Saturday, 17 October 2009

Wilf Backhaus

Wilf died Wednesday of cancer, he was a member of the SCA and one of the designers of Chivalry & Sorcery, a roleplaying game I used to play back in Saskatoon.

I saw him last at CalCon in spring and he looked frail then.

This is a loss to gaming and to the world, he was a gentleman as well as a gamer.


Monday, 12 October 2009

A little bit of Thanksgiving gaming

I will start with the game I played at work this week. Tonny, Colin and I played Ticket to Ride on Friday at lunch. This time everyone was playing and not having to learn the rules and we wrapped the game up in less then 45 minutes. Tonny ended up crushing us definitively 129 - 98 - 91. I was the only one that did not complete all their tickets as I was two turns from getting my last ticket done, this cost me 26 points (the trip was worth 13) plus the longest track so I would have won. I guess that is what happens when you play games, you fall just short sometimes and other times you win convincingly.

Sunday rolled around and this weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada so we invited some friends over, Jay and Cory for games and supper. Cory had just picked up a copy of Small World which he was eager to try, and since Brenda liked the game and Jay and I both wanted to play it, we broke out his copy and tried it.

A quick description of Small World, you set up the game with a series of races with special abilities, for example Commando Amazons or Pillaging Dwarfs and you can either take the top one in the row, or pay one buck/race and take one of the following ones. Each race has a special bonus (Amazons get four extra tokens to attack with, Dwarves get an extra coin every turn they control a mine) and each ability gives them a different bonus (Commando, which does not mean they play without underwear, but instead require one less token to attack with or Pillaging, which means they get a bonus coin every time they take over an area that was previously controlled).

After selecting your race you conquer territories on the board, expanding 2 tokens to conquer an area plus one for every other impediment (each token someone else put on there, mountain ranges etc). When you are done you collect points for the areas you control. A dwarf that conquered a mone controlled by either another player or a neutral race would get 1 coin for the area (standard) , 1 coin for the mine (Dwarf special ability) and 1 coin for conquering an area that was previously controlled (Pillaging) for a total of three coins for that area. Victory Points are money, so whomever has the most money at the end of the game wins.

When it is no longer feasible for your race to expand any further you can put that race into decline and start a new one. You will still score points for the declining race, but you will not be able to expand them (with certain exceptions) . This goes on for 9 turns (in a four player game) and the game ends and you count your money.

Cory started and paid 1 coin and picked the Pillaging Orcs (Orcs have the same advantage as Pillage so he scored three coins for every area he conquered with someone in it) and scored 12 points. I chose the top one, Wealthy Giants (Wealthy means 7 extra coins at the end of the turn and Giants take areas adjacent to mountains they control for 1 less counter), taking the free coin that Cory had put on it and scoring a total of 13 points. Jay took Underworld Ratmen (all caverns are one token cheaper to conquer as well as considered adjacent to each other, Ratmen start with more tokens, 8 then anyone else) and scored 8 coins. Brenda finished the turn by taking Mounted Sorcerers ( Mounted means you can take hills and plains for one cheaper, Sorcerers can conquer areas that are adjacent and have only one token in them by swapping out the other token for theirs.) and scored 7 points.

Round two was very similar except all of us scored around the same with my total going down to 8 and everyone else going up. Cory put his Orcs into decline around turn 4 and picked up Commando Amazons (see there they are again) and started scoring well again. On the same turn Jay declined his Ratmen and picked up Bivouacking Ghouls (Bivouacking means you get 5 encampments which give you an extra point of defence and Ghouls only sorta go into decline, instead they can continue to attack and take new territory), and scored well with them. Brenda had scored 17 in one round and 13 the next so she was perceived by Cory and Jay as the greatest threat (no I didn't help convince them....) So on turn 8 Brenda finally put her Sorcerers into decline.

I had placed my Giants into decline the turn after Jay so I picked up Swamp Tritons (bonus coin for swamps 1 less token needed to conquer areas that were adjacent to seas or lakes) and started scoring back in the teens again. On turn 9 Brenda took Alchmist Wizards (2 coins/turn they are on the board, and 1 coin bonus for magic areas) and she scored 7 points at the end of the game.

The final scores were John 107 (I got a ton of points every turn), Brenda 90, Jay 85 and C0ry 78. We all liked the game and will play it again. Small World is a retheming and slight redesign of Vinci and shares a lot of feel with the old Avalon Hill game, History of the World. Brenda, Cory and I all like HotW alot so I was not surprised thatwe all liked this.

I started supper about 5 so we broke up the gaming for awhile as I cooked and the others talked, we ate about 6:30 finishing about 8. Brenda napped from all the carbs (we ate vegan as Jay & Cory are) and about 8:30 we played a quick three player game of Coloretto, a quick filler. Jay won 183-142-137 over us and they left about 9 as Cory worked today.

Game night is Saturday!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

El Grande at Darren's

I have been gaming more and I thought I should give you a quick update to what I have been playing. Last night, at my regular gaming session at Darren's, we played El Grande, it was my second try (the last time was a year ago...) and Darren estimated he had played it 20 times, the other John twice and Bruce has probably played it more the Darren.
El Grande is a game of area control, nothing more nothing less. The beauty of the game is how you control the areas. Every turn, starting with the lowest player, you play a power card and this determines your turn order, with the highest number going first and the lowest number going last, with the added fact that the higher the number the less caballeros (not Guy, he never shows up) can move from the provinces (standby) to the court (readied). The first player then moves his caballeros to the court, and then choses his action card. Action cards do two things, they allow you to move caballeros from the court to the board and they have special actions, such as "Move the King" or "Score areas". The action cards allow you to move anywhere from one to five caballeros from the court to the board (the king allows 5). You score points on the board every three rounds (except for special scoring cards).

Point scoring works as this: Each area has a scoring tile, scoring between 4-7 points for first and 0-3 points for third (second ranges from 0-5, fourth and fifth range from 0-0). If there is a tie, the players get equal to the standing lower (2 players tied for first each score second, 2 players tie for third score fourth, AKA 0).

That is a good enough description of the game, I followed a strategy of this: caballeros in the court and in the provinces score 0, caballeros on the board have a chance of scoring. All four of us had all our caballeros on the board, so it seemed to be the prevalent base of everyone's strategy.

The game is not complex, it is just a hard game to win for new players. My first game I was crushed, finishing 30 points behind the winner, my second game was better, I finished 12 points out of first.

Today at work Tonny, Colin and I played Ticket to Ride, a game I am far more familiar with then El Grande. Tonny and Colin are both new to it. Tonny got an unfortunate set of cards and finished the game with 27 points as he completed no tickets. Colin completed his tickets and finished with 98 points, I completed 6 tickets and ended with 127. I am going to see if I can arrange for more people at work to play, maybe we can play some 4-5 polayer games.