It’s easy to take holidays for granted, and even more so those who work on those holidays. My game store is usually open on every holiday except Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the manager who also runs our Meetup group regularly schedules an all-day game day for those days since a lot of us have a lot of time to play a lot of games. But that means his employees have to be there working, and I don’t think we ever really show them enough appreciation for them giving up their holiday for us to have a place to spend ours. So thanks to the guys at Sci-Fi City Orlando! You rock!
My Labor Day gaming started off with Quarriors, a rather awkwardly named game that, with some slight revisions, has gone on to greater renown and success as the collectible Dice Masters game line. In both games you’re rolling special dice that represent your army — generic fantasy monsters in Quarriors, Marvel and DC heroes, Yu-Gi-Oh characters and Dungeons & Dragons monsters in the various DIce Masters sets — while at the same time gathering more dice to add to that army. Dice Masters skips that last bit by having you build your army before you start playing, which is where the collectible part comes in; there are booster packs you can buy that have rarer and more powerful dice and cards to beef up your forces. But Quarriors has you build on the fly, which is a little more of a challenge, since you and your opponent are competing for the same dice. Your monsters attack and earn you points if they survive to your next turn, there are spells that can strengthen your monsters and do other nifty things, and, since you only roll six dice at a time and set aside the dice you just rolled, the battlefield is constantly changing. I’ve played the D&D Dice Masters a few times, and this felt very similar. Not sure which I prefer yet, although I’m leaning towards the one I’ve actually spent money buying booster packs on, hint hint. Although I did manage to win this one get my day off to a good start,
Following yet another game of Machi Koro in which I spectacularly failed to get my act together in any kind of decent amount of time, we played Euphoria: Building a Better Dystopia. This worker placement game gives each player a set of dice that represent their workers. The numbers on the dice also represent the workers’ knowledge. Because this dystopia depends on your workers being blind to just how bleak their existence is. Roll too high, and your workers get wise to the fact they’re being ground under the oppressive heels of this society, and they run away, losing you a die and making it that much harder to get things done. You’re placing your dice on the board to gather resources in classic worker placement fashion, but you’re also trying to advance the cause of four opposing factions and get your ten star counters on the board before everyone else. It’s a very well-crafted and funny game — the buildings you build have darkly humorous names like the Registry of Personal Secrets and the Cafeteria of Nameless Meat — with a lot of moving pieces that really work well together. I somehow won, but damned if I can tell you how I pulled that off. I sort of followed along with what everyone else was doing, but must have done enough of my own thing to pull out the victory. Hooray for my better dystopia!
Next was Among the Stars, a card drafting game where your goal is to build the biggest, prettiest, most points scoring-est space station this side of Babylon 5. The game play is very similar to 7 Wonders: you get a hand of cards, select the one you want to play, and pass the rest along so you’re getting a new hand every turn. You expand your station over four years, with some cards scoring you points immediately and some granting you points at the end of the game for things like most of a certain type of location or other similar goals, with the highest score winning the game. I like this fine, but I think it lacks the elegance of 7 Wonders. Whereas in that game it’s often a case of having too many good cards and being unable to use all of them, here it often felt like having to pick the least unappealing card to play. The size of the cards and the text also makes it hard to get a bead on what your opponents are up to, so you’re never really sure if you’re passing them anything useful or not. Still, it’s an interesting sci-fi twist on a favorite game, and even though I didn’t win, I did reasonably well.
Which describes how I did in my final game, Power Grid. I did pretty well, but ended up a fairly close second thanks to just coming up short in my effort to end the game a turn earlier, when I could have won. I’m still always amazed by this game; the amount of thought and player interaction for what is essentially an auction and economy game is fantastic, and even games I’ve lost I’ve never felt completely out of. A great way to end the day.
I should have been at game night tonight, but between yesterday’s marathon and getting back into the work grind after the long weekend, I had to pass. Besides, this coming Saturday is our monthly Second Saturday game day, so I’ll be getting another 8+ hour gaming dose. I can do without the three-hour booster this once.