September 2015 Minutes

  1. Call to Order
  2. Minutes - posted online, waved.
  3. Treasurer's Report: we have less money than last month after paying AI hotel bill
  4. Convention Reports Read More »
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Game Review: Ubi

Selchow & Righter, 1986

Now for a blast from the past. Ubi came out in 1986 during the trivia craze from Selchow & Righter, makers of Trivial Pursuit. Today, trivia games are pretty "so-last-year". They are the kitchy game that gets put out periodically for whatever hot tv/movie commodity is "in" at the time.



But Ubi was a little different. I picked it up at a second hand store and fell in love with it. I am a history buff, and am not too bad with my geography, and for Ubi, you need both. You are asked a trivia question, usually historically based. Then, using a "Reticle" (see picture), you must locate to a degree of precision, where that answer occurred. Get it correct, and you get a section of your Ubi Pyramid. First person to complete their pyramid wins the game. It comes with a cool map with no names, although it does have city/town/landmark denoations like you would find on any normal map.

I'll admit, it's from 1986, so questions may be a bit dated, but since most of them are historical in nature anyway, to me it isn't a problem. My biggest problem with the game is that no one will play it with me. Like history and geography and have a talent for triva? Give Ubi a whirl. If you can find it.

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Game Review: Castles of Mad King Ludwig

CastlesMadKingLudwigCastles of Mad King Ludwig
Bezier Games, 2014

Once upon a time, there lived a prince in a fairytale castle. He loved fairytale castles so he built several of them, but the prince became obsessed with his castles, bankrupted himself, was declared insane and was most likely killed. True story. Moral of the story, don't build crazy cool castles.

Unless, of course you are playing the new game "Castles of Mad King Ludwig" from bezier games. In this case, build the craziest, coolest, wildest castle you can build, attempting to please Mad King Ludwig in his quest for the "fairest castle of them all".

In "Castles of Mad King Ludwig", players take turns being the Master Builder. The Master Builder draws a series of rooms that will be avaialable to purchase from them during the round. They price the rooms strategically in order to make sure that players are paying them premium prices for the rooms they would like to add to their castle. Each player has goals publicly set by the king as well as private goals. The goals may consist of types or sizes of rooms, as well as amount of cash.

Players score their rooms as they go, and rooms can get synergy bonuses or negatives from other rooms placed near them, and by having all their exits matched up with other rooms/hallways/staircases. Strategically purchasing staircases or hallways can give you room to expand as well as buy you time to wait for a room that better matches your goals. Everyone can see what you are building, so watch out for telegraphing your bonus moves, because other players might try to buy the piece you want to stall you.

This is a very fun game with lots of ways to strategize in order to gain victory. Note though that the room pricing phase can be tricky and for people with analysis paralysis issues, this could be a sticking point for you. I very much enjoy this game with it's historical connections and wildly creative castle building. Although the game has a single player option, I don't recommend it, as it is essentially a beat-your-best-score deal, and I would think it would become boring very quickly.

If you like history and creative castle building, and aren't given to analysis paralysis, give "Castles of Mad King Ludwig" a try.

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Game Review: Mystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz

MysteryRummyMystery Rummy: Escape From Alcatraz
U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 2009

The card game Rummy has been around since the 19th century, with variations of the game coming from much further back in history. Melding, laying off, and going out are all familiar old friends to the card players among us.

Back in 1988 a friend and I were wandering around a convention looking at new games when we came across a guy teaching a rummy game. Well that seemed easy enough to learn, since we already knew the basics. The game was Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper. We were hooked. Since that time there has been several different iterations of the game: Murders in the Rue Morgue, Jeckyll & Hyde and Al Capone.

In the newest version, Escape from Alcatraz, you play Alcatraz prison guards, attempting to foil escape attempts by collecting melds of plans. When a total of 8 cards have been laid off on a plan, the melds are placed in the score piles along with the ringleader. When either a player goes out, or the deck is exhausted, the cards are scored, and points awarded. The first player to 100 points is the winner.

What I love most about these games is the historical themes. The cards are filled with historical trivia, and Alcatraz is no different. Each escapee card details the history of one of the prisons infamous inmates, their crime, and their escape attempts, the "Plans" deck details some of the successful escapes.

The cards keep the look of crime files, much like the earlier versions of the game and the "suit" colors are easily distinguished. We have had some difficulties when playing in identifying the escapees. Some of them have suit colors, and can easily be mistaken for plans cards when drawing. They do have a different icon, so knowing that they are mixed in, and making sure you keep watch for them is an important thing to remember.

The game also has action cards. The first time that you play a meld from your hand, or lay off on an existing meld, you draw an action card, which most often gives you extra cards. This is a nice feature and adds to the game. In basic rummy, sometimes players will hold their melds until they can finish them. The action deck encourages players to lay their melds in order to get more cards to finish them before the other player.

Of the versions of Mystery Rummy that have come out over the years, this one rates highly with me. The theme translates very well to the game play, and the action cards keep the game moving. I recommend it with 3-4 players though. Our two player games have been a little clunky.

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