Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CombsCon 2009

Hi all,

Allan, Joshua, Mike, and Scott got together on Saturday to eat bad food and play bad games... er, that is to say, play games badly. We got in five board games, and played exactly *one* of them without blowing at least one major rule. That's right, wicked experienced gamers mess up basic rules and throw the entire session into chaos; film at eleven. Oh well, when will we learn the most often given advice on this blog: "Read the rules!"

Anyhow, our first game was just with Allan, Joshua, and Scott (Mike was on a conference call). We played Caribbean, a light little game where you have pirate ships pick up and then deliver plundered booty. Seemed simple enough, with only a page and a half of rules, so what's to mess up, right? Well, turns out that in addition to getting paid for delivering the booty, you are supposed to get paid for picking it up! I guess that's what we get for being pirates.

It only took an hour, Allan won:

Allan 32
Scott 26
Joshua 24

The three of us promised to play it again by the actual rules. It was the first of many promises to be ignored on the day.

When Mike joined us, we tried The Pillars of the Earth, where you play builders in medieval England, trying to construct the most beautiful cathedral in the world. It started out well, with advice from the most experienced player simply not working out and lots of hilarity at bogus random events and such. Wasn't until the end that we realized that the most precious commodity in the game, metal, *cannot* be purchased at the market. But by then, it was too late -- and Allan had such a store of metal that the rest of us couldn't even benefit when the king decided to hand some out.

The outcome was preordained, and Allan converted that metal store into a four-point victory:

Allan 51
Joshua 47
Scott 45
Mike 44

Having blown a second game, we decided to play The Pillars of the Earth again, this time with the proper rules. Allan got seriously hosed by bad randomness. You don't roll dice in this game, but it was like hitting snake eyes four rounds in a row. Somehow he overcame that to come back strong. But Joshua edged Scott out for the Glassblower, and rode that to a shocking come-from-behind victory:

Joshua 50
Mike 46
Allan 43
Scott 37

Having seen enough of this game, we agreed on Power Grid next, a game of power plants that had us mostly sitting in the dark. You see, there's an auction for new plants, and for most of the game, when the auction ends you move the highest priced plant to the bottom of the deck. This guarantees that you don't get too much power capacity or spend too much money early in the game. Except, of course, when you are us and you forget to do it.

So in our version of the game, Joshua had three permanent plants before we finished a third of the game, and when we realized it, there was just no way to correct it. We concede the game to Joshua, though I am not counting it as a win. It was just too egregious of an error, so sorry Joshua, you'll have to forgo the victory on this one. Maybe we'll give *two* wins to whomever claims victory in our next game of Power Grid... the one where we READ THE RULES before starting :(

Next up, Starfarers of Catan, the space version of the classic Settlers of Catan. Starfarers has some of the coolest bits of any game in existence. Space ships that accept expansion boosters, lasers, freight rings, and fame rings. Very cool looking and very well thought out. So you might ask what mistake we made here. Well, in the very first turn, I was instructed to play without getting my free resource and without rolling for additional resources. So when I had to face a challenge, I decided not to give a resource (since I had so little) and my ships were grounded. They corrected Joshua when he did the same as I had done, but never went back to redo my turn -- which hamstrung me from the beginning.

There is some controversy about whether or not that constitutes a rules violation; but if they'd made Joshua go with his mistake I could have accepted it. But when he got a do-over... well, I vowed to use the blog to get my final say.

The game itself was a lot of fun, and even though he didn't realize it until we pointed it out, Joshua ended up winning:

Joshua 15
Allan 14
Mike 10
Scott 10

So all-in-all that is two victories for Joshua and two for Allan -- and a totally botched game of Power Grid. We never did get back to Caribbean, but who cares. If the rest of the day was any indication, we would have botched that one, too.

Besides, the best part of the day was the food -- that's all that really counted. Allan brought homemade salsa and the planet's best root beer, Capt'n Eli's. Scott brought homemade chocolate cookie dough and cooked it up during Starfarers. And Mike provided dinner. Of course, all Joshua handed out was ass-whippings, but that's about what we expect when playing with him.

A big "thank you" to our hosts, Mike & Anne. I had a great time and hope others did, too.

- Scott

PS. I updated the Overall Victories tote board.

1 comment:

  1. Well I think I got 2 metal from the market that I shouldn't have, Josh got at least one. I made the majority of my metal with the Goldsmith. Still I benefited from the botched rule....or as a famous gamer once said, "You can't do THAT. It says right here in the rules, IN BOLD PRINT!"

    Let's play again soon - we all need to redeem ourselves....and we need to play Settlers of Dune. I almost have the rules worked out!