Sunday, October 16
What's that, you ask?
It's a full day of playing board games with others from across the Los Angeles area and a great way to discover new games and play with lots of great people. Hosted about 5 times a year, recent events have drawn 80 to 100+ people with their game collections in tow, resulting in a multitude of gaming options. Its how I became hooked on the hobby back at SCGD10 and how I have discovered many of my favorite games now in my collection. New attendees are always welcome, so if you can make it I encourage your to come...I think it's worth the drive. The next Games Day will likely be in January.
Post event update:
Other obligations kept me from the full day event, but I did get in 4 hours of games none-the-less.
The first game played was Carcassonne with the river and first expansion. I played with Daniel and his teenage daughter, Erin(?). It has been some time since I have played Carcassonne. It is a game I think is best played with fewer players, allowing for more tile draws to mitigate some of the luck-of-the-draw (though sometimes that only exacerbates it!). Now, I find that Carcassonne is a game that can be played several ways, varying from passive/cooperative to more aggressive/invasive especially in two player games. In three player games, if two players get into aggressive take-that type of back and forth play, the third player can often walk away with the win. Not knowing what to expect, I decided to play a fairly neutral game, looking to create co-operative potential with both players to ultimately end up ahead of both. At the start of the game Daniel went quickly for several farmers, while his daughter started a couple cities, both outside of Daniel's fields. I staked out a farmer adjacent those cities and was soon able to start a third in what were my fields at the time. As the game progressed I began to play more aggressively by moving in on each of my opponents cities. One Erin and I cooperatively completed for big points, while Daniel fought to regain a majority in the other city, but doomed it by creating a difficult final tile play situation which he was ultimately unable to complete. I then switched over to reinforcing my farmer and maximizing the city development in my fields. In the end this proved enough for a win, with Erin not too far behind.
Age of Steam:
My second game was one I had hopes of playing, but had resigned that I wouldn’t get the chance. Jonathan D. was planning on playing a number of Martin Wallace's games at this GamesDay and had earlier requested people to sign-up to express interest. I didn't sign up for fear that my outside commitments might conflict with the play times, and then come Saturday morning the game sign-up was full. Now fast-forward to the end of my Carcassonne game and the simultaneous preparations to start of Age of Steam...Jonathan's opponents were absent so I and for others stepped in to play. We were six total, 3 new to the game, 2 that had played once, and Jonathan with multiple games under his belt (but on maps other than the one we were to play...Germany.). Jonathan took the time to extensively explain the rules, which is critical to more complex games such as Age of Steam. Some at the table were chomping at the bit to just start playing and learn as we go, but I for one was glad that Jonathan persisted with his explanation of all key components plus the unique rules associated with Germany. Age of Steam is primarily an economics game with a very tight money supply, where efficient planning and balancing of your income and expenses is critical. but it is also a connection goods delivery train game, where players are trying to build routes connecting cities across the map to link cities producing a good with the cities consuming the same good (plus an auction for turn order and special action selection). I found Age of Steam to be just what I was hoping for...a real thinking game with depth and room for long term planning. Although in this first game I was really only operating at the level of short term tactics, by my mid-game I began to see how all the pieces were fitting together and discovering future possibilities. There is a lot of thinking to be done on one's turn (the only fear I have of bringing this one home) and the game is certainly not short (our play clocked in at a bit over 3 hours after the rules explanation), but I felt engaged throughout. This is definitely one I want to play again.
And with that my time at the 23rd Games Day was over but we did find time for a few games with my family and some family friends in from out-of-town. Before the weekend was over we had played Category 5, Ticket to Ride, and Finstere Fleure (the kids also got a quick game of Klondike in, but that session seemed to emphasize flaws in either the game or my explanation, I'll have to investigate further to decide which). Anyway, our guests, Amy and her children, David and Lucy were new to EuroGames but certainly took to them quite quickly. Lucy was especially eager to continue playing and was always asking to start a game whenever we had a break between other activities. I wish our schedule had allowed for it as I would have enjoyed that as well.
In our Category 5 game Reanna struggled with the 'help' offered by mom during and felt that, in the end, she would have done better off following her own judgment. That is probably true as she ended up with over 40 points in one round to Maria's 1 (a little suspicious, one might think...). All three newcomers caught on quite quickly to the card-play and appreciated the game.
After dinner Sunday, James and I introduced David and Lucy to Ticket to Ride. Once again they both caught on quickly and asked the right questions during my rules explanation, so I could tell they were attentive and ready to go. I went for a string of long routes, as from three separate ticket draws the longest route I could muster was an 11 point connection to Pittsburgh. James and Lucy both had long continuous routes going which linked their ticket routes efficiently (James completing three, with 2 at 20+ points each, and Lucy completing all but one, but getting the 10 point route bonus to compensate) David connected all of his routes as well, but his were shorter like mine. Back to me, well, the game ended before I could get the train card draw I needed for my last (critical) route-link and I missed out on 2 of my four routes. I was impressed by Lucy's play she seemed to grasp the end-game very well and pushed hard to end the game quick once she had completed the routes that were possible (she got shut out on one route and simply couldn't make the connection). In the end, James won with his big routes, but Lucy was close behind. I came in third thanks of my string of 6 train routes (my ticket scores left me in negative territory), and David suffered from his low point routes and shorter links. Both Lucy and David were very impressed by Ticket To Ride and wanted to know where we had got it. Sounds like we just found some new EuroGamers for the Bay Area.