<![CDATA[Booze & Board Games - Conventions, re-caps, and general mayhem.]]>Sun, 29 Nov 2015 17:14:09 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Of Boardgames, Booze, and Beards, June Game Day recap]]>Tue, 16 Jun 2015 00:13:23 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/of-boardgames-booze-and-beards-june-game-day-recap
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Eat, Drink and be Merry.
Our last Game Day had a new addition, Jamison. He apparently enjoyed himself so much that he offered to host the June Game day.

Jamison is part of his own game group which refers to itself as the Bearded Boardsmen, and this particular Game Day would be a meeting of the groups; Booze, Beards, and all.

All was scheduled to start at noon and we straggled in over the course of half an hour or so, with one of the Beardsmen announcing he would be a couple hours late. The first hour or so was sans any gaming and was more of a meet and greet; Al providing both entertainment and refreshment by plying us with his latest liquid concoction.

Something involving mint, lemons, and gin; a drink which at first is nameless.


Deciding what to play is a bit of an issue, as both groups seem to be used to smaller gatherings; three to four people. Starting off with five with a sixth showing up later limited our game selection somewhat.  We settled on a game called “Keyflower”, a worker placement game that gives you the opportunity to screw over your opponents. We like screwing each other over, and that was the deciding factor that made us choose this one.

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Rob explains the rules of Keyflower to us simpletons.
There are some similarities between Keyflower and Caverna, but it seems that you’re able to screw yourself over more easily in Keyflower; because you can lose your meeples and not get them back. Each turn you bid with your meeples, which is pretty standard for worker placement games, but unless you own the territory you are bidding on your meeples go back into the bag. Conversely, if you own the territory and people place meeples on your tile you get to keep them.

I managed to win the bids for a couple of popular tiles which led to one turn near the end of the game where I had a massive pile of meeples; and by beating out Mike on those, the last turn of the game he had very few. Having a ton of meeples will not help if you make some bad judgment calls like I did towards the end which cost me a bit.


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Keyflower and a Kaitlyn Ginner, a decent combination.
I would like to point out that my bad moves did not prevent me from winning the game, I still would not have won; I just would have had more points and not had such a poor score.

Dave had showed up while we were still playing Keyflower, and played audience while he waited for us to finish. By now it was after 4:00 and we decided to break for … well honestly we’d been snacking all day but what the hell the ribs were done.

Jamison had slow cooked ribs, some barbecue chicken, and cooked some sliced potatoes with butter and onions in tinfoil on the grill. It was all very good and for a while talking subsided to mumbling around our forks. Good job Jamison!

We spend a while on food and talk, some talk it is probably for the best that it not get repeated; especially put into writing where it can be read by one and all (which is probably a good sign that the Bearded Boardsmen will fit right in with the Booze and Boardgame crowd …. Or not so good depending on your viewpoint).
However one topic I will touch on is Al’s mixed drink. He had been adamant that we think of a name for it. Lots of names got bandied around but none of them seemed quite to fit. Trying to think of something topical, I shouted out “Kaitlyn Jenner”, which Rob quickly amended to “Kaitlyn Ginner”. Al has mentioned that he will post the recipe online, with potential alternates for a “Bruce Ginner”.

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Stock Photo of A Kaitlyn Ginner Post Op.
We opted to play “The Resistance” for the next game, in part because it was one we knew everyone could play, including Jamison’s brother who had showed up while we were still eating and discussing what to name Al’s drink. 


It was either that, my copy of Kill Doctor Lucky, or we break up into two groups.

Resistance is a bluffing game where a number of people are part of the rebel resistance and a number of people are spies. The resistance tries to complete missions by secretly voting to pass a mission, spies try sabotage the mission by secretly voting to fail the mission. Players try guess who the spies are so they can avoid choosing them for missions.

Mike is notorious for immediately and enthusiastically accusing people of being a spy (Al being his favorite target). He did not disappoint. We played several rounds and Mike and I were both spies for every hand except the last. The spies won the first round, but the resistance won all the others. Mostly because of bad decisions on the part of the spies. Twice the spies should have failed the mission when they accidentally voted to pass, once I voted for a mission when I should have voted to reject it. I think I did something else stupid too, but I can’t seem to pin it down.

Oh well, what’s one more stupid decision on my part? Happens all the time.

It was now around 7:00 p.m. and though we hadn’t played many games we did have a lot of fun. And we ate a ton of food, and if I may be honest, probably drank a bit more than was wise. Between the seven of us we emptied a bottle of gin. I wisely stopped drinking mixed drinks and started nursing a beer a couple hours earlier, but I can’t speak for the rest of them.


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Rob lays on the "Seductive" while eating a cookie. (we like him as he's a bit mad like us)
Oh, I almost forgot that Rob made stuffed chili peppers with bacon. Ordinarily I might have eaten one or two, but large amounts of cream cheese were involved so I declined.

All in all, despite only two games played, this Game Day was a lot of fun. We all laughed and ate and drank and played for almost seven hours. I think that the Bearded Boardsmen will become regular invitees to our monthly Geek Day sessions, and I think they’ll be a good fit as well. As long as they can stand us that is.

Later
Tuna


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<![CDATA[Game Day, May 2015]]>Mon, 25 May 2015 20:49:50 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/game-day-may-2015
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Jamison McLean schools us on Caverna.
This Month's  much looked forward to Game Day was held at Mike's house on Sunday May 24th. There was a new drink for everyone to try the Fancy Pants, a new game Caverna, and a special guest appearance from the relatively famous Jamison McLean of the Bearded Boardsmen gaming group. Needless to say we had a bit of fun.

PictureStupid Dolphins.
To start off the session, Mike, Tuna, and Jamison decided to play a quick game of "Get Bit" while I mixed up some drinks. Mike has the Deluxe version of this game, but as I quickly looked over the components the only thing I saw that made it stand out was the tin it came in. I did listen from the bar as they played and came to two conclusions. 

