Seattle Cosmic Game Night, Saturday, 18 January 2003

Everyone Into (the) Pool!

Game night came to pass at the house of Tim Higgins in Mill Creek. Present were Tim Higgins, Marty_Hale-Evans?, Meredith_Hale?, newcomer Melinda Hautala (sister of Marty and Meredith), ChadUrsoMcDaniel, Jay_Lorch?, Michelle Teague, Kathy Kizer, David_Adams? and some of his kids, Steve Vall\xE9e, Tim Schutz, Ron_Hale-Evans? (me), and Alex_Rockwell?, for a total of 13 adult gamers and assorted kids.

Game night started at 5:00, but I was having car trouble and had to catch a ride with Tim Schutz, so I didn't arrive until about 7:00. (Marty and Meredith arrived separately, having picked up Melinda at the airport and spent the day in Olympia.) Since I knew I was going to be late, I asked Chad to snap some photos (he contributed some nice ones last week), and asked Jay to keep score on the games people played until I got there. Chad and Jay did so admirably. Thanks, guys!



Tim Higgins had bought a regulation pool table since we had last played there, making his house even more of a gaming mecca than before. Early in the evening, Jay L and Michelle T played a game of pool against Dave A and Kathy K. (Team Eight-Ball, I assume. Correct me if I'm wrong.) Jay and Michelle won against Dave and Kathy.


Michelle (L) and Kathy chat while Jay cleans up.

I didn't get a chance to go see the pool table while I was there (still haven't!), so when I saw these pictures I thought, "What th-? Gee, I thought it would be green like most other pool tables, wonder why he got red instead.....oh, DUH!" :->



The three Hale sisters, Marty, Melinda, and Meredith (or as I like to refer to them, particularly in a gaming context, the 3M Corporation), played a game of that perpetual Seattle Cosmic filler, Blokus. Meredith won, and was awarded a promotional Pepsi CD, which she was happy to take because it had music by the Ben Folds Five on it, among other songs.

Meredith gives the "thumbs up" while Marty ponders Melinda's move.


Meredith H 8
Marty H-E 15
Melinda H 15



Poor Mel had been dragged up and down the Puget Sound all day, after having gotten off a multi-hour flight, so we thought best to start her on something relatively uncomplicated. After she finished the de-rigeur tour and appreciation of Chez Tim, of course. :-> There is more to Mel than the arm that appears in this photo, but it's an uncommonly good chance to see how creepily similar the hands of the three of us are.

(And we haven't there!)

-- Marty_Hale-Evans?

Puerto Rico

Dave A, Jay L, and Steve V played a game of Puerto_Rico?. Jay won, with 45 points. I think we owe him a prize...

(1) Dave, Jay and Steve (L-R). Does Steve look confident for his first game? (2) The positions in the early game.


Jay L 45
Dave A 34
Steve V 26


I tried the Small Market, Large Market, Office, Coffee Roaster strategy, which paid off very well. As it was ramping up, I was generating a lot of money, and toward the end I was able to build a large 10-cost building almost every round. I wound up building three such large buildings and through them got most of my points.


Well, that's one funny picture of me, for sure. Actually I had played once before, with other newbies to the game (Kisa, Marty & Mel), and won it. Then I thought I was pretty good at it, until I played THIS one, opposing some pretty heavy PR players. Do I need to say how much I got crushed ? My brain still hurts since.



Around 6:30 in the dining room, Tim H, Michelle T, Kathy K, and Chad started Trias, the game of competing dinosaur species on Earth's primitive protocontinent Pangaea. Kathy beat the other three players in a big way. Unfortunately, Kathy has been around long enough that I only had a small prize for her (a slingfrog, which I hope she's snapping at appropriate targets (yet not me)).

(1) The starting board (Kathy purple, Chad blue, Tim red, Michelle yellow).
(2) Michelle ponders being evil while Tim gives a pre-Sauron gloat.


