Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 12 Games of Christmas

As I've mentioned before, my cat Thomasina is a huge gaming fan. So we decided to give her a holiday surprise that we are calling the 12 games of Christmas. While I'm on vacation, we'll be playing a game every night. We may not get in a full 12 games but we'll give it our best shot.

So far we've played the following:

I've mentioned this game before but haven't discussed it in much depth. In it, you are one of the royal gardeners in Imperial Japan. The Emperor has recently received a giant panda as a gift and has released the creature in your gardens. You need to keep the panda fed on bamboo while maintaining the garden. Throughout the game you will pick random objective cards, which involve either feeding the panda, growing bamboo. or setting up colored plots of land into specified patterns. The game ends after a player completes 7 objectives (the remaining players get one last turn). The player with the most points (each objective card earns points; tougher objectives give you more points).

Takenoko components
Originally, my wife wanted this game because it has a cute panda figure. However, it has actually become one of my favorite games (which is a surprise because it doesn't include combat). It is short and simple but requires strategic thought. Because the map is modular and objectives are random, the game is different every time, making it eminently replayable.

My wife and I played Saturday. She raced out to a lead, and actually made it to 7 objectives first. However, I was able to complete a couple of objectives in the final turn and the game ended in a tie. I won the tiebreaker (I fed the panda the most).

Love Letter
We followed Takenoko with a quick game of Love Letter, a simple but intriguing card game.

You are a courtier trying to sneak love letters to the princess. Will you succeed, and win the princess' heart? In my case, the answer was no. My wife raced out to an early lead, and managed to hold on for an easy win.

Boss Monster
Our Sunday game was Boss Monster, another enjoyable card game.

This time, you are are a "boss" monster. Your goal is to build a killer dungeon, lure in unsuspecting adventurers, and slay them. The first "boss" to harvest 10 adventurer's souls wins. But be careful; if your dungeon isn't powerful enough, those adventurers could wound, or even kill, you!

I was Seducia, the sorceress of sexiness.

My wife was Cerebellus, the Father Brain.

I was able to create the deadliest dungeon. However, Cerebellus had access to powerful magic that it used to destroy any adventurers that entered its lair. As a result, Cerebellus (aka my wife) collected 10 souls first to become the boss monster.

Battle Cry
Last night we trotted out a modern classic - Battle Cry (I have the original edition from around 2000).

I hadn't played it in years, primarily because I had lent it to a friend, who misplaced it. Well, he found it and I brought it home. It's been sitting around and my wife noticed it. Surprisingly, she suggested we play it. We played the Bull Run scenario. My wife was the Confederates. Early in the game, she pushed her cavalry forward on my right flank, and scored a few flags. I then began to push forward in the center and caught up to her. She was up 5 flags to 4 when I got a card that let me order 3 units in the center. I took out her remaining cavalry and then pushed over the hills to finish off retreating Confederate infantry. Two more flags for a hard fought 6-5 victory.

By the way, Thomasina watched it all.

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