Date: July 11

Games: TransAmerica, Rette Sich wer Kann, Torres, and Dragon's Gold

Attendees: Ed, Susan, Jon, Doug, Mark (all regulars), Marty (comes occasionally, wish he'd come more cuz, he's a great guy ), Alex and Donna (1st timers and new to German style games)

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

TransAmerica: First up was Mark's brand new copy of the game that's been getting so much buzz. I've been dying to try this and I thought it sounded like a good one for newbies Alex and Donna to try. Mark, Doug, Alex, Donna and I all sat down to listen to the rules explanation. Meanwhile, Ed and latecomer Jon started up a game of Crokinole while even latercomer Marty looked on.

The rules to this game are sooo simple and none of us had any trouble catching on to the mechanics or the strategy. I can see why this game is addicting and I enjoyed it a lot. It gives you the illusion of having more control than one actually has, but it left me wanting to play it again. Everyone liked it, including Alex and Donna, I think. Donna was interested in possibly getting it for her 3rd grade class (she's a teacher).

One of the things that can really bog down our game sessions is selecting a game to play. The question, "what do you want to play next?" is usually greeted with a chorus of "I'll play anything". If someone actually names a game, then that is often countered with "except that". Well, Alex actually had a strong opinion as to what game he wanted to try. One of the games on our shelves that had caught his eye was Rette Sich wer Kann, the lifeboat game. Never in a hundred years would I pick that wicked game for someone new to the hobby to play. I mean, it's a hoot with the right crowd, but the back stabbing and viciousness is not for the faint-of- heart. However, not being used to someone actually having a strong opinion on what game to play, I caved and we started muddling through a review of the rules. Ed, Marty, Jon and Mark fled in fear to the other table to play a tame little game of Morisi, while Alex, Donna, Doug, and I prepared to struggle to safety in our leaky boats.

Rette Sich wer Kann: The first part of the game was just too nice. As I feared, nobody wanted to pick on anyone else and all the leaks were springing up in boats that had spots open in them. Eventually though, the boats started running out of room and we were just going to have to accept the fact that things were now going to get ugly. We started arguing our cases and sailors started getting thrown overboard left and right. Doug got picked on early and lost most of his sailors. Donna and I were able to hold on to most of ours and ended up tied. I won the tiebreaker because my boat arrived at an island first. Alex came in third and Doug brought up the rear.

The players in this game just really need to know each other well and hence be completely comfortable with each other. That was not the case with this playing and it definitely showed. Alex seemed to like it well enough, but I'm not sure about Donna. Doug seemed totally disgusted because he'd been essentially eliminated early on and I thought the game was just plain dull this time around.

The game of Morisi had already finished and the next two games were actually quickly chosen - Torres and Mark's brand new copy of Clash of the Gladiators. I really wanted to try CotG, but Torres is one of my favorite games and I hadn't played it in over a year, so I opted for it instead. Alex wanted to try something with more depth, so he joined Ed, Marty and me for Torres. Donna decided she would sit out for now.

Torres: Now this game showcases everything I love about German style games. Beautiful to look at, deceivingly simple rules, elegant mechanics, depth of play, and just enough of a pasted on theme to distract me from the fact that what I'm really playing is an abstract game. I started off well, taking a big lead in the first round by dominating the largest castle on the board. Marty and Ed drew dangerously close to me in the second round while Alex trailed behind. The third round proved to be my demise. Ed and Marty conspired to keep me from getting the big King's bonus. If only I hadn't earlier buried the action card that moves a knight diagonally, I would have foiled their plans and been victorious. Ed and Marty, both of whom did get the bonus, zoomed pass me on the scoring track during the final scoring. Ed won, followed by Marty, me, and finally Alex. Alex played well for his first playing and seemed to enjoy the game. Donna watched some, but for some reason didn't find four people staring intently at a Torres board very exciting. 

The hour was getting late so Alex and Donna left, but the others decided to play one more game, Dragon's Gold. Now, I was totally satiated after feasting on Torres and wasn't sure I was up to a negotiating game, even a light one like Dragon's Gold. But, hey, I'm not one to turn down a game so I joined the other five for one more game.

Dragon's Gold: Bruno Faidutti's games are usually are bit chaotic for me, but this one I do like. We always remove the "invisible hand" card from the deck that allows the person who draws it to try to steal from the gems out on the dragon cards. We usually are playing on a rectangular table, and those sitting on the ends are too far away to try and pull off this sleight-of-hand maneuver, putting them at a disadvantage if they draw the card. I was doing absolutely dismally the first half of the game. Jon was being particularly stubborn negotiating for treasure and had no problem allowing the sand timer to run out and the treasure lost if his demands weren't met. What really hurt me, though, was when Jon and I slayed a dragon that had 9 hidden treasures. We thought that it would surely include some good stuff. Alas, most of it turned out to be wimpy silver pieces, leaving us both behind in the race to get majorities in the various gems. Then the game was salvaged for me when Mark and I banded together to slay a dragon that had the dreaded black gem in its hidden stash. This gives the owner 15 points but renders all his gems worthless. Gold, Silver and magic items keep their values. Mark gladly let me have it in return for letting him have the other gems. Jon would have liked to steal it from me, but I managed to not give him the chance. The game ended with Mark on top with a score of 32, Marty and I tied with 31, Doug 30, Ed 28, and Jon had 13. No wonder he was after my black gem. Fun game, even when I stay up way past my bedtime to play it.

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