Seattle Cosmic met again on Friday the 13th for a low-key, pokey game night. Present were Marty and Ron Hale-Evans (hello!), Dave Adams, Kathy Kizer, and Tim Higgins. An unusually low turnout -- was Friday the 13th to blame? On the other hand, everyone was in a good mood, and I expect next week's turnout to be even lower. Lots of vacationing Cosmologists!
First up was Dragon Delta (Eurogames Descartes 2000), which we had meant to play last week. In DD, players try to build a rickety board bridge across a Chinese river delta from their home island to an island on the opposite side. The RoboRallyish twist is that all players must simultaneously lay down five cards that specify what their actions will be that turn, with all the first cards revealed at once, then the second cards, and so on. If you play your cards wrong, you'll end up falling into the water and have to swim home, but if you play them right, you can bowb the other players and get across the Delta first.
Despite Tim's preference for a "learning game" the first time round, we played a "real game" this time (with Tim's mysterious agreement). Considering how well he did, maybe there is something to his idea that the game-owner/rules-reader has an advantage. Still, people have beat me at my own games the first time they played often enough that I have a healthy respect for my fellow players...
The fact that it was not a learning game made it all the more painful when Dave bowbed me on the first turn of the first round by playing a yellow Dragon card. (Dragon cards exist only to bowb the other players. A Dragon of your colour cancels any action you take that turn.) Tim bowbed me on the second turn with a yellow Dragon, and Kathy bowbed Dave with a white dragon on the final turn of the first round, saying, "I meant to cancel Ron. Sorry, Dave, I played the wrong colour." I was bowbed and bowbed good! But Dave made me feel a little better by telling me, "When they walk batters, it's a sign of respect."
Was ist der "bowb"?
Despite (or perhaps because of) all the Ron-bowbing early in the game, Marty and Tim were the favourites later, and Tim won, with Marty a mere move behind. As in many German games, the first-turn indicator passes from player to player each round, and Tim has his turn on that round just ahead of Marty. "It was painful," admitted Marty.
For his victory, and in keeping with the theme of the game, we awarded him a fan from Archie McPhee. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Japanese rather than Chinese fan, depicting a Sumo wrestler when unwrapped and opened (um, the fan, not the wrestler). Well, it's in the same part of the world...
Next up, we played G.O.O.T.M.U. (Jolly Games 1992; henceforth "GOOTMU"), which stands for "Get Out Of The Maze Unit". You and some number of other players are stuck in a maze filled with obstacles like moats, snake pits, trap doors, fire, etc. The maze is on a torus; it has no edges -- when you "walk" off one side of the board, you re-enter on the opposite side. The only way to escape is to be the first player to gather and assemble the three pieces of your GOOTMU and teleport out.
I happened to find GOOTMU earlier that day when I visited American Eagles, a Seattle wargaming store. It was in the basement. Where they usually don't let people go. In a box, in a basket, in another basket. Behind a shelf. In a darkened room. (Next to the plans for the hyperspace bypass.) Fortunately, Steffan O'Sullivan's excellent review made me realise what a gem I had found (I was waiting to buy it until I could order it with the new edition of Wiz-War), and I snapped it up. (We used Steffan's variant rules, which are included in the review.)
With five players, you lay down a four-by-four grid of moveable cardboard squares, each of which is itself a four-by-four grid of spaces across which players move. Tools, "power-ups", and boobytraps are scattered randomly across the board, face-down. (When you move over the face-down tools and traps during the game, you flip them right-side-up. If it's a tool, you can take it with you.) Each player places the starting location and scatters the GOOTMU pieces for the player on their right. Scatter them well; place them in inaccessible parts of the maze, for on their inaccessibility, who is winner may depend. Tim pointed out to Marty a temptingly inaccessible location for my GOOTMU (at my stupid urging, mind), but she opted against it out of sheer mercy.
As I said, the board pieces are moveable. At least, they can be rotated. On a die roll of 6 (on a d6), you can rotate the section you're on or any one of the four orthogonally adjacent sections, either to help yourself, or to bowb your buddies. Marty is doing one or the other, or both, in the photo below right. (Notice Dave's topknot, a creative coiffure he adopted defensively in the course of the evening when Kathy told him his ponytail gave him "Olive Oyl hair". After he made the topknot, he was razzed for trying to create a "combover alternative". And so poor Dave had no hair peace.)
