Day 209: Saturday Games

Today started easy with sleeping into 9ish this non-work day. I have a computer conference, all online and virtual, starting on Sunday afternoon–today is a day to relax and play a bit.

I made coffee and relaxed and read about the events of the day. I ignored politics other than checking the polls and seeing how much new “fly” news there is. The rains have come this weekend so it feel more like home now. I just wish the virus would wash away with the rains.

I am happy the election is approaching, and we received our second Voter’s Pamphlet from Oregon today. It lists all the candidates, something about them, and all the processes for our mail-only election. Unlikes the crazy people who say by mail involves all sorts of shenanigans; actually, it is a lot of work. We get the names of all the candidates and a little write-up and photo the candidate supplied. Now comes the work. Should I think about that Green Party candidate for Secretary of State? Let me see what is this about the Libertarian Party. Then there are the judges, those are searches on the Internet to determine more about them. Often they running unopposed, so I will not vote for them. Voting by mail allows me to check who and what I am voting on. It is work. Also, if you do it wrong, they call you if there is time to correct it. Susie had to go to the state elections and sign her ballet one year.

Today, I grabbed three games, Vindication, Pax Pamir, and Scythe. Oddly, when I sent Evan the list of games, Apple’s spelling correction translated my mistyped word for Scythe into Yggdrasil, the Viking version of the Tree of Life. It did startle me, and could not figure out how Apple made that connection. I wondered if the spirit of Loki had invaded the iPhone. It may explain so much.

Evan and I met again at Mox Board House in Portland off of Burnside this morning. We played Pax Pamir first. I set up the game for the Wakham version with two players, a three-player game with one automatic player, the Wakham. The game plays against you in this setting. I had watched many videos and had practiced this a couple of times. I was ready to play a full-on Wakham game.

Aside: Wakham is the area in Afghanistan that separates east from west and was the neutral territory between Russia and British interests. At least that is what I have read.

We were crushed by the Wakham automation player in Pax Pamir. I have the rules down for the game, and Evan had played before. It seemed that we needed to play very efficiently to beat the Wakham and to have a chance to win. It is also not a collaborative game, so the Wakham automation appeared to take advantage of the fact that Evan and I were allied to different factions, British and Russia. It then always supported the third faction, Afghans.

It is a hard game to love. We found the game mechanical and hard to know what to do. I think we will try it again with more players someday, but I am afraid there are better games. It may be hard to find enough players who know the rules well enough to discover the game’s strategy and beauty that I think is there. It plays on a little rug with cool metal coins–it is lovely to look at.

We still had a chance to win at this point in the game.

Vindication was the next game we played. We ordered lunch at this time. I had a salad and soup. It was a giant salad of apple and fennel with walnuts and local blue cheese in crumbles. Evan had the special, curried pork sandwich.

At about this time Mox was almost max-ed for tables. The very expensive private rooms were all in use. So it was a good Saturday for them.

This time I remembered that Evan nearly beat me in last weekend’s game, and thus I changed my strategy. Previously, I bought most of the proficiencies and scored in mastery. This time Evan swept those up. I, as usual, built up a pile of early honor (victory) points so I could Vindicate my character and be more efficient. This is my general plan for the game (it is the name of the game, literally). I then, instead of chasing mastery, decided to own the hexes in the game. I noticed we had many monasteries on one side of the board (in the game, the monasteries let you improve yourself). I activated myself to get two knowledge cubes that I then used the monastery to convert them to two cubes of conviction that I used to knock Evan from owning a hex or claim two new hexes. I continued to collect two victory points for this, and this tripped more and more end-game-conditions (Vindication end-game is triggered by randomly selected cards as players get more honor points). The game ended, and I received an unstoppable twenty points for owning ten hexes.

This plan worked because randomly selected hexes made it a workable plan. You have to be ready in Vindication to change plans to match the new circumstances you find in each game. Marc, the game designer who I have met many times, should be proud of how this game can play well but differently each time.

Next time Evan will be ready for this. We also decided to play some of the other variations that I have never tried in the two years I have owned the game. Vindication will continue to hit the game table!

This is at the set-up. We just got lunch so I took a pic before the game started.

The last game we played Scythe, one of the greatest new games. We play this one every weekend if we can. As usual, I let Evan pick sides and mats. I picked Russia, again, as it plays well against Poland, he picked Poland, and I was randomly assigned the Patriotic mat. It is not the best for Russia, but I made it work. I initially had trouble getting the resources to do what is called bottom actions. I think I missed something, but I have seen Russia struggle at the start when played by others in the campaign version (that is another add-on for Scythe: Fenris). We played with the alternative encounter deck.

I managed to get the Factory and get a small bonus for that. I produced all my mechs fast so I could get all the cool special abilities for Mother Russia. The building of mech for Russia improves combat and allows movement from and to the factory from a controlled city–very useful. Russia, unlike the other factions, can do the same action over and over.

I completed buildings and upgrades (both things I usually don’t do as they take too long and require too many resources), often doing the same action over and over, and won two battle stars. I slowly walked my popularity to the second level and earned my last star and ended the game. Evan was at the top level for popularity, this scored Poland extra points, but I ended the game with a move action to spread-out, which gave me enough points and the win.

This is the end of the game map. You can see that I have painted all the figures and mechs. This is the special Kickstarter version and I added in the painted workers from a third-party source.

I had dessert and then headed home. Susie and I met Mariah at Golden Valley Brewery. I had the Chicken Pot Pie and an Octoberfest beer. Susie had some appetizers, Bree heated with walnuts and other goodies and a pretzel.

Susie was very happy to get out of the house and have a beer and good food! The place was maxed-out with people waiting for tables. The staff was being extra careful and keeping distances, but some of the customers were not being careful. I am not sure we will do another Saturday night out–but it was nice to see Golden Valley Brewery busy.

It was late when we got home and this will be late too.

Today six-hundred thirty-five people are reported to have died from the infection.

Today we are going with a Hindi Prayer.

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