It’s rare these days that both my wife and I are up for a game at the same time. Between juggling household chores, our 14-month old daughter and full time jobs (I don’t recommend juggling your children unless it happens to be your full time job), even when we do have down time, it’s difficult to commit to additional braining above-and-beyond that which is demanded of us in our daily adulting.
Due to some snow days recently, and seeing how my wife is an elementary/primary school teacher and was able to dispatch some household chores during what would otherwise be working hours, we were able to sit down an play some games.
As always, as a semi-professional gentleman, I let me wife choose a game first and she surprised me by selecting Morels (imperial standard. I believe in metric, it’s Fungi). I knew I really liked the simple design of the game but it had been long enough since we played that I forgot how tormented I feel as I’m forced to make an unrelenting series of choices, watching the mushrooms I desperately want fall atop the Destroying Angels in the decay. Not only does the game offer a clever set collection mechanism but the real crux of the game is in the risk-reward of which mushrooms do you collect? Which do you sell for walking sticks? And, most importantly, do you have enough time to do everything? Categorically: No, you don’t.
So, following my embarrassing defeat at Morels to my wife (56-27), I suggested we play a game of Wingspan. Wingspan is certainly the sleeper hit on my table. I really don’t like birds; I think they’re annoying in just about every format and encounter I’ve ever had with them. My favorite thing about birds is, before Wingspan that is, some of them taste delicious. Alas, boardgames are not food, so I cannot comment on how delicious Wingspan is or is not (it looks scrumptious…)
I really struggled to get an engine going; both of us were able to pull a couple of extra Bonus cards but, at the end, my wife just played consistently better than me and handed me my second loss, 71-66. Sadly, that was all the time we had available that evening (and, really, since then as well).
This past Tuesday, my gaming group returned and I once again played gracious host. Neither of them brought games (my reputation as “Owner of Games” is all but a universal truth at this point). I showed them the games I had recently received (as covered here). Surprisingly, the chose to start with The Estates. I knew that one of my group, we’ll call him B, would strongly dislike the game and yet he was game to give it a try. As I was going through the rules, I pointed out that the winning player is the player with the most points at the end of the game and that meant it could even be somebody with no owned companies; as soon as I mentioned this, the other player (known as) D, immediately reacted, clearly inspired to try to do just that. We began and, sure enough, D avoided ownership in any of the companies, leaving B and myself to split all but Purple (which only had a single block show up in the offering). I made a few tactical blunders (as is my wont) and D ended up in the position of Kingmaker; as his last action, he could either crown B or myself but could not end the game as the victor. In the end, he chose to play in favor of B and the game ended with B in the lead with 10 points, D had only cached 2 points in illegal earnings (for some reason? Had he been embezzling the entire time, he surely would have won). I pulled in a staggering -54 as sort of a “Go Big or Go Home” gamble towards the end…
Despite not enjoying the multi-variable analysis portion of the game, B did say he would play it again sometime; also suggesting that his wife would love it. D, unfortunately, will be moving away in the next couple of weeks and may not have the opportunity to play it again.
After being thoroughly demolished in The Estates, the next game to hit the table was Notre Dame: 10th Anniversary. Both B and I had picked up copies (without talking to each other) when it was on sale, also both picking up In The Year of the Dragon at the same time. Notre Dame outwardly seemed to be better than Castles of Burgundy to me, so I was certainly excited to finally give it a go. Months ago, I had been clever enough to print out player aides which I was glad to find when I opened the box again, which made relearning and teaching the game much easier and for which I was greatly thankful for past-pillbox. After playing Notre Dame, I do think I prefer it to Castles of Burgundy. I love the random card draw for both the action drafting as well as the round-end personalities. This game will have a permanent place in my collection for certain. There was a bit of a learning curve as we all struggled with rat infestations, money problems and, eventually, influence cube limitations (henceforth known as “cube problems” or, if you will, “cublems”). Final scoring put D in first place with 52, B in second with 48 and me coming last with 45; Both D and B played very well and I won’t say they didn’t deserve their scores, but I feel as though my biggest problem was bidding for the Notre Dame points in the first round/phase/whatever and not, instead, building up influence in the hospital to mitigate my rodent problem.
Following The Estates and Notre Dame, we had about 20 minutes left before calling it a night so I pulled out Broom Service: The Card Game. Unfortunately, I had never really read through the rules (apparently) and we stumbled to get the game flow correct at first. I think everybody enjoyed the game but it certainly didn’t replace the full Broom Service game that all 3 of us rather enjoy. We were, all three of us, a little too brave throughout the game and, as such, struggled to meet the recipe cards in the middle. D pulled out another win with 31 points with B trailing me by only a single point for second place, my 18 to his 17. After that, we decided to call it a night before spending another hour or so chit-chatting and, likely, keeping my wife awake.
This coming week represents the last week D will be able to join us before he moves to Colorado, so we will let him choose which games we play… who knows what that’ll be.
We have decided, however, to look into doing Hangouts/Skype/etc roleplaying, so our gaming group will continue even once we are divided by 8 hours of wheat fields and cows.