1. Dolphins are not really all that smart and 
2. the game needs more killing of Dolphins.

But then again all I have to go on is what I heard.


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Caverna, Yeah it looks more confusing than it is.
Next we learned how to play a really large and upon initial inspection, intimidating Euro game called Caverna. In this one, players are supposed to be dwarves digging out a cavern to live in while also creating fields to plant food and raise livestock on. As you are represented by wooden discs you are not chained to the dwarvish theme. I actually pictured my paltry society made up of little Rowdy Roddy Pipers because I had lots of sheep. The amount of components that are laid out for this game are overwhelming, and at first glance my head began to swim. Fortunately Jamison was a really great teacher and we all had the basic mechanics down in no time, strategy however, will have to come at another time. Because it was all we could do to figure out what was going in the moment let alone plan too far ahead. 
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Al's vision of his race in Caverna
Mike eventually won by being an "Ore Whore" and collecting all that he could each round. Tuna propagated his race through several rounds of coupling (it was rather disturbing) and I went on adventures and bred sheep. Jamison played an even steady game of diversified actions but this only got him second place. 
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Jamison grinning over his "Vigorously" comment . Bastards.
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After some sandwiches and another round of drinks we switched to
SmallWorld
. It was our turn to teach Jamison a new game and he took to it rather quickly. Mike won hands down and I came in dead last. There were many attempts to form small alliances so to throw down the leader, however none actually came about. 

 Right! I'll do you for that!


Lastly as the day had seemed to slip away we decided to play a single match of Red Dragon Inn. This is a rather fun quick game of screw everyone over and hope you are the last person standing. Jamison had a priest character which made it difficult for the rest of us to take down. However I finally got him in the end and was the sole victor. Huzzah! (OK, to be honest, Tuna and Mike didn't focus on me after the first round so I only won because no one realized I was playing).

Alas we all called it a day and headed home after seven hours. My, how the time flies when in good company. Jamison was a great sport who can not only take a few jabs in good humor but he can also dish them out "vigorously".  We hope he comes round again soon.

Now to wait for next month.....

Cheers
AL

 


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<![CDATA[Huzzah! 2015 Part 2]]>Thu, 21 May 2015 00:36:56 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/huzzah-2015-part-2
Part two of my personal look at Huzzah 2015, this one is the lengthiest, by far, of the three.

 Day 2, Saturday May, 16th 2015

Saturdays at every convention are always the busiest and it's no different at Huzzah. Day Trippers (people who come for but a single day), arrive in a steady flow. Anxious to make the most of their time, they hurry and hustle to renew acquaintances from years past, get their badges, and say hello, before running off to the tables for a game or two.  I generally do not like crowds , or people for that matter, but these convention goers breathe a measure of excitement into the air upon arriving which can be contagious. Children, eyes wide with anticipation impatiently hop from foot to foot, waiting to get on with the fun. While the busy Game Masters smile patiently as they explain the rules.


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Pure Art
One of the things I like to do most at Huzzah is to walk around between the various tables and drool over the thousands of beautiful miniatures. This usually occurs between games I am signed up for and it is time well spent. Because, I appreciate the wonderful attention to detail, historical color schemes and creative landscapes all crafted with care. If you have never stood before a table with 400 carefully painted soldiers positioned to recreate one of the great battles of history, I believe you are missing out. This is art to me, and it pleases me to see so many examples in one place.

Note to self, get more photos next year. 

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Battletech Alpha Strike: Solaris VII Olympiad
My morning game was Battle Tech Alpha Strike put on by Rob Marden. (no I’m not stalking him) This free for all of Mechanized robot combat was a lot of fun, and Rob managed to keep the game rolling along even when two of the younger players (who I secretly named Stinky and Needy for obvious reasons) began to lose focus. Everyone had four Mechs on their team each one progressively stronger than the last. You started with your smallest unit first, and when that one died on your next turn your next to smallest randomly entered the arena etc. etc.
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My faction Steiner in Alpha Strike.
 Meanwhile, everyone else is entering the arena and attacking each other continuously. Oh and did I mention that the inner walls of the arena changed height randomly every turn as well? There really is no place to hide. A fast, large, group game that kept me focused even through Stinky and Needy’s antics. My bad luck was that once my very slow heavy Mechs came out later in the match I ended up getting initiative almost every turn, which meant I had to move first. This allowed everyone else to simply run out of my range and pick at my robot at a distance. At least I got to knock Needy out of the game before I got killed.

Just in time as I needed a smoke and a drink badly at this point.

Hanging about and waiting for my next session, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman named Leo who was running the 86' Mets vs. Red Sox World Series Game. Leo is passionate about the hobby and has been involved in miniature war gaming for over twenty years.

As we chatted I mentioned that Mike and I had tried to sign up for his game for the Sunday morning time slot but didn't make it in time and it was booked up. Leo told me just to stop by later and if he had time we could do a quick unofficial game anyway.

Wow! I promised I would, and rushed off to the next game in my line up 1775: Rebellion.


I have wanted to play 1775 for a couple of years now, and though we as a group had one rather poorly executed attempt  awhile back, I thought it deserved another once over. That and Academy Games had just announced their next title using the same mechanics for the Viking invasions of England. If the rules flowed smoothly I would jump on the wagon and buy the medieval version.
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A fun game but I don't think its a good match for our group.
For Rebellion we had four and split into two teams. My faction was the English Loyalists and though rather fickle I feel they were balanced. Every faction had its strengths and weakness and at no time did I feel that any one group could simply sweep the board by being over powered.  Sadly I do not remember the name of the gentleman who ran the game, who also was my team mate, but he was great at explaining the rules in an easy going way. I had a good time, to be sure and this game is rather fun over all. However, after about a half hour of play I could see that though it kept my interest, my friends at Booze & Board games more than likely wouldn't find it as exciting. Sadly, I am the lone history buff in the group.

