I got enough writing done during the day to reward myself with some board games tonight, and so had some friends over for a bit. We even watched the Canadiens game while we were at it. First game I’ve watched in 2012, first game I’ve watched in almost three months, and they won fairly convincingly. It’s their fourth win in a row no less. It’s almost as though they’ve forgotten that they’re supposed to suck at this point. This is sort of a critical time, not because I think that they’ll actually make the playoffs, because I really don’t, but if they go on much more of a winning streak, management will be reluctant to pull the trigger and get rid of pieces that will allow them to start rebuilding next year. If they’re going to miss the playoffs anyways, then I’d much rather they just suck for a while, get rid of the chaff, and start fresh next year.

Back to the board games, though. Often we’ll play a few different things over an evening, but tonight we only played Dominion. There are a few expansions to the original game, some of which I received as gifts last Christmas, and one of them in particular – Cornucopia – has given us a lot of grief. Not that it isn’t fun to play, but it seems built to run a certain way, and in the times we played it before, we never managed to get all the mechanics to work cohesively. We couldn’t help but be a little disappointed

(Skip the rest of this post if you don’t know the game Dominion, or if you couldn’t care less about the game.)

Particularly, the Tournament card never seemed to play well, because the combinations we’d tried ended up with the game ending before anyone had a chance to pair one with the Province card. We’d tried several combinations of the cards to choose from and never managed a satisfactory game where that particular mechanic really took off. Tonight we tweaked the starting cards a few times and finally came up with a combination that provided a long-lasting game with a lot of strategy involved. It’s frustrating that we had to work so hard to get it running smoothly, but it’s nice when it all comes together. It makes me wonder how they got around that card in playtesting, because it adds an element that can be impossible to use depending on the draw of the cards, assuming a random assortment to start.

For my own future reference, I’m keeping a list here of the cards we used, for more eventual tweaking or just a complete reuse (we combined cards from the Cornucopia expansion and the main game):
Farming Village, Horn of Plenty, Horse Traders, Hunting Party, Library, Menagerie, Mine, Remake, Tournament, Witch

What we found is that we needed to raise the buying cost of the base stacks so that there were fewer cheap cards, otherwise those piles clear out quickly and the game ends before it really gets going. An even mix with no single “must-have” cards made it very strategic, and got us to the point where we were able to make interesting use of the Tournament card, where before we found we were ending our games without anyone having scrounged up enough copper to buy the needed Province cards. Anyways, tonight we were determined to make it work, and we did, though again – it feels odd that the expansion set the Tournament card came in made it so hard to make the Tournament card useful.

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