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

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Massive Geek-A-Thon, New Game Table

Earlier in the week, Cim finally decided that we had to build a new, big game table for our sessions. The old table was fine, but it was not big enough for the bigger games, like Queen's Gambit, Twilight Imperium 3 or War of the Ring. even Arkham Horror would be a stretch. A trip to Home Depot and Bouclair later, we had the materials that we needed, and the next few nights had us assembling and covering the table. Fear not, gentle readers, as I will recount the tale of the construction in the next blog, along with photos detailing the process.

In order to inaugurate the table in style, we had invited Colin and Mike for an afternoon of gaming. Seeing that Colin proved to be unavailable, Mike brought Julia, Dimitri and Derek along to see if the Tenacious D's would pass gaming muster.

We all started with a game of Medici, playing the new French version of the game. It was a very good, very tight game, only slightly marred by two of the playing pieces having similar colours. Derek emerged victorious after a rousing game, and this will definitely be hitting the table again.

After Medici, Julia decided that she wanted to check out some PSP and GBA games, so we started a five player game of Arkham Horror. I had been looking forward to this, and had read the rules a few times in preparation. We set the game up, drew characters and the Ancient One randomly and set off to defend Arkham.

There were a few issues that came up that required reading and rereading the rule book to see how to deal with certain cases, some of which were not mentioned, such as, what damage does a Night Gaunt inflict when you are in the other worlds? We opted for none, as the damage is supposed to be being thrown through the nearest gate, and that is how you get to the other worlds. (The official answer is, you get tossed back through the gate to Arkham, and get an explored token, which means that you are safe against being re-drawn through, and you have a chance to try and close/seal the gate)

I enjoyed the game, even though, as a first experiment, it took four hours to play through to the end. We all lost when we were unable to defeat Yuggoth, who appeared once the doom token track was filled. Only two of our characters had high enough fight values to do appreciable damage, and once the combat checks got too deadly, we died.

After rereading the rules after the game, as well as some of the online FAQ's and clarifications, Arkham Horror is not so difficult, once you understand the turn order. Most questions can be answered by applying the turn order to them. The trickiest part is remembering that combat is a part of movement, and is always the end of movement, but before Arkham Encounters take place. Gate travel takes place during Arkham Encounters, so if you move to a location with both a gate and a monster, you first have to fight/evade the monster before you get sucked through the gate.

The other key thing is that "loss" and "cost" are different terms. Some items provide a reduction in loss, such as Stamina lost to an attack, while other things, like casting spells, have a Sanity cost. Items that reduce a loss do not reduce a cost. A loss is always the result of an external action, and a cost is usually the result of a voluntary choice.

Once you have played your first game, all the systems should be familiar to you. The game is very RPG like, and it seems that the cards, characters and Ancient ones will provide a decent amount of variety over a number of games.

After Arkham Horror, Dimitri and Julia left, and the rest of us had a game of Bluff as we waited for Derek's ride. Mike pulled out the win, edging me out for one of his first Bluff victories. My edging Cim out earlier in the game had Cim commenting, "Just what did you learn in Brazil, anyway?"

After Derek left, Mike, Cim and I played a 3 player Ingenious, which Mike managed to dominate through the end. Ingenious is a great game, very simple to explain, yet satisfying. As we were finishing our game, Yannick and Wanda came over, and so Mike taught us all how to play Oltremare. It was a very interesting game, with many subtleties, and Mike managed another win.

After Ingenious, Mike had to leave, and so Yannick, Wanda, Cim and I played one final game, Cim's copy of Starfarers of Catan. This game took us until the wee hours of the morning, but it was very much fun, in classic Catan style, with a few modifications, of course. Those who complain about the excessive influence of the dice can complain not only about the dice, but also the travel balls, the random encounters and the semi-random number chit distribution.

As I had to teach everyone how to play, I had an unfair advantage, and managed my first win of the day. And so, our massive Geek-A-Thon came to an end, and our new table had been well and truly broken in.

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