After the game let out I ran into Mike who had been looking for me. His afternoon session had been rather short and he thought we should get some food. Which was a good idea as I needed to fuel up for my evening session. We walked outside so I could have a smoke and we saw Leo taking a break as well. I introduced Mike to him and after a bit of chit chat and a few laughs Leo asked us if we wanted to play a World Series game.

Food was forgotten immediately and we jumped at the chance. 
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Mike and Al at Fenway.
We rushed over to the table and Leo showed us the basics and explained the rules. I was the 1986 Mets and Mike the Sox, which probably rankled him a bit but the game play was so dynamic any wrong footedness he may have experienced by playing as his rivals was quickly dispelled. We both found ourselves adjusting players on the field constantly to anticipate opposing  batter's strengths and watching what the other was doing. By the end of the 6th inning it was all down to one play. Could the Sox change history? Mike switched up his batting order and a soon as he did I called in a relief pitcher. Needless to say the Sox would have to wait a couple more decades to take the title.  This game is my top game of the convention, second only to Alpha strike. Extremely engaging and well thought out. If you ever get a shot at playing this game DO IT! you won't be disappointed.

We ate a quick meal at a local restaurant and then hurried back so I could set up the game I was asked to put on, Wizard's Quest by Avalon Hill circa 1979. 



An oldie but a goody.

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Last game of Wizard's Quest by Avalon Hill.
I was rather nervous setting up, as I had never done anything like this before. Mike was a few feet away involved in a six person Firefly game which was a comfort. Mike has a calming effect on me, probably as he is such a good person that I am afraid to subject him to too much of my evilness. he might smite me or something.

Anyway, it was a bit of a bumpy start as I had one player drop before the map was laid out. He was very nice about it but I was beginning to worry that this was going to be a bust. Then two youngsters showed up and told me they had signed up for the game. Perfect! This title is great for kids and so it put me at ease a bit, knowing how much I loved this one when I was their age. The boys, Matt and Liam, took to it rather quickly, but the younger of the two, Liam really surprised me. I thought for sure the older boy was going to control the board easily. But that's the beauty, some would say bane, of Wizard's Quest, The random events and rolls of the dice turned the tables, and I saw Liam light up once he could see that he not only could win, but handily at that. It was a good match and they seemed to have fun. I was kind of dreading the end for I had resolved to retire my old game that night to the winner of the match. Liam pushed through and took the game, and I handed over my old friend to him with a smile. Hopefully Wizard's Quest gets some more table time in his young hands.

With that over I could finally have a drink, and I made sure I got one right off. A bit tired but happily so, for I had had fun the whole day through. With a goodnight  and good luck, to Mike I wandered off to my room wondering if I'd ever get to sleep or would my mind race all night with everything I had seen and done that day.

End part 2



Cheers
AL

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<![CDATA[Huzzah! 2015 part 1]]>Tue, 19 May 2015 01:03:36 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/huzzah-2015-part-1
Huzzah is the Maine Historical War gamer Association’s annual spring convention. This event though focused primarily on miniature wargames of all types,  has over the last few years attempted to expand the venue to include board games as well. 

I must say they are doing a pretty good job of it.

I spent the weekend of the 15th through 17th at this convention in South Portland Maine , and had a grand time of it. I met some very nice people, played a bunch of different games and even put on a game of Wizard’s Quest on Saturday night for some younger folks.

I have been struggling to write up a good recap for this convention, this is due to a couple of factors. First, I am out of practice and my poor mind needs to get back into writing mode, and Second, whenever I think about my personal time at Huzzah I get a bit overwhelmed. There were so many positive experiences that I wanted to fit them all into one article. Alas I know that won’t work, so I’ll just highlight some of my best moments at this great little gaming convention and break it up into pieces for easier reading.

Friday May 15th.

I decided that for this year’s Huzzah I would book a room at the Hotel. Last year I simply drove down for the day and felt time constrained. (not to mention my alcohol intake was hindered considerably). Getting an OUI coming home from a game convention would be rather difficult to live down with my wife.

I arrived around 3:00pm and registered at the desk and got my shiny badge with the title “Game Master” on it.  That’s right, "yours truly" was asked to run a retro board game session of Wizard’s Quest during the weekend. I still have no idea why I was chosen but hey, I got the badge and it made me feel special for a few moments.

I poked my head into the main game room to see what was going on. This was the first year that Huzzah was starting on Friday afternoon rather than evening, and I wanted to see how that was working out. Some tables were still being laid out and the vendors weren’t fully up and running yet, but I did spy a few Miniature games going on about the room. 

Being obnoxious I wandered over to one of the tables that were playing in the Impetus tournament. What caught my eye were the armies on the table. Beautifully painted Roman legions on one side and what appeared to be Normans? on the other. I watched for a bit then asked about the rule set and why there were two very distinct eras represented on the table.

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Impetus players who explained some rules to me. Photo Courtesy of Huzzahcon.
The two gentlemen who were playing happily handed me a rule book and explained that the armies were what each of them had brought and the rules worked with all ancient and medieval sets. I was absolutely enthralled by the energy, and excitement these men showed with each move of a piece. They were polite and engaging in their conversation with me, the interloper, and I walked away making a mental note to look into Impetus more closely.

Whiskey/dinner/Whiskey break.

With a couple of drinks in me I waltzed over to Mike Paine's epic game Hanghai Raiders and chatted with him a bit. Mike's huge game which he runs at most of the New England conventions is always a big hit with the younger crowd. That's because he makes it fun. The rules are there as guides only and can be broken by creative minds at any time. He encourages creativity through which kids not only get to have loads of fun but they also might just get to learn a thing or too as well. He wasn't fully set up yet but he took a few minutes to chat and joke around with me. It's nice seeing some familiar faces and friends at various conventions and events. It helps to negate the nervous "I don't know anybody here" feeling you get when walking into a room full of folks.

