Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Anniversary Tour--South Dakota

It felt like a dream, all my Gone Gaming friends in my home, discussing and playing games, laughing and teasing each other like kids on a sugar high. Although you’re all probably familiar with DW’s acerbic wit, Joe’s wonderful sense of humor and Yehuda’s wild imagination, you’d probably be surprised to hear how delightfully silly Shannon can be. We were all wiping tears from our eyes and gasping for breath when he pulled a green wig from his satchel and did a brilliant impersonation of Friedemann Friese. DW was a little late because he'd flown home to check on his goat--the sole survivor of our visit to Idaho--and then drove his Harley to North Dakota, where he called for directions. "South Dakota, DW," I told him. " Doesn't that two-wheeled beast do right turns?"

Fraser, again displaying his amazing sense of balance, Brian (Koldfoot), Shannon, myself, Joe Gola, DW and Yehuda at Mt. Rushmore.

Anyway, we started off the day’s activities with a trip to Mt. Rushmore which turned out to be more exciting than you’d imagine. The crowd of tourists were less than impressed when DW tried to ride his motorcycle through the Avenue of Flags. You’ve never seen so many angry tourists at one time and their language was more colorful than all the flags on display put together. After explaining to park security that he was from Idaho, they let him go and gave us a stern warning to keep an eye on him.

The Avenue of Flags, minus DW and his Harley.

In the gift shop we were not surprised to find copies of South Dakota Monopoly, which we all purchased. Just kidding. Only Yehuda bought one.

To start off the day’s gaming, I wanted something we could all play together which leaves pretty slim pickings since I don’t have any party games. I suggested Charades using game titles and since no one threw a giant hissy-fit tantrum, we broke into 2 groups, each with the sole purpose of driving the other team crazy.

We drew Go pieces to determine the teams. The black team DW, Brian, Shannon and Joe vs. the white team Fraser, Melissa, Yehuda and yours truly. A couple of rules were established—only English titles were allowed and no expansions. The teams each came up with 5 titles, one for each player and an extra in case of any disputes about the qualifications of a title.

Since this was all my idea, I volunteered to go first. I reached into the pile of folded paper and pulled out… Conquest of the Empire. My brain froze. Con. Quest. Empire.

“Are you ready?” asked Joe, keeper of the time.

“Uuhh,” I hesitated. Empire. Conquest. “Sure.” After signaling that this was a 4-word title and I was going for the 1st word, I proceeded to hack and slash at a make-believe opponent ending with my foot proudly placed on my opponent’s make-believe chest.

“Fight.” “Sword.” “Slash.” “Triumph.” O.k., now we’re getting close. Work with it, guys, and I did that “come on” finger waggle. “Victory.” “Conquer.” Ah-hah! Pointing at Fraser and then doing the so-so see-saw movement with my hand, I manage to draw “conquest” from my brilliant teammates who then filled in “of the” all by themselves.

Empire. Oh, boy. First syllable—draw an “M” in the air. “M. Empire! Conquest of the Empire!” Oh, yeah. Time to do a little happy dance!

First up for the black team was Joe who read his chosen title, then open and closed his mouth a couple of times like he wanted to say something but couldn’t. Joe Gola, speechless. It was a moment to cherish.

Finally, he signaled he was ready. Two words, first word: and he commenced to tie something around his waist. "No, wait," he signed, hands waving in the air. He then put something over his head and across his chest from left shoulder to right hip. A sash. Yes.

Second word, first syllable, small word—and he takes some imaginary item and clutches it to his chest. Me. My. Yes, my is right.

Second word, second syllable, sounds like—standing on his toes, palm on his head then rising straight up. Grow? Stretch? No. Now he bends his knees, reaches his hand out in front of him, palm down and about 2 feet off of the floor. The next moment, he’s stretched on his toes with his hand stretched way over his head. Ah-hah…tall! Sounds like tall…fall, wall, hall. Hall!

Sash My-hall...Taj Mahal. We were so impressed that there was congratulations and applause from both teams.

Fraser’s turn now. He reads the title and his eyes pop open with amazement. “Crikey, you guys are vicious!” Snickers and full-scale guffaws emanate from The Beastie Boys on the other side of the room.

After a few head-scratching moments, Fraser says he’s ready to give it a go. Two words, first word, sounds like—he points towards the ceiling, drawing a large square with his finger. A whole in the roof? No. His fingers rain down something from the ceiling and then he shields his eyes. Ohhh, a skylight. Yes! Sounds like skylight—twilight, of course. Twilight Struggle? No. Twilight Imperium? Yes! Well done, Fraser. High fives all around.

A quick game of rock-paper-scissors awarded the next turn to DW who almost choked on his tongue when he read his title. “I’m not doing this! This is bullshit! Who came up with this?” as he uncrumples the paper to show us. Fingers point in all directions, smiles on every face.

“That’s a legitimate clue, DW. If you don’t do it, you forfeit the game,” Yehuda tells him. Unanimous agreement from the remaining white team members. “Come on, DW,” adds Melissa, “don’t spoil the fun.”

