html> Friends Over Gaming: Game Night: Saturday, November 26

Sunday, November 27


Game Night: Saturday, November 26

David, Victoria, Jasper, and Evan joined us for dinner and an evening of board games this holiday weekend. We had been trying to get together for the last few weekends, ever since playing Atlantic Star and High Society at their place a while back. We have been playing together irregularly, ever since an introductory evening playing Ticket to Ride and Finstere Fleure last year. Since then, we have played Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers, Transamerica, Acquire, Union Pacific, Category 5, and Africa together. They have since begun their own collection and have become a budding board game family. Jasper (who is 11), in particular has been taken by the board game bug.

While waiting for David to arrive, the rest of us sat down for a game of Diamant, which is fast becoming our new favorite introductory family game. Everyone caught on quickly; it's such a simple game. Reanna had played before and has declared Diamant to be her new favorite game, which persuaded Evan to reluctantly join in. She and Reanna, both 7, teamed up and played as one for our game. They made good calls in the first two mines getting out solo and cleaning up the gems on the way out. This gave them a comfortable lead and allowed them to play conservatively for the remaining mines. By the end of the third mine all of us had banked some gems, but things didn't look too good for me as I was far behind the pack. In the fourth mine everyone bailed early except Victoria, who held out for more and got a few more before getting nervous and fleeing with her cache. We all roared when we flipped what would have been her next card. It was a 13. In the last mine the roles reversed and it was I who stayed the course and did some solo collecting. I needed to stay in until I got something big. I was up against 3 exposed dangers but made it out, fleeing after revealing 3 additional cards 2 of which were low gem values. The last was a 13 and enough for the win. Had Victoria stayed the course for one more card in mine 4 she would have taken top honors. Lucky me. Everyone loved it and wanted to play again (even Evan who was reluctant at the start). Too bad this is only available as an import only item, though it seems to be widely available in the US. I've seen it domestically at Boards&Bits, Boulder Games, Funagain, and GameSurplus. It's certainly worth picking up.

Since David had just arrived we decided to move onto something a little more substantial for the four adults and the kids ran off to entertain themselves. After our game of Atlantic Star of a few weeks ago, Maria thought David and Victoria would love Ra, so this was my natural choice for our first meatier game for the evening. After getting through the rules, the first few turns were filled with some uncertainty in determining when to call Ra and then how to evaluate the relative value of the set at auction. This was quickly established after the first few bids. David decided he had overpaid for his first two sets and played more conservatively with his last sun tile. Epochs one and two ended with one player playing chicken with the Ra tile track. In the first epoch it was David who abandoned his conservative play to add a few more tiles to the set before cashing in (his timing was perfect as in trial test of fate David pulled one more tile from the bag which turned out to be a Ra tile. We quickly returned that tile to the bag and continued.) The second epoch found the daring Victoria in the same situation. As the tile set filled a few disasters crept in and poisoned the developing set. To everyone's disbelief Victoria took the big risk and cleared the set and started rebuilding. Surprisingly she managed to assemble a pretty desirable row of tiles before cashing in. That left Maria and I up against the wall for the third epoch. We both ended up getting caught short together but as a consolation avoided having the lowest sun tile sum (that honor went to David). In the end though, David's playing style was just right for the win, which was achieved from a substantial set of monuments and a set of 3 civ tiles.

Since the auction style of Ra went over so well Maria suggested that we continue in that vein with another Knizia title, Traumfabrik. Maria and I had just played Traumfabrik last weekend with Rogan and Sue so I was able to explain it quickly with only minor references to the rules. This playing was to be a 5 player outing as the filmmaking duo, James and Jasper, rejoined the table. The first quarter passed without any films reaching completion. This made for some fairly active movie making in the later quarters. Yet, Victoria and the young duo seemed to struggle throughout the year. James and Jasper at times disagreed about whether to up the bid or pass. I think the partnership resulted in them pursuing a bit of a muddled strategy on their part. Victoria missed a key auction for her and seemed to struggle to regroup. Always behind in hiring stars, she also always got the last choice at the parties. In the end she completed four films, but received no critical acclaim. In contrast, Maria focused on quality productions, producing a mere 2 films, one of which was 'Gone with the Wind' which garnered her much success. With it she completed the first entertainment production, which came surprisingly late in the game, the best film of the third quarter and the best entertainment production at year's end -- quite a sweep for one film. Like Victoria, I produced three films, one of which was the first adventure production and in the end the best of its genre. James and Jasper produced only three films yet were able to secure both the worst film award and best direction -- quite a. Unique combination. They did this with two top directors producing their better works and one marginal director for their camp adventure film. David succeeded in producing a whopping 5 films. He also garnered several awards along the way: first drama, best drama, and best film of the second quarter. David seemed to use a patient strategy of waiting for the exact auction combinations and then paying whatever it took to get them. This paid off for him as the desirable auctions were spaced such that he could regroup between active bid sessions. In the end scores were David 69, Jeff 60, Maria 48, Victoria 38, James and Jasper 36.

It was late but given the high energy level in the room following the conclusion of Traumfabrik, I quickly grabbed Taboo as our closer for the evening. We formed husband/wife teams plus the 2 camp filmmakers continued their partnership for one more game. We would be playing with the Left Coast Gamers modified rules set (2 points for correct responses, -1 for passing or word violations. Points only to the active team. I'll have to confirm with Jonathan that I've got that correct.)Jasper and James started off, with Jasper giving the clues. They had a respectable start, getting through 2 cards successfully. David and Victoria then showed how it was done getting 4 correct with no missteps. Maria then struggled through our turn getting one correct but then following it up with 2 violations for a net of zero. James then followed in mother's footsteps and ended with a -1 score. We ended up playing two full rounds and ended with the final scores of J/M: 20, D/V: 16, J/J: 3. James and Jasper had a couple of tough rounds which hurt them significantly. Next time we'll incorporate the boys into our teams and play with two teams of three. Taboo is a great game to get them thinking on their feet to use their vocabularies creatively and to open themselves to their stream of conscious thinking to just let it all out quickly.

We called the game at that point as it was far later than we had originally planned to play (that seems to happen every time…we just can’t stop). We had a great evening together and look forward to getting together for another game night soon!

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