Week 2 - Board Game Challenge Nights 2, 3, 4 and 5

We’ve had another weekend full of gaming for our Extra Life charity challenge.  So far we’ve raised $275 of our $500 goal for Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital.  In other great news my team has hit $2,025 of their $2,000 goal.  So it looks like we’ll manage to hit our goals all around this year!  If you’d like to donate in support of Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital you can do so here.

On to the games!

Night 2

After I won Century on Week 2 Night 1 Rachel decided to pick a fun game for us to play – Potion Explosion!

Rachel playing potion explosion

Potion Explosion is basically a board game version of Bejeweled, the popular app / facebook game.  Each turn you take a marble from the stack and if two marbles of the same colour touch they cause a chain reaction and you take all marbles of that colour.  The cool bit is that that chain reaction can keep happening!  So you can sometimes chain multiple things together and take a whole fist full of marbles.  You are using those marbles (which are ingredients for potions) to complete potions which grant you special abilities and most importantly points.

This is a pretty light and fun family game and we both enjoy playing it.  Our competitive game for the challenge was really tight.  I had the sense that Rachel was ahead and when we counted up the final scores it was 77 to 75 for Rachel.  Err so close!

Night 3

With Rachel’s Potion Explosion victory down I decided to pull out a new game to play – The Quest for El Dorado.  El Dorado is a highly acclaimed game from the last year (it was nominated for Spiel de Jahres, the prestigious German Game of the Year award) where you have to build a deck and race to make your way across a map to be the first to find El Dorado.  If you know my game preferences you’ll know that deck builders are my favourite and this combination of approachable mechanics (we taught Paige this and she’s thoroughly enjoyed it – she actually beat us in her first game) with deck building is a hit combination.

playing quest for el dorado

In The Quest for El Dorado you are using cards to make your way around a jungle.  You have bush whacking cards that help you in the jungle, boat cards for crossing water, etc.  You start with a very thin deck of resources and slowly build up to a more powerful deck, acquiring new cool powers in your deck.  For a full walk through of the rules and game play you can check out this video from the excellent Jon Gets Games.

We played two games, one to teach Rachel to play (it was also my first game) and one for the competition.  In the first game Rachel really whopped me, she was ahead from the middle section of the game on and never looked back.  In the competition game, the one that mattered I was pretty focused and managed play fairly defensively to stop Rachel from getting ahead while I used my deck building skills to my advantage.  We stayed pretty tight throughout the race but at the end my deck was able to spring ahead hard and win the race.

Team Yellow (Ryan) manages to get to El Dorado first!

Night 3 goes to me – and it’s 2-1 to me and looking good!

Night 4

For Week 2 Night 4 Rachel picked a game she insists she’s not very good at but I think she’s absolutely incorrect.  For Night 4 we played Lost Cities, a two player card game where you build sets of cards to go on an expedition.  There are 5 colours, each representing a different expedition you can go on.  Expeditions are costly, so any expedition you commit cards to starts at -20 points and as you add cards you get that value, the catch is you need to play them sequentially.  So lets say you place the 2, 5, 9 and 10 cards for the blue expedition – at the end of the game you’ll get 6 points from the blue expedition – 26 from the cards you placed, minus the 20 point cost to go on that expedition.  You only pay the cost in expeditions where you’ve placed cards.  This means that there’s a push and pull on deciding which colours you invest in.  If you cannot cover the 20 point cost you want to stay out all together.  Finally there’s only 1 of each colour/number combinations so if you are holding the 10 in a colour your opponent is heavily invested in you want to keep it.  It’s a very simple and fun couples game, and I highly recommend it.  For a much more concise explanation and example of play through check out Rahdo’s excellent play through video.

Playing this game with Rachel is always hilarious.  Even when she wins she’ll not be convinced.  It’s actually very anxious those opening turns when you’re not sure which expeditions to go for and Rachel is never comfortable with her choices until the score is well counted.  We played over three rounds, the highest score from the combination of those three games would take the win.

Lost Cities Board

The opening game was very tense and close, we both invested in most of the expeditions which meant that the scores were going to be pretty tight.  In the end Rachel took the first game 23 to 19.  For game two I came out ahead early on and was looking good.  And then I got tempted by a bunch of yellow expedition cards.  One key thing in Lost Cities is you are limited in terms by the draw deck.  My yellow distraction ended up costing me and I ended up falling short in my other expeditions because I was distracted by the shiney.  The result was I went down 33 to -13 in game two.  bringing the aggregate to 56 to 6.  I had a lot of ground to make up if I was going to pull of the week win tonight.  Game three was another tense affair and I managed to win the round 23 to 17 but unfortunately that was not near enough to cover my 50 point deficit.

First Full of Lost Cities

I lose night 4 to Rachel 73 to 29.  The week is tied 2-2

Night 5

Ok.  My Night 5 pick might be unfair.  I chose Bunny Kingdom, a game I’ve just recently taught Rachel and she’s probably still not fully versed in.  But hey, this is war right?  But like, for the kids.

Bunny, in his kingdom

Bunny Kindgom is a drafting game (right up there with deck building in things I’m A) good at and B) love) where you are drafting cards to put territories and resources on the board.  I’m not sure any text explanation I would give would do this justice, so let’s just watch this if you want to know how the game works:

The game is played in four rounds and historically what would happen when Rachel and I would play this game is I’d pull out a small advantage in the first round or two and then that advantage would just snowball and she’d not be able to catch up.

Not this time.  You could hear a pin drop as we focused on the board and the cards available to us.  Our choices were very cagey, often more defensive than offensive.  The idea being not to give up that early advantage.

For the first round we actually managed to score 0 points, both of us.  In the second round the score was something like 5 to 2.  But then it started to open up.  Rachel wasn’t getting what she wanted and that let her play super defensive while also hoovering up end game scoring cards.  I was going to be in trouble if I didn’t get my strategy to pay off on the board and it just never happened.  Round 3 Rachel’s advantage ballooned to around 20 points and at the end of the game things finished up 116 (Rachel’s personal best) to 87.  The score was 89 to 87 but when Rachel played her hidden end game scoring cards she blew ahead and didn’t look back.

What a fun game!  But that means I’ve lost Week 2 3-2.  That also means it’s 2-0 on the weekly scoreboard.  I’m in some real trouble.

Tune in in a few days for the start of our Week 3 action where I really need to step it up.