Home > game night, ScatterLand > game night: ScatterLand, Pandemic, and Coloretto

game night: ScatterLand, Pandemic, and Coloretto

December 22, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last Saturday we had our 12th or 13th game night. A bit smaller than usual (only a total of four), it was lots of fun nonetheless.

We started off with two games of ScatterLand, basic version. In the first game, everyone was focused on finding islands and increasing the size of their own chains, meaning that I had a fairly free run over about a third of the board. I won handily, being the only player with a chain of 5 at the end of the game.

The second game, however, was a different story: everyone was paying much more attention to what other players were doing, and they were much more interested in playing defense, too. I lost the meta-game badly, got hemmed in and cut in half, and ended up with a third-place finish. Our two guests came in #1 and #2. :-)

Then we moved on to Pandemic. I have to say that I’ve never been a big fan of teaching Pandemic to new players, as I always feel I have a choice: let folks figure it out for themselves and lose, or walk people through it and at least have a chance of winning. The problem with the latter is that it always feels a bit like playing solitaire while other people watch.

This time, however, was different: I don’t know if I’ve gotten better at teaching the game, or if the people we were teaching it to are particularly sharp, or what, but it was actually quite a lot of fun. Everyone was participating actively, and we only occasionally tried to steer things a bit. We were playing with four epidemics and had the Medic, the Researcher, the Dispatcher, and the Scientist.

We cured Black early, cured Red, and then sunset Black. As these two were far and away the most dangerous diseases, we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. Neither Yellow nor Blue had come up much, so we figured the rest of the game would go pretty easily.

The thing about Pandemic, though, is that the end of the game tends to come along a lot quicker than you expect it to.

With five turns to go and just two cures, we realized we had a problem. We sat and discussed our options for about thirty minutes, but most things we could think of doing involved being just one or two actions short. In the end, however, one of our newbies hit upon the ideal solution: the Dispatcher could move the Researcher to the same city as both the Dispatcher and the Scientist, and then the Researcher could share all of his relevant knowledge. We ended up winning on the last turn of the game.

Choosing to rest on our laurels (otherwise known as quitting while you’re ahead), we moved on to Coloretto.

Coloretto, by contrast, is one of my favorite games to teach to new players: it’s fairly straightforward, it’s quick, and there’s a nice push-your-luck element that appeals to just about everyone. People figure out the basic strategies right off, but the decisions that follow are anything but obvious: do you want to mess up a pile for someone else, or try to keep your own piles pure? Is it better to try to sweeten one of the piles for future use, or take a useful pile before someone else grabs it? Is it better to run with your early colors or try to switch mid-stream to ones that no one else is collecting?

If there’s one thing that isn’t intuitive for new players, it’s the scoring: there isn’t nearly as big a penalty as people think there is for taking cards in a fourth, fifth, or even sixth color. I never mind taking a few negatives, so long as my biggest three colors are strong.

All in all, it was a nice game night. A bit quieter than most, but quiet is good, too.

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  1. December 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I’m of the option that with Pandemic its better to let people figure it out on their own and lose. Then they are actually a part of it. You have to really be cognizant of not being the “boss” or it will turn people off.
    Besides, in my experience, losing only makes them more determined to play. The first time we played we refused to stop until we won a game. It became a determination!

    Pandemic is actually going to be my next board game review, so stay tuned!

    • December 23, 2010 at 4:05 pm

      That’s what S and I have decided, too: let folks figure it out on their own. The one thing we were doing is tracking the hot spots (cities that have come up before and are likely to come up again) and the incidentals (cities that have infections solely due to outbreaks). We explained why we were doing that, why incidentals were dangerous, and so on, but we let folks decide for themselves how they wanted to respond. It seemed to be a nice balance.

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