Nine hours, six games, a few handfuls of baked goods and one slice of pizza. That was my Fourth of July, for the most part. And since you’re probably not interested in the food I ate yesterday — and if you are, you have my pity — here’s the rundown of how the game went.
1. 7 Wonders (with Leaders expansion): WIN
I don’t know what it is, but I just get this game. Maybe it’s the fact that the mechanic of passing your cards to your neighbor means it’s pretty difficult to make any long terms plans, so there’s no strategy for me to screw up. It’s pretty much a matter of looking at what you get and making the best decision at that particular moment. You have to be pretty flexible, because you may not get the cards you need to do the thing you were planning to do. And in a seven-player game like we had yesterday, you see each hand of cards only once, so that flexibility is even more important. Ending up with Gizah as my civilization helped — it has the most potential victory points from completing its wonder — and two of my leaders chipped in some useful bonuses as well. It still amazes me how a game with this level of complexity and this many players can still move so quickly.
2. King of Tokyo (with Power Up expansion): LOSS
Basically Yahtzee meets King of the Hill (the game, not the cartoon) with Godzilla clones, where the goal is to reach 20 victory points or be the last monster standing. The Power Up expansion adds special powers particular to each monster. It’s a light game, with the most of the thought involved being in which dice to keep each time you roll them, and whether or not to flee Tokyo (the hill of which you are king) when you take damage. I was riding high with the most victory points and nearly full health when one of my opponents pulled off a special power that gave him nine victory points, leap-frogging ahead of me for the win. But this game is so much goofy fun, it almost doesn’t matter who wins or loses. Except for the one player who joined us after the first turn and had her monster killed before it was even her turn again. Sorry Chelsey.
3. Love Letter: LOSS
This is such a simple, yet maddening, game. You only ever have two cards at a time, and only have to play one of them. Each card has an effect on the other players, such as making them discard and draw a new card, or letting you guess a card to eliminate a player, or looking at someone’s hand. You’re all trying to end up with the highest ranked card. Do that four times, and your love letter makes it to the lonely princess and you win her attentions. Well, the princess had absolutely no time for me. She was especially cruel in the final round, where I drew her while I had a king in my hand. The king requires you to trade hands with another player when you discard him, which would have lost me the princess. But discarding the princess automatically eliminates you. Doomed either way. Oh well. I hear she’s a terrible kisser.
4. Letters from Whitechapel: WIN
I gave you the details on this one a few days ago. This time, since only two of us had played before, I ended up being Jack. Talk about pressure. Not only did I have five people out to get me, but I felt an obligation to give them a good game. Getting arrested on the first turn of the game probably wouldn’t have left the best impression. The investigators found far too many clues for my liking the first two nights, but I still managed to elude them. The third night, when two murders take place, saw a near fatal mistake on my part. I put one of the murders right next to an investigator. So instead of being confused as to which location I was in, they knew right where I was, and had bobbies breathing right down my neck. By some furious double-backing and a lot of luck, I got them heading in the wrong direction, and after a couple of tense moments, slipped back to my lair. After that, the final night was almost anti-climactic, as the investigators closed in on an area they were sure contained by hideout but which was actually taking them away from my true destination. A truly draining and rewarding win here, one that would cost me later.
5. Tzolk’in: LOSS
Because winning Letters from Whitechapel left my brain so fried, I was a near zombie in this game. I had a strategy — getting an extra worker early and trying to manipulate the three temple tracks that score big victory points — but spectacularly failed to execute it in anything resembling a successful manner. Meanwhile, the player who had bought the game but never played before was whipping us within an inch of our lives. It was pretty obvious he was going to take the win, the question was by how much. He nearly doubled up my second place score, and it didn’t even feel that close. It was still a fun game, but I probably could have used something a little lighter after getting away with murder.
6. Sentinels of the Multiverse: GROUP WIN
I don’t necessarily dislike deck building games, but there’s a sameness to their mechanics — here’s your starting deck, now add to it, now weed out the starter cards — that make all the variations kind of bleed together for me. Sentinels is different in that your deck is already built, so you just play it. The players each get a deck for their super-hero, while there’s also a deck for the villain and the location in which you’re battling him. There’s a great variety of heroes and villains that makes the game incredibly re-playable, and all the decks interact well together, helping to weave a really comic book-y story. After an aborted start with a villain who proved too tough for the power levels of our characters, we reset with a more compatible foe, who provided a worthy challenge but was too much for the forces of justice.
So I batted .500 for the day as far as won/loss, but had a perfect percentage when it came to having fun. Besides the game playing, it was good to see some folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and to spend more time with folks I see plenty of. You’d think three hours twice a week would make us all sick of each other, but it’s a really good group of gamers, with no sore losers or poor winners. The only bad thing was seeing the clock reach nine and having to call it a night. But it’s only a few days until Tuesday.