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Family Gaming

Games Played August 26, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We all attended Joel’s first flag football game (through the YMCA program) in the morning and then went out for a pizza lunch. Sue and I had a dinner to attend in the evening, so we only had time for four family games.

All seven of us played Bohnanza, as usual. Joel won with 14 gold, trailed by Dan with 12; Katrina was last with 8. This game was not as close as the last several we have played. Results: Joel first; Dan second; Mason and me (tied) third; Natalia and Sue (tied) fifth; Katrina last.

Of course, we played Settlers of Catan, as usual. Mason won, using both the Longest Road and the Largest Army. This is a very rare occurrence in our games. I had played defensively, blocking Sue’s attempt for the Longest Road and picking up the card myself. But, I didn’t hold it very long, before Mason snatched it from me. Sue paid me back by limiting my options for regaining the Longest Road, and we both finished tied in last place, with the other three players tied for second. Results: Mason first; Joel, Katrina, Dan (tied) second; Sue and me (tied) last. Mason once again leads Dan for wins in this game – 19 vs. 18 overall.

We played two games that haven’t been out for game day very often. The first was Marco Polo’s Expedition. We have played this game only 4 times since acquiring it in 2005. Mason has won all 4 games! He seems to have a winning strategy that the rest of us have not discerned. I’ll have to pay closer attention to his actions next time we play. Results: Mason first; Dan second; Katrina and Sue (tied) third; me last.

Finally, we took on Station Master. I enjoy this game, but have never done really well at it. This time, I managed a second-place finish, but Katrina won big-time, setting a new record for us with 318 points. One of the interesting facets of this game, especially with six players, is the rapid change in relative standings with each completed train. In one train completion, I moved from fifth to first place, but Katrina overtook me with the last train and won with a great score. With six players, it is difficult to develop any strategy, because a short train can be completed before the last player even has a chance to play on it. Katrina says it’s not one of her favorite games, but naturally, she’s won it more times than anyone, which seems to be a common result for her in games she “doesn’t really like.” Results: Katrina first; me second; Dan third; Mason fourth; Sue fifth; Joel last. Joel enjoys this game, but hasn’t yet figured out the winning strategy. No doubt, he’ll beat us all at this game one of these days.

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming


August 28, 2006 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Games Played August 19, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

This was a fun day with the family. We finally have our house pretty well put back together, after all the remodeling and decorating work this summer, and we could have the family here again for lunch and games. After a great lunch of grilled marinated rosemary chicken breasts, lemon oregano potatoes, spinach salad and special dressing, cucumbers and onions in vinegar, and a fantastic fresh fruit/pudding/cake trifle, we cleared the table for games.

I had alerted everyone during the week that we were going to try Australia, and they were all willing to do so. We followed the suggestion in the rules and did not use the windmill scoring this first time out, which probably was a good idea. We did make a couple of errors, anyway, in placing and moving rangers, which we discovered and will correct next time. It was a really neat game, and we all enjoyed it. Everyone is ready to play it again, and eventually we’ll add the windmill scoring, which should make it even more challenging. We’re thinking of the windmill feature as being similar to an expansion to the basic game. Anyway, Australia was a hit, and it was the last un-played game in our collection. Now, I can actually get serious about a new game order. When I mentioned that, no one objected, which was a good sign. Australia results: Mason first (as he frequently is with a new game); Sue second (trailing by four points); Dan third; Katrina fourth; me last (typical these days, I fear). Mason beat Sue by having a lot more Australian dollars at the end of the game, and Katrina beat me for fourth place the same way. I’ll have to remember that next time.

What’s a game day with our family without playing Settlers of Catan? This was one of the longest games of Settlers we have played. The board was even more crowded than usual, with few building options available at the end. Both the Longest Road and the Largest Army cards were acquired early, and changed hands several times. Most of the VP Development Cards were acquired, but were split evenly around the table, which prevented anyone from getting a quick win. I believe that at the end of the game there were only a few places available for settlements, and only two people could have built on them. We all expected someone to win the game during the last two rounds of the game. It was pretty tense, because it was obvious that several of us were almost at 10 points. Finally, Dan got the right combination and won the game, with Joel, Mason, and Katrina tied at 9, me at 8, and Sue at 6 points (after she lost the Longest Road card, she stole the Largest Army card from me). Results: Dan first; Joel, Mason, Katrina (tied) second; me fifth; Sue last.

