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Joel's Birthday Party
23 March 2002

Photos Joels Birthday 02 Pictures

Once again, our twice annual, famous all-day gaming party. This one in honor of my birthday.

After scouring the web for ideas, I suggested to Daphne that she get me a new game for my birthday this year (what a novel idea). I suggested Magier of Pangea, which got a good write up at Funagain Games.

As it turned out, Magier of Pangea was out of stock at Funagain Games and at every other place that Daphne tried. I finally suggested Boulder Games, a small Mom and Pop store with a small online presence. But the owners of Boulder Games were away because of a family crisis and their ordering system went down in their absence. Daphne finally got a hold of them just a few days before my party. They had the game in stock, but was there enough time?

As it happened, Magier of Pangea arrived in time and I got to play twice during the party. It is an interesting game, light strategy and very fast moving. Surprisingly, each game I played took only around 45 minutes. I suspect that the outcome is highly influenced by the initial positioning of player's castles, but I want to play again to be sure.

I also asked for canollis for my birthday. My office had brought them in for a company meeting in January from Dominic's Italian Bakery in Waltham, and I thought they were wonderful. So I asked Daphne to buy a few for the party. Instead of a few, Daphne bought enough for everyone at the party to have a couple. Needless to say, we were eating canollis long after the party ended. (But they were really good.)

Craig (my boss) had been raving about another game, Arkham Horror, for months. It is out of print, but supposed to be really fun, so I asked Craig to bring it to the party so we could play. We ended up playing for most of the afternoon (it is a long game). Arkham Horror is almost all luck but has a great theme and moves along relatively quickly. Players work together to prevent the world from being overcome by monsters who appear through gates to the neither realms. At the same time, the game does have a winner -- the player who closes the most gates.

For most of the game, I was certain that I was losing. I was very weak and did not close any gates in the first 2/3 of game play. But after a while I collected a set of really powerful spells and after closing my third gate, it looked like I had a chance to win. I took a risk and tried to close the last open gate to end the game and ensure me of a win, but I ended up losing all my sanity off world and had to leave the game instead.

Arkham Horror was a lot of fun, but it was a little long for my tastes. We were playing for a few hours which limited my ability to socialize and play some other games on my list for the day. Still, I was very happy that Craig brought the game and I had a chance to play.

In addition to Magier of Pangea and Arkham Horror, I played Starfarers of Catan (which I won), Cartagena (which I also won), and the Great Dalmuti. Starfarers is my favorite variation of the Settlers of Catan. I do not own the game, it was brought by Caroline and Scott Meeks, but I have enjoyed it everytime I have played. The Great Dalmuti is the game we use to end every party. There is no really winner, since you keep playing until it is time to go home, but I spent the most time in the Great Dalmuti seat this year.

The turnout this year was good, but not record breaking. We had a few new recruits show up but some notable previous attendies were missing. (Renee, what was you excuse this time?) We went though nine pizzas at dinner, which translates to around 27 people. I had a good time, and I hope all my guests enjoyed themselves as well.

The first mention of every game on this web page is a hypertext link. The link take you to a description of the game at www.funagain.com. Funagain is my favorite online game store with an excellent selection, great service and low prices (really). If you buy a game, please enter the Funagain site through one of these links, which helps pay for this web site.

As in years past, I asked our guests to contribute to the party journal. You can also look though the pictures I took at the party.

Party Journal

Joel: We played a fast game of Cartagena while waiting for more people to show up (pic). The game only lasted 20 minutes or so with three people. I won, but it was very close. Both Daphne and Nat only had one man left on the board at the end. But while we were playing, four more people showed up and started another game. So now we are three, waiting for more people to show up again.

Nat: Today's new game is The Magier of Pangea (pic), which involves moving your minions across a shifting landscape in search of a complete set of magical amulets. It's a fast moving game, with fairly simple strategies. I won by managing to find my amulets close to home, and by producing goods needed to buy them in large quantities. This is a pretty game to look at, and takes less than an hour. Classify it under "light strategy" and keep a supply of bubbly potions near at hand.

Bart: Dean and I corralled Joie (Dean's twin sister, they say) and Jeff into a 3-stop version of Streetcar (pic). The three of them had stops A-B-M, A-D-M, and A-L-M (or something like that) and I had G-H-L. It looks like they didn't get the shared stops together into a positive efficiency of track. I just barely beat out Joie. There was lots of curvy track.

Bart: Jeff and I played Lost Cities (pic). Think I won all three rounds, with very little understanding of how or why.

Nat: In Carrassonne (pic), all your fields are belong to me! For sale: four vacant cloisters, never been used. Quiet neighborhood.

Bart: Cartagena (hic!) I beat Joie and Dean and Jeff. Strategy was to get lots of cards early, then try to keep all your guys together, so you can take advantage of the "express forward move" opportunities that come up when someone fills in all the tiles.

Linda: Cartagena. What a nice silly game when everyone agrees not to think too hard! I agree with Bart's strategy. It felt a little bit like Hase und Igel [Ed. german for Hare and Tortoise]. Slow and steady, bunched up and always picking up doubles when I could. Then blaze to the finish when I had snuck close enough to the end and my opponents had gaps in their pirates.

Jeff: Didn't win any of the games I played (Lost Cities, Cartagena, Streetcar), though was very fascinated by Ricochet Robot (pic). Really happy to have seen Streetcar because it scales well for 2-6 people, a rarity these days. Cartagena looks like it scales through 5 people as well too. Was great to be back after missing the last 3? 4? 5? gaming days here.

Joie: Well, I didn't win any games -but then Dean was always playing when I was! I am happy to have bopped into Boston this weekend - and it was even worth waiting standby on 3 flights!

Sharon: Cool, more games we can buy and infect the fiends who come to our house. umm - share with our friends. The pirate game [Ed. Cartagena] is lots of fun, but Ricochet Robot was too hard.

Rich and Isaac: thanks for a nice time.

Scott: I won the game of Arkham Horror (pic) by closing three gates *and* remaining sane. Joel also got three gates first, but went insane trying to get a fourth (so I think he wins a moral victory). Also playing were Craig, Rich and Nat. Nice job of capturing the Cthulu Mythos in a Talisman-like game.

Craig: Yeah, Arkham Horror was a blast. Too bad Mark Buxbaum [Ed. another person from work] wasn't here; as the game progresses the 'Doom counter' moves to higher and higher values, until finally either you win or the world comes to an end. Unfortunately, the world was never anywhere NEAR doomed enough to make Mark happy, but hey, we tried.

Linda: I tried Cartagena again. This time I started well after the beginning when everyone else was on the board. While Daphne won, I wasn't doing to badly in a battle for second at the end.

Bernie: But if I leave while Daphne is the Great Dalmuti, then she will remain the great Dalmuti forever. [Ed. Not this year.]

Dan: I won no games. I thought I had won the canolli eating contest, but then I found out I was the only one playing :-( [Ed. the canolli eating contest really heated up the next day.]

Dean: Another fun party, even if I didn't win anything this time except Boggle, which I don't really count. I brought Ricochet Robot, which seemed to be a hit with some people.

C---: I won two games I can't spell. [Ed. One was Magier of Pangea.] And I spent a lot of time looking out the window at my potential house to be.

P.S. Here is a list of some of the games that I noticed being played that were not mentioned above, just in case you were interested in something you saw. Ra, Pit, and Seafarers of Catan.

This web page (http://www.gouldhome.com/JoelsBirthday02.html) was last updated on March 23, 2002. For any comments or suggestions about the site contact Daphne Gould. Contents copyright © 1999-2003 by Joel and Daphne Gould.