Saturday I got paged twice from work, which I resolved in an hour or so. After that, I headed out to the Houston Gamers meeting, which was at Dragon's Breath, a little store that's on Shepard, way way farther inside the Loop than I normally go.
I had tried to check it out a couple weeks ago, but gotten sidetracked and ended up hanging out with Larry, instead.
I was packing 3 Magic decks. Since Tim had canceled twice (!!) last week, he was planning to meet up with me and we'd throw down. To be fair, he ditched me for family reasons-the first time his wife's music students all canceled, so he got to spend time with her. The second time his dog got a piece of glass in her paw as they were out on the evening walk.
I left my decks in the car, and went in to see what the fuss was about. I got there about 3 and parked on the side street. I was glad I scouted the location earlier-traffic wasn't too bad, but the place is invisible from the street. There were some teenagers playing D&D in the front room, and I could see familiar faces in the back room, so I walked back to discover practically everybody:
Lewis, Michael, Doug, and Laurence (I have never seen his name spelled, in the probably 4 years on and off we've been gaming together, so I might be butchering it. The way I know most people's names is through session reports or via posts on the HG website) were at one table, and in the middle of Ys, which looked interesting. They played Niagara and Maharajah later, I think-Ray Mulford joined them for some of that.
James Spurny, Kevin Nunn, Amy, Joel Garrick, and Rick Jones played Liar's Dice with me, using a weird set Kevin had picked up somewhere. It came down to Rick with three dice against me with one, which I lost. I traded my copy of Liar's Dice (and another $1 garage sale find) via the Geek for Ticket to Ride. This really is a decent party game. Rating: 6.
Amy and I cracked into the giant plastic tubs of everything in the universe, and pulled out Mystery Rummy: Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. After cracking into the rules, we played and I won, 104 to 60-something. Rating: 5. Why would I play this when I can play Wyatt Earp instead?
Kevin Nunn, Amy, and I cracked into Railroad Dice: Germany. The basic idea is that you have a zillion dice that have railroad tracks and stuff on them, and you use them to get income and build track to get stations to build more track. Kevin mused, "You know, I play this so much, I should make this a 10 rating." I had never played before, and Amy had only played the basic game, which has a number of rule changes that make it different. Amy handed me an early lead, and Kevin also stayed in, having command of at least one very profitable railroad all game. Amy lost the only railroad she was getting paid on.
I don't know how I feel about Railroad Dice. You roll a lot of dice, then you stare at them until blood seeps from your pores, and then you do it again. There is a certain rich-get-richer feel. Also, you aren't forced to build anything on any given turn. After I tried it a couple of ways in the first few turns, it seems like the secret is waiting until you can roll hella-huge dice, then do whatever you want. If you build toward ANYTHING but don't get there, you're a chump-someone else is going to move that track around.
I didn't feel like I was building a railroad, but it is cool. It feels like Carcassonne, in a way: once your opponents roll their dice, you can stare at it and see what their best move would have been, and what you would have done. However, unlike Carcassonne, the turn order is varied. After you're start player, you can walk away from the table for a while, if you were of the mind.
Kevin also purchased 20 extra expansion dice, and since one of the two end conditions is running out of dice, that made the game longer, but not too long. We called the game, declaring me the winner, since I was consistently about 5 passengers up from Kevin, and Amy was way behind. Kevin pulled out Control Nuts, which he picked up at the Gathering of Friends, but I couldn't stay. It sounded like Wallenstein was also on the menu.
Anyway, Railroad Dice: Germany was interesting, probably a 6 or 7, but I'll need more plays to be sure.