Gaming Recap

So the normal bummer-feeling in the pit of my stomach is gone. Life is returning to normal as I sit and think about all the clean up I should be doing. Yes, the gaming days are over, 3 days of nothing but gaming capped with some 6 player action on Saturday (and winning the FA Cup playing soccer on the XBox later). The games have been put away and the sessions are now no more than a memory and numbers indicating what was played at BoardGameGeek.

I’m very happy with the amount of games that we played. For the most part, the only long games we played was A Victory Lost and Duel of Ages:Intensity. I think it was a good mix. But of course, I always wish we could have played more and got a few more unplayed games figured out. Hopefully everybody had a good time. It was good seeing everybody. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this sort of thing with my nephews let alone some of the other gamers that occasionally take part. Let’s take a look at some of the notable games.

AVL delivered on another very enjoyable wargaming experience for Nephew #4 and I. As a follow up to last year’s The Mighty Endeavor, I think AVL surpassed TME for the wargame of choice at the moment. It doesn’t have as much figity supply rules as TME and while you could still ponder HQ placement it was a fast flowing game. I believe it’s supposed to play in 3-5 hours. We probably started actually playing it around 3pm on Thursday, after some rules review. We took a break after each turn, and also broke for the night after turn 5 for some other gaming. After a late morning start on Friday, we finished up around 4pm. So actual play time, I’m guessing would be maybe 6-7 hours, but we both agree that we could play it faster next time. The bad thing with playing games like this against one of my nephews is that our relationships are based upon ridicule and one-upsmanship, so losing is something you’ll hear about for a while. 🙂 We are both in therapy and are striving to reach that nirvana where we’ll just quickly process our turns and just enjoy the experience. I’m not there yet, but I think I’ve improved since TME. I made a huge blunder from the start for victory point determination. I was thinking that Russian infantry and armor casualties each counted as a German VP, but only the armor did. Nephew #4 is overly cautious to begin with, so when my Italians started holding back his early attacks causing him some infantry step losses, I’m sure he was a bit concerned with what this course of action meant for him VP-wise. We even went over all the rules to begin with. I really hate it when I muck up rules like that. Next time, we’ll get everything correct.

I’m looking forward to my next playing of AVL. In fact I’ve been thinking of setting up a solo match. I’m debating whether I should set it up in the basement or if I should get VASSAL set up on my MacBook to play when I have free time.  I like the idea of being able to look over the whole map and pushing physical counters around the board, but I don’t usually have a lot of time to disappear into the basement for long periods of time.  So I’m leaning toward setting it up in VASSAL.  It would be convenient to be able to make an HQ activation while watching TV or over lunch at work.

The other big game was Duel of Ages.  The nephews and I had played this at our last gaming session earlier in the year and thought it would be great to play with more people.  So we lined up a few other of our gamer associates and had some 5 and 6 player action.  Nephew #4 had received the Intensity expansion for Christmas which added bases, pets, and a bunch of other interesting things.  It was an exercise in patience for the most part as we continually realized that we were playing certain rules wrong.  All in all, I don’t know if we ever played one of the three games of it correctly.  But that’s the way most games are I think.  Until you play them a lot, you’re continually correcting things you were doing wrong.  I do think the rules kind of suck.  Reading the actual rules for combat didn’t really clue us in on the fact that once you hit you had to roll weapon penetration against armor.  We were just applying the damage.  From what I can see from quickly scanning the rules to find answers, this is only made apparent in an example, not the actual rules description.  Basically, I’m going to blame this whole fiasco on Nephew #4.  It was his game and he was supposed to have the rules down tight.  🙂

Early in the gaming days, we played a 3-player game of The Haunting House.  Run from this game!  While the setup and concept is cool, if played to win, you can constantly screw the other players to keep the game going.  The only hope is for a victory during the random segment, which means just hanging around a map corner during the normal phase and screwing everybody else.  We ended up calling this one.  The game has like three expansions.  I think I had heard the they added some better strategic possibilities, but I doubt I’ll find out.

