On Saturday, August 2nd, several of the Rats gathered at the Gaming Garage to enjoy a day of board gaming prior to our annual trip to Gen Con in a couple of weeks. During the pre-gaming discussion, we learned that Eric had never heard of CheapAss Games. Since we were waiting on Stephen to arrive with the Big Blue Bag O’Games, we broke out Deadwood in order to give Eric a proper introduction.
Originally published in 1999, Deadwood is a classic CheapAss game. The players are Z-list movie extras wandering around the backlot of Deadwood Studios trying to work their way into as many scenes on the various movies that are being filmed as they can, in order to increase not only their fame, but more importantly, their bank accounts. The board is a map of the studio and its various lots and sound stages. The scenes being filmed are represented by randomly distributed cards which list not only the name of the film and the scene title, but also any special roles required for the scene (such as “Man on Fire” or “Horse”). Players are paid based on what role they played and whether or not that role was “on the card” or “off the card”. At the end of four days, the player with the most money wins. In our case, that was Fu, who edged Stephen out by a couple of dollars.
Of special note about our game of Deadwood, the Rats invented a new system of currency that was later used in our game of Concordia (see below). When the blue poker chips we were using as dollars started to run low, it was decided to supplement with the higher denomination white chips. Not content to simply have the new chips be worth five or ten dollars, it was determined that they should have a value of thirteen dollars. These chips were quickly coined “triskets”, and thus was a new currency born.
Agricola is a classic, award winning game about trying to survive as an agrarian family in medieval times. Players start out with two actions per turn, one for your farmer and one for his spouse. These actions are chosen from several options laid out on the board, ranging from gathering wood, clay, stone, and reeds to gathering cattle, building extensions to your house and fencing in pastures. As the game progresses, you can gain more actions by having children and more options become available as cards are flipped over on the board in each turn. However, there are only 14 total turns in the game, and every few turns the harvest is due and you must be able to feed your family. Through it all, there are also cards to be played and purchased (occupations and improvements) that can make life on the farm easier. Honestly, there was so much going on in this game, that it took a while to really get in the rhythm of it, but once you do, it is an excellent game. Once the points were tallied at the end, Stephen had edged out Fu by a couple of points, while I finished a distant last with just 8 points (everyone else being in the 20’s). Agricola will definitely get a replay soon.
Concordia is a game of economy building in the Roman Empire. Players represent various Roman factions and must spread out across the empire to establish trade routes and acquire wealth. Each player has seven cards representing a variety of Roman officials (Prefect, Tribune, Architect), each allowing its own unique action. Players will play these cards, one per turn, in whatever order they like. When a player decides he needs to refill his hand, he plays the Tribune card and takes all of his played cards back and starts over. There are also cards laid out on the board that can be purchased for combinations of money and trade goods. These cards are mostly slightly better versions of the card the player already holds, but there are some special ones sprinkled in. All of the cards are also labeled across the bottom with the names of different gods. Matched sets are used for scoring at the end of the game. Speaking of the end of the game, Fu won this one as well. I feel like I started off strong, racing to the eastern edge of the Empire and claiming the majority of the trade routes in the middle east and Egypt, but in the end I didn’t spread out enough into the western Empire and fell short when the scores were tabulated. Fu, however, raced out to a dominating victory. As mentioned above, when the money provided with the game ran low, we were required to break out the Triskets, thus ensuring that this currency will see future game play for a long time.
To finish things off for the evening, we broke out Devil Bunny, another classic CheapAss game. The premise is simple. Each player represents two sous chefs who are trying to climb a skyscraper. The problem is that Devil Bunny has decided that he needs a ham and he thinks that knocking the players off the building will get him one. On his turn, each player rolls two six-sided dice and can use each die individually to move both of his chefs (either horizontally or diagonally, but not vertically), or total the dice to move just one chef. If a six is rolled on either (or both) dice, Devil Bunny moves instead and leaps on the chef that is highest up the building, knocking him off. If there is a chef below him, the falling chef is caught and placed below the catching chef. If not, he falls to the ground and starts over. Unless, that is, he is above the Line of Death, which cuts across the middle of the building. If he’s higher than that and falls to the ground, he dies. Each chef that reaches the top of the building scores a certain number of points. At the end, the chef pair with the highest total wins. In our game, Devil Bunny was all over the place, knocking chefs off the building in almost every turn. Both of Eric’s chefs died first, followed shortly by mine, and then Stephen’s. Both of Fu’s chefs were still alive at that point and still on the building, so we declared him the winner, even though he didn’t reach the top.
As always, a great time was had by all and it was obviously Fu’s night as he won three out of the four games. I was finally able to play Agricola, a game which had been on my list for some time, and Concordia turned out to be a lot of fun as well. Both will certainly earn replays in the near future.
Attendees: Rat Punk (Scott J.), Crypt Rat (Scot S., aka Fu), Book Rat (Stephen), Tech Rat (Scott S.), Ice Rat (Eric)