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17461SR: GSG 7/29 -- Buzz Word, Bang!, Zirkus Flohcati, High Society, and lots of Katz

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  • W. Eric Martin
    Jul 31, 2003
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      Buzz Word

      Fourteen people showed at Mark's house last Tuesday, and because I
      arrived late, I was stuck with Bruce, James, Penny, and a party game no
      one else wanted to try. (Chris, Rich, and Brian watched one round, then
      fled to play something else.)

      Players divide into two teams, then take turns feeding clues to their
      partners. Clues are provided on the cards, and the ten answers all have
      a word in common (i.e., the buzz word). Since the clues are all
      provided and the answers sometimes feel random -- with "Am I clear?" "Is
      that clear?" "Are we clear?" "All clear?" all possible answers to one
      clue, but only one being correct -- you couldn't do much other than read
      a card and hope your partner guessed right. Stick with Taboo or
      Outburst if you want a party game.

      It was also clear that no one at Patch Games had put much thought into
      the rules, which were ambiguous on whether you could change the clues or
      how close an answer had to be. Also, the game included cards numbered
      1-10 that you used to track which answers scored; to determine which
      team would start you were supposed to shuffle all the cards and deal
      five to each team, then see which team had a higher total. James said,
      "I think one card is enough." Even worse, it doesn't matter who starts
      because each team plays the same number of rounds. Boo, Patch Games!
      Spend some money on playtesters next time!

      Team I Don't Know (Bruce and James) beat the Savage Cheaters (Eric and
      Penny), 69-61. We'll cheat harder next time.


      Zirkus Flohcati

      The same four people played Knizia's flea masterpiece. Bruce slowed
      everything down during each of his turns, asking questions and
      contemplating his cards as if he had no idea what he was doing.
      Naturally he won, although the scores were tight.

      Bruce: 65
      James: 63
      Eric: 62
      Penny: 59

      (The next day I taught the game to a mom and her 12- and 10-year-old
      daughters while waiting for my karate class. We jammed three games into
      40 minutes and had a blast. I look forward to indoctrinating them
      further in weeks to come.)


      Bang!

      Mark, Steve, and Ralph joined our group for a first run with Mayfair's
      edition of Bang!, a heapin' helping of chaos that would probably be
      significantly faster if we played a few times. James was bumped the
      first round, and Steve the third; they then had to watch Dynamite make
      its way around the table four times before it finally blew in Mark's
      face. As the Renegade I survived nearly to the end before being shot
      down by Ralph (Sheriff) and Penny (Deputy). Lots of fun, and something
      my non-gamer friends would probably get a kick out of, much as they did
      Are You a Werewolf? at a recent desert party.


      Katzenjammer Blues

      This Knizia bidding game plays like a cross between Money and Zirkus
      Flohcati. Players play four-of-a-kinds to score mice, and the player
      with the most mice wins. I thought I had a handle on strategy, but
      clearly I need to be more fluid in my bidding because after a certain
      point not enough mice are available to let you catch up with those who
      have already scored. Just as Zirkus can be won with either trios or a
      Gala Show, Katz may require a shift between quick low scores and a
      break-the-bank strategy.

      After two rounds:

      Mark: 14
      Ralph: 10
      Steve: 6
      Eric: 0


      High Society

      Mark played me like a lute, or a tympani, or some sort of instrument,
      bidding just $1,000 less than me, so that I would automatically lose
      (because I ended the game with the least amount of money) and he would
      be able to best Phil by grabbing the high-scoring tiles. A quick game
      that one could easily mock up with cardboard and playing cards.


      Chris, Rich, and Brian joined Mark, Ralph and me for another round of
      Katzenjammer Blues, thus allowing Rich to meet his whining quotient for
      the evening. Despite what he says, the game isn't broken with six
      players; it merely requires a change in strategy. There's only 24 mice,
      so with 6 players, any score higher than 4 has a good chance of winning.
      Brian concentrated on 3s, managed two quartets, and won the game with 6 mice.

      Hope to see you all next week with an enthusiastic exchange student in tow.

      Eric-4


      --
      W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
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