Had some good fun playing games in La Crosse this weekend. Did a couple of games of Carcassonne using the PC version on my laptop, then some We Didn't Playtest This At All, and ended the night with some Munchkin Quest.
The PC version of Carcassonne (from Koch Media, Hans im Glück, and Meridian 93) is pretty good. It eliminates a lot of the problems that come with playing the physical game in public places. The tile art is identical, so it's still got the wonderful look of Carcassonne. We played it with two actual players and one computer player, and it worked very well, but I can see it being something of a hassle if you wanted to do a game with more actual players. It's also a little hard to take in the whole game board at a glance. You can zoom out, but as the game goes on and the board gets larger, you lose a lot of the detail if you look at the whole thing. The game comes loaded with a few of the early expansions (everything through King and Scout), but if you're a completist like me, you might be a little disappointed that you won't be able to play with some of the later and rather interesting expansions.
Aside from those minor faults, the PC version is an almost identical experience to playing the table top version. Just be sure to use the "Hardcore" mode.
We Didn't Playtest This At All (from Asmadi Games) was a pretty fun game. It's kind of like Fluxx, but without all the well-crafted game balance and detailed strategy. (If you've never played Fluxx, that was a joke.) It's a great time-killing game, and usually results in a lot of laughter. Kristen and I played a bunch of games after I picked it up last weekend, and most of the games only lasted about 45 seconds at most. This time, there were four people playing, and while most of the games took slightly longer (except the one that I won on my first turn), they were still very quick. If you're looking for something to carry with along with you for those moments when there's nothing else to do, this will fill that niche.
Munchkin Quest (from Steve Jackson Games) is a board game version of the popular long-running card game, Munchkin. It's got a lot of the fun of the original, but where it falls a little short is the length of time each individual player turn takes. The four-player game we did took almost three and a half hours, and consisted of two complete turns for each player, with the first player in the order winning the game on her third turn. Sadly, Munchkin Quest's setup requires the inactive players to pay at least a low-level of attention to the game during the active player's turn, with short bursts of more concentrated attention. With each player's turn taking around 15 minutes, this can be a little draining. There were parts of the game that SEEMED like they should have worked differently than indicated in the rules. The biggest instance of this is failing to Run Away from an unsuccessful combat. We were all seasoned Munchkin players, so it mostly went okay, but this game probably isn't a good choice for casual gamers or beginners in the pastime.
So, here are some house rules for Munchkin Quest that I've been thinking about. They are designed to make the game move faster, and some of them are more severe than others, but if you play Munchkin Quest, feel free to mix and match and try out anything that looks interesting.
Players begins with two move tokens instead of three. Players may never have less than one move token. Any effect that reduces a player's move tokens below one stay in play and must be dealt with individually, but the player remains at one move token.
FAILING TO RUN AWAY 1
If a player fails his check to Run Away from an unsuccessful combat, the player must spend a move to move into the room to which he was attempting to Run Away. This happens after the monster's Bad Stuff takes effect. If a player has no remaining moves, he remains in the room with the monster. The monster will not move out of the room as long as the player remains in the same room.
FAILING TO RUN AWAY 2
If a player fail her check to Run Away from an unsuccessful combat, her turn ends immediately after the monster's Bad Stuff takes effect.
MONSTER MOVEMENT 1
During the Monster Turn, each player with monsters in the dungeon rolls a monster die and moves only his monsters according to the result.
MONSTER MOVEMENT 2
If a monster did not move from its room last turn, and the monster die indicates that it would not move this turn, it moves one room toward the nearest player. If two or more players are equidistant from the monster, the player who controls the monster decides which player it moves towards.