The first time a player passes over a fire square (for example), the fire doesn't burn her; she merely turns the cardboard square with the fire face-up. When Kathy activated a fire trap, Marty started singing "We Didn't Start the Fire", surely one of the worst in a long line of bad Billy Joel songs. (If drunk, I will admit that once I owned every Billy Joel album up to and including An Innocent Man. But that was the last bowbing straw.)
BTW, FYI, FWIW, I pronounce "GOOTMU" to rhyme with "boot-shoe", but some of the other players pronounce it to rhyme with "boat-shoe". Go figure; maybe they're part Dutch. The Dutch pronunciation led me to speculate on just what a "goat moo" might be. Marty followed this up with "moat goo", which is what some of the stagnant pools and snake pits on the board must contain, and "moot go", which is what happens when you're stuck next to the magnet (as Dave, Kathy, and Tim are, below). Dave finished up with his variant on the famous advertising slogan, "Got moo?" and I think we finally had it out of our systems.
Dave, Kathy, and Tim spent a good six or eight turns stuck to the Magnet (above), which may be why Dave didn't enjoy the game very much. ("What did you gave Dragon Delta out of 10, Ron?" "Oh, about a 6.5 or a 7. Tim agrees." "I'd give this game a TWO.") Despite this fact, Kathy managed to escape and cleverly land on a space that allowed her to teleport to Marty's location and grab her remaining GOOTMU piece, which Marty had stolen in an attempt at lederhosen (that is, leader-hosin'). Read some of the squares in the large photo above for an idea of the flavour of the game.
For her victory, Kathy was awarded another thematic prize: an Insect Inspector, a plastic maze into which you can place some bugs you captured so that you can torment their tiny minds just as our tiny minds were tormented by GOOTMU.
By the way, I love the game. May play some GOOTMU later today...
I was feeling a little sick, so Marty and I excused ourselves at 10:30 PM and drove home, making this the first Seattle Cosmic night I have not stayed all the way through; up till now, I've had perfect attendance. Ah, well.
As I was leaving, Dave was offering to torment Tim with some train games, and Tim was politely refusing. (See last week's newsletter for Dave's thing about trains.) What is it about some men and trains? Is it because they go into tunnels, or what? Michael Palin of Monty Python did an entire series about train-spotting once in the 1980s, and I had never heard of the practice, so I thought the first episode was an hysterically funny joke. Silly me.
Well, Dave, Tim, and Kathy did end up playing a train game of sorts: Express (Mayfair Games 1990). Dave gave me the scoop. This is a Rummy-like card game in which players try to assemble trains from collections of cards bearing pictures of train cars. D, T, & K started playing to 100 points before they realised the rules stated you're only supposed to play to 50 points, by which time they were well past 50. They agreed to continue on to 100, but only played one more hand. As Dave recalls, Kathy would probably have won were it a complete game.
And then there were none. (Great story, by the way.)
Marty says she doesn't like the all-purpose cuss word bowb because swearing shows a lack of creativity in the first place. (I don't know, Marty; I've heard some pretty creative swearing -- the Tube Bar Tapes come to mind). She says "bowb" is one step even lower: "It smacks of Newspeak to me."
Thanks to Marty for editing this newsletter even more than she usually does, and also for the best jokes.
The Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night are now associates of Funagain Games. This means that 5% of your purchase there goes toward supporting us if you buy games there via the following links or the Funagain logo at the bottom of the page.
Even if you don't want to buy the games, the Funagain pages often contain lengthy, useful game reviews.
Saturday, 21 July 2001, 7:00 PM in Kent. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES!
Remember, game nights are first and second Fridays at 7:00 PM, at Dave and Kathy's house in West Seattle, and third and fourth Saturdays at 7:00 PM, at Marty and Ron's apartment in Kent. Please bring a snack or drink to share (cookies, chips, soda, juice, etc.).
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Page last updated 2001-07-17.