So last night was game night at my friend David's house. He's been hosting a game night since we both worked at Interleaf oh so many years ago (in the early 90s, which is like 15 years ago - zoiks!). We play what is often called "Euros", which are games that are generally short (about an hour), with clever mechanisms that require some serious thought. Back then, they were almost exclusively imported from Europe, hence the name, as the American game industry was (and, for the most part, still is) mired in a land of Monopoly clones and brainless kid games. They usually have great components and are often multiplayer games.
I used to go every week, but I don't make it nearly as often as I'd like these days. I'm not even sure I can completely blame having kids, either. Working from home, it can be hard to motivate yourself to head out in the early evening to go somewhere. After I first left Interleaf and started working from home, I used to meet Gabrielle on her way home from work for sushi, and then continue on to David's. Now, there isn't even that encouragement to drag me from my chair. But if we get the girls to bed at approximately the regularly scheduled time (around 7:30pm), I try to head on over.
Last night, I was supposed to be there at the regular starting time, which is 7pm, as there was a poker tournament being played, in honor of another long time player who is leaving for Florida. Nothing too big, mind you - $1 buy in, Texas Hold'em (of course). But I once again completely forgot about it, until I was tucking Rhiannon in and it struck me I was supposed to be somewhere. Once again, my complete lack of organization strikes. It is terrible when the top item on your "Getting Things Done" list is to set up a system to "Get Things Done" and even that never "Gets Done" - sigh. I still haven't made any progress on setting up any kind of system that I talked about earlier. I have to find the time!
Anyway, I did finally make it over there around 8pm and thankfully they had kept me in the game with the "blinds". So my chip stack was down quite a bit, and I never really was involved in any hands. I did bet in one hand, but bailed out when the second ace turned up. Good thing, as another players had both other aces! I was soon out of that game, and so I went to find something else to play. It was a pretty big group, as befits a night in honor of a very nice "regular", so I had high hopes of getting into something fun. When you finish up a game, you ask around to see what else you might be able to set up. David has a very large collection of games, and with this hard core game playing group, there's often other games brought in. So you ask around and try and get another one set up and playing.
Paul and I tried to get a game of Formula De up and running. Greg, the guy leaving, is a big fan of the game, but it isn't really that big a favorite among the hard core players, relying as it does on lots of dice rolling, even if they are cool dice (each gear uses a bigger die, from 4 to a 30 sided die). We twisted a few arms, but Greg was still in the poker tournament, so we gave up trying to get that one going. I have a copy of it, and I like it well enough, but se la vive.
So we moved on. There were three of us ready to play, which is generally a tough number to find a good match. So we ended up playing High Society, one of my all time favorite games. Two more players joined in once we started playing (it's always easy to get new High Society players), so a chaotic game with maximum five players ensued. One was a newcomer to the game, which is usually the death knell for that player, as the "gotcha" for the victory conditions (most points wins) is that whichever player (or players) spend the most money immediately lose. So new players tend to bid too much too soon and it is a battle for first place after that, and that's how it played out last night. I tied with Mark at 10 points, but he had a few more dollars at the end, so he was the official winner. It could be the first time I've ever played and had a tie in points.
We then started a game of Vegas Showdown, a new game from the new Avalon Hill company. Once a bastion of the hardcore "wargamer", it was bought by Wizards of the Coast and morphed into an American "Euro" company. In this game, you buy tiles to build your own hotel/casino complex, and try to get the most "fame" points. I found it interesting, but I never did figure out any sort of strategy to try. And it was also lacking something I find to be vitally important for a game to reach the high end on my scale - hidden information. Like other very popular Euros that don't grab me (Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan immediately come to mind), everything is pretty much out there for all players to examine and consider (and to chime in with the "perfect" strategy:-). I really enjoy games with some pieces of hidden information. High Society keeps the amount you have left a secret. While you could conceivably keep track of all spent monies, it generally isn't done and plays great for it. Despite this, Vegas Showdown was fun enough, even though I came in a distant fifth out of five. I'd give it another try if it shows up on the table again.
I'll be sorry to see Greg move on, though. He was a good person to have around at game night - a solid, competitive game player, but one who didn't take it too seriously. He will be sorely missed, and I'm glad to have donated (well, I will donate!) to his going away present, a nice crokinole board. It is, I believe, the first ever Tuesday Game Night going away present, which should give you some idea of the esteem we all hold for Greg. May he survive the Gainseville gators!