Kathy K 30
Tim H 19
Chad McD? 18
Michelle T 18




Around 6:45, Melinda and Meredith started a game of Schotten-Totten?, which I believe Melinda had never played before. She won, too. (Good going, Melinda!) Marty watched the game. I showed up about halfway through and got to watch the end of the game myself.

Thumbs up all around from Melinda, Meredith and Marty (L-R).

Mel was awarded a coloured plastic Slinky. (One of the nice things about having newcomers at game night is that you can award them all the stuff that everybody else has already received.) Marty also "liberated" some eye poppers from the prize bag (since we have hundreds), and gave a handful to Melinda, who gave some to Dave's kids. Soon there were eye poppers popping everywhere, and disjointed speculation about a new Schotten-Totten variant that incorporated the poppers began flying about as well...


Melinda H 5
Meredith H 4



Mel won a disconcertingly large number of games, both on and off official Game Nights during her visit, playing many games she hadn't played before. Dang her for being so smart!


Abenteuer Menschheit

Around 7:10, a game of Abenteuer_Menschheit? started in the kitchen. The players were Alex R, Dave A, Steve V, and Tim S. Since people had commented that Alex got the short end of the dice last week (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030111), I loaned the players my Deck_of_Dice? (a deck of cards that contains representations of every possible roll of two dice, in a fair distribution; see my upcoming article on dice GameSystems).

Alex won this week, with a fairer distribution of "dice rolls". He said he liked the Deck of Dice. Dave said he didn't like it, but suggested a Deck of Dice variant in which each player has a hand of dice cards from which to choose.

Alex was awarded a fidgety fiddly wire thing, since he's new enough to the group to have not yet received one...

AM players. Clockwise from bottom left: Dave A, Tim S, Steve V, Alex R


Alex R 10
Dave A 9
Tim S 8
Steve V 7


No, I don't remember saying that I didn't like the Deck of Dice being used. In fact, I didn't really see any difference in the game. It was fun both times. I don't believe that Alex won because the DoD? was used, but it did eliminate a dice-borne skewing of the 'luck'.


Caveat lector. I'm just going by the notes I made when I asked you guys how the game went. I don't claim that my notes and my memory are perfect.


Well, I certainly liked the dice deck, and I do think I got a little lucky on the timing of a couple "rolls" which were chosen. Having a couple cards come up right at critical times (and especially get the perfect draw on the final turn of the game) helped. Dave had a good chance on winning on his next turn (right after mine), if I had failed to win. On the final turn I got 4 of the 5 resources I needed with a "5" roll, and one other, which I was able to trade to Steve for the resource I needed (thanks Steve).... I was then able to score three points using up all my resources exactly, to squeak out the win. A great game, and one I hope to play some more ;)

I had actually thought Dave was ahead practically the entire game, and at one point he looked nearly unstoppable. This one was exciting to the end.


Lord of the Rings (Friends & Foes, Sauron)

I was invited to play Lord_of_the_Rings?, but after the slaughter last time (SeattleCosmicGameNight20030104), I declined. Chad, Jay L, Kathy K, Michelle T, and Tim H did opt to play, however. Tim H chose to be Sauron, as usual. Since I wasn't playing, there were only four hobbits, with no Fatty. (Wait, that didn't sound good...)

(1) Sauron (Tim) wears his hat low. Clockwise from Tim: Chad, Kathy, Michelle, Jay.
(2) Sauron is so very nonchalantly evil.


Tim H Sauron
Jay L Frodo
Chad McD? Sam
Michelle T Pippin
Kathy K Merry

I recommended last time that the next time we play with the Friends & Foes expansion as well as the Sauron expansion, since it might be easier to defeat Sauron using Friends & Foes. From what I heard about this game, Friends & Foes made it even harder, even though Jay had thought up some new anti-Sauron strategies. Of course, the players also chose to use the Dark Tiles this time as well, so that might have had something to do with it.

Once again, Merry was the last hobbit standing in Shelob's Lair. (This time Kathy was playing him.) Sauron won (big surprise). The score for the Fellowship was 73.


