SOG SR: Pre-Election Night SOG in Sudbury
- We had six people at Rob's house in Westford last night for SOG: Rob,
.chip, Sara, Arkady, Chris and me.
When I arrived, .chip, Sara, Rob and Arkady were playing Set. Since
it's not really a game, they were easily able to set it aside in favor
of something else.
We started with Members Only, a new acquisition for me. This is a
betting game. Each player starts with a hand of cards (7, 9, or 11,
depending on the number of players), five betting markers (one of
which is a double), and one white 'risk' marker.
The cards are in five colors out of a deck of 65. Each color has 11
regular cards and two 'No!' cards which cancel out a regular card.
The object of the game is to bet on how many of a given color card
will be played in a round. Easy bets (four or fewer, five or more)
are not worth very many points, whereas harder bets (1 or fewer, 8 or
more) are worth quite a lot. Gameplay is simple: To start with, each
player places a bet in succession around the table. Then each player
places another bet and must play two cards out of their hand. This
continues until all players are holding exactly three cards. At this
point, one card is discarded and the other two are played, with points
being awarded. Bets that win score points (potentially doubled or
tripled, depending on what markers are placed) and return the markers
to the players. Bets that don't win score no points, and the player
loses that marker. This causes a disadvantage for future rounds --
however, a player who ends up with only one marker gets all of their
The game continues until all columns have someone scoring at least
five points in them. At this point, a player's score is the sum of
all of their points in columns where they've scored at least five
Our game went pretty quickly, all things considered. There were some
very big bets made, and some of them really paid off for people. When
the smoke cleared, Arkady was the winner by just a few points. I
trailed substantially, having only managed to make a meaningful score
in two columns.
Chris showed up at this point, and we decided to do a few quick games
before .chip and Sara headed home. We started with Electronic
Catchphrase, a tough choice since Arkady is not a native English
speaker. As a handicap, we put Arkady on one team and Rob on the
other team. All in all it was a pretty close game, but we were able
to overcome the other team. Arkady did quite well and was a good
sport about playing a vocabulary game.
Next up was a round of Bluff. Chris started off losing three dice on
his first bet. Rob then proceeded to lose all of his dice on a single
bet...and then the game settled down to a more nickel-and-dime, death
of a thousand cuts sort of pace. I was eliminated next, then .chip,
then Arkady. At this point it was down to Chris and Sara, each with
one die left. Chris successfully bluffed against Sara and killed her
last die, scraping out a victory despite playing most of the game with
only one die. Bravo Chris!
Last for .chip and Sara was Pick Picknic (aka Hick Hack im Gackelwack
-- cleverly retitled for domestic distribution. Huh?). A silly
simultaneous action game, with chickens chasing feed, and foxes
chasing chickens. I didn't manage to get that much feed, but I got
some very juicy chickens, including an 11-point feast in the final
round, giving me the victory!
.chip and Sara headed home, and the rest of us sat down for Goa. This
was requested by Rob and Chris, happily agreed to by me, and Arkady is
up for most anything, so it worked out well. It was new to Arkady and
Everybody took fairly different approaches. Chris started out running
down the ship track, generating lots of ships to good advantage. Rob
went the Expedition card route, Arkady and I stayed fairly distributed
(although I focused on colonies fairly early). By the time we got to
the end of the game, things were looking very tight. Chris had
finished off two tracks (spices and ships), Rob had finished one and
was holding a big hand of cards, and I had finished one but also had
all of my colonies. Arkady hadn't finished any tracks, but was fairly
far down on all of them.
In the end, scores were pretty close. Arkady was last with...I think
around 30 points. Rob had only 25 points in development, but had five
matching symbols in expedition cards which brought him up to 40
points. Chris had 41 points, from development tracks, colonies and a
mission. I was the big winner with 48 points: 39 in development and
colonies, the most cash at the end of the game, and two pairs of
matching expedition card symbols.
Reception for this game was generally positive. Rob said he'd play it
again. Chris was unhappy with the whole expedition card aspect of the
game, which certainly affected his ability to win. (He almost
completely ignored them, scoring no points at game end from
All in all, a good evening. Looking forward to next week!
- "We started with Electronic Catchphrase, a tough
choice since Arkady is not a native English speaker.
As a handicap, we put Arkady on one team and Rob on
There you go, stealing my lines again.
Arkady, though, has been a wonderful addition to SOG.
A veritable board game virgin, he has been a quick
study these past two weeks and already has as many
victories as I manage in two months' time.
"At this point it was down to Chris and Sara, each
one die left. Chris successfully bluffed against Sara
and killed her last die . . ."
Actually, I bluffed Sara on the second to last round,
bidding a 5 when I didn't have one, prompting her to
bid one more 5 than was in the cups. On the last
round, Sara tried to return the favor, but since the
only way I could win was by calling her, I lucked into
the victory when it turned out she was bluffing.
The best thing about Sara was that she agonized over
making even the simplest of bids, so you could never
tell whether she was formulating a complicated bluff
or just torn between picking her favorite dice to bid,
fearful of offending the others in the cup.
"Chris was unhappy with the whole expedition card
aspect of the game, which certainly affected his
ability to win. (He almost completely ignored them,
scoring no points at game end from expeditions)."
Goa is great fun, like Princes of Florence with more
flavor. My objection to the Expedition cards is simply
that it is more satisfying spending my actions
constructing a plan to move down the tracks than it is
to grab a handful of cards and pray for matches. I
also ignored the Colonies for the most part because I
couldn't abide the luck of the draw, however small and
mitigated it may be.
I will probably never win Goa because I'll be loathe
to sacrifice the pleasures of spice-shipping to the
necessary risks of a winning strategy.
Thanks to Rob for hosting and for not squeaking by me
in Goa. (But thanks for nothing from those chickens.
Where are my eggs?)
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