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Just a few of he eclectic minis for Hanghai Raiders.
Not that I have that phobia I drink too much to be worried about such things, but many do, so my point is it's good to make friends. And the friendly inviting people of Huzzah are easy to get along with.

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Rob Marden curses Darwin in Robinson Crusoe: Voyage of the Beagle.
Later on I got to play in a game of Robinson Crusoe : Voyage of the Beagle. Mike showed up for this one and we had a great time. Crusoe is one of those games in which having the right group of people makes all the difference. All the players, (even myself) interacted in a fun and engaging way which made the time pass quickly.  Rob Marden who put on the game did a great job of explaining the rules and pushing game play along when things got a little static. There were lots of laughs and new friends made. Well worth the time. The beauty of this game rests in how tough it is. Death waits behind every encounter and the damnable weather portion of a turn can be really tense.  We managed to win two scenarios, though just barely.

By then the hour had gotten late and I decided to call it a night. Up to my suite I went anticipating what games I'd see and play knowing I'd be having fun the next day.

End part 1

Cheers
AL

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<![CDATA[Looking Back on 2014. (slide show)]]>Wed, 07 Jan 2015 11:26:32 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/looking-back-on-2014-slide-show
2014 Remembered in pictures. If 2015 is half as fun then we are blessed indeed.


Cheers
AL
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<![CDATA[Garage Con 2014]]>Sun, 31 Aug 2014 04:11:56 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/garage-con-2014
For a few years now we at Booze & Board Games have been talking about holding a full gaming weekend. An event where all we do is play games for two or three days and drink copious amounts of alcohol. The initial idea was to rent a cabin somewhere in Maine, on a lake or in the hills and call it Cabin Con. This year was looking good to actually fulfill our dream; however my darling wife had other plans. She decided that we needed to build a garage and that all of my limited resources would be allocated to said project with no “ifs”, “ands” or, “buts”, coming from me. *Sigh* She does feed me, so unless I wanted to starve to death or be resigned to foraging for berries in the woods like a wild animal I had to comply with her wishes.

So with a sad heart, I went off to inform my friends that Cabin Con was a bust, yet again.

Mike, however, being a rather “glass is half full” kind of guy, perked up on hearing the news and said “Well let’s have a Garage Con instead. We can pare it down some make it a one day event and mark it as an open game day where people can come and check us out.” Mike will never know how much he brightened my day with that little bit of positive thinking, and I quickly agreed. So we set it up and here is how it went.

Saturday August 30th 2014

Mike decided to help me with set up tasks and showed up a little early, we got the coolers for beer, water, etc. all out as well as my massive homemade table top up on the saw horses. Just in time as people began to arrive as we finished. We had a pretty good showing with a couple of new folks, Jeremy and Eric, driving all the way from the mid coast area to attend.

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Jeremy, and Eric get their first look at X-Wing.
After Tuna and Anthony stumbled in we were ready to start playing a game. I had a bunch of titles on a side table for people to choose from but everyone wanted to play X-Wing so that’s what we did. It took a while to get all set up and explain the rules to people who had never played or who had but had simply forgotten them (me).

We had two teams of three, Tuna, Anthony and Al, played the Evil Empire, which was very appropriate, and Mike, Eric, and Jeremy as the Rebel Alliance.

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Anthony feels confident.
Things started out slow for both sides as each team jockeyed for position. I thought for sure that I and my evil cohorts would simply sweep the board as the rebel team had two beginners on it. I was sadly mistaken, as both Jeremy and Eric, quickly grasped the concepts of maneuver and position which are key elements in X-Wing. They had us on the ropes early in the match and it was only through some rather clever plays by Tuna and Anthony that we kept the Alliance at bay. I got knocked out early on due to over confidence and relegated myself to bartending (again).

As the match became one of cat and mouse, with the Rebels slowly whittling away at the Empire’s forces, Tuna and Anthony played as if their lives depended on the outcome. Pulling off some very smart plays to avoid utter destruction, too late though and the Alliance team took the game after three hours.

A long game to be sure but one that had everyone engaged the entire time even the spectators.


Meanwhile Valerie and our long lost Guild mate Lindsay had shown up and with drinks in hand everyone began to laugh and joke as they tried to decide what to play next. I left them to it and ran off to start cooking the burgers and dogs.

A couple of games of magic were played while I was cooking and much geek talk flowed, our new friends from the mid coast fit right in and we felt very comfortable being ourselves (evil and all) around them.
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Morning wood in the afternoon?
After our midafternoon lunch, everyone decided that a big game of Zombicide Prison Outbreak would be fun, and as the game can seat a lot of people it was a good fit. Jeremy and Eric had to leave before we got all set up though I could see they didn’t want to. However they were replaced by another person Scott who drove up from OOB to play a few games and mix it up with other geeks so we had seven for this game.

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Zombicide Prison Outbreak, gets a thorough workout.
 We picked a tough scenario and I thought we were going to wipe a few times early on, due to all of us being a bit knackered. Drinks had been flowing all day so cognitive and deduction skills were being lowered by the minute. Yet somehow we managed to pull it together with lots of laughing and joking throughout, and defeated the hordes of undead handily.

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Left to right, Mike, Anthony, Satan, Tuna, Valerie, and Scott.
By this time it was getting late, the sun had set some hours past and everyone was winding down. That’s what happens when you have a good group of people, no matter how long the game is everyone still has fun and time just slips by. I decided to top off our day with a wee glass from our Guild bottle of Bushmill’s 10 year old. A sip of great whiskey to end a great day. Everyone agreed that we should hold Garage Con again next year, maybe making some changes so more games get some table time. Me? Well I was simple done in by the end, but it was a good tired, and as I said goodbye to old friends and new I felt confident that next year would be better.

