The majority of Orlando’s geeks were on their way to the human cattle call that is MegaCon yesterday, but for a lot of us, International TableTop Day took precedence. Started by Wil Wheaton as an offshoot of his popular TableTop web series, it’s pretty much what the day implies: a chance to get together and play lots and lots of board games. Which we do every second Saturday anyway, so the timing on this was perfect. I had no health issues, no race to run prior, so aside for a pit stop for some donuts, I was all about the gaming.
Space Movers — This was a game we had a chance to play with the designers last September. They were gearing up to start their Kickstarter campaign and were demoing the game to drum up interest. And it certainly worked; three of us from our group backed it, and the designers were on hand yesterday to deliver our copies in person and, of course, play the actual production version with us. It was good to see their work pay off, since we really enjoyed the game the first time we played it, and it was just as fun this time around. It’s a cooperative game where the players are the crew of a freighter trying to deliver cargo and complete objectives, all while steering clear of Universal Oversight, the galactic government out to stop them. You can move around the ship to different rooms that grant different actions, and the game has two ticking clocks: resources that dwindle and which can be replaced by delivering cargo, and sightings of your ship by UO forces, which eventually make passing skill tests more difficult and which ultimately lead to your defeat. The real fun is those skill checks though. Everyone has a die, and each skill test requires different combos of players to roll their die and get a 5 or higher. The twist is you can bump any previously rolled die. If the person before you rolled a 1, you can knock your die off of it and try to nudge it to a better number. There’s also a blank die rolled at the very end that gives you one last chance to bump something. It’s really simple, but it takes what would just be a boring die roll and makes it a dexterity game. There are also reaction cards that can help you with your rolls, so even when things look bleak, you may be able to pull it off. For my money, this game feels more like Firefly than the much more elaborately produced official board game (and in about a quarter of the time that behemoth requires). Congrats to KnA Games for getting their baby off the ground!
7 Wonders — This is always a good choice for these big game days, since it can play up to eight people, so since we had multiple games ending at once, a bunch of us jumped into this. I got a little locked in on one particular strategy and so didn’t score quite as many points as I would have liked, finishing right in the middle of the pack. But the great thing about 7 Wonders is how much game it packs into so compact an amount of time. Even if you’re losing, you’re not losing for long, and it’s still a satisfying game.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig — This one’s been pretty popular with my group, and the good news is that an expansion is coming that’ll add a fifth player, so we can get someone else in on the fun. This was another game where I focused too much on one thing and didn’t score very well at all. But the three players ahead of me had a down to the wire finish.
Machi Koro — I FINALLY WON THIS DAMN GAME. And almost didn’t realize it, until someone pointed out I’d forgotten to take advantage of one of my landmark’s abilities that gave me enough coins to build my last landmark. This also has an expansion coming soon (as well as a deluxe edition with the base game and both expansions that has some early adopters grumbling), so this one looks to be sticking around as well.
Smash Up — My last game of the day was Smash Up, which does exactly what it says on the box. Each player gets two decks, each one representing a well-known genre or group, things like dinosaurs or zombies or ninjas or kittens (think LOLCats), each with different specialties. Aliens are good at teleporting off the table back to your hand, zombies can come back from your discard pile, ninjas move sneakily around the table, and so on. Then, you smash the two decks together, creating all kinds of crazy combinations like robot dinosaurs, pirate ninjas, time travelling giant ants, and my particular combo, zombie princesses. You’re using your minions to take control of various base cards played on the table, each granting points based on how strong your presence there is. First player to 15 points wins. Which should have been me. I had 12 points, had the most minions at a 3-point base, and I was up next. This thing was over. Until the player before me played an action that let him replace any base in play with another one from the deck. He chose one where the second-place player scored more points than the winner, and since he had 13 points, he jumped to 16 while I got stopped short at 14. A brilliant play and one for which I will hate him forever.
I probably had one more game in me, but I was hearing the siren call of more Daredevil on Netflix, and so called it a night. But there were still games going on when I left, and I know some of my friends there went home and kept playing. That’s the magic of TableTop Day. Even though we play these games all the time, there’s something about knowing thousands of people all over the world are all doing the same thing on the same day. We geeks like feeling part of something shared, even if it’s virtual. That we got to do it in real life was just icing on the cake.