I also thought it might be easier to win due to the availability of the "military victory" strategy in Friends & Foes. I also thought the Dark Tiles could aid this strategy, since we'd have more opportunity to reveal foes due to the dark tiles that reveal foes. Unfortunately, Friends & Foes and the Dark Tiles both add a whole lot more difficulty to the rest of the game!

Ultimately, we were fairly close to a military victory, needing only to skip Shelob's Lair to bring out the last four unrevealed foes in the deck. Unfortunately, Chad died holding the Book card that we needed to skip Shelob's Lair, so those four foes remained in the deck and unavailable for slaughter. In addition, we were barely clinging to life upon entering Shelob's Lair anyway, so we likely wouldn't have been able to overcome those foes had we skipped directly to Moria.

Still, I have hopes for next time, and look forward to another play against Sauron!


Oh come on, Jay, you have to tell us about your special anti-Sauron strategies! (I was hinting so broadly!)

Or would you then have to kill us?


You guys need to stop your insane "LoTR? with Sauron AND Friends and Foes" playing and try to beat Sauron without the foes... I believe Kisa's comment on playing with both expansions was: "I read online about one group, somewhere, that once beat it with both expansions". Sauron is hard enough, isn't he?



Around this time, there were some impromptu (belated) holiday festivities as Melinda gave Marty, Mer, and me Christmas presents she had brought for us from their home town of Lexington, Kentucky. (Kathy asked, "Did they just pick you up at the airport?" Answer: Yes.)

In retrospect (hell, at the time), having a private gift exchange at game night was somewhat tacky, but the 3M Corporation was leaving on a trip to Canada at 5:00 AM the next morning, and this was the only time we'd all see one another for days. Still, the gift exchange was not nearly as tacky as the Japanese soap Melinda gave me: "Mr. Pit Stop Soap... SUPER body odor cleaner... Nothing gets you cleaner when you're in a hurry". Geddit -- pit stop? Sigh. I asked Melinda whether she was trying to tell me something, but she said no, she just thought it was funny. Still...

(Yes, it was a bit rude, and we apologize to all others at game night for our insular family fun. :-> -- Marty)

[OK, it's a few days later, and I have to say Melinda's present was topped for Hale-arious (Hautalarious?) tastelessness by the arrival of some Christmas cheer from her husband Keith, in the form of several rolls of ShitBegone toilet paper and a canister of Sphincterine hygiene spray. Oh. Man.]

Next up, the 3Ms and I played three games of Raj?. It's quick, it's easy to learn, and it's elegant. I thought it would appeal to Melinda. I won the first two games and tied with Meredith on the third. Melinda said, "Ron is kickin' ass...", then, pointing to the steno pad on which I make game night notes, "AND TAKIN' NAMES!"

Meredith beats Melinda at a Raj trick (attempting once again to use her feminine wiles, although why she would waste them on her sister is a puzzlement) and is flipped the BelgiumFinger in return.

Winning scores for the Raj games are shown in bold.


Ron 23 23 21
Marty 14 16 -2
Melinda 13 -4 0
Meredith -6 5 21

Hmm, when you take the first names of the 3Ms in their birth order, they also appear in alphabetical order. I'm not sure I ever noticed that before...

Another thing I just noticed: there are 4 points too many in the first game. All scores in a game of Raj should sum to 40, but the recorded scores in the first game sum to 44. However, even if you subtract 4 from my recorded score in that game, I'm still in first place. Whew.




Around 8:00, the 3Ms determined they had to leave around 9:00 if they were going to catch the ferry to Sidney, BC in the morning, so we all selected a game that could be taught and played in about an hour and that Melinda had not yet had the chance to play. What we chose was Expedition, the Seattle Cosmic perennial.

Above you can see Meredith giving Expedition the thumbs-up. By this point, we discussed whether we ought to have a regular series of photos of the Hale sisters giving the thumbs-up to various games.

