Seattle Cosmic Game Night

(Saturday, 6 May 2000)

In Which the Slug First Reveals Itself, and Doris Gets Her Oats

Hello, hello, hello!

We had a very successful game night, one of the best ever. Altogether there were 8 people present, a Seattle Cosmic record! People who came were (in no particular order) me (Ron Hale-Evans), Marty Hale-Evans, Paul Unwin, John Braley, Dave Adams, Mark Purtill, and two new people, Paul's roommate Peter Schultz, and Marty's friend Naomi Finkelstein.

I left the old game night photos where they were, but put the ones for this week in their own subdirectory, with more descriptive names.

A little before 8:00, Marty went to pick up Naomi. Paul, John, and Peter showed up a little later. We decided we'd break out the Fluxx deck and play a quick round while we were waiting for the others. Here's a shot of New Guy Peter waving during the first Fluxx game:

Fluxx is a game where the cards you play change the rules. In the above shot, the yellow cards laid out in a row are rules for taking and discarding cards, for how many you can play on your turn, etc. The pink card states the object of the game, which also changes.

Dave showed up shortly, and rather than folding the game right away, we dealt him the current "hand limit" (a hand limit of 3 means you can only keep 3 cards in your hand) -- after all, we were still waiting for Marty and Naomi -- and kept playing. (This worked really well.) Mark soon won with the goal card of having >= 10 cards in your hand -- a card I had passed him. (D'OH!) For his victory, Mark was awarded the Horror Collection -- a bag of assorted Archie McPhee plastic and rubber monsters.

We were still waiting for Marty and Naomi to show up -- Naomi was at a bus stop and Marty was lost in the wilds of Renton -- so we played another round of Fluxx. M & N soon arrived, and Marty took another photo of the Fluxx table:

Although I am the only Seattle Cosmic member who has been present at every meeting, the above photo is the only evidence thus far -- extremely vague, slight, and unconvincing, on par with those blurry photos of Nessie -- that I have ever played. For this reason, among others, I have decided that I have no head.

Oh, sure, people are often playing my games, you can frequently see my color tokens in the Warp, and you can sometimes see the very cards I'm playing and soft drinks I'm drinking. But never ME. Well, the reason that my face does not show up on camera is that I have no face. If you would like to encounter other people who also have no face and no head, I highly recommend you visit www.headless.org. If you suspect you are in the same situation, try these tests. I will be eager to hear if anyone else has no head (or was amused) at our next meeting.

Marty and Naomi settled in, we dealt them into the game, and Naomi, who had never played Fluxx (or any other "gamer's games") before, won in short order, getting the 10+ cards goal again, accumulating enough cards to push her over the edge, and playing the goal card. Huzzah! Naomi was awarded the Big Bag O' Eyeballs, another collection of stuff we got from Archie McPhee's: all eyeballs, some Squirty.

Everyone was present, so we set up Cosmic and explained the game to Naomi and Peter. Here's a picture in which it is apparent that the Horror Bag prize Mark is looking at has caused a radioactive tumour to sprout from the top of his head. You can also see Naomi to Mark's right:

As usual, Cosmic setup took a long time. Here are a couple of more photos. The second photo is an especially nice shot of Naomi and Mark.

Since there were newbies present, we played a single-power vanilla game. We had 8 players and there are only 6 hexes, so we used the Mayfair rules for the Shark and the Zilch. The Zilch is the seventh player, has no hex, and is basically a kibitzer. The Zilch decides who will win before the game starts, secretly writes it down, and shares in the victory of that player if the player wins. Paul drew the Zilch, and immediately became officious and meddling, grabbing a screwdriver we have that extends to 2-3 feet and walking around shuffling people's tokens and cards with it... (FWIW, the Zilch chose Mark, our CE expert.)

The Shark is the eighth player, alternately sitting out a challenge, then taking over the position of someone who had not just been a main player. The displaced player then becomes the Shark. Peter drew the Shark initially, and for most of the evening, he and John (who was Oracle) traded places.