Even if we don’t do it again, I have some very fond memories of a day well spent with friends and that is enough for me.


Cheers
AL

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<![CDATA[DAY TWO:Total Con, Where the Geeky Things Are.]]>Fri, 21 Feb 2014 12:41:58 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/day-twototal-con-where-the-geeky-things-are
This is the second installment in a series of posts dedicated to our adventure at Total Con. Tuna secretly kept a detailed journal of the events and items of interest and we have decided it is important for us to not only share these bits of geekery with other folks but also to save them for posterity here.
Feb. 21st The vendor room wasn’t ready to open yesterday so we take some time to wander around in there. We see a lot of games we’d love to try but they’re not available to demo in the convention hall. Bummer. Still, lots of cool things that tempt us with their shiny cellophane wrappings and brightly painted images.
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Quarriors set up.
It’s day two of the convention and it is starting to fill up; there are definitely more people here than yesterday; though open tables are still pretty easy to find. We manage to get a copy of Quarriors from the library (the game Marvel Dice Masters is sort of based on) so we give that a go. Being familiar with the game mechanics we picked it up really quickly and it was pretty fun. A random guy walks by the table and offers to sell us his copy of Quarriors for “cheap”. Of course he keeps raising the price, which sort of aggravates me. I decide that as long as a new copy isn’t outrageously expensive I’ll buy a new one rather than give this guy my money.

It’s the principle of the thing.


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Takenoko Deluxe.
We spend some time relaxing and just wandering around looking at what people are playing seeing if something catches our eye. We see a deluxe version of Takenoko (a Japanese import game that involves a panda eating bamboo. Yeah I know but It’s cooler than you might think) being played. I really liked the preview I saw of this on “Table Top”, however, I find the deluxe version a bit of a put off because the pieces are so huge. It’s beautifully made, really good quality game pieces. But all the pieces are 4-5 times bigger than the regular set, and the die that comes with the game is bigger than a softball. Plus it costs $300. I might buy the regular set, but not this collector’s edition.
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Can't Stop, no seriously you Can't!
Next we play a game called “Can’t Stop”, a game from Mike’s childhood. It involves dice, a slotted board, and colored traffic cones. Yup, traffic cones. You advance your traffic cones across the board in order to be the first to the end. Believe it or not, it was fun. Not complicated, there was some real strategy involved, it was over fairly quickly, but it was pretty fun.
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ApocalypZe, eh we tried.
A bit later we decide to try one of the developer games (ApocalypZe), a zombie based card game, with various survivor factions. It was .. okay. It felt overly complicated and didn’t seem to flow very naturally from one play to the next. They had obviously put a lot of effort into it and the artwork on the cards was very well done, but we probably won’t be picking this one up.
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Eric Summerer of Dice Tower, with Flip Florey and Cris M.
The people from Dice Tower were doing a live recording of their show here at the con, and Mike wanted to attend. I was going along just because it was something to do and Al figured he’d show up and leave after a few minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the show, and Al was even more surprised that he stayed and liked it as well. They had guests from several different gaming pod casts (Flip the TableNot Just Another Pod Cast, and Cardboard Jungle). The Flip the Table guys are actually from Bangor Maine. This is probably as close to celebrity that I will ever actually get, so of course I am getting star struck being in such proximity to “famous” people; especially as this is a small con and we keep running into these guys everywhere.

The Pod Cast hosts talk about new games that they have played (Marvel Dice Masters gets a mention), games that they hope to play, and just general board/card game stuff. One new game they discuss is called “Doom That Came to Atlantic City” sounds pretty cool. It’s a reverse version of Monopoly. You start with a full city and then you have to summon the Elder Gods to destroy it. I’m looking forward to that one let me tell you.

They record two episodes, and at the end, perform a short skit about syndicated radio host Dr. Judy who gives dating advice and advises a female caller that her instincts that her boyfriend is cheating on her are spot on. What adult man plays board games all day?

*e-hem*

We also got some swag at the pod cast. Mike got some official Dice Tower Dice, and Al and I got some throwaway card games. Yay! Free stuff!

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What's he Building in There? A win for Al that's what.
Not knowing what else to do, we decided to take one of the games we brought with us down to the game floor to play. “What’s He Building In There?” is a game I haven’t tried yet, though Mike and Al both have. In this game you are a mad scientist building a doomsday device and an escape vehicle. You have to place workers and your scientist on the board each turn to gather the materials you need to build both your device and escape. Another awesome game, even though I didn’t complete my doomsday device (I forgot my refined glass!).

Side note: There was a woman there selling cupcakes and cookies. Cookies had written on it “Bribe” to bribe your GM, or Health or Mana; cupcakes had little frosting dragons or frosting hands reaching up from inside. She also had a great business model. Roll a twenty sided dice. On a twenty you got a free cupcake, on a 17-19 you got .50 off, on a roll of one you had to buy two cupcakes. I told her “You picked the right audience for this".

I rolled a 10, Mike rolled a 17. They were pretty good cupcakes.

After several hours at Total Con I have made an observation. A majority of the people here are men over 40, in excess of 220-240 lbs. bearded, and wearing glasses.
…..

This makes me distinctly uncomfortable.

Mike and I had signed up for a con run game of Zombicide. We play this a lot amongst ourselves but we wanted to try it with a different group. Al signed up for an old Avalon Hill strategy game called Panzer Blitz while we did this.


