The first of the Essen games arrived at my house. This game sounded like a funner version of Factory Fun. I bought it from Funagain (a.k.a. Rip-Off-Again) because it looked like a limited release that only a few stores would get. I will give Funagain credit for getting hard to find games and what seems to be all of the Essen games. However, they really charge you for that privilege.
This game is about building your own space ship and flying across the galaxy. You have random encounters where you pick up goods, fight off pirates, and dodge meteors. If your ship makes it back, then you get paid a bonus and you can sell off your goods. The rules are well written and include funny tidbits.
There are two phases to this game. You first build your ship and then you run the gauntlet. The ship building phase is rather chaotic. There is a big pile of face-down pieces in the middle. You randomly draw one, reveal it, and decide if you want to attach it to your ship. If not, you put it back face-up and try again. The problem is that everyone is simultaneously and furiously doing this. There is a sand timer that people can advance if they choose. So the people who think that they are in the lead will be motivated to move the timer ahead.
After all the ships and built and they all pass inspection, the flight begins. A set amount of encounter cards will be flipped over one at a time. The event usually happens to the first ship in the race and moves on to the next ship behind the leader. These events are usually bad. It could be a group event where all the ships are looked at together and the person with the least engine strength (or weapon strength or crew) will have to give up something. Or it could be pirates where you have to beat the pirates or suffer consequences. The person who beats the pirates will get a reward and also save the people behind them. Asteroids or blaster shots come in a grouping (kind of like D.D.R. where you get one from the front, one from the left, one from the front, etc). Two dice are rolled to determine the column or row that the path will take it. Small asteroids will destroy exposed piping. Large asteroids can only be stopped by a laser. Small blaster fire can be stopped by shields in that direction and nothing stops large blaster fire. If the leading component is destroyed, well then, it goes away. Along with any connecting pieces.
I was the only one who survived the first round. That gave me a good lead. In the following rounds, I was usually in last place because my engines were weaker than the others. This was bad because I would never be able to land on planets and get trade goods. But I was able to keep my lead through the whole game. One thing that none of us did was to look that the event cards and customize the ship for the events. We were usually too rushed to even consider looking at the cards.
We finally convinced Chapel to stay a little later. He claimed that his S.O. was expecting him home at 10pm. And yet the two married men have no such restrictions.
I had two Tichu hands. And each time Gravitt had a bomb but chose not to use it against me. Which was alright with me. My first hand was 1-9,33,00,ph. If my opening straight had been bombed, I would be hurting. I don’t think I would have cared if he had bombed me during my second Tichu hand.
We were doing okay until Jon went with a risk GrandTichu. But I can’t get too mad at him since he was stopped with a King bomb. And then we were under the gun when the final three hands were called. Jon’s second GrandTichu call was a desperation call. Mike and John stopped him easily. Perhaps that was why Chapel was feeling a little over confident in the last hand. Or at least that is what I assumed why he was cackling maniacally…
|GT/T||Team #1||GT/T||GT/T||Team #2||GT/T|
|MarkH & Jon||MikeCh & JohnG|
It has been a long while since a sans-Russcon has been held. But with Russ and Anna here in the States, it seemed like a good time to hold it! Especially when it is at William’s and J.P.’s house.
A side benefit of Russ coming was that he bought some Essen games with him (Army of Frogs and King of Siam). As I was reading the rules, Anna sat down and started a game with me. Russ and J.P. joined in as well. The rules are rather simple. If you can move your own frog, you must. You place one of the two frogs that you drew from the bag (and draw back up to two again). If you can get it so that all of your frogs on the board are touching each other and there are at least seven of them, then you will win. When you move your piece, it jumps in a straight line over other pieces. You cannot break of the group of frogs. There is one also niggly rule where you cannot make a “string” (a line of three frogs out from the group). You can make as many jumps as you like as long as you do not end up in the same spot. And when you place one of the two pieces, you can place another person’s piece anywhere and your own piece where it not not touching one of your own pieces.
