Our annual gaming retreat happened last weekend and it marks the sixth year we’ve gotten together. This year we had five in attendance: Jeremy, Sterling, Colton, Reese, and myself. Reese, Colton, and I got there a little early so we hit a few games until Sterling arrived and then decided to take a break with a walk around the lake.
This walk proved interesting as it was almost dusk and accidentally ran into the dynamic mommy + baby moosen in a fun little encounter. The shot above was taken on the last day of the trip as the two decided to take a stroll down to the lake. As you can see, they pretty much own the road and when we met them at night during our first trek, we didn’t realize this fact.
Our party spotted the two moose a little too late so the mommy moose got a surprise round. It used it’s surprise round to try an intimidation check but we were too dumb to realize the bold stare down and accompanying snort meant “time to die, fools!” Roll initiative!
Colton critted his roll with a natural 20 and Reese wasn’t far behind. Reese let out a quiet “oh shit.” and Colton hit the ground running for the nearest car to crawl under while the Moose made a charge attack. Reese was just a step behind Colton and took off down the road. Sterling, behind me, took a smart run action as well but in the opposite direction while I, last in the order, just stared dumbly and watched the whole exchange.
Round 2 started with Colton and Reese holding their action as the Moose had stopped in the middle of road where they used to stand. Without any obvious targets, the Moose decided to also hold its action. I finally came to realize that “not moving” wasn’t the best idea so I backed away and met back up with Sterling. The Moose, satisfied that we now knew who owned the road, sauntered back to baby moose. I’m pretty sure we lost that encounter and now had split the party. Eventually we met back up at the cabin after both parties took separate ways around the lake and got back to gaming.
Before the Moose encounter, we hit a couple of quick games of Race for the Galaxy and Korsar (the original version of Loot). We’ve played a lot of Roll for the Galaxy over the years but it’s been a while since we hit the original inspiration. I picked up my copy of Race for $2 at the thrift store years ago and it’s been one of the best deals I’ve found. Race and Korsar make for great lunch games and I used to hit both regularly at work when I had more gamer colleagues.
After the party got back together at the cabin, we hit up Steampunk Rally. We’ve only had a few games of this in the past so we were a little rusty at the start. I started off slow in this “race to the end” game but my contraption got into high gear and I rocketed past everyone else as they had to deal with the broken terrain (something my ship could avoid easily). We called it a night afterwards and ended day 1.
Day 2 started with our first game of Tao Long. This abstract strategy game was picked up from Kickstarter and I’ve been itching to play it for a long time now. Luckily, it has a four-player option to play as teams so we put it on the table.
The game has a complicated action selection mechanic that we used in easy mode since it was our first game. The game deviates from most simple combat abstract games and instead of a simple capture mechanic, it adds damage and life counters to each player’s main pawn- the Chinese-styled dragons. Too late, we realized how the game flow plays and the white dragon team got their dragon caught in the corner which made for easy prey and a slow and inevitable defeat. I’d like to hit the game with just two players and explore it in more detail as there is a lot of depth here.
We turned to a lighter affair with a couple of games of Machi Koro. Sterling was a building master and easily took both games.
To lighten things up even more, we broke out a clearance item I picked up from the Toys R Us going-out-of-business sale: Jenga Pass Challenge. The interesting mechanic of having to hold the platform still while you complete the pull-and-stack mechanic made for a pretty great challenge to a classic game. Our last party member arrive just in time to get in on this dexterous action and took the win as Colton and Sterling couldn’t complete their handoff. I likely haven’t seen the actual rules for Jenga in a long time but I never realized that the winner was the person who last completed the tile-laying task. I always thought the game just determined a loser (the one who collapsed the tower) so it was nice to see that it actually has a winner too.
Jeremy and Sterling needed some strategy so went to a CabinCon staple: Hive. The two battled it out over six games and split the series.
While the Hive championship was going on, Colton and I busted out Shadespire again. Determined to see if the blue side (Steelheart’s Champions faction) could compete, we flipped sides and went to battle still using the games’ stock deck builds. There is something wrong with the game but it looks like it is user error as I cleaned up Colton’s Reavers much in the same way I wipe out the Steelhearts when on the other side. Having played both sides, I still like the Reavers more but it is good to see that both sides can compete. I’ll need to rope Colton into more games so he can get the game’s strategy more under his belt. Much training this padowan will need but I think he’s up for the challenge.
After a break, we broke out an epic five-player game of Blood Rage. This is one of my favorite CMON games and I prefer it over its successor, Rising Sun. I took the win on this one with a Loki strategy, killing off my ship and Sea Monster repeatedly to gain victory points as the rest of the factions fought each other over territory.
Our rage sated, we turned to some light dexterity action with Crokinole. A few “palate cleansing” team games later, we were back into it.
A quick no-gods game of Santorini ended the night of most everyone.
And we finished up day 2 with 7 Ronin. This Czech game is a pretty great little abstraction of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. It is “hidden movement” in a very unique way but most players feel that the hidden mechanic make the game seem random instead of strategic. I don’t feel the same way but recognize that there is a “I-don’t-know-what-you’re-doing-so-I’ll-place-randomly” component. One can say that about a lot of games where you must out-guess your opponent but I don’t see that as random. You may react randomly but I feel that that is because you aren’t thinking about the player’s motivation. It’s like thinking Texas Hold ’em is random when it is very much the opposite as the game is just not on the table, it is in your head and the head of your opponent.
That concluded Day 2. I’ll wrap up the rest of CabinCon next time.