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Monday, September 26, 2005


Coldfoot has a head cold.

A Game of Thrones, 1830, Spy Alley

I've really been under the weather for the past few days. Spent much of the weekend in bed, getting out of bed only to game.

Played "A Game of Thrones" with the wife and 3 other friends on Friday evening. Dame Koldfoot said that she liked it, we will see if she requests it again in the near future. Another friend pulled a win out of his butt in the 6th or 7th round, catching everyone by surprise. If the wife does ultimately decide she likes it, "A Game of Thrones" will be the first "war-like" game that she has admitted to liking.

A Game of Thrones is the best Diplomacy variant that I have come across. It may be heresy around these parts, but I think it is a much better game than Diplomacy. The smaller map, with rivers that restrict movement, makes negotiations more limited (read: shorter) between players. Territories have different symbols in them that make them different values to different players. Ie, a territory with one supply symbol and a crown symbol may have as much value to one player, as a territory with a stronghold may have to another. This aspect can lead to richer negotiations, even though the negotiations aren't as time consuming.

The order tokens simplify the whole writing orders aspect of Diplomacy, as well as giving players more options for their forces. The power tokens are a nice touch that give the game a political aspect, as well as a war aspect. Players use a "blind-bid" mechanism to resolve political affairs and all bids are lost.

It is a game that I would like to play more, but only with the right group. As with Diplomacy, I have seen players storm off in the middle of the game after getting stabbed in the back by their former "ally", swearing they would never play it again.

Note to self: Never trust your allies.

Finally got "1830: Railroads and Robber Barons" to the table for the first time in several years. The first game was on Friday evening. It was a refresher game for myself and one friend who had played before, and a learning game for 3 other players. We so hated to quit the game when we finally called it at 2:00 a.m. that we decided to get together on Saturday afternoon for round two. Because of mistakes made we started a fresh game on Saturday. We were unable to finish either game. Both games were played with 2 kids, ages 10 and 12, who did pretty well, but were in slightly over their heads.

I don't remember 1830 feeling like a long game, even though it has always lasted 5+ hours to play. It sure felt long this weekend. I'll chalk that up to the fact that I was feeling under the weather, and not the fact that the old Avalon Hill games don't stand up as well as nostalgia would have us believe.

Got to play a game called "Spy Alley" that I had never heard of before. It is a quick little bluffing/deduction game. Players secretly get dealt an identity, which is merely a nationality. The goal is to collect 4 items (key, codebook, password, and disguise) related to that identity and escape to your respective embassy, or to be the last player in the game. Collected items are displayed for all players to examine.

If a player correctly identifies your nationality you are eliminated. If a player mis-identifies your nationality they are eliminated from the game.

For example, a player is secretly dealt the Italian identity. He must collect the Italian key, Italian codebook, Italian password and Italian disguise, and then make it to the Italian embassy without being identified as the Italian. To do this he must acquire other items to throw off his opponents. He might first acquire a Russian key and codebook, then a German disguise, before acquiring his first Italian item.

Successfully identifying an opponent earns you the right to take all the items he had acquired over the course of the game.

Although it is a roll-and-move, collect-money-as-you-pass-Go game, it clocks in at less than an hour and more likely 30-45 minutes. It is a decent, short deduction/bluffing game.

Good gaming

PS. Now that I have a camera I'll need Dame Koldfoot to start reminding me to take pictures.

Heh, then there be cards. Get better, chum.
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