Friday, June 06, 2008

Cards, Cards, Cards

First games night at my new house was a bit of an understated affair; Bharmer arrived late, Agent Easy was taking care of his sick wife and Shemp Duchamp is still taking time off to be with his wife and newborn child. Ouch, however, managed to both find the new location and show up on time. No matter, we killed time by eating leisurely and watching "Bender's Big Score" - the first Futurama TV movie.

Since we didn't have a quorum until around 8:15 PM, the night got off to a late start. We played two games of Race for the Galaxy, followed by starting (and almost finishing) a game of Plunder.

I'm still enjoying RftG, despite its reputation as a sort of auto-pilot solitaire game among some detractors. I do think that it will benefit from the additional player interaction promised in the expansion. One of the things I enjoy about it is the double-think aspect of role card selection, combined with trying to time your scout/develop/produce/trade/consume phasing to give yourself maximum advantage and -ahem- "screwing" your opponent.

If you don't pay attention, there's definitely a sense of auto-pilot in the game, but the random card draw also sometimes forces you to adapt or wholly discard strategies, especially if you aren't drawing the cards you need. Alternatively, you can go for the "deep search" seven (or eight with some exploration modifier) draws to try to get exactly what you want.

For a quick playing and well-themed game, there's also a decent amount of strategy, I feel, so I quite like this one.

I won the first game with a military strategy for Alpha Centauri - 37 points. Bharmer took the second with a pretty descent market economy strategy and 35 points. I came in a close second with 33. Ouch is still getting used to the game and is consequently not scoring quite as high as the rest of us.

I dragged out Plunder for the third (and final) game of the night. I'm certain there's a decent game in there somewhere, and this - if I recall correctly - third or fourth session of this game seems to have gone fairly well. I did modify the starting set-up somewhat, adding two additional open sea cards NW and SE of Tortuga. After this play, I think that this is a average-decent game that needed one more pass to make it good. It's still the best Pirate themed game I own/know of, unfortunately, that doesn't really say much. My friend Captain Physics has acquired a copy of Blackbeard, but I think that level of semi-wargame complexity is probably beyond the realm of preference for this WAGS group.

A good night, if a little abbreviated. Also, we ate a lot of Japanese themed food - yakitori chicken skewers, miso-basted salmon, Japanese white rice and green beans, as well as yummy PC wasabi-honey rice chips.


  1. I'm glad you guys had a good time, and I'm sad I missed the inaugural games night at your place.

    RFTG is a game I wish I could play more often. I've missed a couple of sessions, and I hope it doesn't doom me to losing forever. A post I read recently on BGG stated that RFTG had less interaction than San Juan, because it lacks the sequential role selection. It's funny, because although that statement is technically true I've always felt more aware of the other players in RFTG. Probably, it's because in San Juan you have very little stake in the other player's choices (well, you might be hoping to get particular bonus, I suppose). The doublethink I find myself doing in RFTG makes me pay attention to what the other players are doing. Why? Because in RFTG each turn is widely variable in the phases that occur. I can't count on most of the roles being chosen by SOMEONE each round. If I want to do several things, I have to see what others are likely to pick and go for the thing that the others won't do.

    I am looking forward to the expansion, though. I hope the proposed solitaire game isn't a simple VP optimization routine (i.e. how high can I score).

  2. Wait a minute... you have a friend named Capitan Physics?