Last night was an absolutely fantastic game night, and I’m really excited about all the new games that I got to try out! We had about a dozen or more people there, and everyone really seemed to be having a great time. So, here’s what I played and what I thought about them…
I’d heard some about Wasabi! before Denise got it in, but didn’t fully appreciate how gorgeous it really is until I saw it in person. Jen had picked it up earlier in the week, and I had read the rules online just a couple of days ago. Hayley joined Jen and me, and we got right to it since we all knew the rules. I kept completing 2 and 3 ingredient recipes to get the special cards that I needed, which I then used to complete my 5-ingredient and two 4-ingredient recipes with style (in order) to get all the bonus points from wasabi cubes. In the end, I won pretty handily (32 points to Jen’s 12 and Hayley’s 6), but we all had a really good time.
In addition to being absolutely beautiful, I was very impressed with all the little details in the game. Things like the “menu” that you use as a player screen – which actually holds the different recipes you are working on – and the little bowls to hold your perfectly-colored wababi cubes. But above that, it seems like a really approachable little filler/gateway game that is wonderfully themed. Almost anyone could understand the basic rules because they are so intuitive to the theme, and while they do add a little extra level of complexity, even the special cards make a lot of inherent sense and are pretty simple to understand. This is definitely going on my wishlist, and I’m trying to think of any sushi lovers that I could pick it up for as Christmas presents.
Like I said in my last post, I received Ghost Stories from my BGG Secret Santa and was anxious to give it a try. I really wanted to try it solo first to get the rules all straight, but alas, had no time to do so. Therefore, the others got the game all set up while I was finishing Wasabi!, and then I went through the rules with them as best I could. The biggest learning curve for the game is learning what the village tiles do and figuring out how to use them, so that player aid flitted around like a fly on a turd.
We thought that we won the game, but we (okay, I) made one big interpretation error about how you can lose the game, and so in reality, we lost really badly. The error was that the rules seemed to imply you would lose the game when a fourth village tile in a row would be haunted, but the real rule (as clarified by the game designer) is that you lose when 4 tiles total are haunted. Since we ended the game with only like 1 tile not being haunted haunted, we should have been screwed long beforehand.
Otherwise, though, the Ghost Stories was a lot of fun. Waves and waves of tension pour out of the game as new ghost cards and haunting figures and all kinds of other bad effects build up over and over again. Since we weren’t using the village tiles very well, we tended to throw ourselves at the ghosts over and over until we finally managed to exorcise them. Then Wu-Feng finally showed up as the “Hope Killer”, and we were sure we were screwed. Fortunately, the yellow player (Brad) was using the “Bottomless Pockets” side of his board, and had amassed quite a stash of Tao tokens. With some help from another player or two (who moved there prior to his turn), he was able to send Wu-Feng straight back to hell with only one attempt, making us think that we were successful (at least until Chris researched the haunted village thing).
Still, everyone enjoyed the game quite a bit. It’s obviously incredibly hard, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing with a cooperative game. The variety in powers and resistances for the ghosts kept it from getting too formulaic, and the different powers of the village tiles and the characters gave lots of options on each turn. The only thing that may bother me (I’m not sure yet if it does) is that the game is sort of programmed to be a certain length because you always have to go down through the whole deck of ghosts and face Wu-Feng before you can win. Of course, I guess that it will end early should you lose, but let’s not think that way. I definitely want to give this several more plays and see how it improves once we are more familiar with the village powers and how we need to work together.
I got in three games of our Game of the Month! last night, winning one (okay, I actually tied) and losing the other two miserably. I took a few chances with some cards I’d not played with before, and they generally didn’t work out. This is the kind of game that it’s hard to really talk about after the fact, because it’s reall hard to remember and analyse all the many different decisions you make all the way through a particular play of it. It’s still a blast to play, but sometimes the continual shuffling gets all over me.
The third new game I played last night was the cool new party game Say Anything, which I’ve been looking forward to since I first heard about it. The description that best captures it is “the love child of Apples to Apples and Wits & Wagers“. You’ve got the element of trying to play to the likes and dislikes of the judge for the turn, but also a well-balanced, double-blind scoring system as well. And then on top of that, you also have the ability to impress the judge with your creativity (which reminds me of Balderdash in some ways). It was incredibly fun, and I was impressed by the range of questions that you could ask, which went from rather cerebral opinion questions all the way to absolute sillyness (such as “What would be the best thing to teach a monkey to do?”). I can see this being a big hit whereever it’s played. Not that it matters, but I won this too, based mainly on the strength of my answer to the monkey question (training it to “scratch those hard-to-reach places”).