Columbia Block Games only 99 Cents?!

August 8, 2011

I saw the following ad on BoardGameGeek this morning:

Try a game for only 99 cents!

I clicked the link thinking it was for a mobile version of the game. It took me to Columbia‘s page for Juluis Caesar with the following info:

Welcome BoardgameGeek User. How’s this for a fair deal? You get to try Julius Caesar for just 99 cents and we pay for the Priority Mail shipping! You’ll have the game in 2-3 days. Play it for a month! Your credit card will automatically be billed the $64.00 balance if you keep the game. Or return it with no further obligation. Credit card required. USA only. 1 game only.

Interesting concept. Board games are often purchased after someone has actually played the game. Once they know what the game is like they will be much more willing to put down the $40-80 a new game costs. The deal appears to work with Hammer of the Scots as well (possibly other games too?).

My personal theory is that it takes so long to put all the stickers on those blocks that by the time you’re done the 30 days will be up. In all seriousness, I wish them well. But I have my doubts. And what about those of us who take advantage of this offer and decide the game isn’t worth the $60-65? Will Columbia Games be offering a new “pre-stickered” version of their game with the returns?

WBC, Day 3: Russ’s Perspective

August 5, 2009

Playing board games all day is oddly tiring. I think much of it results from trying to concentrate while the noises and activities of hundreds of people buzz about. So I slept in today, or at least as long as my timezone shifting body and mind still reeling from the worst Here I Stand game in my short gaming history would let me: 8:30 AM.

I eventually rolled into the WBC at 10:30. After wondering aimlessly for awhile. I met up with Gene, the same guy who along with his two sons taught me Dominion. After chatting about the previous day, we where joined by Stephanie. Together, we learned to play Sherwood Forest.

Sherwood Forest is a fun Euro style game where each player is trying to be the next Robin Hood. To do this, you have to work together and go it alone as you try to rob the caravans passing through the Forest. In spite of being rather light on strategy, I had a lot of fun playing it and trying to barter and work out crazy deals to get Stephanie and Gene to help me out. Sherwood Forest is now on my buy list.

I then spent part of the day trying to meet up with another guy named Mike. I noticed he had written on the board that he wanted to learn 1960: The Making of the President. Having some free time, I gave him a call and despite our best efforts, we were never able to meet up. We’ll try again tomorrow. (Is it still a victory if you beat a newbie you are teaching? Because… I’m still looking for my first 1960 win.)

Speaking of games I’ve never won, I played in two rounds of the Hammer of the Scots tournament.  (Never fear, my flawless loss record is still intact.) For my first game, I was paired up with the world champion, five years running. It was pretty much a blow out. But I did learn a few things about the game. For the second game, I was paired up against the world champion’s wife. I held my own for the first half of the game. I was actually doing rather well. But the tide turned, fatigue set in, and she nearly wiped me out. I managed to hold onto two nobles, resulting in a 12-2 loss.

But, through it all, I think I learned something about myself. For me, an integral part of board gaming is the social aspect. I love the competition. I always play to win. But, without the social aspect, it feels odd. I guess that’s one of the underlying problems I’ve had with some of my tournament games and why I could never be a great tournament player. I not only want to play the game, I want to make a connection with the other people at the table.

WBC, Day 3: John’s Perspective

August 5, 2009

There is a comic strip from Knights of the Dinner Table I remember well. In it, a group of players are around a table, playing a roleplaying game. Their characters are captured by the king’s guards and beaten within an inch of their lives (one hit point apiece!). Afterwards, they are thrown into a ditch. One of the player remarks, “Gee, I can tell I was being beaten by the best of the best. That was a quality thrashing.” I know most of my friends back home are snickering right now because they all get to rib me for not being nearly as good as I think I am at various games. I promise them I shall return to Minnesota a more humble man. However, remember this, people–we came to game with the best. And getting beaten by the best means…well, nothing really. But I can pretend, right?

8:30 AM: I showed up early for the Wilderness War, despite being dog-tired. We were quickly paired up, the best ranked players against the unranked players (more on my thoughts about that at another time). Before we began play, I shook hands with Jason from the Point 2 Point podcast and thanked him for getting me to come to the WBC. I was matched up with Paul, a two-time world champion. We rolled off to see who got what side; I headed for the English side of the table. In the tournament scenario, the English need to be really aggressive because the French start at four victory points. I was hamstrung early on by a hand of low-value cards that didn’t allow me to move my principal leaders. My one good leader (Wolfe!) quickly invaded Louisbourg and laid siege to it. This was horribly thwarted, however, when the ever-sneaky Paul left one measly French fur trapper outside the fort while the rest of his force retreated inside. He got to fire, rolled a six. No big deal, right? Wrong. This meant one of my units was injured (no biggie) but it also meant I had to roll to see if my leader got killed. I rolled the die (this is now a 1 in 36 chance, mind you) and that was that. Wolfe got a musketball through the heart and my hopes for Louisbourg were over for the first turn.

Play continued, and I learned a lot about the game in the process (remember, this is my second play ever). The French essentially raid with Indian units and keep an eye on the lumbering British forces. The moment the British get ideas and start heading north, the French burn down their forts to deny them to the enemy and head north. As this was my second game, I expected to get beaten, and I’m happy to report that eventually Louisbourg fell, though the French won, having only gained one more VP than they started with. Thanks to Paul for his kindness and patience.

11:30 AM: I stopped for lunch. Play of Wilderness War was to continue throughout the day, but there were other things to do. I met up with Nathan from last night’s Here I Stand game and ran him through a turn or two of Hammer of the Scots (rather poorly; I was running on six hours of sleep, a waffle, a bologna sandwich, and a can of Mountain Dew…disgusting, I know).

2:30 PM: The Hammer tourney got started a bit late. I was paired up with Lyman, a champion from a few years back [edit: Lyman later won the tournament]. Holy cow; we were done in 90 minutes. My Scots were begging for mercy pretty quick. I learned some new tricks, though

4:30 PM: Russ and I headed downstairs for a little pizza. We had a good conversation with Keith, founder and president of the Games Club of Maryland and a member of the WBC board of directors. Very nice guy. Russ and I were a bit surly at this point; we’d been getting beaten all day and it took a toll. Keith’s pleasant company and the food restored us.

5:45: I sat down to play Joe, the oft-mentioned “friend of the show” from Point 2 Point. I managed to last seven of nine turns. I made a pretty good run early on with the English, taking back a lot of early losses and making it to Buchan, but just fell asleep on the subsequent turn, made some stupid moves, and lost it.

Today was what I’ll call a learning day; in the future, I’ll have a lot more on what I learned! For now, I’m going to crack open Carcassonne (purchased yesterday) and see what’s what. Tomorrow morning will be some open gaming, Power Grid, and then Here I Stand in the evening. Wish us luck; we need it!