Date: December 11, 2003

Games: Call My Bluff, Ra, Trendy, Feurio!, TransAmerica High Society

Attendees: Clark, Doug, Ed, Helen, Jon, Mark, Mike, Rick, Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

Tonight I was suffering from pre-holiday fatigue, having run myself ragged with Christmas errands the past few days. Even so, I managed to stay awake for a whopping total of six games. The bad news is, the details of some of the games are rather sketchy.

Call My Bluff Susan, Doug, Mike, Mark, Clark and Ed determine the best liar.
Call My Bluff: Clark, Doug, Ed, Mark, Mike, Susan

This game has been requested several times in the past few weeks, but always too late in the evening. By that time, our kids are in bed and not liable to stay there with the sounds of thirty shaking dice. This time though, someone was wise enough to suggest it as an opener. After a brief rules refresher, we were soon drowning out the kids with OUR noise (for a change).

I am absolutely terrible at this game. The only reason I managed to stay in as long as I did was the fact that Ed, sitting on my immediate right, and Clark, on Ed's right, were the ones starting the bids early on. So when it was my turn to raise the bid, it wasn't so ridiculously high yet as to make my bid likely to be called. And, with this many players, the bid usually doesn't get back around to you. It couldn't last, however. A few exact bids called lost me two dice and then I went out in a blaze, losing three after calling Ed's bluff. Ed managed to keep all of his five dice almost to the very end while the others left only had one or two, giving him a huge advantage.

Results: Ed in first, followed by Mike, Mark, Clark/Susan, Doug

I've gotten pretty tired of this game over the years, not helped by the fact that I do so dismally at it. It never has been one of my favorites. I will still play if it is requested however, and it is a popular choice for a large group and/or non-gamers.

Time to split up into two groups. An older game, Tal der Könige was selected and the seats at that table were immediately filled. I would have liked to play it again, as it's been a long time, but I certainly wasn't disappointed to play Helen's suggestion, Ra.

Raaaaaa!!!!!! Clark ponders his bid during Ra with Helen, Rick, Susan and Mark.
Ra: Clark, Helen, Mark, Rick, Susan

Having played this game with Mark several times, I made sure I grabbed the chair on his right. Mark, you see, has this habit of calling "Ra" on his turn, hoping to either get somebody to burn a sun tile prematurely and pay too much or allow him to get something cheaply. This time I wanted to be able to call Ra first. Even though I didn't beat him in the end, it was fun to thwart his sneaky plans and frustrate him a couple of times.

The first epoch was very strange. Helen used her sun tiles early, grabbing some nice stuff and sitting out the rest of the epoch. This turned out to be a good move for her because Ra tiles were being drawn at a furious rate, causing the rest of us to scramble like crazy to get something before the epoch came to an early end.

The second epoch went the same way, with Ra tiles being drawn quickly and everyone, including Helen this time, having to make a tough choices and decide whether or not to bid on puny takings or risk the epoch being over and getting nothing. Helen managed to secure her majority in Pharaohs, while the rest of us battled over not being the one with the least. The scores for this epoch were very low, with Mark and I getting negative points.

The third epoch went much more slowly. Rick was the last person to have a sun tile and got greedy drawing tiles. Unfortunately, he drew the last Ra tile first which ended the epoch and the game.

Results: Helen 43, Mark 36, Rick 32, Susan 29, Clark 25

Trendy: Doug, Ed, Helen, Rick, Susan

Rick needed to leave early so we pulled out one our favorite fillers so he could get in one more game. It was nearly mindless and fun as always.

Results: Rick 102, Ed 99, Doug 98, Susan 88, Helen 82

Feurio! Firefighters Helen, Doug, Susan and Ed playing Feurio!.
Feurio!: Doug, Ed, Helen, Susan

I had played this last week and really enjoyed it. Since it had taken half the game to see what I thought were some strategies, I was eager to try it again. This time though, I was very underwelmed. Helen was able to get a decent chain going that was connected to a "one" tile. Despite our best efforts to stop her, including Ed paying for an expensive firebreak, we were unable to stop her advance. One area of the forest, dominated by Doug and Helen, remained extremely hot due to a succession of high-numbered tile draws and Ed and I couldn't do much about it. I started a new chain in that area but it was too late in the game. Even though Doug had a nice chain also, he was not able to get to a "one" tile, which doomed him to a much lower score.

Results: Helen 32, Susan 29, Doug 24, Ed 22

Feurio! Midway through Feurio!.
I'm not sure if this game was an aberration or what. My first game was with three players and the neutral firefighters, so maybe that made a difference. I only know that in this game I felt like I had much less control and far fewer interesting decisions to make. I need to play it some more in order to give it a really fair assessment.

A game of Alhambra was still in progress at the other table and with the hour getting late we decided to pull out something short and easy.

TransAmerica: Doug, Ed, Helen, Susan

As usual, there was plenty of whining as people were dealt their city cards. There always is. We then proceeded to lay our track. This is a fun filler when played in a speedy manner. It doesn't take any great thought, but it's fun and provides a bit of angst watching the network of track develop. All it takes is one slow person trying to put too much thought than is needed during their turn though, and the game gets dreadfully dull. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here.

Results: Helen in first, followed by Susan, Doug and Ed

Ed and Jon were taking the next day off from work and so were pushing for another game, despite the late hour. Half-sleep, I decided to bow out and retire but when I saw that they had pulled out High Society I decided to prop my eyelids open and play one more game.

High Society: Ed, Jon, Mike, Susan

Even though Jon and Ed were shaking their heads at how much I was spending for some of the cards, I was loosely keeping track of how much Mike was spending and was pretty sure it was more. I wasn't able to get any of the 2X cards, but I also managed to avoid the bad ones. Much to the amusement/annoyance of everyone else, I refused to acknowledge Ed's presence to my right and kept bidding before he had a chance to bid or pass, being a clear indication that it was past my bedtime. However, spending money is something I excel at and I was able to pull out the win because fortunately, Mike had spent a bit more, guaranteeing him last place instead of me.

Results: Susan 16, Ed 12, Jon 4, Mike 0

Other games played: Tal Der Könige, Alhambra

Tal der Konige
Doug and Mike ponder what's on the wall behind Ed while Jon ponders his pen while playing Tal der Könige.
Tal der Konige
Building pyramids midway through Tal der Könige.
Tal der Konige
Close up of Tal der Könige.
Final Tal der Konige
Doug completes a final mixed pyramid to edge out Ed by one point.
Clark, Mike, Jon and Mark ponder their cards during Alhambra.
Feurio! pieces
Feurio! firefighters. Look like bowling pins to me.

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

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