Holiday Gaming and Getting Back into the Swing of Things

December 30, 2011

Well, the dearth of posts recently is a direct result of the small number of games I’ve been playing. But once I went on Christmas break, I planned to change all that. Here’s an excerpt from an email I sent to my family a week ago:

I am desperate to play a board game with you. 
I pine for the moment when I hear my brother scream, “Don’t touch my men!”
I wish so badly to see Dad’s Lex Luthor plans come to naught. 
I want to win (or lose) Power Grid to my sister-in-law by a margin of no cities and $1. 
I desire to lose to the Wifey in Man-ovaries. [Editor’s note: this is code for Manoeuvre]
I need to hear Mom call someone “an ass” in the heat of the moment.

By and large, my gaming plans were realized with both my family and my in-laws. My wife and I ended up participating in seven games Dec. 23-27. Here are some of the highlights:

Funglish: We got my mom this game for her birthday but no one had yet had a chance to play it. Five minutes of reading the rules and we were off and running. This game is fast and furious, especially with great guessers like my sister-in-law. I also like that you play with a partner when you are the clue-givers, but in the end your score is your own. (I beat my sister-in-law out by one point.)

Manoeuvre: My wife, Sara, and I played this the afternoon of December 23 against each other. As our last bout was in late August, we were both a little rusty. Sara played the doughty Americans, while I took the wily Spanish. However, I was beaten in a nightfall victory. Sara outmatched me early on and took out some of my units, but played cautiously and went for the long game. (I lost by 1 point.) All in all, this was fun game, and it reminded me that I need to play Manoeuvre more often to keep up my game. Also, we’re thinking of playing with chess clocks next time!

Power Grid: My family started this at 8:30 PM on the 23rd and ended at 11:45. Phew, what a meatgrinder! We had a lot of fun though. Again, I reviewed the rules with everyone and we were off and running. We played on the Germany map but blocked off the easiest starting region in the west, which made this game a bit expensive for each company. My brother quickly cordoned his wife’s territory off, and hilarity ensued as she stewed! After a slow start, I got my company’s “engine” running and expanded in the northeast, winning by a margin of two cities with plenty of cash left over.

After a short Christmas Eve drive to my in-laws’ new house, it was time for…

Dirty Clubs: I don’t know why, but we all love this card game, a variation on bid euchre. It’s a simple trick-taking game that I am terrible at. Yes, you, dear reader, can bear digital witness to my three last-place finishes at a table of seven people. Ouch. And no, I will not blame the lateness of the hour or the fine craft beer that may or may not have been involved. As always, hilarity ensued whenever we entered the last round of play, in which each player draws a card and sticks it to his or her head, “Indian poker” style, before bidding.

Best of Tribond: We started this game late, and it took hours to play, but that’s probably because my sister-in-law and I, dubbed “Team Beer Face,” were causing too much mayhem. Although we didn’t win, we had a blast and came in second. I love this game and the style of the questions: “What do an arrow, stairs, and an airline have in common?” “Answer: they all have flights.” However, it was older entertainment questions which did us in, as my partner and I are both in our 20s and don’t know a lot about older TV shows and the like.

All in all, it was a great way to end the year with some laid back gaming. Next week, look for my 2011 retrospective–it’s good, bad, and ugly!

The bitter end for my Spanish troops!
“Our country is addicted to oil.”
End of the game. (I played black.)

The Next Game in the C&C Family

December 9, 2011

We here at Margin of Victory enjoy all types of games, but one game system that we really like is the Commands & Colors (C&C) system designed by Richard Borg. This system uses a simple set of rules that allow the players to take sides in (mostly) historical battles.

From the Romans and Carthaginians in C&C: Ancients to the Blue vs. the Gray in Battle Cry to the U.S. forces storming the beaches at Normandy in Memoir ’44 the system has been adapted to various types of combat very well. The system also crossed over to the fantasy realm with BattleLore which took the framework of the Hundred Years War and added goblins, orcs, dragons and magic. The latest C&C game, Napoleonics, is just as popular as the rest and may be my colleague’s favorite of this system so far.

These games rank among some of the highest over at BoardGameGeek:
Overall Rank / War Game Rank / Game
20 / 7 / C&C: Ancients
55 / 41 / Memoir ’44
66 / 42 / BattleLore
200 / 15 / C&C: Napoleonics
204 / 74 / Battle Cry
(Don’t ask me how those War Game Rankings work. Also, Battle of Westeros could be added here as it uses a very similar system, but is not designed by Mr. Borg.)

So what is the next in line in the C&C family? What historical war were you hoping to trample your opponents in?

How about the “cold depths of space”?

Wait…what?

It’s not exactly what I was expecting. I’m sure most weren’t. I came across the next in the C&C family: Abaddon. Here’s the description from ToyVault’s website:

In an exciting team-up certain to rock the cosmos, Toy Vault, Inc. and legendary game designer Richard Borg (Memoir’44, Battle Cry) have joined forces to take you on a new action-packed adventure through the cold depths of space in ABADDON!

It’s the distant future and mankind has taken a galactic leap forward through space, time, and technology. Life as we know it struggles to endure on the ABADDON. Once the home of a mysterious, non-human civilization, the planet is now a desolate wasteland bearing one immensely precious resource: Feronium power crystals. The unimaginable energy contained within the crystals is coveted by two groups of humans: the Satellite City-States and the Commonwealth Alliance. Using giant bio-mech suits called Links, made from modified military vehicles and alien technology; the warring factions fight a weary battle for territorial control of the ABADDON.

At your disposal is a huge, 28” x 19” battlefield game board with 32 highly-detailed mech figurines, 18 free-standing landscape terrain features, over 100 game-changing Wild Fire and Weapon System cards, dozens of tokens, battle dice and a Battle Manual containing over 15 mission scenarios.

Choose your allegiance and lead your army in non-stop excitement as you forge through unforgiving terrain, fight to overcome random and bizarre technological glitches, and battle your enemies in never-ending war. The fate of the future is in your hands as you race to survive and conquer the ABADDON!

So what do you think? Another hit game from the C&C series or will this one be a dud? I’m really excited to see and read more about this game, but I’m not so sure it’ll rise to the level of its predecessors. Will it falter due to the lack of any historical relevance? Or will the fantastic C&C system carry this game to greatness? I’d love to hear your thoughts.