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Eight Minute Empire.
Al goes off to his game, and we head to the assigned table … no Zombicide. There’s a mother/son there waiting also, but no one is there to run the game. Mike and I decide to try out a game from the open cabinet called “Eight Minute Empire” while we wait to see if anyone shows up. Turns out the game is somewhat miss named. It took longer to play than eight minutes; though the rules only took about eight minutes to learn so maybe not.

So, no one shows up; Al finishes his game. Nothing much going on so Al decides to head up to the room with a promise/threat that he’ll come back later to check on us. Mike and I decide to wander around for a bit just to stretch our legs and hopefully our imaginations. We see one of the guys from the pod cast with a bunch of Zombicide stuff sitting out and we go over and say hello. After talking with him for a few minutes he asks us if we want to play a game. Sure!


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Mega Zombicide layout with all the boards.
While he’s setting up he mentions that he had a scheduled game that no one showed up to. Turns out he had changed the assigned table because the original table wasn’t big enough and nobody updated the change on any of the lists. We had even asked one of the guys at the desk earlier and they told us the wrong table! We could have started playing over an hour ago.


Stupid convention people.

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Mike our new "Star" makes his move while Tuna looks on.
So, the game itself is a custom made scenario created by combining all three Zombicide sets into one gigantic map, with a few house rules thrown into the mix. It wasn’t bad, but aside from a few small things it was too easy and didn’t pace as well as a regular game would have. The only bad thing? One of the players was some teenaged kid who was a total spaz. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning but as the game wore on he began to get on almost everyone’s nerves. He was actually taking turns for other players at some point, because he was too much of a spaz to wait for them.

For me, he was the only bad part of the convention (the hotel I consider a separate problem).

The game also lasted until 12:30 in the morning and lack of sleep might have made me a bit grumpy.

Later
Tuna


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<![CDATA[DAY ONE: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Total Con.]]>Thu, 20 Feb 2014 21:18:27 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/day-one-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-total-con
Feb 20th Not just another Geek Day, but a whole long Geek Weekend! Mike and Al arrive to pick me up around 10:20, so we can drive towards our long planned trip to Total Con: New England’s largest gaming convention (according to them). This differs a bit from Temple Con last year in that this convention is only about board games, whereas last year we went to a con that had a mix of themes and events. Our hope is that this one will have more access to games we can try out and more developers promoting new games (also for us to try out).

The drive down only contained two things of interest. One, the prerequisite stop at the New Hampshire Liquor Store TAX FREE BOOZE!! … you may have noticed I typed that all in caps. Because it’s important.

Second, Mike played us a pod cast called “The Dice Tower”. They review games and they talked about a game called Marvel Dice Master that sounded pretty cool to us. Plus one of the guys, Eric Summerer, from the pod cast was going to be at the convention and after listening we were hoping we could talk to him about it.

We arrive at the hotel too early to check in, but not too early for lunch so we go to a local sports bar that you can see from the highway but can only actually find by sheer luck. No, really, we drove around for a while and couldn’t find it; we turned into a side road thinking to turn around and then we could see it at the far end of the street. Still, we all got a decent beer and I got a mountain of buffalo wings.

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Mmmm. Beeeer.
So, back at the hotel we go to check in aaaaaand there are three of us, two rooms and according to the desk clerk only two beds total. When Mike specifically reserved the rooms with 2 beds in one and 1 in the other. The response? “All the rooms are taken up by the convention”. Yeah, that’s US. Mike reserved these rooms the first day they were available. Y’know, so we could attend the convention!

So, they offer to comp Mike breakfast and send up a roll out bed. Mike tells them to "Piss Off" with the breakfast, well not really, but he was extremely angry about the mix up and refused the gesture. I offer to sleep in the roll away because I’m shorter than Mike. Plus I’m not sharing a room with Al. No offense.


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The Sanctuary.
And it wouldn’t be Booze and Boardgames if we didn't talk about booze. We set up the bar in Al’s room, because he has a fridge and brought all his mixing paraphernalia. Al experiments with a new drink involving Elderflower liqueur and gin, and a couple other things. It’s a fancy gin and tonic really, but people who like gin (i.e. people who are not me) seem to think it brings out some of the flavor in the standard gin/tonic thing. Me, I’m sticking with the old standby: the Dark and Stormy. For the record, Mike did not provide any extra stormy during this trip, though he did offer.

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Drinks in hand we prepare to invade the Con floor.
Okay, stuff in room, drinks in hand (secretly because you’re not supposed to drink at this convention) we head on down to the convention floor.

The first thing we see? The guy from the Dice Tower, Eric Summerer, who we listened to on the drive down. And he’s setting up the game we wanted to ask him about: Marvel Dice Masters. This may be really, really, really geeky; but that’s totally awesome. We introduce ourselves and ask him about the game and he offers to walk us through it. More totally cool.
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Eric Summerer was really cool and down to earth, not like Al.
The game is sort of a cross between Quarriors and Magic: the Gathering. If you have no idea what one or more of those are, Quarriors is a deck building game but with Dice, and Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game. And if you still don’t know … why the hell are you reading this? Anyway, Marvel Dice Masters is an awesome game. If you like Magic: the Gathering, dice games, and deck building you’ll enjoy this game.

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Midgard.
Our second game was Midgard, a game about Vikings taking control of the various realms of Nordic myth. It’s a simple strategy game, but I had a lot of fun playing it. Not enough to go and buy it outright, but fun enough that I’d play it again.

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Ticket to Ride.
Surprisingly, Al agrees to a game of “Ticket to Ride”. Al not being fond of games where there is no fighting or killing I did not expect him to go for this. And even more surprising he didn’t hate the game either, and thinks it might be a game he could play with his wife. It is considered one of the “Gateway Games” that brings people around to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming. ;)

After gaming around for a bit, we discover that a late night dinner is in order so we find our way to the hotel restaurant and enjoy some nice beers and burgers. Well, Mike had a fruity girly drink from the menu called a Gandalf, of course we quickly renamed it to “Gandalf the Gay”, seriously look at the picture.

