It was Steve’s night to pick, but his wife’s sister was unexpectedly in town and she lives in England and words, words, words....he bailed. So it was just the three amigos. (The waiter at the Mexican restaurant calls us “amigos”. I like it. I’m sure he doesn’t call anyone else that.)
Back-up plan: I was expecting my copy of Alien Artifacts. A delivery was attempted over the weekend, but I missed it, so all I knew for sure was I had a package to pick up at the post office. (I swear to god the mail person must have either waited for me to go to the can or knocked on the door with a feather because I was home all damn day on Saturday and no one came to the door. But I digress.)
So I read the rules online, watched every video I could find, crossed my fingers and went to the post office this morning.
I pre-ordered this game the day pre-orders opened. It was likened to 51st State: Master Set and Race for the Galaxy. I was fairly excited. I was less so after reading the rules. It seemed.....odd.
But after dinner, we still wanted to give it a go, so we cracked it open and started unwrapping cards. And by we, I mean me and Leon....Workman was shaving. (Don’t ask.) When we got everything stacked and sorted, Workman was still shaving (he’s got a hell of a five o’clock shadow) so we started sleeving. Then Workman reappeared all smooth and glistening and he helped. And then we were finally ready to play.
I provided a random and confusing rules explanation. I always have a great plan for teaching rules and then it’s showtime and I just start talking out my ass. This time, I had Workman so confused I finally just restarted. But we got through it.
I was the super-sexy clone faction. Leon was the Silics. I forgot who Workman was, some 1940s-era soldier-looking types. Each faction has a unique action, a unique starting set up, and unique end-game scoring.
I was the model for the clone faction art. Not really. But I was the model for the faction that has hands for feet, we just didn’t play them.
I bought a planet Workman wanted on turn one. He handled it well. Then I did it again a few turns later. He handled it even better. Had I been able to keep that up for the entire game, it would have been as entertaining as the game itself. Moreso even.
The planet Workman wanted. First in a series.
The game played out in fits and spurts. I spent an expected amount of time checking the rulebook. We encountered several card scenarios that weren’t specifically addressed, so we did what we always do: WWMTGD? (What Would Magic the Gathering Do?) I think we played it mostly right, it’s just kind of an odd game. At least it seems so after one play.
The all-important resource cards
I led for most of the game, as I had the most in-game scoring cards. But I had very few cards overall. Leon and Workman built much better empires, and Leon had artifact cards coming out of his ass. He had one turn that just went on and on and on because he kept getting artifact cards that were immediately playable.
Final scoring. Guess who green is. Go ahead. Guess.
In the end, Workman won. (Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Anyone? Anyone? Didn’t think so.) I was second, Leon third. After one play, I liked Alien Artifacts, but I don’t love it. I’ll play it more, but not likely with the Fun Group. It feels like a game that took a highly-interactive theme (4X space goodness) and put it on a very cerebral, very solitary tableau builder. And I don’t mind cerebral and solitary. I just don’t particularly care for that sort of game with this sort of group.
After AA it was too early for Love Letter, so Workman wandered into his closet and came out with Labyrinth. It’s a funner-than-you-might-expect maze game. We’d played once before. Leon plays a lot with his son. He dominated. I think he got a treasure every turn. Every. Turn. I was second, Workman last. But we helped Leon get back to his starting spot on his last turn. So group-win asterisk situation. Fun times.
Finally, it was time for Love Letter. Leon and I let Workman have a couple of cubes this game, but no more. I won. I dominated really. Additional fun times.
And that be all. If you’re interested in such things, this week marks one year since we stopped playing in our office cafeteria. I like playing at Workman’s house better, but the cafeteria had a certain charm. I miss it.
But no matter where we play, thanks for reading about it. And happy gaming!