributes each to the next player who must deal with it, putting it on the top of their inbox, or files it in the filing cabinet if it is done. The key in all this is that things must be kept and done in order from top to bottom, including the order in which the messenger picks up and distributes file folders. Also, the partitions in the central filing cabinet only hold a fixed amount of cards and the partitions are filled in order. There is a little relief to these restrictions, however. Players can also spend action points to play special cards that rearrange the order of file folders in various ways amongst other things. Playing these at the right times seems to be key to doing well. The very hard part of the game is visualizing where folders will end up. It is very hard to orchestrate getting a file folder completed and filed in a certain partition that scores it a lot of points. By the end of the game my head was about to explode trying to thing things through.

Okay, if you were able to get through my boring explanation of the game then you should immediate go out and seek a copy because this game is for you. If your eyes glazed over by about the third sentence, then steer clear. I was rather intrigued by it though, mainly because Iím not even close to mastering it. I adore puzzle-ly games and this was certainly one of those. I definitely want to play it again. At least it didnít bomb with everyone which was a real possibility. Ed won, but the scores were very close.

Kat ponders the work from her inbox during Ad Acta with Dan, Susan and Ed.

Ed's Ad Acta "desk" with lots of work sitting in his in box. Typical manager.

Ad Acta did me in for the evening but I was thrilled to not only get in six games today, but to also knock two off my unplayed list. There is hope yet!

A few of the other games played today:

The meaty, long game of the day, Die Macher. Paul, Mark, Jon and Mary plan their moves.

Mary teaches Three-Dragon Ante to Mark, Jon, Paul and Curt.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at March 22, 2006 4:13 PM


Die Macher, a footnote??!! Heresy I say! ;)

And curses! Another playing of Hazienda that I missed. I am never going to get to play that game!

On a lighter note, sweet. I successfully avoided all pictures..

Posted by: Mike C. on March 23, 2006 9:07 AM

Mike says: "On a lighter note, sweet. I successfully avoided all pictures.."

Well, maybe that was intentional. :)

And Hacienda is still a hot game for me. I'll play again next time if you are still wanting to play and don't get sucked into Mark's "Must Only Play Long Games" cult.

Posted by: Ed Rozmiarek on March 23, 2006 10:13 AM

oooooh...Ad Acta! I, too, adore this game, but haven't been able to convince others of its brilliance. File away, Susan!

Posted by: Angela K. on March 23, 2006 12:04 PM

I did not really realize until the next morning what a great game Die Macher is as it took that long for my mind to catch up with everything that had gone on during the game from the previous day. While I immensely enjoyed playing Die Macher, and would gladly play it just about anytime and anywhere, the fact that it takes at least three hours maybe means that Die Macher almost needs to be scheduled to play, at least if I were to play again. Iím glad I got the opportunity to play ďThe King of EurosĒ and I hope to play again some timeÖ but I would have to balance that against that of not being able to socialize as much. ;-) Again I had a great time and look forward to the next time.

Posted by: Paul M on March 23, 2006 12:09 PM

Susan and Ed --

What a great game day report. Obviously, you folks had a lot of fun, especially considering that you weren't sure you would even get to play.

We haven't played any of the games you mentioned, and the only one we own is Hacienda, which is waiting its first trial (and I'm really getting antsy to play it).

Hope you have another good game weekend to report on this week.

-- Gerald

Posted by: gamesgrandpa on March 25, 2006 10:37 AM

"Newbies to the hobby are great because they often donít know any better and are willing victims."

I feel soÖ used. Although I now have bragging rights for having played the most dull-themed game ever conceived.

Posted by: Dan S. on March 27, 2006 4:16 PM

Hey Dan, just wait until you see what game we are going to spring on you next time! Just kidding :-) Actually, if there is a particular game that YOU want to play that we own, let me know and I'll re-read the rules in advance.

Posted by: Susan on March 27, 2006 7:37 PM
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