Date: October 30, 2003

Games: The Gothic Game, Santa Fe Rails

Attendees: Doug, Ed, Helen, Jeff S., Jon, Mark, Roxana, Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

The night before Halloween meant that it was time to pull out the spooky games.

The Gothic Game Helen tries to survive The Gothic Game as Mark, Jon and Doug plot to kill her.
The Gothic Game: Doug, Helen, Jeff S., Jon, Mark, Roxana, Susan

I played this for the first time at the last Gulf Games and it was such a hoot that I immediately began a search for it. I finally tracked down a copy of it at perhaps the only place on the planet that sells it and after a long wait, I finally had a copy in my hands.

In The Gothic Game, players are roaming around a spooky house trying to kill their fellow players and be the last one alive. You start off with a 100 stamina points and if they ever get to zero or below you are dead. You roll the die, move through the corridors and enter rooms, at which time you draw a card from that particular room's deck in the hopes of getting life points or a weapon to use to kill a fellow player. Unfortunately, these rooms are full of perils and you are just as likely to draw a card that causes you harm. The house itself is also full of perils, including a spiral staircase that sends you to your death, a poisonous moat, and Dracula to name just a very few. Of course the biggest hazard to your health comes from the fact that your fellow players are out to kill you. If another player lands in a spot adjacent to you, he may play a weapon or another nasty from his hand to try and kill or harm you if you don't have the proper defense. Or, he may move you in the direction of his choice after a die roll.

The Gothic Game The Gothic Game board.
Helen started the game off by having the contents of the Lavatory's Faulty Plumbing discharge onto her head in the South Courtyard. Pee yew! For the rest of the game anyone who shared a room with her lost 5 stamina points because of the odor.

I started off badly in the South Courtyard by losing a game of chance with the Devil which lost me 50 stamina points. Ouch! I then staggered into the Trophy Room, only to be attacked by a bear for another 30. Bleeding profusely, I slowly made my way to the Torture Chamber to look for a weapon where I encountered the Inquisitioners. They sawed off one of my legs which finished me off.

Meanwhile, Jeff was given a chalice of wine by a monk. This not only gave him 30 points, but kept him safely sleeping out of harm's way in the South Courtyard for two turns. Helen made a beeline for the Crypt where she was bitten by Dracula and turned into a vampire. This meant she had six turns to roam the corridors at double speed and try to kill everyone. However, on turn six she had to return to the crypt or be fried to a crisp by the sun. She quickly overtook Jon but there she met her demise. Jon had picked up a wooden stake and hammer in the Kitchen and easily dispatched her. Two players down!

By this time, Jeff had been pushed into the Great Spiral Staircase by ? (can't remember). Death waits at the bottom of this staircase and each die roll other than a six sends you down toward it. A six lets you climb upwards but alas, Jeff couldn't roll one and after several agonizing turns met his doom at the bottom. Three down!

Meanwhile, Jon had picked up the Congolese Blow Pipe. He made his way to the Tower and from his high vantage point was able to pick off poor Mark who was wandering in a corridor below. Four down!

Now it was just Jon, Doug and Roxana left. Roxana tried her luck at being a vampire but had to return to the crypt before finding someone on which to feed. Doug, meanwhile, got trapped under a falling chandelier in the Great Hall for several turns, losing much stamina. He then entered the Torture Chamber where a Red Hot Brand was applied to his back. He dove into the moat for relief but alas, it was not enough to save him. Five down and just two left!

Roxana had stepped on a crumbling section of the battlement and tumbled into the moat. While she was desperately trying to climb out, Jon had been bitten by Dracula and was cruising the corridors in the hopes of catching Roxana when she finally crawled out. Unfortunately for Roxana, she crawled out of the moat at the Southgate Drawbridge, within striking distance of a thirsty Jon. He quickly dispatched her. However, since this was his sixth turn out of the crypt, he was immediately withered by the rising sun. He was the last player alive though, and was declared the winner.

I was very afraid this game was going to flop with our group given that it is a roll-and-move elimination game totally dependent on luck. Fortunately, everyone played it in the right spirit and had a lot of fun with it. It really is amusing!

Results: Jon in 1st, followed by Roxana, Doug, Mark, Jeff, Helen, Susan

I guess everyone was spooked out because the next games chosen had no scare factor whatsoever. We split into two groups to play Tikal and Santa Fe Rails.

Santa Fe Rails Jeff, Doug, Susan and Ed rebuild the US rail system in Santa Fe Rails.
Santa Fe Rails: Doug, Ed, Jeff S., Susan

This game feels like the serious gamer's version of TransAmerica. You are trying to connect train lines to your cities, some of which are hidden in your hand, and you are hoping to get inadvertent help from the other players. Of course, there is a lot more to Santa Fe Rails than TransAmerica's simple goal.

Santa Fe Rails The blue line pushes west early in the game.
I don't really remember too many details about the game. I thought Ed had a huge lead because he had several city doubles, ensuring that only he got the points for those cities. Jeff made at least three boneheaded (his word) mistakes. I don't know what they were, but he complained loudly after each one. Several rail lines dead-ended early and my strategy turned to one of just drawing and getting down as many city cards as I could.
Santa Fe Rails Near the end of Santa Fe Rails.
This is perhaps my biggest complaint of the game. The end seems to boil down to who gets luckiest with the card draws. It's still fun though, despite the luck issues. I felt sure Ed had won, but was pleasantly surprised that I had instead, although barely.

Results: Susan 172, Ed 169, Doug, 143, Jeff 136

Amazingly enough, we did not get around to playing Midnight Party as a closer. This was due to the fact that the Tikal game went very late. I'm extremely relieved that I chose to play Santa Fe Rails as Tikal went on for more than two hours with Helen having a big lead for most of that time. I do find it sad, though, that Hugo did not get to make his traditional Halloween appearance.

Other games played: Tikal

Helen, Jon and Mark explore the jungles of Tikal.
Tikal board 1
Our brave explorers venture into the jungles early on in Tikal.
Tikal board 2
Midway through Tikal as more trees are cut down by the explorers.
Tikal board 4
Tikal final scoring time.

For more pictures from this gaming sessions and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

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Copyright © 2003, Ed Rozmiarek