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21926SOG SR: Belmont 11/29

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  • Josh Bluestein
    Nov 30, 2004
      We had three people in attendance at Mark's house in Belmont last
      night: Mark, Mike, and me.

      When I arrived, Mark andMike were playing Crokinole, so I watched as
      Mike gave Mark a good thrashing.

      Rob had stated that he was a 75% to show up, so we optimisticially
      decided to play something short to start out with. I suggested Lucky
      Loop, as I had recently picked it up at bargain basement prices and
      was interested in giving it a shot. I had heard some fairly negative
      things about it, but was nevertheless determined to at least give it a
      chance.

      To my surprise, it turned out to be a fun little game. It is
      essentially a dicefest -- your initial goals are to complete four
      flight plans, each of which is made up of three of four possible types
      of cards (Loop, Dive, Turn, Roll). There are two decks of cards, one
      containing Turns and Loops, the other containing Dives and Rolls.
      Each card itself has a specific difficulty level, running from 3 up to
      12.

      So what you're trying to do is perform each maneuver of a flight plan
      by rolling dice and matching or exceeding the difficulty level of each
      maneuver. There's some strategy as to how you do this, but not a lot.
      You roll a maximum of three dice at a time and then assign some or all
      of those dice to a maneuver to complete it. You then do the same to
      complete the next maneuver, and then the last. One wrinkle is that
      you only have six dice to start with, so if you use up a lot of dice
      on the first two maneuvers, you're going to have a hard time
      finishing. But there's no penalty for trying and failing, and there's
      no shortage of cards (although there may be a shortage of cards you
      *want*). So the game really amounts to people trying to get their
      flight plans finished quickly to then go on to the end game. Each
      flight plan can be worth a number of victory points, based on how
      skillully you executed it. There are also bonuses for beating
      previous records on a flight plan, etc.

      Once a person has finished all four flight plans, they have to do a
      free flight plan -- this is any 3-6 cards totalling 25 or more in
      difficulty. There are extra penalties involved here. If you need to
      draw cards to get a set to make your free plan, you lose victory
      points. If you fail when trying your free flight plan, you lose
      victory points. You also have to designate one card that you'll be
      completing by exact value, and if you don't do *that*, you fail (and
      lose victory points). However, the value of the free flight plan is
      substantial enough that whoever completes it is very likely to win the
      game.

      The game does ensure that everyone gets the same number of turns, so
      just because someone else finished their free flight plan doesn't mean
      you won't have a chance to finish yours...well, at least not
      necessarily.

      Our game went very quickly, with Mike and Mark both filing free flight
      plans on the same round -- Mike failed, Mark succeeded and won the
      game. All in all, the game was about 30-45 minutes. This seems like
      it would scale OK up to four players and probably wouldn't be much fun
      with more players than that -- it claims to support up to six, but it
      seems like the downtime with six players would be prohibitive. There
      is really *nothing* to do when it's not your turn.

      But with three it was fine, and with four it seems like it would be
      manageable. So I give this game a thumbs up -- not a *great* game,
      but a fun and light filler.

      Rob's 75% quickly diminished to a 0, so we opted for a three-player
      game of Reef Encounter. I've already talked about this one a fair
      amount so I'm not going to go into too much detail here. Mike and
      Mark were first-time players, I was a second-time player. Mike
      managed to grasp most of the principles of the game, Mark not so much.
      Mike's final score outpaced both Mark's and mine by over 20 points,
      due entirely to his final reef -- a gigantic white coral reef
      consisting of some 13-15 tiles, and white being worth four points per
      tile...it was a big win.

      Opinions were mixed on this game. I really enjoyed it...Mark didn't
      feel like he had any control over what was going on, or grasp of the
      strategy. There was also complaint over the length of the game,
      although I would suggest that once again familiarity improves speed.

      In any case, I think this is an excellent game and will be bringing it
      out in the future. Maybe while Mark is off playing Heroscape...

      Mike headed home, and Mark and I played a couple of rounds of
      Crokinole before I left as well. I considered it a point of honor
      that I was able to actually post scores in both games before Mark
      walked away with the inevitable victory.

      That's all for this week.

      Josh
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