Monday, March 12, 2007

Birthday Quick Hits

My gaming group has a tendency to get together for birthdays and play lots of games. Saturday was Sarah’s birthday (observed), and we decided to keep up the fine tradition, meeting at noon and continuing late into the night.

I started off with a three-player game of Thurn and Taxis. Despite getting completely destroyed by Sarah (who has played it a lot and managed to set down seven houses on a single seven card route), I still enjoyed it. I do think that Thurn and Taxis is one of the best sixty-minute games out there right now, and it’s probably the strongest Spiel des Jahres winner since El Grande. I’ll play this one anytime. Now I just have to find the time.

We followed that up with a game of Blokus Trigon. I love Blokus, and while Trigon breaks my brain, with three players the original just doesn’t work. During the game I figured out that there’s an important difference between the two. In the original, your choice of places to play is determined by the pieces on the board, because you need corners to play off of. In Trigon, it’s determined largely by the piece you’re going to play, as the off-board pieces provide their own corners. That’s a potentially important insight, I think.

After those two lighter games I joined in a five-player session of Arkham Horror (using the Dunwich Horror expansion for good measure). My first character got munched by a Star Vampire, but after a rocky start we managed to be quite well equipped by the time the Ancient One awoke. Ithaqua went down in a hail of shotgun blasts. Despite that, I’m not sure that I’m going to play Arkham Horror again. To me, it’s not so much a game as it is an experience. While that’s fine, it’s also an experience that takes longer than I want it to.

Sadly, I feel much the same way about the next game we played, Caylus. I’ve played it five times now, and I just can’t seem to grasp it. I’m perpetually two turns behind, which is the kiss of death in that game. I had the same problem when I started playing Puerto Rico, but I grew out of it. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen with Caylus.

Fortunately, at that point we changed pace with a game of Pit. I’m glad we picked it up in a trade, as I’m enjoying it. I’m starting to be able to keep track of which people might have the commodity I want, which helps.

I finished up the evening with a game of Alhambra. I’m not sure how I managed to go this long without ever playing it, but I’m glad that I finally did. It seems like a nice, light, little game, though I need to give it another play to know for sure, as I only really figured it out halfway through (as is typical for me).

All in all, it was a good day. Combine that with two games I played on Wednesday night (Louis XIV and R-Eco), and I’ve not nothing to complain about. And the next birthday in the group is coming up in May. Woot.


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