Home > board game design, game night, Horsefeathers, playtesting, print-and-play, session report > game night: Blokus, Santiago, Zombie Dice, Horsefeathers, Pandemic, and Hearts

game night: Blokus, Santiago, Zombie Dice, Horsefeathers, Pandemic, and Hearts

S and I hosted game night last night and had a bigger turnout than we expected.  We had a total of 8, which meant we could split into two tables of four each.

We started off with Blokus on one table and Pandemic on the other.  I wasn’t in the mood for a co-op, so I opted for the table with Blokus.  That’s a fun game.  I like how you can flow through the other players’ pieces even when they do their best to block you, and I like how you can think about it as much or as little as you want.  It’s also nice how politics plays a role, as it can make it much more difficult when two (or three) players decide to gang up on the fourth.

We got in two games of Blokus before Pandemic finished and then decided to switch it up a bit.  I started a table with Santiago (a recent acquisition), and the other folks went for first Blokus and then Hearts.

Santiago took a while to get started, as we were learning the game as we went, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable game.  The gist of it is that you first bid on properties and then try to bribe the canal overseer to make sure they get water.  There are a lot of details, though, that make the game very interesting:  it’s half cooperation (the more tiles there are in a plantation, the more points players score for it) and half cut-throat competition (where the canals are built determines whose properties thrive and whose dry up).

We’ve only played it once, but I can’t wait to play it again.  I’m guessing it will get a lot of table time.

The other table was finishing up their game of Hearts when we got done, so we played a quick game of Zombie Dice.

Then we got together for one big game of Horsefeathers.  It’s working pretty well now, but there are one or two things I want to tweak before adding it to the BGG database.  The general consensus was that it would be nice if there were some incentive or bonus for correctly challenging a lying player, as there often wasn’t sufficient reason to stick your neck out.  A number of ideas were tossed around, including taking chips from the pot (don’t want to take too many out, though), taking chips from the lying player (might be kind of fussy, and besides, it’s not their fault they had to lie), and getting to skip your next roll (which might be very handy but also rather hard to keep track of).

I thought about it after folks left last night and then talked a bit about it with S this morning. And what I came up with was this: when the game first gets started, a stack of special pieces is placed in the center of the table. The number of pieces depends on the number of players. Anytime a player successfully calls “Horsefeathers,” they get to take one of these special tokens and put it in front of them. The game end is triggered when the last token is taken: players finish the current round and then the game is over.

At that point players exchange chips based on who has more of these special tokens — players get chips from those who have fewer tokens and pay chips to those who have more. Then players count up their chips, and whoever has the most is the winner.

This makes the game more complicated, but it does a couple things I really like. First, it gives a pretty big incentive to call people out. Second, it gives players a bit more to think about during the game and makes it possible for players to take different approaches. And finally, it provides a more definite end to the game (something that was, admittedly, lacking).

I don’t know as it will stick, but this is what I want to try the next time we play. I’m hoping that will be tonight…. :-)

  1. June 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I think we’ve only done the split into two tables thing once. We had two games of Seafarers of Catan going since we had about 8 people. Though one group had to play on the floor because there was only one table! Still fun though.

  2. June 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    It’s nice when you have the flexibility to play with two tables or just one — you have a lot more games to choose from. 2-5 and you’re pretty much on one table, 6-8 could often go either way, and 9+ you’re definitely on two. 8 gets pretty crowded around one table, though, so often it’s better to split up. I guess it does depend on the size of the table, though. :-)

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