I took this Friday off. I have 6 unclaimed vacation days and want to use them for beautiful days (or at least as beautiful as Texas can get in the winter). Today was one of them. It was warm and overcast out. So I headed up to Temple to photograph the two disc golf courses they have up there. There is a course in Lions Park and one in South Temple Community Park.
I am liking this game more and more. And I should probably get rid of San Juan. Since these games are very similar. But what R.F.T.G. has going for it is the artwork, the science fiction theme, and the slightly more complex gameplay. In this game, I went for a pure military strategy. I started off with Epsilon Eridani. Who are slightly less militaristic cousins of New Sparta. Fortunately, I began the game with the Space Marines. I was able to slowly build up my military strength. And I was lucky to draw the New Galactic Order which gave me an end of game bonus of 10 points. John was going for rare production worlds. Jon was going for developments. Which allowed him to build more cards than us. And he was the one who finally ended it. But it turned out that my military reigned supreme.
Next up was Amyitis which is Ystari’s new game. The rules were slightly confusing. It took us a while to figure out what cards were meant for what pile and what everything else was used for. This game gave me a good sense of possibilities. There seemed to be a number of mechanisms to score points. And there seemed to exist a number of ways to pip people. Jon and I kept fighting during this game. He would get the better of me one time. And then I would best him another time. There are also some surprising mechanisms. Jon was able to pip me in a fight for control at one area by an action on the camel board. I was not expecting that. My plans were to complete the win in that area in the following turn. I retaliated by regaining supremacy in the farmer area by multiple placements of temple followers. It certainly looked like Jon was going to win that battle. But I fought back just in the nick of time.
There are also some painful aspects. Only two people can ever progress in the three areas of research. I was locked out of victory point generation. And it was painful to watch the Jo(h)ns progress during the game. So I concentrated on trying to farm high point value areas. But it was not enough. And just one farm away from winning the game (but it at least got me second).
Ugh, I hate the camera in the iPhone. It is an utter piece of crap. Horrible colors, horrible low light handling, horrible resolution (1.9 Megapixels).
I had an amusing pass. I had a somewhat possible Tichu hand, so I passed John a 2. I received on the pass the Dog, the Mahjong, and a 3. Sigh. At least my partner made the Tichu. But it seemed that he ignored the implied strength of my pass. Not only that, but he told the group that I passed a two to him during the play!
For my one Tichu call, I had AAKQJ098765431. I played the King-high straight. Everyone passed. I then played the Mahjong and wished for an Ace — just because. And I passed on the Traci’s Ace. Fortunately, Traci eventually played a pair. Otherwise, I would have to hope that a lot of singles would be played. Because the Dragon or Phoenix would cover my first Ace on a single.
|GT/T||Team #1||GT/T||GT/T||Team #2||GT/T|
|MarkH & JohnG||Traci & JohnH|
Thankfully, Jon invited me over to play some games with him on Thanksgiving. We started out with this two player version of the Ticket to Ride game system. The only problem that I had with it was just the general luck of the draw. In my case, every time I tried to tunnel through the mountains, I would turn up three locomotive cards! (For each matching color or locomotive card, you must pay an extra card to lay that track). Gah! How flawed! Needless to say I lost this game as a number of my turns were wasted by not being able to play.
Next up was a two player Age of Steam map by the SteamBrothers. In this variant, you had to build complete segments and you could not take out loans. Also, the starting order was fixed with each player essentially alternating as the start player. I took a risk and went for the longer purple delivery chain on the map. Jon made a good first build and had a number of vital first deliveries. But he was unable to expand much after that. I started to catch up and was able to perform some long deliveries. Which rocketed me into the lead.