Natalia joined us for a game of Bohnanza, which seems to have become an automatic selection each game day, too. It was our typical fun game of “Beans.” Results: Sue first; Dan second; Natalia and Joel (tied) third; Katrina fifth; Mason and me (tied) last.

Because of the long Settlers game and taking time to learn Australia, we had time for only one quick finisher for the day, and decided to play For Sale, with seven players, which works fine by randomly removing two property cards and two check cards. Results: Joel and Dan (tied) first; me third; Katrina fourth; Mason fifth; Sue sixth; Natalia last.

Okay, now to get with it and place a new game order! We (at least Dan and I) have agreed to bring out one game each week that doesn’t get played very often, just to keep it in our memories, and to add to the variety.

One interesting thing happened this past week regarding gaming. Katrina and Dan are both middle school teachers. Katrina learned during a casual conversation that another teacher in her school plays Settlers of Catan in her family. Katrina said she will follow up on that information and tell her about all the other games we enjoy, and she’ll ask what else they play. That was quite a surprise, since we know of no one else among our neighbors, friends, or co-workers who enjoy Eurogames.

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

August 21, 2006 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Games Played August 12, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

This was a very relaxed day for us. Dan offered to grill his delicious, famous teriyaki burgers, while Katrina fixed two great salads, baked beans, and a fresh fruit/cookie pizza for dessert. After the lunch, we played a little ping-pong in their basement and then went outside for a game of bocce. Dan won the bocce game, barely beating Sue, and we went inside for some boardgames. First up was Ticket to Ride. I thought I was doing pretty well, but did not draw enough tickets to gain enough points; I had only three tickets at the end of the game. Dan drew tickets for the great east-west connections along the Canadian border, and no one contested him for the routes. I had a ticket for San Francisco to Atlanta, which I completed, but my other two tickets were for shorter north-south runs. Katrina had a long southern route. Mason was thwarted at several connections. He drew quite a few tickets, but was not able to complete two of them, for a minus 19 points. Dan easily had the longest train. Results: Dan first (133 points); Katrina second (98); Sue third (95); me fourth (93); Mason last (77). Mason has won this game four times, but also holds the record low score of 25. This was the first time Dan has ever won this game, which we began playing over a year ago. His score of 133 was very close to my record high of 142. It was a fast game today.

We have played Canyon three times as a group, with Katrina, Mason, and me the winners of those games. It’s been over a year since we all last played this together, and I brought it out today. We have modified the scoring of this game to a considerable degree. We firmly believe that trick-taking games like this one should offer people the same opportunity to score well, regardless whether they are dealt high or low cards. The important challenge is to be able to evaluate your hand and accurately predict how many tricks you will catch. We agree that if you bid zero tricks and catch no tricks, you are as successful as someone who bids four and catches them. Therefore, we do not believe that bidding and catching more tricks should allow you to move further down the river than if you bid low and catch the correct number. We allow each player to move his canoe four spaces, if he catches the number of tricks he bid. If he is off by one trick, he moves two spaces, and if off by more than one, he moves one space (essentially drifting with the current). Naturally, we also modified the movement within the rapids area. An accurate bid gives a player two spaces; otherwise, the canoe drifts one space, as indicated on the board. This has worked very well for us. Today’s game had a tight finish. Mason and I both were in a position to win the game on the last hand, but I got my bid and Mason didn’t get his. So, I pulled it out. Results: Me first; Katrina and Mason (tied) second; Sue fourth; Dan fifth; Joel last.