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Mike getting his Con on, drinking a "Gandalf the Gay".
Back at the room Mike and I play a round or two of Magic: the Gathering. Al actually seems to take an interest and we think we might have convinced him to perhaps start playing, but it turns out he was just exhausted. So, we have finally figured out the secret to getting Al to start playing Magic: the Gathering, just wear him down to exhaustion and put some cards in his hand ;)

Later
Tuna


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<![CDATA[February 9th;  a sober, but fun, Game day.]]>Tue, 11 Feb 2014 17:47:15 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/february-9th-a-sober-but-fun-game-day
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Kurt gets the low down on Toxic City Mall from Mike.
This past Sunday we had another game session which went on for several hours and included all of the usual highs and lows of our get-togethers, sans alcohol that is “yeah I know”. Anyway it was a pretty “epic” day as you’ll see further on, and if you missed it I can only encourage you to show up next time and join in the fun.

We arrived around noon at Dirigo Hobbies in Gray, and after the pleasantries of “hey how you been? and how you doing?” were completed we got down business and began setting up a game of Toxic City Mall. This game is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, what with zombies that splatter you with toxic blood upon dying, and you starting out with a frying pan as a weapon. It tends to get a bit intense, but after the board was down, markers and tokens placed and much discussion of the new rules we were ready to give it a go. Kurt and his son Therin had never played any of the Zombicide games before so we took some extra time to educate them on the basics of actions, how to shoot, move etc.

While thus engaged, the owner of the store, Doug, came over and asked if would try out a piece of plexi-glass over the board tiles to see how we liked it. He has a plan for this, but more on that another time. The glass didn’t work so well as we had pushed two 6 ft. long tables against each other and the board tiles were resting right in the middle where the tables came together. This caused tiles to shift every time one of us moved the table. I think if we had a solid playing surface to start from, the glass would work really well.

Also my OCD is a bit strong at times so I may have just been over analyzing it.


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Layout of TCM after a few moves.
The scenario chosen, tasked the survivors with finding some other lost humans on the map represented by tokens. They then had to exit the board by driving off in either one or two of the cars available. The tricky part was there were a lot of tokens to grab and we didn’t know which ones were going to be the ones needed until we got them. Also there were four toxic walkers just waiting for us which did not give us a lot of options right out of the gate.

Tuna got some nice pistols right at the beginning and as everyone else searched the rooms in the first section they all ended up with a decent ranged and melee weapon. All that is except myself who found bottled water, rice, and of course a few undead. But with frying pan in hand I was undaunted by the fearful odds before us. (Sorry that’s the kind of thing that runs through my mind when playing).

The first few spawns were rather tame and with a bit of teamwork our survivors managed to get out of the starting area relatively unscathed. But then due to Tuna’s rather terrible shuffling ability we all of a sudden had loads of toxic zombies marching our way. Kurt found a chainsaw and really went to town on clearing out all the regular zombie groups until they took him down. Coming back as a Zombivor (yeah that’s so cool) he tanked us through enough so we could pick up two more tokens one of which was a survivor. Sadly our maniacal husky wielding hero succumbed to a large party of toxics and he was eliminated from the game. As Kurt is a decent sort, generally, we gave him the rescued survivor to play so he could keep going. Therin got to drive a Pimpmobile and run over a whole slew of ugly Zombies as well as blast his fair share with a shotgun. How many 10 year olds can say they did that?

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Yeah, we needed that car the zombies are all over.
Anyway, the last few tokens were in a large building on the far side of the board. By now the spawns were coming out at red experience level and we had to try and get to a safe door and try to “funnel” the marching masses of zombies, and pray we picked up the last tokens quick. As it turns out at this point I was the only one who could open doors so our whole team lost a turn waiting for my slow ass to catch up to them. Finally I wander up and kick in the door. The building consisted of ten rooms, which meant we had to flip a zombie spawn card for each of those rooms. As all of the zombie minis were pretty much on the board already this would mean a lot of extra moves for the bad guys. Mike had done the math and though he thought we could die it was our only shot. Card after card the horde came closer and closer and just when we thought we were goners the spawning was over and we could breathe a sigh of relief. Just one though, because the very next turn everyone was crushed beneath a tidal wave of stinking rotten flesh.

Four plus hours in and we all wiped.


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Awesome Deck Building game!
Tired and worn out Kurt and his son went home, and Tuna begged off as well. Mike and I decided to stick around and play a game of Marvel Legendary, after a sandwich that is. Legendary is a deck building game set in the Marvel comic book universe where you try to defeat masterminds and their minions. I like the game overall, but the Mastermind and scheme we picked for this match was really tough. The Dark City expansion cards which I included in the set really changed the dynamic of play. Harder but more engaging overall. We ended up losing horribly, and decided to call it a night.

Though we lost both games, we still had a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to set these titles up again with my friends and guild mates hopefully this up coming Sunday.

Cheers

AL
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<![CDATA[Geek Day...again? Man, how time flies.]]>Sun, 22 Dec 2013 15:42:13 GMThttp://bnbgs.weebly.com/conventions-re-caps-and-general-mayhem/geek-dayagain-man-how-time-flies
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Thirsty Demon
Recap of December 7th Game day.


Al was taking his turn at hosting and we had a bit of a slow start, being just the three of us (Mike, Al, and myself (Tuna). Valerie had promised to come later, as she was attending a distillery; which we all admit was at least a decent reason for not joining us.

Mike wanted to give Smash Up another try, as he felt he hadn’t gotten a good feel for it the first time. The game was much more competitive than the last time, with all of us actually fighting over control of the bases, with some very sneaky and nasty plays being made (some by yours truly). Also some stupid plays (also by yours truly). Al took an early lead and Mike and I made some quick strides to catch up; but I fell behind around mid game and it came down to Mike and Al at the end. They were only 1 point apart when Al managed to take the final base and win handily with a few point margin.

