March 20, 2007

Game Day Report for March 17, 2007

by Susan Rozmiarek

We had a great turnout for games on St. Patrick's Day. We saw the return of Marty and a rare appearance by Tim and Mary. We had loads of good food, including some of the best BBQ in Texas thanks to Marty and homemade tarts from Mark. It was worth breaking my diet, believe me! I completely forgot about the holiday and didn't wear green. In fact, I ended up doing a couple of wardrobe changes for the day - once for an unfortunate food incidence at lunch and once for picking up a leaky, excited puppy.


After just a few turns into this, Mark was already complaining and wanting it to be over. I think he has lost the ability to digest fillers. I wonder if there's a pill for that. I was enjoying it just fine. To be honest though, there's been a bit of a gaming drought in the Rozmiarek household and just about any game placed before me was going to "wonderful." Today, I am much grumpier and ready to pick at the flaws.

Players are deputies for the Sheriff of Nottingham out to collect taxes. Yuck. Who wants to be on the Sheriff's side? I'd rather be one of Robin Hood's Merry Men and steal from the rich! However, theme doesn't matter all that much because this is just another set collecting card game. There are several suits of cards (various treasures) that are worth different points. The goal is to collect sets of three or fulfill special scoring conditions that are worth more points but require more cards. Each suit also has a unique power, most of which involve stealing a card from another player. On your turn, you turn over a card and can either keep it or use its special power but not both. The powers that steal a card can be very painful to the victim, especially since one of them makes him spread out his hand on the table for all to see while the robber chooses a card to steal. In our game, it was often the person with the most cards that was victimized. Therefore, it was pretty hard to collect the larger sets for the special scoring cards and frustrating to try and collect anything at all. The victim does get the card being used by the robber so it soothes the hurt a little bit. The person who manages to not get targeted long enough to lay down sets will be the winner. I imagine that this will be pretty random with more players. We played with four but the game goes all the way up to seven. I also didn't like the "ambush" power that seemed kind of weak and tacked on. I did like the way the game counted down with the pawn and board, giving a card to those with few each time the pawn moved. I'd play this again, but I'd probably need to be in another Pollyanna mood to enjoy it.

Mark, Mary, Susan, John and Ed (taking picture) play Nottingham. Mark is overwhelmed by its fluffiness.

Pillars of the Earth

I received this jewel in the same package as Alchemist and it totally blew that other game away. Pillars of the Earth is about the building of a cathedral and based on some book of the same name which I will now have to hunt down and see if it's good as well. The bits and art are gorgeous, particularly the game board which depicts 12th Century Kingsbridge and the different locations surrounding the central cathedral building site. The game play falls under the set of games where one is trying to build up a victory point engine. Different aspects of the game reminded me of St. Petersburg, Caylus, and Leonardo da Vinci. Players try to collect and convert resources and money to victory points using a pool of craftsmen that they upgrade to better ones during the game. Workers and builders are allocated to the locations on the board which are then resolved in order but much differently than in Leonardo. The mechanism is not an auction. Instead, players are competing for a limited number of spaces making turn order of utmost importance. There is a mix of long turn planning with different strategy paths as well as a healthy dose of luck. There are events good and bad and taxes to deal with along with privileges to be gained. Naturally, you do not have nearly enough workers to do what you want and you'll be competing for everything with the other players, creating lots of tension but not to the frustrating levels of Leonardo. There is quite a bit to like here and it works together very well. I will go into more detail when I write my review. As usual, more plays are needed. Like Struggle for Rome, this will be an enjoyable game to explore and review to write.

Pillars of the Earth in progress.

At this point I took a break to freshen up on the Fury if Dracula rules as Mary wanted to try it and I'd only played once a long while ago. Apparently the guys were too intimidated to play with us because it ended up just being Helen, Mary and me. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fiddly rules in this game and I was doing a terrible job trying to explain them. I could see Mary and Helen's eyes starting to glaze over so we decided to bag it for now and play something else. We got in a round of Pick Two before another game ended and Tim joined us for To Court the King. I also squeezed in a few hands of Tichu. I partnered with Ed and managed to not make any blunders that would force me to sleep on the couch. I think that I've finally played the game enough to not forget everything between plays. I'm still a bit shaky on the strategy, though.

Oh no! My super secret powers have been caught on film! Check out the levitating Pick Two tile.

Fun day! Too bad I didn't get any games off my New Year resolution list played. The month is half over so I really need to get busy on those.

Other games played: Through the Ages with a homemade copy, Amun Re, Age of Steam, and Elasund. For more pictures:Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at March 20, 2007 12:05 PM


Susan wrote: "After just a few turns into this, Mark was already complaining and wanting it to be over. I think he has lost the ability to digest fillers."

Ha, ha. True. It must be that all meat diet. Everyone needs a little fiber/filler to balance out the diet.

Posted by: Ed on March 20, 2007 3:08 PM

Someone created a homemade copy of Through the Ages??? That game has 365 cards! That's real love. Justified, but still...

Posted by: Larry Levy on March 20, 2007 7:47 PM

Larry, I think it was an act of total desperation. A few in our group got to play Through the Ages at Bgg.con. One person loved it so much that he played it 3 or 4 times in a row there! Alas, nobody around here has been able to get their hands on a real copy yet.

I haven't had a chance to try the game yet and probably won't until I KNOW I can get a copy because I'm sure I'll love it too. Ain't no way I'm doing all those paste-ups!

Posted by: Susan on March 21, 2007 11:50 AM

Thanks for a most excellent day of gaming. I really liked Pillars of the Earth and have it on my list of next games to pick up.

BTW, if you have not heard yet, Mikey finally got his hands on a real copy of TtA, so surely we'll rope you into one of the next plays... at least the Advanced game.

Posted by: Jon on March 21, 2007 6:53 PM
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