Ludocracy Now

Sometimes playing board games…

…just makes me want to play more board games.  That’s why even though Erik and Tom came over for some gaming, I am playing Summoner Wars over iOS with Annie as I write up this entry… as her Jungle Elves are doing some crazy shit, I offer this after action report for you all:


(Ok, it’s been a while since I wrote the preceding sentence [like, an entire iOS game of Summoner Wars long], so I want to report that I beat Annie playing the Vanguards [my new favorite, even if I never use healing abilities…] versus her Jungle Elves.  I knew enough to protect my lanes against Lioneers and I was getting the BEST card draws ever…  It was almost unfair.  In person Summoner Tournament will be organized soon!)

Tom has been traveling the world and being generally Citius, Altius, Fortius since we last saw him eons ago, and I knew I wanted to get him to try Crokinole ASAFP because whenever we went bowling in college he was all about “finesse.”  And, outside of Bridge, Crokinole is the ultimate finesse game!  I got in a 100 point match with Tom before Erik showed up and notched a 5x20 game in the third board (my best, ever) to win the match.

When Erik showed up, I let the two play some more Crok as I assembled the various 3-player games I had interest in playing.  The one we decided on was:

Ora et Labora

This game has graced a few auction lists of mine on BGG but failed to sell (I set the price point high because I was unsure about letting her go…), and I have been anxious to get it back to the table since, what, January?  But among the 19 games I brought up that are well-suited for three players, Tom was interested enough in monastic Ireland to suggest we give ‘er a go.

We dialed up the three player ‘short’ game and even though seven months had passed, I was pretty sure I remembered how to play the game.  I was NOT sure, however, on how well the various buildings synergized or what would constitute a good strategy so poor Erik and Tom were in the (relative) dark.

Final scores saw me taking it with 181 points (I managed to acquire 49 points in goods in the 12 rounds.  30 coming from a wonder!) to Erik’s 136 and Tom’s 135.  Erik said “I could probably play this game five more times and still not have any idea what was going on.”  Tom wrote that “It could be fun if you learned all the pieces but otherwise you are staring at each other’s board…”

Ok, so Ora & Labora is in the top twenty on BGG and I really don’t see why.  I’m actually annoyed we didn’t play Agricola instead (same designer, MUCH better game).  O&L, although simple to pick up, doesn’t have an emergent complexity based on an elegant rule set, rather it has a complexity based on a high volume of parts.  Even comparing it to Innovation, which suffers from a similar high-part complexity barrier, O&L fails to shine.  But, hey, I’ve played the game twice so I’d love to hear other positive comments as to why I should keep it in my collection (in fact, if I played this as much as I played Innovation, I believe I’d love it too—but Innovation is quick, O&L is certainly not)… We had fun but I’m not sure our time could not have been better spent playing, say, Agricola or Reef Encounter.

ANYWAY there is more gaming approaching this week so STAY TUNED.

Saturday marked the 35th Minneapolis Board Game Mania and my first play of Ora et Labora.  This has got to be one of the greatest games of 2012—so much fun.  I tied for last with 166 but the winner only had 175.  We all developed different strategies, the winner built the only Wonder and I tried to pop Settlement after Settlement (and thankfully I did or I would have had last by a very wide margin had I not).

The game did take 3 hours I think… but with four people who were new to the game.  I’d love love love to play this again soon.

Later that night, our friends Steph, Danny, Jess and Marcus came over for some CarcassonneJeff played under duress (I think the waiting to see The Iron Lady was wearing down his nerves).  I think I may have won the second game through my brilliant play of claiming Puss with one of my meeples.

I wanted to take my camera and Ora & Labora out for a spin yesterday.  My new camera is pretty baller (thanks for the recommendation Christina) as you can see it takes fine pictures in low light.  A big plus.

Ora et Labora also looks like a fun economy game.  I think it’s a little easier to pick up than any other of Uwe’s games.  With any luck, I should be playing it right now at the 35th Minneapolis Board Game Mania.