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 2: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales

A mellow Day 2 of GenCant for me last night: watched the Olympic Opening Ceremonies and played one board game.

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Back in April I played Dead Men Tell No Tales with my weekly gaming group. I’d never heard of it before, but the box cover art was gorgeous and since I like cooperative games, I was interested. The guy who brought it had just received it from Amazon, so we opened it up and jumped right in.

I loved the theme: you and your fellow pirates have conquered the Skelit’s Revenge, a burning ship full of treasures to be looted before it sinks. Of course, nothing says pirates like having to defeat guards to gain the treasures or battle one of the many undead skeleton crew or deckhands trying to stop your crew.

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a mix of Flash Point and Pandemic and it’s much tougher than both. In addition to making the best use of your actions every turn, you have to keep an eye on all of the hot spots on the ship or else a room will blow up and be inaccessible for the rest of the game. I loved the combat against the skeletons and guards; it’s something that sets it apart from other co-ops (it’s easier than Dead of Winter’s combat, though).

Our group quickly found out how tough DMTNT was; before we knew it, we’d reached the maximum number of explosions and our game was done.

So, thanks to a screw-up by Amazon, my gaming buddy’s copy was one of two that he’d received. Amazon told him to just keep the second one free of charge so after we were done he asked if anyone wanted to buy it for $20, which would pay for half of his copy.

I’m a sucker for a good deal and couldn’t resist a 50-percent-off copy of a game that’d just been played once. Just like that, I had my very own DMTNT.

Last night I solo-played it on the Scurvy Dog (easiest) level with three characters. This was my fourth time playing it solo, but the first since April so I was pretty rusty with the rules. I had to stop a few times to consult the rulebook and even reviewed the notes I’d taken after I’d played it the first few times. More than once I had to re-trace my steps to correct improper moves.

I’d never beaten the game and as things started getting hectic, I found myself re-living those previous losses. Would I have enough deckhands left? (Like Pandemic, if you go to the supply and can’t put any out on the board, you lose.) Or would I suffer from too many explosions, which is how most of my other solo games ended?

Thankfully, neither happened and I won right after I pulled the last tile for the ship.

Even if I’d lost, I’d still feel that DMTNT is an underrated cooperative game that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Copies aren’t as easy to track down as Pandemic or Flash Point, but it’s well worth the effort.

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.