My long-time buddy (and, somewhat oddly, distant cousin) Steve had a gaming party on Saturday, and I was able to participate in at least a portion of the fun and all of the lasagna-ey goodness that he (and his wife Michelle) offered!
I arrived early (or rather, on time, which was apparently unusual for the rest of the invitees) and after talking for a bit, got started with playing Traders of Carthage. We were tit-for-tat most of the game, but then he managed to get a huge payout for a blue delivery that I didn’t have any part in, and I couldn’t get my red delivered in time before he ended the game and won by two measely points. Traders of Carthage is just an incredible little card game, and I can’t for the life of me understand why I and/or my group don’t play it more. It’s like a masterpiece of efficient game design and is all about being forced to work with your opponents while still trying to get the best out of the deal. I need to bring it along more to game night.
As we were finishing, Britt showed up and had with him a brand “new” (as in, just broken out of its original skrink wrap) copy of Sid Sackson’s Venture. It’s a card game of forming conglomerates that is vaguely reminiscent of Acquire. Mechanically, you’re using a deck of money (capital) cards to buy company cards that you combine into sets. Each set (conglomerate) can have no more than one card of each color (different company types), which score at certain points in the game (when a Profit card comes up in the Capital deck) based on how many cards are in the set and how many components (a series of letters along the top of the cards) that they all have in common.
At first, I was worried that it would all come down to the luck of how good your capital cards were, but then Steve happened to ask what the little symbols next to some of the numbers meant. Because the low-value capital cards can also be combined into sets (based on these symbols) that are worth significantly more money. Little things like this help to balance out the game and show just how freaking brilliant Sid Sackson was.
As it went, I managed to put together a complete (6-company) conglomerate sharing two different letters sometime in the midgame, and it helped me jump way out into the lead. Steve and Britt tried to break it up, but I was able to draw the cards I needed to steal back companies and also get together another couple of conglomerates as well to keep myself ahead and win the game by a pretty significant margin.
If there’s anything negative to say about Venture, it’d mainly be that it seemed to go on just a little too long. The Proxy Fight cards (which allow you to steal companies from an opponent) are also pretty powerful, and since they come up randomly in the capital deck, the unmitigated luck factor related to them may be a pretty significant detriment for some. To me, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t have to pay the owner of the company your money when you use one of the Proxy Fight cards, which would at least add in that little bit of mitigation to ease the sting of having your conglomerate dismantled. Still, it was pretty fun, and I’d look forward to playing it again sometime.
Man! I just kicked their butts!!!
At this point, Kenny finally called and said that he was on his way. Britt had been wanting to play Catacombs, so we set it up figuring that it would be easy for Kenny to jump in when he got there. As it was, both he and Michelle ended up joining the game! I was playing the Sorcerer, but it really didn’t matter since I ended up killing the party before they even reached the final battle.
In the Level 2 room just before facing the Catacomb Lord, I had a Crypt Spider, two Centaurs, and some zombies. The heroes had trouble moving up, so I was able to sit back and snipe at them in relative safety. It didn’t hurt, of course, that Britt’s Barbarian decided to rage and then didn’t actually hit anything at all in any of his four flicks. It was close, but my victory was sealed when I managed to get the Spider out into the perfect spot to web both of the non-incapacitated heroes. We all had a lot of fun, though, and then it was time for some awesome, homemade lasagna!
Kenny lines up his shot while Steve, Michelle, and Britt watch in horror…
On Sunday, at least, Gwen and I did find a few moments to play the new 10 Days in the Americas from Out of the Box (which they kindly sent me as a review copy). We’ve been pretty big fans of the whole 10 Days in… series, and were excited to see how this one was different. Basically, the “new” mechanic in the game is that you can now take “cruises” which connect one ship to another, travelling through a chain of one or more of the five ocean/sea zones. In other 10 Days games, you had to use ships just like airplanes; with a country on either side of them. But now, you could (for example) travel from the USA to the North Atlantic, then to the Caribbean, then to the South Pacific (thru the Panama canal) and finally land in Peru.
Samantha was pretty wound up, though, so we only got in one game. I’m looking forward to exploring it further, however, and I’m very interested in trying out the new 20 Days Around the World rules that they’ve also released. My plan is to write up a review of the whole series sometimes soon, so we’ll see how that turns out…