GenCant 2016 Day 4: Pandemic: The Cure

Pandemic: The Cure

Pandemic: The Cure

Yesterday was a busy day for me, so I only played one game on GenCant Day 4. And, unfortunately, I only played three of the four games I wanted to solo for #GenCantSoloCon. Still, if I’m able to play a single game on a given day, then it’s been a good day.

Pandemic: The Cure

I love Pandemic and love teaching it to new players. Unfortunately, like other cooperative games, there’s often the problem of the Alpha Gamer, where one person dominates the game, telling others what the best strategy is and generally sucking the fun out of the group experience.

This is why I now prefer Pandemic: The Cure, especially for new gamers. It sets up and plays faster than the original and it’s easier to understand for first timers. While an Alpha Gamer can still tell others what to do, each player has their own dice and can roll or re-roll to their heart’s content. Yes, there may be a preferred play with the dice you’ve rolled, but you almost always have a chance to roll for something better. It gives back more of the decision-making to each player, while the original Pandemic often has one best play that the Alpha Gamer generally sees before everybody else and tells them about it, basically forcing them to do it.

Like Pandemic, players in Pandemic: The Cure try to cure diseases before they spread throughout the world. The diseases are represented by six-sided dice in four colors and they are located in one of six different locations. If there are ever four dice of the same color in one area, then an outbreak occurs.

Each player rolls their own player dice and performs actions based on their rolls (like Pandemic, each player has unique abilities). You can re-roll any of them, but the catch is if you roll a biohazard die, it counts against you (there are some exceptions to this that I won’t get into here). Actions include moving from one area to another, treating diseases, sharing samples with other players, and curing diseases.

Cure all four diseases before you run out of disease dice or suffer too many outbreaks or epidemics and you win.

Just like the original game, it’s a lot easier said than done.

What I Played During GenCant 2016:

  1. Ca$h ‘n Guns
  2. Rome: Rise to Power
  3. Pandemic
  4. Valley of the Kings (solo)
  5. Dead Men Tell No Tales (solo)
  6. Ca$h ‘n Guns
  7. Bohnanza
  8. Between Two Cities
  9. KLASK
  10. Splendor
  11. Pandemic: The Cure (solo)

Not a bad four days of gaming! For me, though, one of the highlights of this year’s GenCant (besides finally beating Dead Men Tell No Tales) was volunteering to manage the official GenCant Facebook page. It was a treat seeing how people responded to the idea of a digital get-together. I’m proud to be part of this terrific community of board gamers and if you weren’t able to attend, I highly recommend joining us for next year’s GenCant.

GenCant 2016 Day 1: Egypt and Rome

Valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings

Day 1 of Gen Con was today and it looked awesome (although I have no desire to be in this). I loved seeing all of my online gaming buddies posting photos and reporting the latest and greatest from the con.

Valley of the Kings

It was also Day of GenCan’t 2016 and I participated in the #GenCantSoloCon by playing a solitaire game of Valley of the Kings. I’ve  played this deckbuilder several times solo and I enjoy it as a get-your-highest-score game. Set in ancient Egypt, it’s a deck builder with set collection, in which you only score points by putting cards in your tomb (trashing cards) and you earn more points for collecting similar items. This sets up interesting choices throughout the game: do you play your card for its money value, its action, or trash it to start accumulating points?

Valley of the Kings is one of two deck builders I recommend to Dominion fans (the other being Trains).

Rome: Rise to Power

Rome: Rise to Power

Rome: Rise to Power

After my solo game, I went to my Thursday night gaming group and I was able to get Rome: Rise to Power to the table. I’ve had the game for a few months and have been itching to play. Unfortunately, it’d been awhile since I’d gone through the rulebook (which isn’t exactly the easiest to follow), so there were a few pauses during the game to clarify some points. I’m usually pretty good at explaining games (I’m the designated rules guy during family game night), but I wasn’t at my best tonight. Thankfully, my gaming buddies are smart enough to figure out things on their own and we were able to play the game within the suggested time (45 minutes).

