June 2, 2006

Memorial Day Gaming 2006

by Susan Rozmiarek

Once again it was time for our annual Memorial Day gaming. Seventeen gamers gathered at The Game Ranch for the traditional day-long orgy of food and games. Iíd like to give a big thanks to everyone that brought food and drinks as we had a fabulous selection. Despite being a bit short of hamburgers, I doubt anyone went hungry! Since I had to take time out for food prep and eating, I didnít get to play as many games as I normally do but the quality more than made up for the quantity.

Family Business

This game has been around for a long time in an older edition, but it had never caught my interest. Who needs another game about gangsters when we already have Don Pepe? Still, any excuse to speak in funny accents works for me and it turns out that Family Business is nice little ďbeer and pretzelsĒ game. Itís short, itís mean, and itís practically devoid of strategy which basically just amounts to playing cards that youíve drawn at the best possible time. Did I mention that itís mean? The game is all about taking contracts out on your fellow playersí gang members. This puts them on a hit list where they then get sequentially eliminated when a mob war starts. Yes, itís an elimination game as well. If your entire gang gets rubbed out youíre done. It was an excellent way to start a game day as it got some metagaming grudges going early. Nothing like putting somebody ďup against the wallĒ to foster warm fuzzy feelings! We played with the new edition. My biggest complaint was the fact that we had to keep referring to our reference cards (downloaded from BGG) to remember what all the different cards do. It would have been nice if some of this information had been on the actual cards. I was surprised that I enjoyed this game as much as I did since there really isnít much to it.

Susan teaches Family Business.

Fury of Dracula

I think Iím slowly being assimilated by Fantasy Flight Games. All their gaudy, fiddly, dice-rolling, bit-heavy recent releases dripping with theme, theme and more theme have been more temptation than I can bear. I guess itís the backlash from playing too many elegant Euros and a longing to return to the fantasy and horror interests of my younger years. Lately Iíve been longing for a game that tells a good story and Fury of Dracula did not disappoint. This is Scotland Yard, a game I like, on a heavy dose of steroids. Ed and I had done our homework the week before, having laid the game out and gone through the rules. Despite the fiddliness and little exceptions here and there, they are pretty easy once you get into the game. It only took us about two hours to play not counting the rules explanation. This sort of cooperative game should go over well with my kids so Iím hoping to play it with them next.

Mark did a pretty good job summary of our game on his blog so Iím going to be lazy and not repeat it. Suffice it to say that we hunters learned several lessons and I got even more tips afterwards on the BGG forums. Dracula will not give us the slip so easily next time!

Van Helsing plots her move during Fury of Dracula.


Despite the adorable art, our groupís opinion of this game seems to drop a bit with each playing. There are just so many placement rules that itís impossible to remember them all even after playing the game a few times. I actually like the puzzle of legally placing animals in the ark, but it feels totally disconnected from the majorities part of the game. I think that Iíd enjoy the game more if it were simply a race to get rid of cards. Still, I like the game enough to play it as is, but I donít think it will ever be a favorite. Those animals though - so cute!

Thurn und Taxis

Well, I canít completely stay away from those elegant Eurogames. Ed and I had already fumbled through a few games of Thurn und Taxis on BSW which was enough to know we liked it. It falls into that low middleweight category of games that I enjoy so well. The only reason we donít own a copy yet ourselves is because we are waiting for the upcoming Rio Grande edition. It was nice to push the real bits around instead of a computer mouse. This game involves some route planning that reminds me of one of my favorites, Elfenland. Itís up for the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award in Germany and I think it has a good shot at winning. (Iím terribly irritated though, that the superior game, Hacienda, wasnít nominated.)

Thurn und Taxis, later in the game.

It was nice break today to play a few ďexperienceĒ games purely for fun. Iíd like to mix a few more of these in with the Euros that I normally play. Iíve gotten a little burnt out on those recently and slinging a few dice is the perfect remedy.

Here are some of the other games that got played today:

The three M's (Mark, Mike, Marty) and Ed play Die DolmengŲtter. Hopefully with the right rules.

Marty teaches Neuland.

Traci, Sid, Marty and Adam play Das Zepter von Zavandor.

Mike, Mark, Paul and Matt playing Mauerbauer.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at June 2, 2006 2:57 PM

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