Hello Meeple fans, and welcome back for another installment of our weekly post on what we’ve been playing! This week was actually a bit lighter, since some meeples had an anniversary this week and were busy with that. But nonetheless, we did play some games, so read on for our experiences…
Last weekend, we had a visitor, Meeple Mom (not to be confused with the previously mentioned Mama Meeple), so in addition to normal visiting stuff, going out to eat, and so forth, we used the opportunity to play some games!
MM isn’t that big into modern board games, so we started off with one of the classic gateway games, Ticket to Ride. Even after playing so many new and different games, I enjoy coming back to this one every once in a while. We just played with the standard USA map, on which I forgot how tight some areas can get when playing with 3 players. MM caught on quickly, laying trains down with ease and grabbing new tickets several times over the course of the game. If it weren’t for a certain yours truly completely blocking off the routes in and out of Little Rock, she probably would have been in first place (or very close to it!). But alas, that one failed route cost a ton of points, and Amber took the win with her long zigzagging route across the nation. We then moved onto a game of Timeline: Americana, since MM really likes trivia style games. This is always a fun, light filler game, where you just may learn a thing or two along the way. We ended up playing three quick games in succession because they went so quickly with 3 players, but they were all tons of fun. I feel like there was some luck of the draw in terms of which events we all had to put into the timeline, but overall we all enjoyed the games, and MM may have found a new favorite trivia game! Keeping up with the trivia theme, we next played Geek Out! Family, which we’ve explored in this series a time or two before. I always enjoy this game, though it’s really more of a way to guide a conversation to see what exactly your friends and family know (and then once they’ve rattled off their list, tease them for forgetting that one really obvious one). I feel like the family version of this game can be a little tricky with all adults, since the questions are significantly easier than the standard game (after all, it’s meant to be playable with the whole family), so you could end up with really a really high number of things to list, or else just pass to prevent the number from getting unrealistically high.
We then had a break for dinner and some chatting, but afterwards we picked up where we left off with Mr. Lister’s Quiz Shootout. This is sort of a head-to-head trivia game where each team (or individual, in this case) writes down as many answers as they can to a question with 6 or more correct answers (For example, “What are common ways to prepare an egg?”). Then, the current question-asker (“Mr. Lister”) will give each team a turn to say one of their answers. After each team has given three answers, the one with the most correct gets the point. In the event of a tie, the teams move on to the Last Chance Showdown, where they’re given a very difficult numerical question (a la Wits and Wagers), and the team that guesses closer gets the point. The strange thing about this game is that I couldn’t find anywhere in the rules what the win condition was, so we ended up just playing a few rounds with everyone having equal turns as the question master. This game definitely works as well with 3 as it does with more players, since with more you just end up splitting into teams anyway. We finished off the night with Paperback, probably the heaviest game we exposed MM to, her first experience of the deckbuilding mechanism. Overall it went well, though I swept the game by about 20 points, dominating the high-point wild cards and two of the common cards. Altogether though, I think everyone just had fun making words and buying new letters for their deck — at least, I hope so!