Swap was a game my youngest girlywog got for Christmas.  It’s somewhat UNO like but some cards actually let you swap hands with other players.  The FloydWing’s like to play UNO as a family, and we have really liked playing Swap also.  This will be another game that will keep the girlywogs on the hook until they’re old enough to play something more in depth.  The eldest is pretty much already at that stage.

And finally, I’d like to mention NHL Ice Breaker.  This was a Christmas gift for me and a nice surprise.  I played this 3 times with Nephew # (one we had to cut short after 1 period to get some others involved).  This an almost regular deck of cards that have extra notations added them, plus jokers which are higher than aces.  Players fight over the puck by laying down cards.  Best poker hands wins.  So if I lay a 6 and you lay a 7, I can lay another 6 to improve.  As long as you don’t have another 7, I win the puck.  Each card has a direction and number of spaces that the puck will be moved if that card won it for you.  Special spaces on the board take you on a breakaway or cause special IceBreaker actions to happen.  If you can lay down a full five card power hand you automatically score.  This should be somewhat rare, though more on that later.  Each card has a shooting section and goaltending section that shows certain NHL and National teams.  If the team matches the team you declared at the beginning of the game, you can use it to trump it in a shooting zone situation.

Our initial play of this almost didn’t last 3 periods.  It started out quite dull and we just weren’t seeing any strategy to it other than what might be the card game War.  But as we kept with it, we started to see that there is a fair amount of decisions based on what cards you have.  “Do I let you win the face off in the hopes that you’ll waste bigger cards now, so I can stop you to near my net, freeze the puck, and get to draw more, possibly better, cards.”  “How long should I hold onto my high shooting trump card?  Can my other cards get me to the shooting zone to use it?”  Not a super deep game but it gives some fun nonetheless.  The last game we played was a very tense exciting game.

By the 3rd period of game 1, we had it figured out for the most part.  I was leading 8-3 going into it and nephew number 4 pulled his goalie to get an extra card.  All I had to do was get it into my shooting zone for an automatic score.  He preceded to come back and tie it at 8-8.  He ended up having like 2 or 3 5 card power hands.  That’s got to be quite rare.  I just couldn’t keep him out of my side of the ice.  He trumped and scored at will.  After he tied it up, he chose to leave his goalie pulled.  Can’t say I blame him as well as it was going, though quite unrealistic for real hockey.  We had our final card pull of the period.  I ended up pushing it into the shooting zone on my very last card of the period.  It took a moment before we realized that since he still had his goalie pulled, I scored automatically and won.

Game 3 was a very tense affair.  I think I lead 2-1 at the end of the first.  He lead like maybe 5-4 at the end of the second.  Then after our last card pull with my goalie pulled, I tied it at 5-5 with my trump shot.  I carried the momentum into overtime as I drove straight down and scored.  It was pretty cool.

I’m looking forward to get the wif-al unit into this, though I don’t think she’ll enjoy it as much as I think Nephew #4 did.  But I’m going to really try to get her into it.

Well, that’s the recap of the final big gaming days of 2007.  2007 wasn’t a very good year for gaming.  I think my normal nephew gaming weekends were cut down to only two and I didn’t have any gaming parties like I normally do.  I don’t really see 2008 changing much in this respect.  The wif-al unit always spoils her nephews way too much.  🙂  Plus when I do have the parties that I try to arrange so that she doesn’t need to do anything, she’ll still go out of her way to make a ton of stuff.  I try to keep from doing it but she loves to cook.  Bad thing is, I love to eat it.  Sunday morning I felt like a beached whale my stomach was so bloated.  She’s a wonderful woman.  I’m quite thankful that for the family I have and that we’ve made it through 2007 still somewhat healthy.  Here’s to a much healthier and happier 2008.  Cheers!

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