February Upstate Board Game Day

Today was another one of the Upstate Board Game Group’s Game Days. This time, my little brother was at a friend’s house, so I ended up going there by myself. Although I was sorry he missed it, I did get to meet several other board game enthusiasts: Allen, Karen, Robert, and “Scooter.” I also got to learn about four games I had never played before.

We started off by playing Colossal Arena, a game where you place bets on up to eight mythological creatures, betting on which will survive five rounds of combat. The earlier you bet, the more points you get, but the greater risk you take. Also, if you have the most bets placed on a given creature, you can control that creature’s special power. For example, one lets you draw additional cards, while another lets you remove a power card from another creature. These power cards each have a number, from 0 to 10. Each round, players take turns placing bets, playing power cards, and drawing cards. Once each of the surviving creatures has a card on it, the creature with the lowest number dies. After five rounds, only three creatures will be standing, and whoever bet the most on these creature wins.

It took me a few minutes to understand exactly how this game worked–mostly as a result of the pace at which the game was explained to me–but once I did, it was a lot of fun. I might have to buy this, as it’s only $15 at Board Game Geek.

The second game we played was Caylus. This one took forever for Scooter to explain, but once he did, the game moved along quite nicely. The game is set in medieval France. The king is building a castle in the town of Caylus, and you and your opponents are master-builders. Each turn, you hire workers to work different tiles along a winding road, and each of these tiles has a different effect. Some give you money, some give you one of the five resources (cloth, wood, stone, food, and gold), and others let you build different kinds of buildings. I won’t go into a full explanation of how the game works, but I will say that it was a lot of fun to play. There are a ton of different was to get prestige, from building buildings (with still more new effects) to building parts of the castle to earning the King’s favor to selling off gold and other resources to building monuments and other prestige buildings. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but it’s a blast once you get into it.

The third game we played was The Downfall of Pompeii. In this game, you try to get as many of your people as you can to escape from Pompeii. The game begins a little slowly: you place people in the various town buildings, placing them as near a town gate as you can. Eventually, the volcano erupts, and lava tiles start to appear in the city. From that point, you try to move as many of the people in the buildings out of the city as you can. It’s a fun little game, although not worth the $45 retail. I might have to find this one used.

The last game we played was Management Material, in which you play an office worker trying to avoid getting into management and losing your soul. It doesn’t have the strategic depth of the other games, but it’s fun and a little silly.

Overall, I had a really good time. I’m looking forward to next month. I want to learn how to play Battlelore and/or Battlestations, so I hope that someone brings one or the other. Even if they don’t, I’m looking forward to next month!

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