We also discovered a new entity inhabiting the Warp: the Space Slug. We don't know much about it, and it didn't seem to have much effect on the game, but its malign yet sluggish influence was felt for most of the evening:

And here's a shot of the then-current Shark (John) and the Zilch (Paul) conferring in a corner:

At about this time I tried to swallow a piece of pizza and take a sip from my soda at the same time, and experienced instant esophageal trauma. I am told I turned approximately the colour of Naomi's blouse in the above photos (a dark red-purple), choking, wheezing and gasping for about a minute while everyone looked on with concern and discussed how to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Finally my esophagus ejected the pizza somewhere into the state of Oregon, and everyone calmed down. (Actually, despite my physical distress, I was pretty calm, I think; I have been in a couple of life-threatening situations before, and I've usually been deadly calm. I don't know why. Try to get me to look over the side of the Space Needle, though, and I'm one trembling bundle of neuroses...)

I was the first player to get 4 foreign bases. It turns out that when the Shark is in the game, it is a good strategy to encourage other people to get 4 bases too, so you're not such a tempting target for "possession" -- then you can go for a joint win. In the end, there were 3 people with 4 foreign bases, and we, the Good Guys (Dave, John, and I) decided to invade, colonise, and enslave the Dark Blue people (Mark) -- for their own good, of course. (I'd name Mark's actual power, but I don't remember what it was. It was a power-light game; I don't think I used Mesmer once.) Marty and Naomi defended Mark, the cowardly snivelers. Here's a shot of the Last Battle, bottom of the ninth and bases loaded:

The Good Guys won, and they received (well, John and Dave did, anyway) two Cheapass Games. Dave got The Big Idea (which looks hilarious), and John got Change (the latest Friedey's Zombies game). Note for historians: A 3-way joint victory is much more satisfying in an 8-player game of Cosmic than in a 4-player one.

At this point, Mark had to leave. The rest of us broke out a French game (a French German game? heh) I had been itching to play called Democrazy. I hadn't read the rules yet and struggled to learn them and teach them at the same time. Marty and Dave joked we really needed mathematician Mark, who can inhale and teach rules in moments. Perhaps we should give him a beeper, they said...

Democrazy is similar to Fluxx, except you vote for rule cards rather than enacting them unilaterally. Goals in Democrazy also change, but usually involve relative values of coloured chips drawn from a bag. Because you are constantly trying to judge how the other players will vote and calculating the values of your chips, this is a much more strategic game than Fluxx. This jockeying for position, second-guessing the other players, and frequent rules snarls make for much mirth...

Here's a shot of the layout of Democrazy. The blue cards (or "blue laws", as we came to call them) are the semi-permanent rule cards (there are temporary red ones too), and you lay the rules out in a row, just like in Fluxx:

Votes are taken by flipping vote cards over simultaneously, as Marty demonstrates:

BTW, the yellow leaflets you see all over the table and in Paul's pocket are hardcopies of a beautiful, uplifting spiritual parable you can find on the Web called "Kissing Hank's Ass". Since I've already laid one philosophical trip on you, here's another.

One rule we voted in gave the losers in a vote one chip, and took one chip from each winner. This meant that people tried to estimate how popular a rule was and to vote the other way, which ironically made unpopular rules pass and popular ones fail, as often as not. (It was similar to a rule we had in Nomic called the Rubber Clamp Rule.) I was really bad at guessing, so I lost a lot of chips, each of which is usually worth 1 point (the person with the most points usually winning the game). Fortunately, we voted in a rule that said players with zero chips received 5 points. Paul, John, and I qualified, and 5 points was higher than anyone else's score, so we had another 3-way win. Paul received 2 NetRunner CCG booster packs and John received a book called Jump-Start Your Brain, which promised to quintuple his already formidable intelligence, or something.

That's it for this week. One note: now that attendance is approaching 10 people, it would be really helpful for Marty and me if you could bring a snack or drink when you come. Nothing major, just a bag of chips or cookies, or a bottle of soda. Even if some people forget, there should be plenty to go around. And maybe the weekly game photos won't look like a Pepsi One testimonial! Thanks.

And thanks to new players Peter and Naomi. Naomi was new to this sort of game, and said, "I thought I knew games, but it's obvious I am only a dilettante." She sat down in Fluxx, though, and won it 10 minutes later! And though John technically was one of the three winners of Cosmic, El Shark Peter helped him ramp up to 5 bases, so he deserves some credit too. Both newbies played well, and we hope to see them again next week.



Saturday, 13 May 2000, 8 pm at Ron and Marty's in Kent.

Remember, game nights at Ron and Marty's are every Saturday at 8pm. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES! Please bring a snack or drink (cookies, chips, soda, juice, etc.).

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Page last updated 27 May 2000.