Recap: The Long Weekend of Gaming Goodness
I hope everyone out there had a great Turkey Day. Mine was filled with stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, pies of various kinds, and of course, games. Quite a lot of games, as it turns out. Thursday and Saturday were spent with family, and I managed to finagle some games that they very much enjoyed. And Friday saw a good 14 hours of tabletop enjoyment with my usual group. Check out my experiences, including first play impressions of Factory Manager, Mr. Jack, and Irondale after the cut.
For Thanksgiving day, I got together with my extended family and brought along Zombie Dice and Werewolves. While only a few games of zombie dice were had during some of the quieter moments, I soon got all of my cousins and a few of their kids together for some werewolves. The best was little 8 year old Maegan. In her first game, she ended up getting the werewolf card. She gave herself away pretty easily. But by our last game, she was a stone cold liar. She was the werewolf again in our last game. Though some accusations flew her way, she denied it and even had this little look of hurtfulness on her face as if to say, “how could you?” It was so believable that when it was down to her and the last villager, the sheriff badge was passed to her and she outvoted the remaining villager for a victory.
Friday was the big game day. People gathered shortly after lunch and we went until about 4:30 ante meridian. First up was a play of Factory Manager. My group enjoyed Power Grid and I was eager to give this game a try – though I understood it was a separate, non-related game. Factory Manager was awesome. It gave each player a real sense of managing factory output versus storage versus efficiency and energy cost. It may be one of the better economic style games that I’ve played. One of the things really going for it was its relatively short length. The game plays over only five turns and the turns don’t take long at all. Then the money is tallied and a victor declared. In fact, because of the significant depth of the game, we all assumed it would take longer and were pleasantly surprised that it could be so fun in so short a time. I’ll be eagerly going back for a few more games to see if it’s goodness lasts or fades after a few plays.
Small World with the Necromancer was up next. The necromancer, once again, gave us a pretty good pounding. What I’ve come to realize is that the players need to attack and delay the necromancer well before he becomes a threat. If the players wait until seven or eight ghosts are on the board before attacking the necromancer, then defeat is almost inevitable.
Two games of Bang! were played. My poor cousin Kevin, who while home from college came along for game night, is unable to outlaw. Both games saw him get the outlaw card and, rather than attack the sheriff, immediately shoot the person next to him hoping to kill a deputy. Both times he either killed a fellow outlaw, or the fellow outlaw he was shooting killed him! Kevin, if you’re reading this online, then I can legitimately say: L2Outlaw, n00b.
As the evening progressed, there were only four of us left around 11:30 or midnight. Thus, Through the Ages was a foregone conclusion. A little on the longer side, this game was especially difficult for me. I had a few strategies in mind when I began playing, but they quickly fell apart. The cards I needed for my early game strategy didn’t show up until late in the game. And the cards I needed when I changed strategies mid/late game also showed up late. As a result, I ended up doing a lot of quick points rather than a prolonged strategy – and it worked! Taking each turn individually, and eking out what points I could resulted in victory. To be fair, two other players competed for military which left me a gap with some other civil cards. And, in late game, they went to war with one another which completely decimated their entire militaries. So, my victory also relied on some choices made by other players.
Four hours of sleep later, it was time to visit just the parents and my brother who was also home from college. My brother is not a gamer. Not at all. Not even a little. Not video games, and especially not board games. He does play sports, and has been known to race a mario kart, but otherwise his interests lie elsewhere (like music). Still, I managed to convince him to give Dixit a try. He was pleasantly surprised. He enjoyed the game, got very into his “distractor” cards, and came up with some inventive and funny clues. He was also a very good sport after he handily won the first game and nearly came in last on the second. If Dixit can convince my brother to sit for a game, then it is definitely one of the better family style endeavors.
Finally, Sunday rolled around and it was time for some Operation Gamerwife with the subject spouse. I had talked up a lot of Mr. Jack so that she’d be willing to play it. And willing she was – we got in four games of it. But only the last one really clicked with us. In fact, in our first game, I screwed up incredibly badly by having Jack being the only hidden character on the board. Our next two games saw the detective winning on rounds four or five. We knew we had to be missing something. We decided to play one final game to prove we weren’t completely dumb. I took the helm of Mr. Jack again and, after playing as the detective, things started to click. I almost escaped off the board and, on turn 8, my wife made a desperate 50/50 gamble and guessed incorrectly. Jack wins!
Mr. Jack was fun – but only after we started to see how all of the characters interacted with each other. It took several plays for it to “click” for us, but I think future plays will be a lot less disastrous and I’m eager to play again.
Finally, Irondale came out. Irondale recently got its second, and final, expansion which I will be reviewing sometime in the next few weeks. I was surprised my wife agreed to a first play with me. Usually I have to encourage her by saying how awesome it is with other people first. Operation GamerWife is beginning to bear fruit.
Irondale was very fun. It was reminiscent of San Juan if San Juan was all purple (special) buildings. In Irondale, each card builds on to the city and then special powers require you to get more points, build more buildings, or take other effects. As the city expands, you can build next to multiple buildings and activate numerous powers. Our first game was hampered a bit by having to read each card – since they were all new to us – but ultimately the combos and strategies unveiled themselves. I had a very good time with Irondale and I’ll eagerly be playing more of it.
What about you? How much of your Turkey weekend was spent at the board game table?