From: Tejas Mistry
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2005 7:14 PM
Subject: Game night session notes VI
I have decided to pass on browbeating those that arrived late, as I am beginning to suspect that people that arrive late (usually everyone) just skip reading the first paragraph to avoid that the reprimand.
Also, in the interest of full diclosure and accountable accounting practices, I myself was ten mins late. Ten minutes, mind you, not half-an-hour, not-an-hour. Even so, Suma was dizzy with excitement at the idea of having caught me in a moment of my slight tardiness.
Suma, ever heard the old adage ‘People living in houses with lots of windows shouldn’t throw stones at others’ ? 🙂
We had a few last minute cancellations, which changed the balance of players and we were unable to play some of the-best-games-ever® as the division/distribution of players didn’t suit that.
We started off with For Sale, a fairly simple game that plays in two phases — the first an auction phase where players bid to acquire a range of real estate properties, and the second phase where everyone secretly chooses which properties they want to sell for the cheques available. Since the game only takes 6 players and we were 7 (Amlan, Mapi, Amit, Suma, Linh, Hema, Tejas) I offered to teach and sit out this game as I’ve played it a few times before. Hema offered to let me play her hand with her, I reluctantly agreed.
Everyone must have caught on the game pretty quickly as they were doing pretty well in both phases. Amlan won, with Hema (not me, I was just playing her hand) coming in last. Hema’s miserable final standing raised questions about whether I had actually played this game before. I have. I never said I’d won.
We then rummaged through Linh’s offering of games, and decided to play Bang! as it was one of the few games we had that took 7 players. I’d heard fairly good things about the game and even bought a copy to play with our group, but hadn’t had a chance to play yet (that darn Alhambra doesn’t let anything else get played!).
Linh set us off on this Western-themed game, where players take on the role of a sheriff, his deputies, a bunch of up-to-no-good outlaws, and a renegade — all in the spirit of a spaghetti western trying to kill each other. The sheriff and deputies want to kill the outlaws and renegade, the outlaws want to kill the sheriff (and if they kill the deputies on the way, thats a helpful bonus) and the renegade wants to kill everyone. The player roles are secret (except the Sheriff) so it takes a few gun-fights to find out who is on whose side. In addition to roles, each player plays a character that has a particular special ability. You attempt to shoot by playing a Bang! card at someone within shooting range (the range being determined by seating position). The person being targeted may then play a Missed card to dodge the bullet, or try to hide behind a Barrel. A Beer card, is a source of strength and helps regain lost health points. Numerous other complications arise in the course of play but I’ll avoid them here for now.
The rules are a fair bit convoluted (or seem so on the first playing) so we were all trying to find our way around in the beginning, but that didn’t stop outlaw#1 Suma and outlaw#2 Amit from shooting at Sheriff Linh right off the bat! Everyone else soon joined the melee, not so much as to target anyone with intent of achieving any goal, as to gain familiarity with the rules and mechanics of the game.
A few rounds into the game, deputy#1 Amlan and outlaw#2 Amit found themselves at each others throats, shooting the other with everything they had and the kitchen sink. Both were terribly weakened in the process, allowing someone else (can’t remember who) to walk in on the scene and finish them both off. Sad. Especially as it was just then, that they were both beginning to make sense of the game rules and mechanics.
As if there wasn’t enough chaos with bullets flying all over the place, deputy#2 Hema decided to light a stick of Dynamite and throw it into play (the dynamite goes from player to player each turn, until someone draws a fateful card blowing it up and injuring/killing them). All through this outlaw#3 Mapi and renegade Tejas were fairly quiet and ineffective, perhaps still trying to understand the game and what on earth was going on. Deputy#2 Hema and outlaw#3 Mapi soon met their fateful end, leaving just the Good, the Bad and the Cute [renegade] [editor’s note: thats what my wife claims, not my belief] to sort matters between them.
Both outlaw#1 and the renegade now had their gun-sights fixed/glued/welded onto the sheriff, taking every chance/opportunity/possibility to bring the sheriff down. But our sheriff turned out be a raving alcoholic and just kept coming back to health with those Beer cards. Now let me tell you Suma is a deadly opponent to begin with, but arm her with a range-5 Winchester and she is devastating, you can expect the "body count" numbers to increase faster than RoboCop’s.
Our drunken sheriff with all the Barrels, Horses and whatever else in defense was no match for outlaw#2 Suma’s unrelenting perseverence, and, stopping only briefly to finish off the renegade on the way, she soon taught the sheriff the difference between the quick and the dead.
That was a 2-hour long game. (Thank you Linh for bringing and teaching us this interesting game.)
Hema suggested that we needed to take a break. Everyone looked at her strangely.
Next we brought out Hoity Toity, a recent purchase I made after having played it once and thinking it was a boxful of fun. Whats fun and interesting about this game is the rock-paper-scissors mechanic that it uses. The players are bored, wealthy socialites trying to amass collections of antiques to have bragging rights in social gatherings. The way to acquire antiques is either to purchase them in an auction hall, or steal from exhibits. The way to acquire money is to steal money from the auction hall. And the way to benefit from these thefts is to have your detective present during these crimes to catch the thieves. So each you’re deciding whether you want to buy antiques, steal antiques, steal money, or catch thieves. And you’ll also trying to guess what you’re opponents are doing so that you don’t get caught, or can catch them, as the case may be. Much chaos ensues as players step on each others toes and objectives, intentionally or often not.
Midway through the game Linh took a lead on the score track and looked like she was going to be unstoppable. But this is a group that does not give up easily. Unstoppable isn’t a word they’ve learnt in their GRE preparation. The moment I pointed out that Linh was way ahead, things changed. We soon had people jumping over each other, all over the score track. Suma gunning after Linh’s lead (Suma, she’s not the sheriff anymore!) was right behind her in second place. And that would have been the pecking order at the social functions to come, if it hadn’t been for Amlan who managed jumped ahead of them both at the last minute.
We then took a quick food break with some icecream, and then appropriately set out to play a game all about food, King’s Breakfast. Its a light, quick card game that plays in about 15 mins, about being at breakfast with the King where you want to eat as much as possible, but less than the King does so as to not come across as a glutton. Amlan won by having the heartiest meal (anyone notice he is fast becoming another Suma with regard to winning games?). I sat out on this game so I don’t quite know what the others thought of the game.
Next up was the highly rated, much raved about, Frank’s Zoo, another game that I purchased after playing it once, thinking it was a boxful of …. umm… cards. This is a climbing trick-taking game, where you have to play either a greater number of cards, or a higher hierarchy of cards, than the ones played by the previous player to win the trick. It also has some interesting partnership rules (partnerships change every round) that add a bit more to the game. Again the game was fairly short and enjoyed by all I believe or at least hope.
It was getting late, so we decided to play one last game (I know most people would think if it was getting late you’d decide to go home, not us it turns out). Suma suggested Fluxx, a simple, fun game with constantly changing rules. It turned out to be more enjoyable with 6 players than I expected, and am glad Suma suggested this. If you’re a spectator of this game the two sound effects you’re bound to hear are roaring laughter or aching groans often simultaneously and sometimes by the same person.
And so it was.
A big thank you to Amit and Suma for hosting this fun gathering and putting up with our gaming addiction late into the night. And thank you for providing absolutely sumptious snacks that often competed for attention with the games.
Quote of the evening:
Suma, at the end of the gaming session, "I really liked that game Bang……<long pause> …. and it isn’t because I won!" 🙂