A periodic blog about Games, Books, Movies, Pop culture, Technology and whatever else I happen to feel like writing about...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Twilight Imperium -- Colin's 40th Birthday

My best friend Colin, who is 36 days older than I am, recently celebrated his 40th birthday. His wife, Amy, had invited Cim and I over to their place for a birthday dinner. We were pleased to see that Paul and Sylvie, along with their 10 month old son Isaac, were also there. Sylvie had been a regular member of the pool league team that Colin and I had run for some time, and it is always good to see old friends.

Paul had also been a member of the team, playing mostly as a substitute when we were short, and is also a devotee of boardgames. (Though, in his own words, he "prefers simple games with lots of killing") Needless to say, the evening was full of quotes from Monty Python, Evil Dead, stories of games past and postulations on the suckability/greatness of the forthcoming Star Wars Episode 3. We adopted a cautious wait and see mentality.

Earlier in the week, I had gone to my FNGS to see what I could pick up for Colin to commemorate this important milestone. I had considered picking up Blood Feud in New York, but what did I see when I entered the store but Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition.

Now, any game that allows six players to engage in interplanetary war, trade, diplomacy and other assorted shenanigans definitely fits our style. The fact that it came with hundreds of miniature spaceships was just the icing on the cake.

Colin really appreciated the gift, and he spent the next day punching and bagging the tokens, clipping the ships from the sprues and reading the rules. He then called me to let me know how much he appreciated it, and that made my day. Colin is one of the nicest, most loyal people that I know, and there is nothing that he would not do for a friend. Of course, that all goes out the window when the game is on!

I don't know how long it will take to get the guys together for a game, but I do know that Twilight Imperium 3 is definitely on the agenda. However good the game is, the best part will be getting together with some good friends, like Colin, Cim and Mike, who are also great guys and fun to be around.

And that is what it is all about , isn't it? Or maybe it's the beer and the lunch pepperoni...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Intrige, Geshenkt, Can't Stop, Bluff, Serenissima, PS2

Colin had called earlier in the week to say that he had a half day Sunday pass for some gaming, so I checked with Cim and called up Uber Spielfriek Mike. Mike had a four hour pass, and so the gaming gods had decided that there would be mayhem at Foster Street Studios.

Colin was going to try and bring Eldon, an old friend that we hadn't seen in a while, but ended up bringing gaming pahdawan Mike H, to be henceforth known as Hendy.

Now, Hendy had played in our first game of Dune, some months ago, and had enjoyed the game, even though his Fremen had suffered mightily at the hands of revealed traitor Stilgar. But that is another story...

While the pizza was cooking in the oven, we broke out the multitap for some 4 player Timesplitters 2. The cries of victory and despair rang out, and Hendy proved himself to be the warrior most adapted to the PS2. (Though I, as cooker of the pizza, was not in the match)

Having five players, I wanted to try out something that the boys had not played much, and so we decided to try our hands at Intrige. As an aside, the only other game I seriously considered at this point was Illuminati, but we are going to save that for another day. Intrige, as a game, requires a very specific kind of gaming group, and, if there were a better bunch of lads to bring to the table for Intrige, I would be awfully surprised.

Intrige is low on complexity, but high on down and out nastiness, backstabbing and other assorted good clean fun. Bribes were accompanied by some truly hilarious playing up of family attributes, as well as lists of scholarly accomplishments to end all lists. (The fact that I had procured a case of Alexander Keith's finest, and that Colin, in his infinite wisdom, had also brought a case, was in no way contributory to this... )

I was fairly sure that I had secured the victory, and imagine my shock and surprise to see that Hendy had come out 2,000 ducats ahead of me. Well played, lad.

After Intrige, we played three rounds of Geshenkt. We used Cim's new clay poker chips, and we had a great time playing this very simple, yet very clever, game. Colin secured the victory, with Cim uncontested for highest negative points.

Since both Mike and Hendy were on short passes, we then started a most riotous and lively game of Can't Stop. Again, I was in contention for the win, but Hendy managed to complete the seven row to claim victory before me. I see a pattern developing here...

Hendy called a cab, and so the rest of us started a game of Bluff. True to form, Cim managed to separate the wheat from the chaff, and was able to win a resounding victory. At this point, Mike's pass had run out, and so we bid him adieu and set to to the lunch pepperoni.

Colin had mentioned that he had been wanting to play Serenissima for some time, so we started a three player game. Strangely enough, things were most peaceful for the first two thirds, until the Cries of Havoc loosing the Dogs of War were heard. The Eastern Med echoed with the sounds of clashing steel, but, in the end, I managed to secure a victory through the dint of my focus on filling my home port, defending it soundly with sailors aplenty and a stout fort, and a late game blockade of the Western Mediterranean.

I must confess I would not have won if my opponents had remembered that there is only 1 gem port in the game, and had concentrated on filling their own ports. Cim managed to generate prodigious amounts of wealth through trades and had built a fleet that made the Royal Navy look small. Colin had spread himself out, and had filled some smaller ports. By the time they realized that I had secured the 10 point bonus for filling my port, they were unable to do me any serious damage, as my home port was too well defended and the rest of the ports in my control were only worth 1 point each. I also managed to claim a poorly-defended two point port from Cim while he was on the other side of the blockade, which I am sure he will never let me do again.

Serenissima is a great game, with simple rules but complicated game play. You really have to pay a lot of attention to the game, and you have to balance aggression with trade if you want to win. Some players feel that investments in sailors, forts and galleys should have some value at the end of the game, in order to discourage late game raids, but I prefer to play the game as written. Sailors, Forts and Galleys are not the point of the game, only a means to an end. I look forward to our next game, which I am sure will be highly contested.

After Serenissima, we adjourned to the den for some Star Wars Battlefront, as well as a very entertaining game of Outlaw Golf 2. All in all, it was a great day with the lads, and I hope we get to do it again soon.