December 12, 2011

Gaming Report: Mission: Red Planet, Red November, Sorry! Sliders

Who would have thought that a re-worked Sorry! game would create so much fun?  Put a little ball-bearing in the bottom of the pawns, slap a track down onto a target, and laugh away a solid hour before you know it.  We also have Sorry! Spinners which creates a good deal of hilarious agony.  Just as you're one space away from crawling into your safe zone, some one spins the board and your home fades away in the rear view mirror.  That revision still includes the random card engine.  But Sliders is a pure dexterity game.  If you've seen shuffle board or curling, just imagine pushing your little pawn down a small track to a center target to score points and/or to knock off your opponents.  This simple gem comes with four different targets and a few different track configurations to provide even some surprising variety.  And it's a wonderful family game.  Despite the skill factor involved, there really isn't much advantage given to adults over kids.  Well, at least in my household!

Memorial to astronauts
after just five rounds.
Just three turns later,
the body count rises.
We played one 5-player session of Mission: Red Planet.  This game is fascinating in that it predictably finishes in one hour.  I'm still amazed every time it happens.  That length is one of this title's strongest draws.  It is quite chaotic and tends to be confrontational, but its brevity and light theme (which is nonetheless well integrated) soften the interaction.  The game is very tight with limited turns.  If you waste one of them, or are the victim to a well-timed attack, you need to recover quickly.  The kids really enjoy this, but are still working on the optimal strategy in playing the various roles.  The other issue at hand is a one-track mind in focusing on their secret bonus missions which, if completed, score extra points.  If they are able to accomplish that, they reap some big rewards.  However, if they fall short, it proves problematic because they've ignored the normal scoring method, at the same time, which is to place majorities in the different regions on Mars.  This game was particularly cut-throat - lots of astronauts paid dearly!  This is a very good game.

All rooms flooded or on fire!

The Kracken! Ironically, it would have eaten us at
the same time we ended up being crushed by the deep!

We also set out for another 5-manned mission on the Red November.  This time I was able to convince my kids we should remove all of the "Respite" cards from the Event Deck.  I'm not sure they'll go for that again!  Just after the first two gnomes played, we already had four rooms on fire.  In less than fifteen minutes, we narrowly fixed the pumps to avoid asphyxiation.  Then the Kracken came.  Luckily we had an aqualung and harpoon which Brendon bravely took out to sea and slaughtered.  Then he promptly passed out on a faint check and died.  Alas, we shared his fate not too much longer.  Every single room on the sub was either flooded or on fire.  We were descending fast, but couldn't get to the Engine Room as it was on fire and none of us had an extinguisher or grog.  Even the Captain's Room was on fire, preventing us from raiding his personal stash for some of that "liquid courage" with which to fight the blazes.  We were finally crushed in the ocean depths in the 30th minute.  Pretty funny, if you ask me.

Crushed in uncontrolled descent!

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