May 4, 2006

Report for April 15, 2006

by Susan Rozmiarek

Well, Ed and I had been talking about it for a while and we finally did it. Weíve decided to cap attendance for our game days at 20 people. Weíve always had an ďopen doorĒ policy and have had several new folks find us recently. This has been a very good thing but if everyone were to show up, we would easily top 20 people and be quite crowded. In fact, it almost happened a month ago but we had some last minute cancellations and no-shows. Iím also hoping that it encourages people to RSVP earlier because it helps me plan, especially when it comes to food and drinks. Fortunately, we are usually covered because people bring stuff. But, the nearest decent sized grocery store is 20 minutes away so we canít just run out and get more if a way bigger crowd than expected shows up. Iím hoping though, that we never have to tell anybody we are full. That would be a major bummer. I guess that I should be grateful; this is a nice problem to have.

Power Grid

I thoroughly enjoyed Funkenschlag the few times I played it long ago, including the fiddly ďcrayon railĒ part. So, I wasnít all that enthusiastic about a new version coming out that didnít include it, even if said new version had nicer bits. The first time I tried Power Grid it just didnít feel the same. I didnít grok it or enjoy it much. As I recall, I think I pretty much had my butt handed to me. This second time around however, it clicked. I think that itís been so long since Iíve played Funkenschlag that my memory of it has dimmed and Iím not trying to compare the two games. We played the Italy map which seemed rather challenging. Although I didnít realize it at the time, my initial placement was pretty good. I chose a lousy, expensive power plant as my first choice which held me back at the start by draining my cash to use it. But I eventually managed to overcome my mistake. I actually won the game much to my surprise given how poorly I did the first time I played it. I donít think Power Grid will ever be a favorite of mine, but I enjoyed it enough this time to try it again. Yeah, nothing like winning to improve oneís opinion! Kevin really liked it so I imagine weíll play a family game of it sometime.

Susan, Mark, Kevin John, Mike and Ed start of the day with a game of Power Grid: Italy.

Age of Steam

Iíve given this game a fair shake. Iíve played it three times now and I_just_donít_enjoy_it. The unforgiving income system is not any fun for me as the number crunching feels like too much work. Your plan often hinges on getting a particular action that turn which might mean that you need to win the auction. Itís painful for me to decide how much money is needed and how many shares to take. Then I end up not winning the auction, not getting the action I needed, not getting to do as planned and left holding a share(s) to pay for that I didnít need that turn. Ugh. I liked my one playing of Railroad Tycoon and Iíve always liked Volldampf, but Age of Steam leaves me with one big headache. Mark said that Adam, who squashes everyone like a bug in this game, is thinking about writing up a strategy article. I beg of you Adam, please do! That may be the only hope of me ever playing it again.

We played on the Germany map but had to restart after a few turns because Mike was essentially out of the game and Mark was pretty badly off as well. Pity, because Ed and I were actually in good positions, with Edís a little better than mine. The second start was not so good for me. I fell way behind but was able to catch up some eventually although I was still in last place. Hey, at least I didnít go bankrupt! Thatís always been my goal when I play this game. Mark stomped us by having an uncontested region of the board with lots of distribution rolls in his favor. Normally, in most games, I still find some satisfaction in trying to improve my position and enjoy myself despite the fact that I am losing. This game however, just feels downright frustrating.

Okay, I guess I just lost my gaming credentials with that tirade. Hey, at least adore every other Martin Wallace game Iíve ever played. That is, of course, only if we forget all about Secrets of the Tomb which is not hard to do.

With only partially fried brains, Mark, Susan, Mike and Ed continue with Age of Steam: Germany.

Die Siedler von NŁrnberg

Looking back at old records, this Settlers variation hadnít been played in our group since the year 2001. (!) This stand alone game has quite a few twists that make it feel a bit different than its venerable parent. Rather than describe them all, Iíll just say that they made the game very interesting and a little more complex than the original. It was kind of frustrating though, because everyone felt hobbled by the scarcity of brick in the game. Also, there are some very valuable Council cards that are similar to the Biggest Army card in Settlers. I had a big building turn where I was able to get 6 victory points for what felt like a premature victory. Four of these were from winning the most valuable Council card. That seemed to be a bit too powerful, although I do think if people had been paying attention they could have stopped me. We also had concerns whether the starting positions were balanced and feelings were mixed about the ďdeck of dice.Ē Personally, I like the uncertainty of rolling a die for resources as thatís part of the charm of Settlers. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you donít. Deal with it, I say and just have fun trying to maximize what youíve got. Iíd like to play this another time or two to see if the concerns were valid or not. Not likely Iím afraid with the constant stream of new games. I guess Iíll have to wait another five years before it cycles to the top again.

Die Siedler von NŁrnberg board.

Wings of War

This was my first time playing this and it was a hoot. This is kind of a free form game of WWI dogfighting that uses programmed movement similar to RoboRally. Itís all done very cleverly with cards and the rules are pretty simple. The only problem for me was that it required a few spatial skills that I have in very short supply. Mark and I took on Ed and Kevin. I goofed early on and sent my plane off on a solo mission (see lack of spatial skills above) and Mark accused me of going off to pick flowers, an insult which was hurled back and forth between us for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, Kevin crippled me and then Ed eventually finished me off. Markís plane must have had super duper strength armor because he took hit after hit without taking damage. Okay, he had lucky draws from the damage deck. Whatever. He single handedly took down Kevin and Ed in an impressive victory for our team. This game was great fun and Iíd love to try out some more scenarios and different planes.

Head to head battles in Wings of War.

Nexus Ops & Poison being played at the other tables.

Despite my extended visit to Age of Steam Hell, the day of games was a blast as usual. Iím hoping we can host these twice a month during the summer.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 4, 2006 11:23 AM


*EVERY* other Martin Wallace game? That's a pretty big statement Susan!

Although I haven't played all of Martin's games, I would tend to agree with you. I do enjoy his games. Just last weekend we spent a good portion of the day playing Runebound. I know a lot of people bash this game, but I find it to be quite enjoyable. I can't wait to get some more of the expansion decks that came out recently.

I can't comment on "Secrets of the Tombs" (never played it), but I can safely tell you to avoid "der WeiŖe Lotus"...ugh!

Posted by: Invisible Craig on May 4, 2006 8:42 PM

Hi Craig! Well, that would be every Wallace game I've PLAYED. That does include several though, including Way Out West which many people don't care for.

I have not played Runebound which I probably would like. I got frightened by all the expansions because I knew I would have to get them all!

Posted by: Susan on May 6, 2006 5:16 PM
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