[Tuesday Night Board Games] From Cold Space to the Fiery Abyss, By Way of the Neolithic

This was a red letter date in gaming for me: I actually declined a game of Arkham Horror — mostly because of the stuff I had lugged to Quarterstaff. Since I had lugged it, I was damn well going to play it.

Andrew mistakenly fired the rocket tube allocated to Crewman Amber as a sleeping berth.

I appear to have a comfort plateau in Space Alert. I brought the game to Quarterstaff for the second week in a row, thinking that now people knew the game, we could move on to more difficult missions. Instead, given my own lack of familiarity with the next lesson in the tutorial book, we just played through two scenarios we’d already done, both of which I think we lost for want of sufficient coordination.

It was a disappointing experience for me. I feel like I haven’t learned the game well enough to lead other people through it, so playing well relies on playing with the people who more readily grasp the programming and resource management. They were off playing the new Neuroshima Hex: Babel 13, so it was the newbies and non-programmers bumbling around on board the Sitting Duck.

It’s going to take me a lot of plays to get good enough at Space Alert to help other people really get how to play it, but I’m not sure how to manage that beyond bringing it to Tuesdays every week. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do like variety in the games I play and right now Space Alert‘s a bit more equipment intensive, given its media component. I can play the tracks off my iPod, but that still requires speakers. I’m going to look around for some mini portable speakers when I get a moment.

Pepsi is the choice of the hunting and gathering generation.

The other space cadets at the table wanted something lighter after that, so we broke out Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers. I had a hell of a time finding any use for my fishing huts the whole game. They both got placed in the end, but it was on dinky little river systems that I claimed just because I knew I needed to use the huts. I wound up getting second place — or so I’m told, because I almost immediately abandoned the table to move on to the next game, for reasons you will shortly understand — so I guess that was an appropriate tactic to take.

Then we came to the joy of the evening: Betrayal at House on the Hill. It’s the haunted house exploration game that could, quite frankly, edge out Arkham Horror for my favorite board game, once it becomes more readily available in its second, improved edition reportedly coming up in the last quarter of the year. It was, as always, fun to find out just how things would go horribly wrong.

Munk (center) did something pretty impressive . . . whatever it was.

My explorer didn’t get to do a whole lot, unfortunately. I never found any awesome items in either game — well, I found the Spirit Board, but always forgot to use it to peek at the tile stack — and mostly got beat up a lot once the haunt began. I like to think that in the first haunt, when a tentacled Thing That Cannot Be spent much of its time trying to drag my priest off to its gaping maw, my explorer provided a necessary diversion in order for the other two players to put the beast down.

We hit on one question that should probably be passed along to the designer for the second edition, or at least checked against the errata materials: in the haunt books, does “players” refer to all the people at the table, or non-traitor players? I noticed that in the survivor book, the text distinguishes between explorers and traitors, so I figured players includes both those groups.

Quickly, to the Errata Cave!

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