One thing that I don’t like about the Russcon crowd is that they only play Tichu until 600 points. Sesh, it is possible to score a 600 point delta in one hand! And another difference is that Jeff was confused about the wish. Even though I pointed out repeatedly that the wish was in effect. I had played a straight and wished for the Ace (given that Jeff had called Grand Tichu). Everyone passed, so I led a low pair. After it went around with no one playing a pair of aces, I wondered if perhaps people had forgotten. And the was indeed the case. Jeff argued that the Mahjong should be kept on the table if the wish hadn’t been fulfilled. I guess that I am just used to people constantly reminding of the unfulfilled status…
|GT/T||Team #1||GT/T||GT/T||Team #2||GT/T|
|MarkH & Ben||Jeffles & JP|
Wendy brought her gift from Russ to the table. It seemed like a party game so I was wary of playing it. But the only other table was currently just starting a game of Cosmic Encounters so I had no choice but to join it. This is a game about bluffing. You are dealt a hand of cards out of a deck that contains eight different suits of insects (cockroaches, stink bugs, flys, spiders, scorpions), amphibians (toads), and mammals (bats, rats). On your turn, you choose a card from your hand and give it face down to someone. You claim what the card is. That person can either claim that you are correct, that you are lying, or look at it and give it to someone else (calling it the same card or a different type). If they guess correctly (either true or false) then you place the card face up in front of yourself. Otherwise, they place the card face up in front of them. This continues until someone cannot give a card (they lose) or someone has four of the same cards face up (they lose). Everyone else wins.
Fittingly enough, Russ claimed that this game plays much faster with other groups. But our group was rather slow in all aspects of the game.
Our group has stopped going to Tex-Mex places to play Tichu. Tonight, we went to Logan’s Roadhouse. But I am still going to call this game night “Tichu and Tex-Mex” for consistency’s sake. I started off just a little bit confused. I remembered that the restaurant was a “roadhouse” and I figured that it was the Texas Roadhouse next to the Tinseltown Pflugerville. Apparently, it was the Logan’s Roadhouse in La Frontera. But it was no big deal. I was able to drive there in five minutes.
I teamed up with Wayne and Nick. Nick didn’t want to cause this four player game to not happen. So he tag teamed with Wayne. Each person would play one hand. Until Nick left to watch some Showtime show.
John called the first Tichu of the night. Nick was doing a good job of causing him problems. Especially when he played a Queen high full-house and John had to play an Ace high full-house to cover it. Since I had the Dragon and a somewhat strong hand, I over-called Tichu when John played a single. Unfortunately, Traci had a two bomb to stop my Dragon. John was pretty much out of contention at that point so she went out first. Also unfortunately, Nick had the dog. So John was able to go out second for the one/two.
During the last half of the game, I had some good cards. So I would pass low to Wayne and hope that my hand would improve. What was surprising was that Wayne would call Tichu! It was no surprise that we one/twoed a couple of times.
|GT/T||Team #1||GT/T||GT/T||Team #2||GT/T|
|MarkH & Wayne||Traci & John|
Dessert was interesting. Logan’s served a chocolate peanut butter fluff in miniature metal baskets that the peanuts come in. There was a special going on for 3 for $5. I kept calling them nut baskets and derivatives thereof. And they seemed to be like espresso shots to Wayne. His hand was shaking from all the sugar and adrenaline.
Tonight was the one year anniversary of First Friday Gamers. A big congratulation should go out to John for putting in a lot of effort to keep this group active.
We started out with a new Funagain game called Uptown. The name and theme are clearly pasted on. They should have just called it Sudoku. Because that is exactly how it plays. You have 27 tiles (9 for the nine rows, 9 for the nine columns, and 9 for the nine blocks (3×3 section)) plus one extra wildcard. You start with a hand-size of 5 tiles. On your turn, you place a tile and then draw back up to five. You can place the column tile anywhere in the column, the row tile anywhere in the row, the block tile anywhere in the block, and the wildcard anywhere on the board. You are allowed to place your tile over someone else’s. But only if this does not split that other person’s group into two groups. This continues until you cannot draw another tile. Your score will be the number of contiguous groups of your tiles.
