Date: July 18

Games: Fabrik der Träume, Industrial Waste, Pig Pile

Attendees: Alex, Doug, Ed, Jon, Mark, Marty, Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

We were fortunate again this week to have enough gamers to split up in to two smaller groups. This time we skipped the normal appetizers and dove right in to the main course, one group opting for Medina and the other, including myself, choosing Fabrik der Träume.

Fabrik der Träume: Alex, Doug, Marty and Susan

This was my third playing of this Knizia auction game and it is beginning to grow on me quite a bit. In general, I just don't "get" auction games, but that is finally starting to turn around as I play more and more of them. I got off to a pretty slow start in this game. Marty dominated the first half of the game, being the only one to complete a film in the first quarter. I wasn't able to complete my first film, Arsenic and Old Lace, until the third quarter, but it was a doozy, earning 20 points and garnering several awards, including best picture at the end of the game. Another thing I had going for me in this game was staying on top of the Hollywood social scene. By having the most actors for most of the game, I was able to have first pick at the parties. I also won the coveted "Best Director" award, helped by my recruitment of Alfred Hitchcock in the third quarter to direct King Kong. At the end of the game, I found myself tied with Doug. Alas, a quick perusal of the rules revealed none for tie breakers, so I had to share top honors for best filmmaker with Doug, followed by Marty and then Alex. I wish I could remember the scores. What I actually need to remember is to start taking notes during our game sessions.

I really, really, like the auction mechanism in this game. The auction winner's payment is divided and distributed equally amongst the other players, so you never leave an auction empty handed.

The next game suggested was Muscat. Alex wanted to end his evening early with something light, so Ed suggested Industrial Waste.

Industrial Waste: Alex, Ed, and Susan

This was a really long playing for this game. Alex and Ed concentrated more on completing orders, while my main strategy was innovating my company and firing employees as fast as I could so I wouldn't have to pay them. I ended up with a sleek, efficient, sophisticated company that hardly produced a darn thing. Alex shot across the growth track early and remained there, not wanting to end the game as he was behind me in points. Ed and I were soon even with him and I held a very slim lead over Alex in points. I was desperately trying to end the game, but I couldn't get the necessary card. Meanwhile, Ed sat there sighing and lamenting how he was "so out of this game". Sneaky, sneaky, I should really know better by now. While Alex and I were focused on calculating each others points, Ed was completing those orders. We were stunned when he suddenly ended the game with a triumphant smirk. To Alex and my dismay, when the final points were tallied the scores were Ed-64, Alex- 51, and me trailing in last place with 47, thanks to a last minute loan I had to take out to pay my employees. Arrghh!!

Industrial Waste definitely has a solitaire feel to it. I find it a pleasant change of pace after playing games with high player interaction. One thing that does disappoint me about it, though, is the fact that at least in our games, it seems fairly easy to avoid producing excessive waste. Given the name of the game, I thought the garbage would be more of a factor. There is also one tweak that I would like to try and that is to keep money hidden during the game. Hopefully, that would make the auctions for goods more interesting. I think it would also help avoid the end of the game stalling with players calculating everyone else's scores, since money is part of the scoring.

Alex departed and Ed and I took a break to get our kids to bed. Meanwhile the others started up a game of Exxtra. This is one of our group's favorite fillers. It is frequently pulled out while we are waiting for people to arrive. When we play a game with excessive downtime between turns, we usually set it up and play on the side. I didn't see much of this playing, but I did see the spectacular last play of the game. Jon was a mere two spaces away from winning with the others close on his heels. As he shook his dice he said "double twos" and rolled .... double twos to win the game.

Pig Pile: Ed, Doug, Jon, Mark, Marty and Susan

With six players remaining, we decided to finish the evening with another great filler, Pig Pile. Our group has played this at least half a dozen times now and we still haven't exhausted all the possible pig jokes and puns yet. We play this game with lightning speed and it always feels like a wild out-of-control rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs and unexpected ewe turns. In this game, Mark jumped out to an early lead, but couldn't keep it and when the dust finally settled, Marty and Doug were tied for the top swineherd honors, followed by Jon and Mark in a tie for third, then me, and lastly Ed, who found himself at the bottom of the pig pile.

This is the type of game that makes me ponder on the way that various people rate games. I rate this game very highly. It's light, it's fun and it is one that can be enjoyed by kids and non-gamers, too. Sure, it doesn't compare to Puerto Rico, but it's not trying to be a Puerto Rico. I would love to see games rated based on comparisons to other games of the same category (say light vs. middle vs. heavyweight). Of course, trying to decide which games belong in which categories would probably generate even more debate than the ratings issue!

Anyway, it was another fun evening of games. Next week we hope to try out Funkenschlag. Ed and I just took our copy to Kinko's and copied and laminated the map and resource market card. They look great and now both lay flat, although they don't fit in the box.

Fabrik der Traume
Marty, Alex, Doug and Susan (l to r) pretend to be movie moguls in Fabrik der Träume.
The city of Medina as rebuilt by Ed, Mark and Jon.
Mark, Marty, Jon and Doug (l to r) manuever their street performers into the Sultan's palace in Muscat.
Making pork
Mark tries a unique way to get additional pigs in Pig Pile.
The sign of the Pig
After three rounds, Ed's lone pig tries to make a pact with the Devil to change his luck. The offering fails to bring home the bacon.

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