I'm moving from the Mass/RI border to Concord, NH in a month or so, and
in my attempt to discover the state of gaming in NH, I ran across 6am
Gamers, a small Yahoo group for those in the coastal area. Jason C was
organizing an overnight event at an apartment he's minding, and I was
glad for the opportunity to meet folks near my new home.
The apartment turned out to be a giant loft of sorts, with huge exposed
beams and almost no furnishings. The walls were 12' x 15' white surfaces
with absolutely nothing on them. The kitchen had a mess of utensils, but
the fridge contained only uncovered meat of uncertain origin. Absentee
I brought a couple dozen games with me, and Jason, Alex, and Brett had
several of theirs as well. We were joined by Jo, Dave, Adam, and Ethan,
with the roster of gamers changing constantly as the hours passed. We
opened with two quick games of Diamant, a great game that has been well
worth the price. Others complain that it's too expensive for what you
get, but every time I've played has been a blast, from the mocking of
those who scramble out early to those gambling with their lives for just
a few more gems.
Liar's Dice and For Sale quickly followed, then we stopped for food and
updates on the Red Sox game before continuing.
Brett had asked me to bring Alhambra, so the two of us -- along with
Alex and Ethan -- opted for this, while three others played basic
Settlers. I enjoy Alhambra a lot, but usually end up in the middle of
the pack as I don't focus enough on the colors I'm collecting, netting
lots of second place scores and only one first. This game ran the same way.
With seven on hand, we opted for Shadows Over Camelot since everyone
could play; we left out a loyalty card to guarantee a traitor. Adam and
I were the only experienced knights, so we continually joked about the
other one being the traitor, but I actually had my eye on Alex. I passed
him special white cards -- me being Arthur, him Galahad -- yet he didn't
play the first card on his first available turn. Why wouldn't he give us
But naturally the learning curve was the real cause of the delay. It
takes a couple of turns before you grasp the ebb and flow of the game.
Jo had a perpetual look of confusion, and I feared that her head was
going to explode because she just looked agonized over every turn.
Traitor? Sure seemed like it to me, but no, she was indeed merely
confused about the game.
The traitor ended up being Jason, and the noble knights nearly ate the
big one when the catapaults numbered 11 with Jason only two turns away.
He was ready to flop down the final catapault for the win, but Adam and
I each succeeded in destroying a catapault, taking us away from the
brink and giving enough room for the knights to finish off quests and
After Shadows, five of us dove into Power Grid, while everyone else
watched Pulp Fiction. It was a first game for two players, a second game
for two others, and my fifth or sixth game. The newbies held up
surprisingly well, given how punishing this game can sometimes be the
first time you play. I jumped from first to last to first in the player
order, but ended up in first at the wrong time. I passed on bidding for
so-so plants, then lacked the capacity to do anything when Alex came out
of nowhere to connect to five cities on one turn, taking him from 10 to
15, and winning the game while supplying power to only 12 cities. I
didn't think he had nearly enough money for that and was counting on one
more turn. Well played!
The time was 2 or 3 in the morning, and Dave had returned from a play he
was involved in and joined us for a couple of filler-type games: 6
Nimmt! and Space Beans. He won both, nearly acing the first two rounds
of 6 Nimmt! and slowly grinding to victory in Space Beans. (I hadn't
played Space Beans in a long time and was surprised at how long the
six-player game lasted. No one played slowly, but perhaps the hours were
grinding us down.)
Ethan and Adam dropped out to sleep for a few hours, but Dave, Alex,
Brett, and I chose to play Acquire (with closed holdings) as the clock
neared 5:00. I built up majority in Zeta, won the majority bonus, then
flipped it two more times, giving me what I thought was a commanding
lead, but Dave was the minority holder and other deals kept him in the
running. I was ready to flip Zeta again, but was foiled at the last
moment. In the end, Dave edged me out for the win by a margin of $1,500
or so. His holdings in Quantum and Phoenix, acquired early in the game,
scored big in the final accounting.
Dave took off and the slightly rested Adam took his place for two games
of China. I can't seem to get China to the table at my regular game
group, which is a pity since it's meaty and tough to play well, while
lasting 30-45 minutes. Adam had never played before, but took to the
game like Mao to China, scooping others out of advisor bonuses and
landing second in at least one of the two games. Strangely, we had few
advisor bonuses in the second game as the four of us made plenty of
boneheaded plays and ended up with blue/green in one area and red/purple
in the adjacent one over and over again. I think I was last both games;
I like China but poorly anticipate others' moves and get locked out of
Coloretto was its usual quick-playing self, and Ethan roused himself
awake to join in two games. I tried to make piles of two cards that were
attractive to others so they'd bow out and lower the odds of them
pooping in my piles, but that strategy didn't really pan out.
Since a few of us were floating on no sleep, I suggested Viva Pamplona
-- then promptly failed in my duties as a teacher by letting Ethan jump
out front on the first turn with a 4-5 move on two arrows. That kept him
far in front of the bull and other players, which put him out of the
running early. Sorry, Ethan! The bull was its usual stop-and-start self,
foiling our plans repeatedly. I really enjoy this game, but it seems to
drag a bit with five or six players. Maybe that's because I play it with
newbies every single time; if I ever played with anyone a second time,
we could probably play a lot faster.
Ethan and Adam left, with Adam leaving for work far later than he should
have. The games had too strong a hold on him! Alex, Brett, and I played
another game of Alhambra, and all three of us developed extremely
impressive walls that hamstrung our later development. We took money for
maybe four rounds in a row simply because none of us could place any of
the tiles up for grabs. Brett later took one I sorely needed, both for
color majority and for building room. Alex ended up winning with 130 or so.
Dave returned about this time, and we figured one more game would finish
us off. The three of them were big Settlers fans, so I swallowed my
dislike of the game and agreed to play it. That dislike was based solely
on one experience at UG6. In that game, the winner took the lead early,
then slowly snowballed his way to victory; there was no tension, and the
game just draaaaaaagged. Plus I played Puerto Rico for the first time
immediately afterward, and PR made Settlers look like a pile of poo.
Anyway, this game of Settlers went much better, perhaps because I was
playing with three real fans of the game. They all took a long time
determining the best starting places, mentally calculating possible
areas of growth. By contrast, I just plopped down in the middle of
nowhere on a 6-5-2 wheat/wheat/forest intersection and one other so-so
spot. Still, the dice were kind enough that I hit five roads before
anyone else and was able to build a couple of settlements and a city.
Alex had two cities on ore-4 hexes and 4s were rolled again and again,
netting him huge gains. Thankfully I had walled off the 2:1 ore trade
spot, or else he would have won easily. Dave took longest road from me,
putting him at 8 VP, but with no cards in hand. I had a bunch, gained
several wheat over the next few turns, traded for brick, then played
road, road, settlement, city to rocket to 11 VP and win the game.
I enjoyed this playing of Settlers much more than my first and not
solely because I won. The game had more tension, the board positions
seemed to matter more, and the opponents all provided good competition.
(The lack of sleep might have made me punch-drunk, too.) Maybe I won't
wait two years before playing it again...
After 15 hours of gaming, we decided to call it quits, ending what Brett
and Alex called the longest session of 6am Gamers ev-ar. Is a name
change in order?
Thanks to all for a great night and day of gaming. Look forward to
playing with you all again once I settle down in New Hampster!
W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
"Awesome. Love the hed and dek. Did I tell you you're a terrific writer
and I never have to edit a damned thing you send me?" -- my editor at