March 18, 2009

Would you like a little game with that wine?

by Susan Rozmiarek

I was hoping that our planned D&D session on Friday night would inspire me to get back to writing that D&D vs. Descent article I mentioned, but our evening of dungeon delving has been postponed. Arrgh! It looks like we won't be able to corral our Descent players for a session anytime soon, either. Double arghh!!

In better news, after I declared the monthly Meetup group dead, it has risen from its grave. Apparently, two different wine stores/wineries, of all places, contacted our Meetup host out of the blue with offers to host the group. I've seen several of these types of places show up in shopping centers recently, so I'm betting that competition for customers is fierce. We spent a pleasant afternoon sipping locally made wine and playing boardgames. Late in the afternoon, a band began setting up. When they started playing, that was our cue to leave. I enjoy listening to live music, but it makes it impossible to play games when you have to shout across the table.

The setting was nice with decent lighting, but the tables were really small and round which limited the games we could play. This didn't stop one group from pushing two together to play Agricola, but they looked pretty cramped and uncomfortable.

As you can see, we had quite a nice crowd.

Ed and I taught Pandemic to a nice young couple that liked it so much we played twice, losing both times and on the easiest setting at that. Quite embarrassing, I must say. I thought we had a pretty good handle on this game but it kicked our butts this time, especially in the first game where we had too many early epidemics. I love how this game fools you into thinking you have everything under control for a while and then, within a few short turns, it can devolve into a full scale panic of trying to stamp out outbreaks all over the map.

Pandemic was followed by Tier auf Tier, a cute little Haba dexterity game of stacking wooden animals atop each other. My normally shaky hands combined with a few glasses of wine did not help me here, but it was fun!

Lastly, we played Wasabi!, a tile-laying game where you are trying to create sushi recipes for points by placing the necessary ingredient tiles in a row on the board. There are special cards you play to manipulate tiles that have already been placed and your recipes are kept secret from the other players. Like a lot of newer Eurogames, it gave me the feeling of having done this all before, but since I have a soft spot for this puzzle-y sort of game, I'll forgive it this once. Plus, it looks beautiful.

I'm interested to see if this place invites us back. Hopefully, we gave them enough business. Ed and I took home a bottle of a VERY sweet Pinot Gris.

Posted by susanroz at 12:06 AM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2009

In which I descibe a gaming mid-life crisis

by Susan Rozmiarek

Yep, it's me. I'm back!

I've been suffering a bit of burnout for the past few months. Not just with blogging and writing reviews, but with the Eurogames that I've been obsessed with for the past eight or so years. What happened? I'm not entirely sure but the never ending procession of new games started feeling the same to me. I've always enjoyed games that had a puzzle-like feel to them but I started to often feel like I was solving variations of the same puzzle. When I blogged about the games, I felt like I was saying the same thing over and over again.

My core gaming group also started gravitating toward only playing all the heavier games coming out and game nights were starting to feel like too much work. I missed having a mix of different types of games. I missed playing a silly, fun game once in a while. Even games that I would call "medium weight" were being derided as "fluff." Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter because our current family responsibilities keep us from being able to attend anything during the week anyway. To add insult to injury, a large monthly group that we could usually attend and play a variety of games has died due to reasons I'm not really clear on (I think the host has lost interest).

What we ARE playing on a regular basis are a monthly D&D 4e campaign and a Descent: Road to Legends campaign. This type of gaming has completely pulled me right out of my Eurogaming doldrums. While I still enjoy a good Eurogame, even a heavy one, I'm now more about dice, theme, drama, theme, socializing, story and theme. :-) A huge board, neat art, and lots and lots of plastic are a plus. Fantasy Flight has been my savior. I guess that currently makes me an Ameritrasher but I'm not completely sure what that means. I'm also branching out to other types of games which I'll leave for future blog entries.

At any rate, if you haven't run away screaming by this point, I'm impressed!

(An aside: should "Eurogames" be capitalized? It looks wrong both ways and they aren't necessarily from Europe anymore. It seems more like a new noun to me. The same goes for "Ameritrasher," a term that I resisted but now accept)

I leave you with a picture of our awesome D&D group in full swing:

Clockwise from me are Joey Belanger, Mike Chapel (our evil DM), Mark Hamzy, Jon Grimm, and Jeff Jones. Ed is taking the picture as always.

Posted by susanroz at 8:30 PM | Comments (6)

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