I’ve not actually written a session report before, so I thought I’d give it a shot after this weekend’s fun and games. By way of backstory, aside from going out to my local games club night, I don’t actually get the chance to play much in the way of anything more than two player stuff all that regularly. It’s not the best of situations, but that’s fine by me – however, when the chance of having a few friends over for a whole weekend of gaming came up there was no way I was going to turn it down. Saturday morning rolled around, myself and Steph cleaned the house, people arrived and an entertaining time was had by all. Along with the pair of us were Chris (who helps out with the questions bit on the podcast), his girlfriend Daisy and our mate Rach. Here’s what we got up to, and while this is in no way a review, I’ll invariably drop a few opinions on some of the games we got round to…
Well, may as well start with something big, yes? Steph has been clamouring to play this classic for a while and I’ve not actually had a go at it in a very long time. As soon as we sorted out the weekender, she immediately put her foot down and said that AH would be first to the table – so who am I to refuse? I’d spent a couple of hours the previous day reminding myself of the rules, reading through the book and watching some of Grudunza’s excellent tutorial videos to remind me of what’s what. We chose our characters (ignoring the fact that you should really do it randomly) and ended up going into an Arkham that was facing the threat of Ithaqua. We had a couple of slow first rounds as we were all finding our feet but got into the swing of things. Our various investigators wandered around the town getting supplies, waiting for the inevitable doom that you associate with the game but… well, it never really came. I think the five of us may well have had the most uneventful game of Arkham Horror that has ever occurred. Not that we didn’t enjoy playing it – not at all, in fact, it was a great laugh – but absolutely nothing happened! It felt like almost every time we drew for a new portal to appear, it came up with either a location that already had a portal on it or (later in the game) had already been dealt with. Ithaqua barely stirred in his/her/it’s slumber as we placed the final Elder Symbol on the board, returning it to the Other Dimension and saving the townspeople. I swear blind that I shuffled that Mythos deck, but I’ll take the win however it comes. And I got to shuttle around the place in the police car!
2. Forbidden Island:
Next up was a quick journey to Matt Leacock’s island of mystery and treasure (for the others – I was despatched to go make the dinner). Steph had played this with me loads of times, but had never tried it with four. Turned out that it was a very quick journey indeed – she ran through the rules, handed out roles, set up the tiles (which I still think look amazing – have a read of the review I wrote a while back right here), began at the lowest level… and they promptly had their asses kicked by the game. Actually, it wasn’t that bad – they worked well together, managing to claim the first three treasures pretty quickly. However, the final elusive one (the chalice, I think) was just out of their reach. The island was very much against them, flooding the two tiles again and again until eventually they were out of options and were beaten. Just goes to show – this may well be a kids game, but you can still lose if you’re not quick enough!
Perfect timing actually, as dinner was ready as soon as the last treasure sank beneath the waves. We took a little break to chow down on food while Daisy decided to bust out Last Night On Earth. I’ve played it once but it was a loooong while ago, so she ran us through a how-to, then we decided on our scenario. Chris took on the role of Zombie Master as we selected our roles (true to form, I took on the Science teacher and even though he was a bit squishy, he held out!) and we began. We chose the Supply Run set-up, where all the players are holed up in a central mansion and need to get 12 points worth of non-described ‘stuff’ from areas dotted around the board. These six mystery boxes have hidden numbers (from 1-6), meaning that you can probably discover enough supplies to hit the target pretty quickly – however, as each player can only hold a maximum of three at a time,we had to leave stuff behind a lot! Luck was again on our side though – we hit the big stashes very early on in the game, and even though the zombie menace managed to get into the mansion a couple of times (those barricades we started with were worth bugger all!) a victory was assured for the humans.
4. Small World:
Having spent most of the day in humanoid form, we decided to wrap up the evening by messing about with some different life-forms. Small World was a new one to me, despite the fact it’s hit the table a few times at games club I’ve never been involved in a game. First impressions were that it was really complicated (though looking back I changed my mind – my brain was flagging a bit by this point!) but after a few turns I got into it a little more, shifting my little minions around, sending my races into decline (possibly a little early on a couple of turns) and trying to gain the upper hand. First plays of Days of Wonder games always seem to leave me a little confused but I always end up wanting more. The girls flew as they left both Chris and I in the dirt – Steph and Daisy actually ended up tying the game and I trailed in a distant last… I enjoyed it though, and like the way that DoW has sorted out separate maps for different numbers of players. I’m also interested to see how the expansions that are currently available affect the gameplay – hopefully next time round.
We got up the next morning, and fuelled with bacon sandwiches and tea, we threw ourselves straight into Descent. Again, it was a first time experience for me. Chris took on the Big Bad role, while Daisy led the four adventurers as she was the only one who knew what she was doing… Despite the fact that there are about a million bits (I think the guys pretty much have every expansion that’s been released!) I found the game surprisingly straightforward. A good old-fashioned dungeon crawl, we played an introductory level which ended up with us facing squishy beasts to kick off with, gradually getting us used to the game mechanic until eventually we got through to the final chamber. In there lay a menagerie of doom (and the Final Boss) which we promptly whupped. It must be said that the dice were on our side a fair bit, and Rach’s mage had an awesome power where she could channel another character. Add that to this huge flame breath thing she had and we were pretty much unstoppable. Chris did manage to get some level of revenge, turning all three of the girls into monkeys by spending a huge pile of threat tokens, but I evaded the curse and managed to land the final (ranged) blow to take the game. On finishing, I checked the clock and saw we’d been playing for a shade over four hours! Utterly incredible – the time passed so quickly. Now, I wonder if I could get hold of a copy of my own for not too much money…?
Our final game of the weekend was actually the only one I specifically wanted to get to the table – the deck building Thunderstone. My copy arrived while I was on holiday so this was the first time I’d got it to the table, and I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll post up a review here on the blog as soon as I’ve got a few more games under my belt, but first impressions were very good indeed. As a big fan of Dominion, I was interested in seeing the similarities and differences between the two – thankfully, the game is different enough so both warrant a place in my collection. We started with all five playing (complete with a ‘Michael reading through the rules’ explanation) but Chris and Daisy had to bail – however, we played on as a four, with Rach’s boyfriend Mark (who’d just arrived) taking over one of their hands. The usual fumbling about in the dark occurred with the opening rounds, with a fair bit of confusion over the symbols on the cards (which is my only gripe with the game) but checking back with the rulebook – and BGG – helped us out no end. Of course, as it’s my game I got well beaten, with Rach taking the win despite Mark grabbing the Thunderstone… wiping out a seven-VP monster on her last turn was enough for her to get first place. A cracking little game (once we got the hang of it) and one that I really want to play again soon.
And that was it! A splendid weekend had by all, loads of new games played and we organised another session for the weekend after Thanksgiving (despite being in England, we still do Thanksgiving as Steph is American). Cheers to the guys for coming, staying and playing!