I was doing alright in this game. I had two sections that I was trying to join up. But I could not join it with one of the three tiles that would connect! Argh!! Stupid randomness. And then I noticed that Ed was going to connect up his two groups right through the middle of mine. So I had to play my wildcard to stop Ed. Later on I was able to finally join up my two sections and make them safe.
Next up was a game that I have been wanting to play for a while now. When Caylus came out, it was a huge hit. So it was no surprise that a follow up game was created. This game is the card game version of Caylus. And it does a great job of matching the theme and mechanics of Caylus. I am certainly going to buy a copy for myself and play it again in the future.
Oooh! Next up was a new dice fest game that Susan had alerted me about in her blog. I like me some cool dice games. This one does a good job of keeping within the Monopoly theme. It is a light game where you are trying to push your luck. You want to roll dice to match properties. When you get a set of dice to fill in the property, you will get to score it when you quit. However, if you roll three policemen dice, then your turn is over. The first person to 15,000 points wins the game.
There are houses and hotels in this game, but they really don’t matter much in this game. They only score you extra points and do not cost the other players anything.
With the weather being so beautiful outside, I had to take the day off! Unfortunately, F.F.F. is this Friday night so John was anchored to somewhere local. We decided on Pease Park. Boy were we rusty! Wilco sure didn’t prepare us for this course. John found himself in the mulch…
…in the water…
…and in the small canyon (from the erosion)…
Wow, they installed new signs at Pease park! It looks to be from the same company that did the signs at Kyle. I wish the other disc golf courses around here would use those signs as well…
It looks like they sectioned off a small area in the park to test how it will erode over time? But wouldn’t you think that if the section is fenced off then that would stop people from walking on it and that would affect the outcome of the tests?
Afterwards we stopped at the Mellow Mushroom where we ate a spinach and mushroom calzone. John probably won’t return me the favor next time though (being that I dislike mushrooms and had to pick them out).
John brought a new (at least to me) Cheap Ass game called Enemy Chocolatier. Marty had said that he liked it earlier, so I was willing to give it a shot. The components and packaging are up to the Cheap Ass standards. And the game play is simple. You are trying to either get 19 houses that match your secret recipe card colors. Or you are trying to score 20 victory points. You start off with an income of two dollars a turn. And houses cost from 1 to 6 dollars. You can buy up to two houses a turn. And if you cannot afford to buy a house, you can skip the turn and take one rain check token (which allows you to buy an extra house). Houses are grouped into neighborhoods of three to seven houses. If you own every house in a neighborhood, then you receive its benefits (which could include getting more income per turn, scoring victory points per turn, or special powers).
It seemed that the game was getting close to an ending. Doug was scoring many victory points per turn and he was two turns away from winning. However on the next turn, Mike surprised me by completing his nineteenth house for his secret recipe.
This was a game that would could have played way back in January. Jon had ordered it on our last Adam-Spielt order. But it never made its way off of the self. And then, a couple of months ago, John started to bring it in his cart of fluff. Well, today, we finally played it.
I was randomly chosen as start player. And boy was I screwed. The last player gets to pick their starting island which continues around until it gets to me. I was left with an island that has a starting capital of 1 dollar. Which cripples you. I was forced to get money as my first action. Jon, who went next, was able to buy cards. And cards are really, really powerful in this game. Because they allow you to perform additional actions on other people’s turns. The other action that you want to do in this game is to explore. But that costs 7 dollars. And I was too cash limited in this game to ever explore.
There were definitely too many players in this game. Having two of them Grimm really drug down the game. The slow pace was even getting to Chapel…