01701: The Games We Played

Given the separate gaming events that Tobie and I participated in this past weekend, we managed to play quite a number of different games, many of them games that we had never tried before.

Here's a quick rundown of the games that we played and quick thoughts on each of them.

Cards Against Humanity - CAH is a quirky and rather raunchy game that seems perfectly designed for parties and any other excuses to have alcohol flowing. The cards themselves are a mix of pop culture references, figures relevant to current news and a lot of sexual situations.

The basic premise behind the game is that everyone takes turn being the one to read out a particular question (as found on black cards) while all other players use the cards that they have on hand (which are white) to provide possible responses. The judge then determine which answer works best for the question, typically using the basis of what is funniest or wittiest.

Tobie likes ending CAH sessions with a 3 card "haiku" but ignores the need to follow the syllable structure and instead has the three cards represent the 3 different lines. The image above captures my supposed haiku that helped we win the game during the very last round. It was glorious and hilarious! And naturally the fun of the game also depends on the people you're playing with.

Doctor Who: The Card Game - Mark brought his copy of this game to the OGM last Saturday and it was our first time to try out this timey-wimey little card game. In this game, players play Location cards that act as your territories and earn you Time Points. As the game progresses, players can then attack the Locations of other players with Enemy cards like Daleks, Cybermen and such in order to try and claim control over those territories. In order to stop their attacks, you'll need to use Defender cards like the Doctor and River Song to repel such attacks and declare the Locations Defended.

What makes the game most interesting is a particular card dynamic that makes gameplay rather sometimes confusing but also exciting. At the end of a player turn, that player needs to have exactly three cards in hand (thus you've used up all others). These remaining cards are then passed to the player to the right, thus continuing a peculiar cycle that has cards going around the board over and over again. And given your initial hand size is only 5 cards, that means initially you can only play two cards while all others are given up. It takes a while to get used to the concept, but then it does provide for interesting strategies. Luckily I managed to win that particular game.

Cosmic Encounters - Tobie has been looking for this game for some time given interesting reviews and videos that he's managed to catch online. The basic premise of the game is that the different players each represent a different alien race with unique abilities. Each turn the player draws from the Destiny deck to see which opposing player he will try to attack. He then determines which forces to send (thus stripping defenses from his own planets). The key dynamic here is when both attacking and defending players invite other players to join them as either the attackers or the defenders. You can imagine the kind of negotiations and bargaining that takes place as people figure out if they want to participate or not.

We didn't actually get to finish this game since we ran out of time, but we did get through the bulk of the game with Jovan leading with 4 colonies. There's a lot of strategy to be found in figuring out how to best utilize the powers of each race and when to call for allies or not. Given this was our first time, I don't think any of us had fully figured out how best to manage our resources, but we certainly had some creative ideas. Ultimately, it was a lot of fun and I wouldn't mind trying to find a copy of the game for ourselves.

Zombicide - With our Sunday group, we finally got to try this game out since Erich had a copy of the main set (with the expansions already on their way). Here each player selects a character (many of them inspired by various pop culture icons) and tries to complete the mission objectives from the selected scenario. The game actually provides a wide range of scenarios online and the developers have offered the complete toolkit to create new scenarios and even new characters.

The game is quirky given how it has provided for four main types of zombies - Walkers, Runners, Fatties and Abominations, this providing you with a wide range of enemies. I do wish that one could defend from zombies once they attack you though - it feels weird to have to kill zombies ahead of time via guns and such before they get close enough to bite. Then again, I probably need to play more games to better understand the strategies behind the whole thing. But I do love just how many miniatures the game comes with - that certainly provides a unique sense of fulfillment that plays to the collector mindset.

Munchkin Deluxe - There are a gazillion and one versions of the Munchkin game featuring different concepts and settings like science fiction and even super heroes. But the main set has always been a fantasy-derived game celebrating classic tabletop gaming archetypes. Instead of the traditional main set, Tobie was able to find us a copy of the deluxe box set which includes a board to make tracking scores easier and little figurines to represent the different players. The goal is simple - defeat monsters in order to level up and become the first to reach Level 10.

But the cards make all the difference (many of them humorously referencing different board games).

Forbidden Desert - This follow-up to Forbidden Island has definitely become one of our favorite games as of late, if only because it's just so darned challenging to defeat. In the game players work together to find the parts needed to get an ancient airship to work so that they can escape the desert. But of course as they go around the board, they various various risks such as being buried by sand, dying of thirst and just getting trapped as the very configuration of the board itself changes every turn.

We've been struggling to defeat this game for some time now, although it turned out that our biggest challenge had more to do with forgetting some of the rules and misunderstanding how some of the cards work. Even with those knowledge gaps addressed, we're still barely hanging on as we've only defeated the board twice on the Novice difficulty. I guess with a few more game sessions we'll be able to try the game on a higher difficulty rating.

Last Night on Earth - Our last game for last night was this alternate zombie board game that has been quite a favorite at the Sietch. The game provides different scenarios that pits the human players versus the zombie players in order to achieve their respective objectives. The choice to have the zombies controlled by an active player instead of just game mechanics was an interesting decision since it provides for a more challenging game experience.

The game celebrates a lot of the tropes that we've come to know from various zombies movies - especially those in the b-movie range. But how these different elements come together is pretty interesting and it has resulted in a very fun game. Yesterday the humans managed to defeat the zombies, although I have to admit that it looked a little close at times. The zombie player tends to have some pretty interesting cards at his disposal while the humans seem to have a lot of potential setbacks ready to work against them.
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