At least the Black and Tan Al supplied me with managed to take the edge off my sorrow at losing.

Mike has changed his mind about Smash Up and now thinks it’s a good addition to our roster.


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Mike gives this one a big Thumbs up!
We had decided to pull out an old favorite while we waited for Val to join us and Mike chose Forbidden Island. This game started off very poorly, with us pulling a Waters Rise card in the first draw, prompting three areas of the Island to sink beneath the waves before we even got a chance to do anything at all.

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Forbidden Island has lots of snacks on it.
We got lucky for a turn or two, managing to capture one of the artifacts fairly quickly, but the island continued to sink beneath our imaginary feet while we gathered the remaining artifacts. Some quick planning made it look like we would be able to pull off a win without too much hassle when we drew the last Waters Rise card in the deck, sinking everything but the last tile. We had all the artifacts and managed to escape to the last tile but we had only one turn to win. We needed the right card to escape and if we didn’t the last part of the island would sink beneath the waves and our little wooden representatives would die horribly by drowning. Against all odds, Al managed to draw the correct card and away we flew to safety and untold riches by selling off the salvaged mysterious artifacts. 

Al had decided that food today would be supplied by the local pizza parlor so while he was out Mike and I played a couple games of Magic: the Gathering. I haven’t been able to play much lately so I was eager to take a hand or two. Unfortunately since I was unprepared for anyone to suggest a game I had not brought my own cards, so I used Mike’s instead.

I chose Black/White and Mike played White/Red. I had to pull a mulligan after it became obvious that the deck had nothing but land at the top. Despite my rigorous shuffle the top thirteen cards in the deck were Swamps. I think I might have been better off without using the mulligan. I made a few good plays, but Mike had the upper hand for most of the game and I conceded the game.

Al came back with the pizza and Mike and I started a second game, switching decks. I was doing very well, cancelling much of Mike’s advantage early on and then settling into a good rhythm of picking away at his health. He was down to 2 when he pulled out a wipe (GOD) card that cleared the field of every creature, followed up with a second card that stole 11 of my health and healed him for the same amount. I was one turn away from winning when he turned the tables on me and I was not able to recover from it, just couldn’t pull the cards I needed to either attack or defend well enough to stop him.

At least the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster Al mixed up for me managed to ease the pain and sorrow of losing.

A bit of history for the uninitiated, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is actually a fictional drink from the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” novels, by Douglas Addams. It contains many fictional ingredients, and the effect of drinking it is described as being hit in the head with a large gold brick wrapped in a lemon slice. Many people have invented recipes to try to replicate this drink for us mere mortals forced to live in the real world, and Al managed to find one that tastes tart, strong, and is a deep electric blue.

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One of Al's better concoctions
Val sends a message that she won’t be joining us (lame!), but we forge forward without her; strengthened by a second round of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.

Hey, we don’t call it Booze and Board Games for nothin’.

Mike seems to be doing most of the game picking today, and surprises me by picking “Legend of Drizzit”, one of the games Al has universally declared he despises. However, he is in a forgiving mood despite (or perhaps because of) his relative sobriety. He had to drive to get the pizza,I digress.

Mike and I agree that this game isn’t as well balanced as Descent, but it also fuels our Dungeons and Dragons addiction and we figure we can hold it together long enough for Al to not hate it too much. Set up also takes me a bit of time, as we haven't played in months, so I was unprepared.

Still, once we were set up, the game went smoothly for a few turns. We got lucky and didn’t pull any Encounters for the first four Dungeon Tiles explored (a record!), but things started to get a little difficult when we had to spend a couple turns after Encounters started putting out traps of exploding lava and rolling boulders. Overall, things weren’t too bad. That is until we managed to get the Troll. Oh, how we hate that Troll. A few bad rolls and Al went down, using up one of our Healing Surges, and Mike had to use another one.


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Legend of Drizzit
We finally pulled the Boss card, along with its attendant monster minions. We were battered and bloody, but we finally managed to pull it down; resulting in Al’s first ever victory with this game.
Al seemed to be on a roll.


It’s still early, so we decide one more game is in order. Thunderstone is chosen as one we all agree on and that we haven’t played much lately. The set up is based on random card picks and it became apparent that we were going to have trouble. The creatures we had to fight had immunities, some of which was Magic, and half of the available Heroes were Magic based. Also, why do the Villagers always suck? I think next time we should make the set up a little less random so things suck a little less.


The game always starts slow while we build our decks, and Mike took an early lead. Actually, he stole a couple creatures out from under me a couple turns. Al had several frustrating turns and Mike and I talked him through a strategy that seemed to help him out a bit. Still, he had enough of a bad string for long enough that he would have to pull something extraordinary to catch up to Mike and I. Mike was in the lead but I made a few unnoticed pulls that I knew would net me a couple extra victory points at the end game.

Mike had the opportunity to end the game decisively when the Thunderstone Bearer was pulled from the creature deck, but he decided he wanted to grab as many points as possible. This may have not been a good move on his part because when the dust settled I managed to claim victory by eleven points over him. Because I’m a sneaky bastard.

 

       "Photo deleted by Al due to its inappropriate and annoying content i.e. he lost." 




Al had the idea for a photo op to show how our game collection has grown over the years we have been doing this and asked us to bring all of our games; which is one of the reasons we had so many titles on hand that we hadn’t played in a while.

We took a picture of the two games that Mike had, which started it all.


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Initial offerings of Crack.
Followed by a picture of everything the three of us have added since Mike sucked us into this.

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Our own stash on which to feed the addictions.
See ladies, that’s what allowing your significant others to game will do.

Later!
Tuna


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