Sunday, July 1, 2012

Saturday Night Board Games: Blending Kittens, Protecting Castles and Mathy Dynamite!

For the first night in what seems like forever, I was able to wrangle up my gaming group up on a Saturday night to play a handful of board games. It's more my fault than theirs, because I have been working non-stop on Pixel Lincoln. Even during the games, I had to pause for phone calls, emails and texts about Pixel Lincoln. But even with all of that going on, it was a bit of a break for me, and a great return to Saturday night board games.

Click through the jump to read all about our adventures in blending kittens, protecting our castle from waves of enemies, and a $2 game that turned out to be pretty awesome.

Kittens In A Blender
First up was Kittens In A Blender, a simple (seriously, very simple) card game where the goal is to place your opponents kittens into the blender, and yours into the box. Eventually the Blend cards will come out and the blender spins, destroying all of the cute kittens... and the boxed kittens are saved, and removed from the game. Players get 2 points for each saved kitten and -1 point for each blended one.

It all sounds very morbid, but it's balanced out a billion times over by the cutest artwork ever. It's hard not to laugh as you place your neighbors little Goober into the blender and then throw down a Blend card. The table will all cry "noooooooooo!", but the sadness pretty much stops as soon as you draw new adorable kittens.

There was one interesting downfall of the game, that had an easy but unnecessary fix. Each player plays as a color (blue, pink, green or yellow) and those are the kittens that you will score. But there is no defining landmark / token / card or anything to show which color is assigned to each player. It's easy enough to remember your own.. but if you want to play some serious Kittens In A Blender, it's good to know which opponent you are screwing over at a glance. The game is fairly mindless, but remembering the colors yanks my brain right out of the mindless fun. We improvised with the wooden discs from another game. Placing them in front of all of the players ended all confusion and let us get right back to blending kittens.

Castle Panic
I have been itching to play Castle Panic for a while now. My local game store always has a few copies on the shelf, and I always go for something silly that never gets played. After the recent episode of Tabletop, I realized I had to get the game. A friend even sent me the expansion too, which after last night... I can't wait to play.

If you don't already know, Castle Panic is a board game version of a tower defense game. It's cooperative, and it's HARD! On each turn, waves and waves of enemies march towards your castle and destroy it while you helplessly watch it all happen. As a group, you can do something about it, but oh man are they quick. In our first round we already lost a chunk of our castle, and things were looking grim. On each turn you'll draw two random monsters to add to the board, and if you're unlucky it'll be something even worse.

We fought hard and eventually lost it all. I'd like to say we had no chance, but we were about 7/8 of the way through all of the monsters. If we survived about 3 more turns we would have won. The group was devastated, but all wanted to play again immediately. We collectively decided to come back next time we get together, and we moved on to another game.

Adios Amigos
I picked this game up at my local Barnes & Noble for $2.00. They have games on clearance most of the time, and most of the time it's some sort of DVD trivia game. My wife found this one and the components and theme were intriguing. Rival gangs? Little wooden bullets? Dynamite? Real-time gameplay? It looked pretty solid from the start.

There is quite a bit of math involved in the fast-paced gameplay, but it's simple math. Players will flip over 3 cards, each featuring 2 numbers. Then players will flip over 2 of their gun tokens, which have numbers on the bottom. The goal is to place your guns onto opponents number cards. The mathy part is  that you must place a numbered gun that matches either the sum or difference of the two numbers. They  only use numbers 1-9 so the math isn't hard, but you have to be fast. As soon as your three cards are covered with gun tokens, you're out of the round.

The best part comes in the shape of bullets and dynamite. Any player can play a bullet, while yelling "RELOAD" to allow all players to flip over two more gun cards. That player has a slight disadvantage because they have to use a hand to move the bullet to the center of the table, but there is no choice when the numbers in front of you don't add up. And then there is the dynamite, which was slightly underused in our game, even with its powerful effect. Playing the dynamite makes all other players stop and count to ten, while you can place multiple tokens onto one card to add up to the sum. It's the only time you can place more than one token, but I would just use it as 10 free seconds to look around the table and do some calculations, while my opponents were stalled.

All in all, a great night of gaming. We kept it fairly light, but it was just that kind of night. We hoped to get Gloom to the table, but the depression of losing our castle was enough for one night. Maybe next time.

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