San Francisco, climbing, Kickstarter games, and People Wars

It’s been over a month since my last update. Given I keep telling myself I should write in here more, doing so at least once a month seems reasonable.

I recently traveled to San Francisco to check in at work… given I hadn’t been there in 10 months, it was about time. It was mostly an uneventful trip. Managed to see pretty much everyone except for Sharon, which was sad. Afterward, I did my usual stop in Phoenix to see my parents. Our travel plans were cancelled due to both of my parents being sick, so the week was also uneventful. Went to bar trivia and played some games with Isaac, but no one else around was answering emails.

There are more photos of the trip here.

I’ve also been climbing regularly for the past couple months. A group of us first went for Michael’s birthday back in December, and we’ve been going weekly since then. After starting with VBs and V0s in December, I’m now pretty comfortably into V2s and looking at attempting some V2/3s. It’s nice to see improvement from week to week.

More rock climbing photos are here and here.

In other fun news, the Kickstarter games I backed have started arriving. Ground Floor arrived while I was in San Francisco (like two days after I left), and My Happy Farm arrived today. Here’s the unboxings.

My Happy Farm had previously been played many times (as a print-and-play game) and enjoyed. Ground Floor met a bit more resistance.
Our first attempt at our weekly games night ended early when it was 11 PM (about 2.5 hours in) and we were still only 2/3 of the way through the game. The second attempt the following week was about a 3 hour game (quicker since half of us had played before) and went fairly well.
I think Ground Floor accomplishes what it set out to do very nicely. It’s a much heavier game than My Happy Farm, or even many of the other Eurogames we play. But I like that it’s so open ended, and there are so many decisions you can make each round. I also like the trade off between more actions (employees) and money, since it’s not a matter of “get as many actions as you can” like most worker-placement games end up as. (In fact, at the end of our game, not one player had the maximum number of employees, despite having had many chances to hire and despite the job market being at the cheapest possible level.) That’s a good sign.
It actually reminds me a lot of Through the Ages, even though they’re entirely different genres (moreso than even Agricola, which is also a worker-placement game). It’s a fairly long game, and it has so many things you can do each round, and it’s about planning well but also reacting properly to other players’ actions and the changing nature of the game (the row of cards in TTA, and the economic forecast in GF).
Definetly enjoyable for me.

Both games also came with Kickstarter bonuses.
Ground Floor came with a dice-rolling game Skyline, which we found very light and enjoyable once we started playing it correctly. (Note for other people playing that don’t read the rules carefully: When you complete a building, the dice used all move to the construction yard. They don’t go back into the supply.) It fills the same niche for me as Farmageddon or Malta!… a quick game to pull out when waiting for people to arrive or when people are tired and have started leaving: quick to learn, quick to play, and not much thought required.

It also came with a bunch of different small expansions, like a Great Depression economic forecast card, various “event” cards, and a new game board area. We haven’t played with those yet, but it looks like it’ll be fun to break them out.

My Happy Farm came with four new animals to play with. I was expecting enough copies for all four players to use, but it only came with one of each. Still, it’s a cute little extra for the game. I’m looking forward to playing the real version, hopefully at the next games night.

We’ve also played a few games of the print-and-play of another Kickstarter game, Viticulture. I’ve really, really enjoyed this one, although I admit the wake-up track mechanic ended up being less revolutionary than I was expecting it to. (Most people ended up taking the #1 spot when they were first to pick, and the winner in the few games we played were the people that were first or second to pick in the last round of the game, when competing for wine order spaces was most important.) The only issue was with our print and play… it was black and white, meaning the different card icons were very difficult to distinguish, the board was hard to read, and the white and blush wine glass icons looked too similar. But that aside, the game itself is awesome, and I think everyone that played it enjoyed it.

We had a rather interesting game where Austin decided he wasn’t going to make wine and would win by other means. He actually came very close… he managed to cause the end of the game (by hitting 20 victory points) with only his starting three workers and without having made a single bottle of wine the entire game. Yay for breaking games?

In other, other news, I’m finally continuing work on the next People Wars expansion (last talked about here) now that I actually have more up-to-date photos of San Francisco people. (This makes sense given it’s an expansion themed around Bay Area people.)

The set is also going to have new versions of the twenty basic item cards, because it’s bothered me enough that they don’t match the new card design. Here’s Board Game, which features Michael playing (and eventually winning) Ground Floor.

Other things have been happening too (like awesome AoJ in KoL and awesome vacation planning for this summer and another SF trip in June), but I’ve probably rambled on enough for now. Yay long-but-infrequent journal posts.