Marty won the game with 14 points, having visited all the sites on her cards and one of the bonus sites too. It was my impression that I did better than usual -- probably because there were fewer people to screw up my plans, and probably because I wasn't intimidated by the spectacle of Tim Higgins (who usually wins) muttering to himself, "Then I'll do this, then I'll spend a trip ticket to get one, then I'll do this, then I'll take another turn, then I'll close this loop, then...". At the end, I had 11 points; I had visited all of my sites except one, but had not visited any bonus sites.


Marty 14
Ron 11
Melinda 8
Meredith 4

The game ended around 9:20, but the 3Ms hung around until about 9:50. I know they made the ferry, though, because they're in British Columbia as I write this.




After Expedition, several of us went upstairs and played two more games of two-team Eight-Ball on Tim's new pool table. The general opinion was that the good players (the two Tims) should be paired with the mediocre players (the rest of us). I chose Tim Higgins as my partner for the first game. We played against Tim Schutz and Chad; they won. In the second game, Tim Schutz and Michelle won against Tim Higgins and Jay.

(1) Tim Schutz shoots pool as Chad looks dubious.
(2) Tim Higgins shoots pool as Chad looks dubious.
(3) Chad shoots picture as Michelle looks dubious. Michelle, Jay, Tim H., Tim S. (L-R).

These two games ended around 10:45. Although I wasn't as bad a pool player as I remembered (I did manage to sink a couple of balls in the first game, thanks largely to the advice of Tim Higgins, and I didn't scratch, if I recall correctly), I couldn't begin to write intelligent commentary about either game. Therefore: Comments?



Meanwhile, Steve V, Alex R, Dave A, and Amelia, Dave's pre-teen daughter, started a game of Dungeon?. From what I understand, this is a fairly vanilla dungeon-crawl boardgame, of which Tim H has a few on his shelf. (I have one myself that I'm hoping to play next week: Mystic_Wood?.) According to BoardgameGeek, the special feature of this game is that it is an attempt to simulate the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons directly as a board game.

(1) Clockwise from left: Dave, Steve, Alex, Amelia. (2) The Dungeon board.

Tim Schutz had to be up early the next morning, and Alex and I were depending on him for a ride, so we three left around 11:00. Alex said that one of Dave's other daughters -- Natalie? -- could take over for him in the game.

I don't think anyone was keeping score, because no one has followed up on this page. Similarly, I'm guessing there weren't (m)any other games after we left, because a plea to add them to this page went unanswered. See you next week!


This game is actually quite fun (though shouldn't be taken too seriously). I played it a couple times as a kid, and about 6 months ago I played it over at WizKids? in Redmond. I'd like to know how it ended, or if it ended.


Agree it's not a bad game. Usually I love dungeon crawling games, but then I prefer when there's more depth to it. Warhammer Quest, in this genre, will always remain an unbeatable classic for me :)


Supporting Seattle Cosmic

The Center for Ludic Synergy and Seattle Cosmic Game Night are associates of Funagain Games. This means that 5% of your purchase there goes toward supporting us if you buy games via THIS VERY LINK. Any game you buy during a web session you start by clicking the previous link qualifies; in fact, if you click it and bookmark the Funagain page that appears, you can donate 5% to Seattle Cosmic whenever you buy games, without having to return to this page. It's just as easy to bookmark as not, so why not make this your regular Funagain link? THIS MEANS YOU.

We've never yet earned enough money from the associates program for Funagain to cut us a check, and we're not sure what we'd do with the money -- but we promise not to squander it on booze and floozies.


Saturday, 25 January 2003, 5:00 PM at Marty and Ron's in Kent. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES!

Remember, Seattle Cosmic Game Night occurs every weekend, in one of four locations: Kent, Mill Creek, South Park, or West Seattle. Email Ron Hale-Evans for a full schedule and directions. If you come, please bring a snack or drink to share (cookies, chips, soda, juice, etc.)

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