And then there was Mr. Jack — or Jack the Ripper to his corpses. This sounded like an interesting two player deduction game. My job was to keep the identity of Jack hidden so that he could escape unnoticed. Jon’s was to stop that from happening. There are eight potential suspects. Who are revealed when the machinery of the game announces that Jack is in the light or in the dark at the end of each turn. So I tried to keep as many characters in one group as possible. At the beginning, everyone was in the light. But it got harder and harder to keep suspects from being revealed as innocent. I tried to set up Sherlock Holmes to eventually escape the net. But I was not subtle enough. Jon noticed it. And when he was forced to guess, he chose Holmes. I should have only moved William Gull to divert suspicion…
I haven’t played a Zombie game in a while. This one started off boring. But when the hope for escaping, the helicopter pad, showed up, it turned into a slug fest. And I am not talking about the constant slaughter of the undead this time. Everyone was trying to be the first to make it to the idling helicopter. Unfortunately, I was limited, or should I say hamstrung, by the card which reduced my movement in half. And it looked like I would never get rid of it… even by dying! Fortunately, we decided on a house rule that allowed the movement to be rounded up (so you could always move at least one) and to allow you to remove the card when you died (which is inevitable). Even with those accommodations, it was annoying. I held the card to move 10 squares instead of rolling dice. So I was hoping that Doug would clear out a tunnel and fail to reach the helicopter. And then I would swoop in for the escape. But it was not meant to be. At least every one of us was in contention for escaping…
We ended with Thebes. I like this game for it theme. But the randomness of the draw, or shall I say the big dig, was evident in this game. Matt could not find dirt. And I seemed to find nothing but dirt. Also, this was another game where I did not show any artifacts because I did not have the right combination of colors. There really should be a players aid of the possible exhibition cards so that people can plan which countries to specialize in.
My new mangler is definitely different than the old. I got a surprise stocking today. I wonder what Santa will give me… Heres hoping for a lump of Anthracite.
BGG.CON is finally over with. This is the biggest convention for this year and, by far, the most eagerly anticipated. And that is because it is held right after Essen. I made quite the long list of Essen released games to try out. Which included:
- Age of Steam (new boards)
- Army of Frogs
- El Capitan
- Felix: The Cat in the Sack
- Galaxy Trucker
- Giganten der Lufte
- Gipsy King
- In the Year of the Dragon
- Kaivai Expansion
- King of Siam
- League of Six
- Key Harvest
- Race for the Galaxy
- Space Dealer expansion
- Texas Hold’em
Some of the conversations after a hand has been played still escapes me some times. As an example, I had the following hand today: 6:6 5:5 3:3 2:2 6:3 6:1 5:1. My partner, Paul, passes on the bid which is a bad sign. In our group, a bid of 30 means that you have a splash/plunge support hand. That is you can take three tricks and then punt with a low six. I still go for the plunge bid. Paul opens with the 1:1. I take some time to consider and finally play the 6:1. Paul then “gets creative,” and plays the 1:0. He assumed that there was a chance that I held both the 6:1 and the 5:1. We were able to squeak by when the 6:5 and 6:4 fell which allowed the 6:3 to walk.
There were people at the table who argued that I should have discarded the 5:1 on the first trick since the 6:1, and the 6:3 are both walkers under the 6:6. Which I still don’t understand. I kept the 5:1 as a possible walker under the 5:5. The 6:3 is still the weak bone in either case. It absolutely needs to walk under the 6:6. Wouldn’t you want more distance to when you are forced to play your walker? That way the opponents will have to decide to discard a potential stopper.
Scheimpflug principle link
I went out to the Wurstfest for some beer and wurst. It is pretty amazing that the festival has been going on for 47 years now, yet this is the first time that I have gone. The drive might have something to do with it. It is in New Braunfels, Texas. Which is a 76 mile trip.
Once again I was a little bit worried when it sprinkled on the way down. It has not been raining here for a while now. Why does it have to rain when I go do something? Fortunately, it didn’t rain while we were walking around. And it only rained once very briefly when I was indoors.
I skipped eating breakfast in expectation of gorging myself silly at the fair. I started off with five different pieces of wurst on a stick. They were all pretty good. The last one surprised me since it was sweet. Was it a dessert wurst? Next up was the quintessential potato pancakes and applesauce. This was by far the most popular dish at the fair. The line was long (two lines — one on each side) and there were always people in line. But the wait for the pancakes to cook was worth it. On a whim, I tried the funnel cakes (shouldn’t that be funnel donuts?). It was tasty and greasy. But I should have gone with the theme and ordered some strudel.
The beer was great. I tried four different German beers on tap starting off with the Warsteiner Dunkel. Next was the Spaten Oktoberfest and then I tried the Paulaner Munich Lager. I finished with the Warsteiner Premium Lager.
The entertainment was okay. The best act was the Fire On The Mountain Cloggers. They were really energetic and high energy.
The only downer of the day was that I lost my phone! It must have slipped out of my pocket during one of the cramped seating sessions. Of course, I only noticed that it was missing on the way home…
Sigh. I guess that is fate telling me to get a new phone. Signing up for a new phone was not easy. Especially when you do not have a home phone. But fortunately I was finally able to get the web to work for both reinstating my phone number and resetting my iTunes password.