Tuesday, March 30, 2010

ROBA for March 2010

Another month, another ROBA gaming session. This time it was my buddy Carl and I, his first time attending. Carl is one of my favorite players to have at the table. He's fun, capable, and willing to play just about anything. This month attendance seemed a little light, and the place seemed to empty somewhat early. There weren't many people there when we left around 6:00. Here's what we played.

Shadow Hunters game components.

We started off with a game of Shadow Hunters. I got a copy of this via Z-Force a couple of months ago and have been trying to get it to the table. One of my fellow gamers at ROBA brought their copy also, and said it was a favorite of hers, and so was happy to teach it. We played a 6-player game. For those who don't know, Shadow Hunters is a game where each player is dealt a character card at the beginning and no one else knows what it is. Each character is either a Hunter (trying to kill all the Shadows) a Shadow (trying to kill all the Hunters) or a Villager (with unique victory conditions.) You need to figure out who is who, then begin attacking your enemies and assisting your teammates. Most of the detective work is done via Hermit Cards. They say things like "I'll bet you're a Hunter! If you are, then take 2 damage." Between the cards and watching the interactions of the other players you need to deduce who is who.

I was a Werewolf, and revealed myself fairly early mostly just to see how the game works. I was the second person to be eliminated after the game explainer, who was a Hunter. One of the Villagers won on a questionable rules call, but Shadow Hunters was fun and everyone had a good time. I'm gonna try and get this to the table at my FLGS this week.

Brass: dry, stuffy and wonderful.

We then moved on to Brass, a game I've owned since August of last year but have been unable to get to the table. It was a 4-player game with 3 new players and someone who had played before a year or 2 ago. It played more smoothly than I expected from reading the rules. This comes from the many exceptions to the rules which don't come up a lot, so most of the time things are pretty straight forward. It took about 2.5 hours to finish, and it didn't feel like 2.5 hours which is usually the hallmark of a good game. I probably won't get to play Brass very often, but I'd sure like to...

Saint Petersburg.

We finished up with a game that's been on my radar for a long time: Saint Petersburg. I'll need to play this one again. I can see the appeal in it and the cleverness, it just didn't really do much to impress me. It's competent but not memorable. I wouldn't mind trying it again to see if I'm missing something.

All told, it was a good time as always.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Container: Economic Terror on the High Seas

Oh, Container. I've had my eye on you for some time. You seemed so full of potential. People said you were a fantastic economic game, where there was no hidden information, where the decisions of the players determined the in-game economy. This meant I was either probably going to love you or hate you. You might break my heart. You'd never go on sale, though. And Valley Games has a bad reputation for shoddy components and poor customer service.

When tax return time came this year, I decided to finally give Container a try. I bought it along with its expansion (Second Shipment) from CoolStuffInc last month, and I got the chance to try it for the first time last night.

Yellow's ship arrives at the remote island with 4 containers of goods to auction off.

We played a 3-player game. The rules aren't too complicated, and once we had a few turns under our belt things flowed pretty smoothly. The game involves buying factory machines and using them to produce goods. Other players then buy the goods from you and sell them at their harbor store. Players have a ship which can sail from harbor to harbor buying goods from other players harbor stores. Once a ship has one or more goods on it, that player may choose to sail to the remote island where there is an auction for those goods. Since each player gets a secret scorecard at the beginning that tells how much each color of good is worth to them, everyone values things differently. Also, since players set their own sale prices, the economy is determined by the players.

I've only played the one game so far, but I'm really impressed with Container. I'm also pretty bad at it, which doesn't surprise me. It reminds me a little bit of Chicago Express, another game I enjoy and am bad at. There is a delicate balance to the gameplay. Sell your goods too high and no one will buy them. Sell them too low and you won't make enough money. You have to buy machines to produce goods, and warehouses to sell those goods at your harbor store. You also need to keep enough money around to compete in the auctions to get goods for your island. A low bid means you might get them for cheap, but it might also mean that the seller will just match your bid and keep them.

A game of Container in progress.

I feel like I will need many, many more plays to figure this game out. That's a good thing. At the moment, I'm absolutely fascinated by Container and look forward to playing with 4 or 5 players.