Rome: Rise to Power is a game that combines dice allocation, card drafting, set collection, area control game with variable player powers. Players are in ancient Rome trying to use its military to win regions throughout the Roman Empire, win influence with senators, and put on the best arena battles.

The dice allocation system is unique and it’s what appealed to me most when I’d heard about it. Yes, there’s luck involved with dice (duh), but there are several ways to mitigate the luck factor, mainly through the special powers each player earns through their combinations of senators and regions won. The third way to earn points, through the arena battles, is sort of wacky, but somehow it works: you buy cards to build a poker-like hand and play them after rounds three and five (the final round). So, three barbarians and two beasts are the “Battle Royale,” which is a full house in poker, and there other hands that score.

The overall consensus was okay. I liked it and agreed with two of my buddies; we’d like to play it again now that we have a better understanding of the game. The fourth guy didn’t care for it, but I’m thankful that they were all up for playing. I’ve got more than a few games in my collection that I haven’t played so it was good to scratch this one off the list.

Day 315: Roll for the Galaxy

Roll for the Galaxy.

Roll for the Galaxy.

My reaction upon seeing the components to Roll for the Galaxy: so many dice!

I’d heard a lot of good things about this game and it lived up to the hype. You get to roll lots of dice while trying to build the best galactic empire. You roll, you assign dice, and you add up your victory points. And so much more.

For my first time playing it tonight I was a bit lost, but my fellow gamers were patient and answered all of my frequent questions. By the time I got the hang of it, though, the game was over.

The experienced players told me that the original Race for the Galaxy had more (and different) icons, was more difficult to learn, and was not as fun to play. Looks like I’ll skip that one and give Roll another shot sometime.

Day 308: Steampunk Rally

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Steampunk Rally.

While I love science fiction I’m not the biggest steampunk fan. After playing Steampunk Rally tonight, though, I might have to take a closer look at the genre; for gaming purposes steampunk was awesome.

Steampunk Rally looks like a simple race around a track, but it’s much more than that. Each player builds a contraption to get around the track. The card drafting and dice rolling mechanics give everyone lots to do on each turn, with plenty of options to re-roll dice or play special event cards.

With all of the dice and cogs and cards it seemed a bit overwhelming, but after a few turns it was easy to get into the swing of things. I missed a few opportunities to build a better contraption and I had bad luck with my movement, but I did get to play a “ray gun” card that put a ton of damage on my opponents. Even though it had no effect on the winner (who seemed to be way ahead throughout the game), it was hilarious to play the card.

If you can’t beat ’em, might as well ray gun ’em.

Day 211: Sushi Go!

Sushi Go (image from thegameaisle.com)

Sushi Go (image from thegameaisle.com)

Seeing all of the tweets from Gen Con has got me ready for game night here at the house. I may run a solo game of Pandemic before bed, but I wish there was a Sushi Go! single-player variant. My wife and I gave it a quick run-through to learn the basics and I loved it.

The graphics on the cards are uber-cute, from the salmon nigiri to the dessert puddings. I love the card-drafting mechanism; it’s easy to learn and the interaction with other players is always a good thing in my book.

I’ve read this elsewhere, but I’ll say it again here: I believe this physical interaction is what has been fueling the board game renaissance. Even though we have more ways now to communicate with each other, from Facebook to Snapchat to text messaging to the next technological breakthrough, we’ve lost the daily interactions that were a bigger part of our lives just 10 (5?) years ago.

I’m guilty of it as anyone. I always seem to be quicker to respond to a text or an e-mail. In a world of multi-tasking, it’s just easier to do it this way.

But board games require you to be in the moment. It’s not as much fun if you’re playing a game while someone’s on their smartphone or laptop. So the electronics stay off the table while we deal cards, roll dice, and move meeples around.

We’ll be running a bigger game of Sushi Go! soon, but just based on our little preview, I know it’ll be one of our go-to games on game night. It’ll be fun to disconnect from the electronics while connecting with our friends and families.