The next game was Bohnanza. This was one of our closer finishes in this game. With seven players, only three gold separated the winner from last place. Results: Natalia first (11 gold); Katrina and me (tied) second (10); Mason, Sue, Dan (tied) fourth (9); Joel last (8). This is now the most-played game in our collection, over the past five years, with 95 counted games.

Mason had to leave after Bohnanza, and Natalia wanted to play Inklings with us. Joel opted out, and we tried to select cards that had answers we believed Natalia would have a good chance of identifying. Results: Sue first (108); Katrina second (107); me third (97); Dan fourth (95); Natalia last (69). The game is fun, but it’s really not fair for a ten-year-old to try to compete with adults in this game. Natalia did a good job of writing her clues, but it’s hard for her to grasp some of our clues. Still, we all enjoyed it. I expect she will get better and better at such games as this, as she completes each grade in school. She certainly enjoys the challenge of word games, which is neat to see.

We plan to be at our house next weekend. We have not been able to have the family here for lunch for quite a while, because of all the work being done on our home. The last major contractor has finished, and Sue and I hope to have the furniture and everything back in place in all the rooms before next weekend. That will be very nice. Now, we have to decide what to have for lunch, and I have to see whether I have time this week to prepare to teach Australia to the group by next Saturday. (Here’s hoping.)

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

August 13, 2006 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Games Played August 6, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

This is a very busy time of year for our family, and time for gaming is at a premium. We did not have the opportunity to game last weekend, and only had time for three games this weekend.

Our first game for the day was Settlers of Catan. It was another unusual game for us, with all but three of the development cards being purchased before the end of the game. I bought 10 of them, including one Monopoly card, one VP card, and 8 Soldiers. Joel bought 9 cards and got 3 VP cards in that group. In addition to being a great game player, he also has a good share of luck. My VP card acquisition rate was 10%, while his was 33%! I did manage to get and hold the Largest Army card, with all those soldiers. Sue grabbed the Longest Road card fairly early in the game, and held it until the last turn, when Katrina managed to steal it from her and win the game. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; Mason, Dan, and me (tied) third; Sue last.

I requested we play Oasis again, after a long absence from our gaming table. I like this game, but have not done really well for quite a while. I acquired a large number of green squares, but could never manage to grab even one multiplier chit for them, which was a major loss. I was building a pretty nice camel herd, but Mason managed to seal off my area, which hurt, also. I was certain I would be the low scorer, and possibly would set an all-time low. However, when the counting was done, I was most surprised to find myself in third place, although quite a ways back from second. Katrina just ran away with it, scoring 110 points, with Dan in second place, 20 points back from her. In fact, each place was about twenty points behind the one ahead of it. We were all surprised about the wide spread. That’s one of the interesting aspects of this game, in my mind – you never know who will win until the scoring at the end of the game. You can see what each player has on the board, but unless you have a great memory and can keep track of four other player’s acquisitions, you do not know how many of each type of the multiplier chits each person has. I had the fewest total number of multipliers, but still finished third, so that is not the best predictor of final scoring. Results: Katrina first; Dan second; me third; Mason fourth; Sue last (with a new low score of 43). It was not a good gaming day for Sue. Sue and I have won Oasis once each, while the other three have each won it twice in our gaming, since acquiring the game in 2004. I believe only Dan and I occasionally request to play Oasis, so it doesn’t get a lot of time on our table.

We wanted to play a game with the whole family, so we finished with Bohnanza. It has now been played by us 94 times in the past five years, tied with Trumpet for most popular game in our family. It, no doubt, will soon become the most-played game in our collection. With seven players, we use all the cards, and twice through the deck goes very quickly. Results: Mason first; Joel and Dan (tied) second; me fourth; Katrina and Sue (tied) fifth; Natalia last. The spread in scores was 6 gold to 11 gold, so only five gold separated seven players. We have had closer games, but even this range shows how competitive we are.

We had a fun time, as usual. We hope to be able to game next weekend, but our schedules are still quite busy and changeable. I think Australia will have to wait until things settle down, and we have more time to relax and learn a new game. Oh well. . . someday.

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

August 7, 2006 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment