June Game Day

Nice game day yesterday with +Dave Hill, +Kay Hill, +Margie Kleerup, +Kim Stone, +Tim White, +Kaylee Testerman, +Kate Testerman, +Mary Oswell, +Stan Pedzick, +Izabella Schafer, and roughly a half dozen G- folks in attendance.

We played:

* Love Letter. Remains a favorite pick-up for me. Quick, light, and fun. Three of four new players and a close game meant it ran a bit long (we finished 4-3-3-2), and some of the depth and nuances of the game didn't start to appear until near the end, but a fun game. Several good laughs throughout.

* Power Grid. Didn't play this, and while I can't read introverts worth a damn, the folks playing it certainly seemed to be intently invested.

* Tsuro of the Seas. – Tsuro is one of my favorite family-friendly games – we've played successful games with players ranging from 5 to 91, and everyone loves it. It's quick and fun, but tricky enough to keep everyone interested, and there's a kind of zen peacefulness to each move that I really like. Tsuro of the Seas is… a fine design that will sell more game boxes to folks that find Tsuro a bit boring. Too fiddly and random for my tastes. Felt like someone had erected a half-dozen neon billboards in front of my favorite Grand Canyon overlook.

* Night of the Grand Octopus. – Never heard of this, and didn't play it. Near as I can tell, it's sort of "demonic teddybear minons serving a giant cartoony Octopus/Cthulu, and everyone's trying to out-minion each other." It played very quickly – that table unboxed it after we unboxed Tsuro of the Seas and wrapped up at the same time.

* Sentinels of the Multiverse. – Kaylee and I have both been playing this (on iPad and Android, respectively), and looked forward to Dave bringing over the tabletop version. I need another play-through with four, rather than five players, while playing someone a bit more interesting than Legacy (who is fairly dull on the tablet, where you're running all four heroes, and mind-numbingly boring on tabletop, when he's your only guy), but my first impression is that the electronic version is much more enjoyable, for two reasons: 1. It's faster, for a multitude of reasons. 2. The electronic version has the rules coded right in, and doesn't have to deal with the INCREDIBLY VAGUE rule book and SUPER-POWERED INCREDIBLY VAGUE cards. (We were trying to stop Omnitron, whose gameplay only becomes somewhat clear after a half-hour of post-game Google searching.)

Hell, the only reason the game didn't make me even more frustrated was because I'd learned the rules and knew what to do thanks to the tablet version. If I'd come into the card game cold, I'd have walked away deeply disappointed.

* Ultimate Werewolf – We've been playing some version of Werewolf/Mafia since 1998 (we used to play it before playing Amber, to get everyone in the right mind set), and I would say One Night Ultimate Werewolf is the best iteration of the quick-and-dirty version of the game (for long versions, see all the various trust/betrayal games that have come out since then, like Shadows Over Camelot, The Resistance, or Dead of Winter).

"Best of breed" does not mean flawless: the little rulebook could use about two more pages on actually starting the game, and needs an editor to rewrite it along the lines of "this is the information people will need, in the actual order they will need it." Probably, no one notices this, because once you limp through one game, it's easy to see how it's supposed to play, and you can replay from there, no problem.

We could only play one time, though, so… yeah – the smoothing-out process did not occur. I played purposely poorly/suspiciously, just to get people talking and accusing and pointing fingers, and while this meant I died at the end, I was amused that Stan won the whole thing (leaving both the werewolves and villagers in the losers circle) by getting his Tanner hanged alongside my poor, misjudged Seer.

* Forbidden Island. Once the guests had gone home, the littles got to bed, and the kitchen was cleaned up, Kate and Kaylee and I pulled out Forbidden Island, one of our go-to favorites when we have a half-hour before bed. (Weird thing: despite rabidly loving this game, Kaylee never plays the version on her iPad. It's the reverse Sentinels of the Multiverse.)

Despite misremembering the rules during the first turn and giving the Island back-to-back flood phases following a Waters Rise event, we still managed to pull out a win. Might be time to start playing on the next harder setting…

All in all – a great day spent with friends. Even if I kvetch about this or that flaw in a game, the simple fact of the matter is that games are a bit like sex – even "relatively mediocre" is miles ahead of nearly anything else you could be doing.


  1. Side note: I really like co-op games like Sentinels of the Multiverse, so I really do want to replay this and give it a proper shot, because it scratches several itches.

    In somewhat the same vein, I'm very interested in both Dead of Winter and the X-COM boardgame.

  2. I thought Love Letter a fun — enough tactical maneuvering to make it interesting, but short enough (when one doesn't agonize too much) to be pretty quick and painless.

    I'm still on the fence re Tsuro of the Seas — I've played some interesting games of it, which yesterday's was not, with two kaiju basically sweeping in and gacking half the players in the second round.

    Sentinels of the Multiverse was frustrating for both some odd rules oversights and some factors external to the game, but it was fun. In some ways sort of a D&D 4E melee game (without miniatures). Omnitron's obscure rules made it a non-threat, which did not help matters much.

    Ultimate Werewolf was a really tough setup (the key fact — that it's a single night — didn't come out until after all the player types were explained, which was poor rules writing. I'm not convinced it's the ideal form, vs. a simpler and more extended Werewolf setup where behavioral patterns can be followed; figuring out the clues after a single night seemed a challenge. Also, the physical logistics for the folk who tamper with the assignments would be tough in any sort of arrangement. Still, fun.

    Sorry we missed Forbidden Island — one of my favorite co-op games — and one that is extraordinarily co-op — it tends to play, in most of my experience, as an N-person solitaire game. I could almost wish for a bit of competitive goals, to tempt people out of super-optimal team play.

    Still, as you say, all good times. Thanks so much for hosting!

  3. I want to pick up X-Com at some point. Co-op (save the world from alien invasion), but with the potential for Alien Mind Control messing up the team dynamic. Sound brilliant on paper (as I'm a huge fan of the original x-com video game), so my hopes are high.

    Sentinels I think just needs another play-through.

  4. Agreed on both counts.

    Also, I downloaded errata for the game (though it still doesn't explain how Omnitron works any better), which involves tweaks to a number of cards.

    The main game I'm sorry we didn't get to was The Captain is Dead, another co-op and high on Kay's list.

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