The Shadow of a Hood

Saturday was comprised of lots of gaming. We started off with Savage Worlds and I ran a session of Agents of Oblivion and then played a number of board games.

I pride myself in the games I run and this one did not go well. It was not the fault of the players, but I had an issue with the hood flying up while I was running an errand prior to the game which threw me into a state of shock I didn’t realize at the time. I’m grace under pressure as  a general rule and don’t get flustered, nor did I in this instance. I attribute the fast reflexes to my video game background. When I got to the game, I wanted to have a beer, but it was a bit too early, so I grabbed a soft drink, a tea to be precise. Rarely do I do caffeine, but the slump of the adrenaline rush left me a bit drained (despite a good night’s sleep) and I need the help. It kicked in and made me a bit jittery and I was overall distracted by the whole hood event far more than I realized at the time. You might wonder how I realized it at all? At the end of the evening, after my guests departed, I couldn’t sleep and was a tangle of nerves and needed to deconstruct the reasons why. Evidently, when faced with the potentiality for a most ridiculous end, even the unflappable will flap a bit or wonder why they didn’t flap at all. I won’t say the game session was a complete disaster–fun was had by all, but the story was less focused, a bit more rambling, and I had to pause a few times as my rhythm was a bit off (as mentioned above). It was the first time I ran the adventure and I did note a few places where I could tighten things up and bring them into clearer focus. It was not a complete disaster. If anything, the whole experience was educational on several levels–I’m still deconstructing it in my head.

The board games we played were Navegador, King of Tokyo, High Society, and No Thanks! I don’t typically run around doing reviews (which is why I provided links), but I’ll give a few quick thoughts and impressions of the “board game experience” portion of the day.

Mark Smalley, the local who brought his bags full of games, is a board gamer. He rarely plays RPGs, but despite that is a nice fellow with whom I played Realms of Cthulhu at a local con several years past. He managed to get my hood functional as best he could (though it looks like a new hood is in my future) and did a great job of teaching the games. The group was a mix of the guys from my group, Michael Sims, who came to visit and was the reason for the get-together, and the just mentioned Mark. I’ll note I was actually relieved to not be in the driver’s seat and looked forward to playing the board games, so came to the table after we broke for our evening meal in high spirits.

We started out with Navegador and it was in what is called the Rondel Series where you have a number of moves you can make from your slice of the pie in the wheel to determine what you’ll do next (be it sail, go to market, etc.) This was a new mechanic for me which took several rotations for me to grow accustomed to which removed me out of the running as I was the one most unfamiliar with this style. I had a good time and would have acquitted myself better had I gotten a handle on it quicker. I finished dead last, but not too far behind one of the more experienced fellows, so didn’t achieve my personal goal of not being dead last. There is always next time and this is a game I would very much enjoy playing again.

Next, we played King of Tokyo which is a fun, little game by Richard Garfield which has a board, but really doesn’t need one. You play a giant monster and, through dice rolling, smack other monsters, accumulate energy cubes, amass victory points, and heal yourself. The dials on the character sheet made it easy to keep track of and you can buy powers via the expenditure of energy cubes from an array of three cards that are up at all times. I enjoyed this game a lot and would put in the “beer and pretzels” category. Winning the game didn’t hurt either. This is one I would pick up as it’s a quick game that’d eat up a half hour or so between “bigger games”.

We played High Society next, a game designed by veteran game designer, Reiner Knizia. It is a bidding game where you buy stuff from your hand of money (luxury cars, Russian brides, mansions and the like) and keep from getting bad stuff (like tax audits). This game was interesting and it helps to know your opponents. This played very quickly and I managed a resounding victory. While it was fun, I don’t think I’d pick it up and enjoyed Navegador (where I lost) a lot more. I should mention, I do plan on picking up King of Tokyo cause, hey, giant monsters!

All in all, despite the issue with the hood and my AoO game not meeting my expectations, I had a great time and hope to do it again later on this year. Michael, who made the haul from Nashville, had a great time and is up for doing it again. All told, we played around ten hours of games and it was a lot of fun getting to play some games I would not otherwise be exposed to. This grist for the mill and experiencing other types of games is good for us all on a personal level and for myself on a professional level. It’s good to step outside and beyond my normal area of expertise into something radically different. I hope to work this into my schedule more regularly over 2012.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!







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