Meeple Mom left on Monday afternoon to fly back home, but I took the morning off to see her off. So, naturally, we played a few games as we socialized. I guess I was in the mood for puzzle games that day, since I brought out Sagrada. This colorful game of dice drafting and window crafting is quickly becoming a favorite of mine in the light and easy category. Well, it wasn’t quite so light and easy for me this time, as I messed up on my first couple of dice placements and found myself having a hard time drafting dice that would fit my window’s requirements. Eventually I had to make use of all the available tool cards to fit dice into my window as best as I could, but still left a few holes. We played a second game as well, and while it went a little better for me, I still ended up having trouble getting all of the spaces of my window filled in, which hasn’t given me quite so much trouble in the past. Interestingly enough, my private color both times was purple, which I think I have had more than half of the times I’ve played this game. MM seemed to enjoy it as well, and did a great job getting her window filled in the first time, but struggled about as much as I did on the second attempt. Finally, we played one of my favorite puzzle games, Dimension. After a quick practice round, MM was ready to go, and took to the game like a duck to water, with only a few mistakes along the way. In a rare event, we didn’t have any conflicting criteria cards throughout the whole game, so I was able to get (I believe) my first ever perfect score. But of course, the important part is having fun rather than winning, and fun is what we both had. So after the games, I had to bid adieu to Meeple Mom and head to work…
Monday 10/9/17, continued
…only to jump right back into more gaming only a few short hours later with the Janesville Pegheads. Amber unfortunately had to work late and run a few errands (as well as recoup from the weekend), so I was flying solo, which was ok since we had a bit of a smaller group that evening. Once everyone we were expecting showed up, we broke into two groups, one with 5 (mine) and the other with 4. One of the folks in our group had brought Magic Maze, and I definitely wanted to try it out to see what the hype was all about. The idea of the game is that you have to work cooperatively to move four colored pawns through a maze (go figure) to get to their designated treasure, and then once they’re all there, to guide them out of the maze. The catch is that you can’t talk at all to your fellow players, and instead of everyone controlling a character, they are able to move any character in one of the four cardinal directions. In addition, some of the players have special actions — being able to place new tiles in the maze, move characters up and down escalators, or warping the characters between portals of their color. The game was a little clunky with 5 — basically, there was an extra “West” action, so two people were doubling up on moving characters in that direction, but it was altogether a really fun experience! We played twice, once on the most basic map, and again on one that was slightly more complicated. Apparently there are many levels of difficulty, but even just the second one we faced was starting to get tough! Next we went for Revolution!, for which Amber and I recently acquired the Palace 5-6 player expansion, so we were able to play with all 5 of us. Even though the expansion gives more actions you can bid on, playing with 5 was still tough as there were a lot of ties and outbidding for actions. I started off very slowly, not making much progress for the first few rounds, but then started building up some majorities in a few territories. One thing I like about the Palace is that it introduces a Guardhouse that if you occupy it protects all of your cubes on the board from being moved or removed. Even though I ended up a bit short of first place, I had a lot of fun with Revolution! with more than the typical 4 players.
After that, we lost one from our group, so with 4 people, we moved on to Mystic Vale. I’ve really enjoyed this card crafting game every time I’ve had the opportunity to play it, and this was no exception. We played with an expansion which gave each player a guardian card to start out in their deck, who has a unique action and can be upgraded for more points and a more powerful effect. Without intending to, I built a deck that was very heavy on decay, which actually worked out in my favor for two reasons: I had a card that gave me 6 points at the end of the game if I had the most decay symbols in my deck (I did), and I had a card which gave me points for each card less than 7 in my field. For the latter card, I was able to bring it out twice with only 2 cards in my field, leading to 10 points, and then again with 4 cards, and my guardian’s ability to duplicate another card’s power for 6 more. One of my opponents was not so lucky, however — he put 2 decay on one card, and without fail drew that as his third decay card, causing him to bust and miss more turns than he actually got to play. But I guess that’s just the nature (ha!) of the game! Next we played the Spiel des Jahres winning Kingdomino, my first experience with the prestigious title. It was a fun and quick tile-drafting and laying game, although I did horribly by focusing too much on keeping my castle centered rather than trying to build the biggest and best regions. I would likely play this one again, but it definitely is on the lighter side of things. However, I am now more interested in Queendomino, which apparently has some more “gamer-y” mechanics. We finished off the night with another play or two of Magic Maze, which definitely worked better with 4 than it did with 5. The lack of communication became really frustrating when we moved one of the pawns into a dead end (albeit in the direction of the exit) without being able to succinctly tell each other what we needed to do. We were eventually able to get it out and emerge victorious, ending the game night on a high note!
Well, that’s all the gaming we had for this week, but we’re gearing up to have folks over tomorrow for some pre-Halloween spooky gaming, so I’m sure you’ll see a lot in this report next week. Until then, stay tuned!