05 March 2006

Growing My Own Gamers #4

Saturday night my best friend Rabbit and her husband HSG came over for dinner and games. Since I have been doing the research, they left all the choices to me. This gaming session illustrated how a game changes depending on who is playing.

Reiner Knizia's Poison
: This was the second time I played this game and the first time for everyone else. When I played this with the kids, everyone was trying to take as few cards as possible. This time around, the men latched onto the fact that the person who ended up with the most of a color wouldn't have to count the points for that color. It became a game of taking cards to block the other players from getting a majority or poisoning the pot. Everyone seemed to enjoy it; however, ABM suggested that we use a timer next time so that people don't have time to add in their heads. It might spice up the game to play it on speed.

Michigan: I originally learned this game as Newmarket. Since Rabbit is from Michigan, I introduced it to the group under this name. We played with the variation that allows each player to decide how they want to split their chips among the boodle cards. This appealed to the aggressive playing nature of the men. When I played with the kids sans this variation, each player focused on being the first to get rid of his/her cards. With the variation it was more of a betting game as the men placed all their chips on one card, gambling that they would have that card in their hand AND that they would be able to get it into play so they could get their chips back. I expected the group to play one or two rounds and get bored since this is a light game. Surprisingly, the men continued to play even after Rabbit and I went out. We will probably play this again. ABM, ever the tinkerer, suggested that we cut the playing time down by doubling the amount of chips we bet each round.

Racing Demon: Rabbit and I played this while the men were finishing their game of Michigan. It is basically speed solitaire where the foundations are common to both players. Canfield is the patience game that is traditionally used for this, but I thought that Klondike would be easier since it is more well-known. I should have known that Rabbit would be the one person on the planet who has never played solitaire on the computer. She hasn't played solitaire at all since grammar school. Still, she beat me three times in a row.

Word Thief: This was the last game of the night. As in previous sessions, the game play was easy to understand but the scoring tripped everyone up. Basically, when you make a word you count the score but if someone steals the word from you then you have to subtract those points from your score. This resulted in a lot of pausing after each person's turn as the score for each word was figured out.

I played the game again today with the kids using a streamlined scoring method from BoardGameGeek. It is so simple that I am embarrassed that I didn't think of it myself. Since there is a lot of word stealing in the game, it is a waste of time to add points right after your turn since you will probably be subtracting them again after the next person's turn. So it is easier to just write down the points for locked words and any bonuses you earn at the end of your turn, then at the end of the game count up the points for the words that are still in front of you. Each player ended up with the same amount of points they would have gotten with the original method, but the flow of the game was greatly improved. I can't wait to try this method with the adults because right now this game is in danger of becoming a closet clogger.
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