July 31, 2007

Gulf Games 2007 Day 2

by Susan Rozmiarek

Tuesday was our day that we scheduled to be tourists, as Gulf Games did not officially start until Wednesday. As our tourist-y activity, we chose to obey all the billboards we'd seen on the drive up and "see Rock City". Despite having lived in Atlanta for 9 years as young adults, we had never visited this famous attraction in the northwest corner of Georgia, thinking it to be a tourist trap and preferring to do serious hiking elsewhere. Well, I'm glad we decided to go this time. It's a nice, beautiful place to walk around, especially with kids. A nice job has been done blending the man-made features with the natural rock formations. We enjoyed ourselves very much, even though we had to dodge a bit of rain. I'd forgotten just how beautiful this part of the country is with all the trees and spectacular views. Rock City just took a few leisurely hours too explore, leaving us with plenty of time for more games before and after dinner when we got back.

This was also the evening for the group dinner which was the only group activity for which we signed up. The restaurant was right on the hotel grounds. On the plus side, the food was okay and the live entertainment was decent. On the minus side, it was expensive, dark and the music made it impossible to visit with folks, the main reason for going to the group dinner for me. In addition, our waitress was one of the singers (as were all of them, I think) and this may have been a reason for it taking so long to get our food.

The games I did get to play this day were all on the lighter side:

Tier auf Tier

This is a neat little dexterity game of stacking wooden animals. I'd played it the previous summer at Gulf Games and have always been on the verge of buying a copy. It really is more of a children's game, though and mine are almost grown. Is buying games for future grandchildren a valid excuse?

An impressive animal tower in Tier auf Tier.

If Wishes Were Fishes

A new Rio Grande release is always worth checking out, especially if it includes purple rubber worms. In this game you are trying to acquire fish and then sell them at the appropriate market based on their type. The board depicts a market for each type of fish and some buyer meeples that get moved to the different markets during the game. There is also a junkyard across the top where fish go when the markets get full. On your turn you choose a fish card from a display. If you choose the first card in the row, it is free, but if you choose one from the middle you have to place a worm on each card to get to it. You get to keep any worms that are already on cards from other players' previous turns. This is very similar to getting civilization tiles in Vinci. It's a simple clever mechanism; I like it. The cards depict both a type of fish and a wish. You may either keep the fish and put him in your boat if you have room or you may choose the wish, but not both. The wishes do various things like enlarge your boat, move the buyers or affect which and how many fish you sell. When you sell fish you put that number of your fish markers into the appropriate market on the board and get paid the stated price which is higher if there are buyers present. Each market can only hold so many fish and there is a bonus when it closes for the players with the most and second most fish there. Then there are some fiddly rules for the junkyard. Actually, this is my problem with game. It was just way too fiddly and too long for such a light game. I'm having trouble even remembering the rules. I didn't enjoy it very much although I'd be willing to try it again to be sure.

Susan, Shea, Chris Lohroff and Ed (taking picture) go fishing in If Wishes Were Fishes.

The Great Chili Cook-off

This is a fairly new game that I hadn't noticed until now. I saw it being played numerous times during the week. Some people seemed to really like it but I thought it was pretty ho-hum. It reminded me of a cross between Nicht die Bohne in the way that cards are collected and Too Many Cooks with the theme of collecting ingredients for a recipe. This time players are trying to make different types of chili as depicted on recipe cards that they keep secret from the other players. I say "chili" but some of the ingredients include cherries, peanut butter and chocolate. Honey and mustard are also choices and rather suspect as well. Blech! These are not chili ingredients! Even worse is that none of the recipes includes beans. And where's the cumin? Whoever came up with these recipes needs to visit Texas ASAP to try some real chili.

So, moving on to the game itself, players are dealt a hand of cards that show an ingredient and a number. In turn order, each player plays a card. Now, in order from the player who played the highest numbered card to the player who played the lowest, each chooses one of the cards played to keep until the end of the round. Once all the cards have been played and collected, players use the ingredients from their collected cards to make one of their recipes, receiving the numerical value of each card used plus a bonus if they complete the recipe. The player with the most points after three rounds is the winner.

The game isn't bad; it just isn't as interesting as Nicht die Bohne. Since recipes are secret, it's hard to stick people with unwanted ingredients or intentionally keep them from getting the ones that they want. Also, since the numerical value of the cards played strictly determines the order of choosing, it doesn't have some of the tricky choices that you get in Nicht die Bohne. Still, the game is okay and the differences make it much less mean and easier to grasp. We got a copy in a math trade. I suspect we'll be bringing this out with casual players.

Burg Appenzell

This is a new children's game from Zoch that looked really cool in the pictures I'd seen. I was hoping to get to try it. It's hard to describe because you really need to see it in action. Differently shaped tiles are stacked in the box to form the board. You several very cute wooden mice that start in one the four corner towers and then move around trying to collect different types of cheese. The cheeses are hidden under the top roof tiles and will be uncovered and covered as well as moved during the game so you'll have to remember where they are. To collect a type of cheese, you have to have two mice sitting on that type at the same time. There is a mechanism like that in The aMAZEing Labyrinth where you are able to push entire rows of tiles. This can not only move mice and cheese, but can also uncover pits into which your mice can fall. Needless to say, this can be a very evil, evil game, maybe too evil with a group of cutthroat adults. I enjoyed it, but probably not enough to buy a copy. The components are just insane, almost enough to merit a purchase anyway.

Our mice run about looking for cheese in Burg Appanzell.

Up next: Day 3, a day dungeon delving

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at July 31, 2007 2:42 PM


Susan, I always thought REAL (i.e. Texas) chili never included beans. At least, that's what I always tell Sheryl when I try to convince her not to put the kidney beans in her excellent chili! Er you tellin' me yer a tenderfoot, or er my sources jes fulla beans?

Posted by: Larry Levy on August 2, 2007 10:12 PM

Ack! I need to check back here more often. I only just noticed your comment.

Larry, your question opens up a real can of worm..um, beans. The purists (chili geeks?) will tell you that beans are no part of any real Texas chili. I don't think tomatoes are in "real" Texas chili either and the beef is cut up but never ground. I even think beans may be outlawed in some chili cookoffs. But the fact is, if you go into a restaurant or ask people how they make chili around here, beans are often an option. I love them! I think that as long as you don't call it TEXAS chili, you won't get lynched :-)

Posted by: Susan on August 10, 2007 4:54 PM
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