Monday, July 23, 2007

Bunco Nite @ the Fresno Gamers

When four out of the six games you play in an evening rely on a sweet touch on those six-sided cubes, you know you're in for a wild ride.

We started out with Dancing Dice... a pleasant diversion of a dice game that has two important features/bugs:
  • everybody plays at the same time (feature!)
  • everybody rolls their dice behind a little screen, making it insanely easy to cheat (potential bug!)
The solution? Don't play with people who cheat. Simple enough, eh?

Braeden (my six year old son) beat 3 adults at this... partially by rolling "Boogies" 3 times in a row - and partially by scoring the only Gala I've ever seen in my 10+ plays of the game.

Next up, a non-dice game: Burg Appenzell. I finally got to play this 4 player & it was as good as I'd thought it would be. I have a minor quibble with the sliding part of the game (the works get gummed up sometimes, I think because of the curved edge finish of the tiles), but otherwise I love the components & the gameplay. Steve Case pulled out a win... but Steve G & I were only one kind of cheese behind him.

Rum & Pirates followed, a game with a lot of dice-rolling but still a good bit of tactical play. Due to the board placement (the HQ was in the center, with all three pubs near the outer edge), we managed to drink all the pubs dry, plunder all the treasure chests, and two of the five players (John & Steve G) managed to recruit their full crew from the Pirate Unemployment Office. John's larger crew was probably the margin of victory, as he was only 8 points in front of my smaller & yet surprisingly effective crew.

Then John broke out his brand-spankin' new copy of
Heroscape Marvel: The Conflict Begins - and even though we had five players, we just divided into two teams (John & the 2 Steve's were the good guys; Richard & I were the villains) and played the "amulet" scenario. (I don't remember the name - but it uses the abandoned warehouse set-up.) It's an 8 round "last man standing" game, with the added oomph of the amulets - the character who picks up the amulet gets the special powers of any character it kills. After Abomination spent 4-5 rounds just chipping the paint on Iron Man's suit, we finally got Thanos into range. Since he was the amulet holder on our team, his killing Iron Man was a very good thing - it gave him a double attack that we soon turned on Spiderman & the Silver Surfer.

A capsule review from a long-time player & collector of Heroscape: this is a MUCH less effective starter set for this series than the original Heroscape. I think this will need expansions quickly - and esp. terrain, to allow some kind of interesting movement. (As it was, we all got into position & rolled dice to attack each other.) It's not a bad game, mind you - just an incomplete one.

The Steve's had to hit the road, so the three remaining gamers got in two more games.

The first was (surprise!) not a dice game - though a number of folks feel like closed fist bidding is just as random. It was the quick little auction game
O Zoo Le Mio... which offers an interesting combination of blind auctions, tile-laying & cute bits in a 30 minute package.

Admittedly, the game (as published) does have a bit of a "rich get richer" problem, which would be inexcusable in a game that runs 60 minutes +, but isn't quite as big a deal with a 1/2 hour playing time. (There are some fixes listed on the Geek - I've actually never tried any of them, as it doesn't bother me that much.) You just have to win enough early auctions to stay with the pack in income, and then the later rounds become a very interesting mess of decisions on when to bid or over-bid.

Richard's Villa Gorilla had a hard time early on, which, as mentioned, translates into a tough time throughout the game. So John's AquaShark and my Crocodome battled for supremacy, with my park snaking out the victory in the final round.

Our last game of the night was To Court The King... a brilliant dice game that I've likened to a cross between Yahtzee & Magic: The Gathering. You take turns rolling dice to make certain combinations (all evens, pairs, X of a kind, straights, etc.) in order to acquire cards which give you special powers (more dice, the ability to re-roll certain dice, add pips, etc.) The objective is to eventually roll 7 (or more) of a kind and claim the King & Queen, which sets a "last licks" endgame into motion.

I'm a huge fan of this game with three players... and this playing showed the game off. John was the one who finally grabbed the King, forcing me to go first. I managed to roll 9 sixes, which knocked Richard out (he only had 8 dice). John, with nine dice, proceeded to roll 8 sixes - and then booted on his final roll. A-mazing.

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