Saturday, October 13, 2007

Gaming With Grandma - 36

After a week of heat, humidity and evening storms it was nice to have a cooler change this morning. My Mum (Grandma to our kids) dropped by this morning for her weekly visit and gaming session. The other member of our regular weekly gaming session, my daughter Maddie (aged 6), had to go to a friend's birthday party so that left Mum and I considering what 2-player games we'd like to play. Meanwhile, my wife Deb was working so little Georgia (almost 21 months) sat on her Grandma's lap while I looked through the dining room game cabinet.

We decided on Through the Desert. This is a Go-like game of placing plastic pastel camels on a board to obtain points by various means, such as claiming water holes, reaching oases, having the longest camel route and enclosing areas.

I was green and Mum was orange

On an amusing (!?) note we'd just placed all the water holes and oases on the board and were into our second or third turn when Georgia grabbed the edge of the board and lifted it up sending camels, counters and palm trees everywhere. Ahh...the joys of playing when toddlers are about! We started again but as it was that time of the morning I laid Georgia down for a nap. We were then able to play in peace.

It was interesting that in this game Mum was striving to simply place camels to get the most points while I was trying to strike a balance between attempting to deny her points while trying to secure points for myself. I cut off a couple of her camel routes from being able to reach more than the one oasis while myself having a couple of my routes managing to reach two oases. I also was able to enclose a relatively large space while she managed a few smaller areas. She had 3 of the 5 longest camel routes but I was able to peg it back to 2.5 each on the last turn. Even so I though for sure I would safely win this one. It turned out that it ended up quite close. I won on 119 points but Mum was very close behind on 113 points.

Next up was Carcassonne. We played with the Inns & Cathedrals expansion tiles but as we hadn't played this in a while I decided to just teach and play the vanilla Carcassonne rules. For those of you who don't know, Carcassonne is a historic fortified city in southern France. In the game players randomly draw a tile and place it so that its edge matches the edge of an already laid tile. The tiles represent the castles and surrounding countryside of the Carcassonne area. Each player has 7 game markers colloquially referred to as 'meeple' which they may place on tiles they have just laid down (an 8th meeple is used as a marker on the scoring board). Depending on what sort of tile it is and where you place your meeple on that tile determines how many points you will immediately, or possibly later, score.

I was green and Mum was yellow

I haven't played Carcassonne that much but I understand the basic strategy and the importance of farmers. Mum and I played relatively 'nice', not really interfering with each other's tile placements. I say this only because I'm aware that Carcassonne can be played as a 'cut-throat' game in which you actively try to disrupt your opponent's plans. So this learning game was rather sedate with me, after explaining the rules, reminding Mum of her options each turn. I think after a few more games under our belts I'll increase the confrontation to spice things up. Final scores were me on 123 and Mum on 87.

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