“YOUR fun,” he grumbles, but his mind finally begins to think of a plan. Two words, the whole thing at once—he squares his shoulders, tips his nose high into the air, and with a sharp twist of his head averts his gaze from all of us. Amidst the laughter, Brian manages to say, “Euro-snoot!” Hand signals signify that they’re on the right track so ideas are flung faster than DW can keep track of. Snooty. Arrogant. Blue-nose” Cocky. Snob. No, no, DW signals. This obviously isn’t working. Time to try something desperate.

Second word, two syllables, first syllable--he turns his back to everyone and mimes a man urinating. By now his team is nearly useless with laughter but a red-faced DW finishes his make-believe business and flushes. He then points at the imaginary facility. John. Toilet. Yes, now shorten it, says DW’s hands. Toi? Yes. Second syllable—he curls his index finger and drinks from an invisible cup then points at the contents. Coffee. No. Tea. Yes. Toi-tea. And a light dawns in everyone’s eyes and the whole team yells, “Hoity Toity” and breaks into cheers, both for their brilliance and DW’s.

Yehuda demonstrated his gentlemanly side by insisting that Melissa take the next turn, which turned out to be lucky for her since she got an easy one while Yehuda…well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Melissa read her title, thought for a moment and a sly smile slid across her face. “Right! I’m ready.” Two words, second word, sounds like—she took a finger and outlined her pocket, then stuck her hand in it and pointed to it with her other hand. Pocket. Yes. Sounds like…socket, locket, rocket. Yes, rocket! “Stephenson’s Rocket,” Fraser said, jumping up from his seat and giving his wife a hug. Oh, yeah. Record time, 18 seconds. It was our good luck that Fraser’s waiting for this one to be reprinted so it was pretty much in the front of his mind.

Next up was Brian who read his title and declared it was illegal. “This isn’t English!”

“But it’s the English title,” we argued.

“This isn’t an English word, it’s not any language; it’s a made up word!”

We relented, DVONN was discarded and he drew another paper from the dwindling pile. “I changed my mind. I’ll do the first one; I love the first one; sorry I said anything.”

Nope. No way. You wanted it, you got it.

Two words, first word—Brian points to Fraser and Melissa then draws a house in the air, a roof and two walls. Their house, Australia? Yes! Make it longer, though, he signs. Australian? Right! Now the tough part. Second word, four syllables, first syllable—he points to all the guys on the black team, towards Yehuda and Fraser all while nodding his head “yes”. Then he points to Melissa and me and shakes his head “no”. Boy. Man. Ah! Almost. Men! Second syllable—small word. A. Yes. Men-a. “Menopause—Australian Menopause!” Joe yells. Oh, get real! Who would play a game called Australian Menopause? Melissa and I exchange a look and yell, “We would!” while laughing at the men. “Minotaur,” guesses Shannon. No.

Brian is thinking furiously while all this is going on, I can tell by the glassy look in his eyes. An idea! Third and fourth syllables—twelve fingers are displayed (not all at once, of course) and he sits in a chair looking bored but watching some action going on which we can’t see. Twelve, h reiterates. Don’t you get it? Suddenly DW realizes what Brian is doing. Jury! Men-a-jury. They threw this weird sounding word around a few times before Joe and Shannon both heard it at the same time. Australian Menagerie. They finally got it but it took a while, which hurt their total time score especially considering Melissa’s quick turn. One last player to go for each team.

Yehuda drew from the last 2 pieces of paper for our side. An eyebrow went up and a happy grin lit his face. “Ready!” he said. Two words, first word, three syllables, first syllable—and he quickly points to the black team, Fraser and himself while nodding his head “yes”. Men! Menopause! Laughter ensues. Shhh, we’re wasting time. Second syllable—small word. A. Yes. Menagerie again? No. But he points towards the black team, specifically Shannon. Minotaur? Exactly! Minotaur Lords? Yes!

Well, that was a very lucky break for us and now we’re ahead by quite a bit with only Shannon to go for the black team. He’s going to have to pull off an incredible feat in order to give his team the win.

Shannon takes the last remaining piece of paper from their pile, reads it and actually laughs! Oh-oh, what’s going on in his ingenious mind?

Two words, whole title at once—and with a big grin on his face, he holds up one finger in front of him. That’s all. My team and I do a mental head slap as the black team yells Die Macher and Puerto Rico, knowing one of them had to be the right answer. Puerto Rico! The number one most popular game on the Geek. Why we didn’t see that coming, I don’t know but there it is. Shannon got his title in 5 seconds to win the game for his team.

From the laughter and discussion of the game afterwards, I’d say everyone had a good time. By the way, the last clue, the one we didn’t have to use, was Advanced Civilization. Ewwww.

We then split up to play various games with different combinations of people. I got to play Trias with Fraser, Melissa and Shannon and let me warn you that the soft-spoken Melissa is a devious dino dunker. She’d sooner send your little guys swimming than look at them. She managed to win by a fair amount.

I played Das Ende Der Triumvirats with Yehuda and Brian. Crassus Yehudus won with a Competence Victory, Caesar Brianus had been elected Consul once and Pompeius Marius seems to have spent way too much time lying around eating peeled grapes or something.

My dream of playing Command & Colors with DW came true, too. We played the Lake Trasimenus scenario with me as the Carthaginians through the luck of the draw. Good thing, too, because I barely managed the win even though they start with a stronger position. This was a great experience and I think I learned a few things from a master wargamer.

Finally, I got to play Torres with Joe, Shannon and Brian. This was a very close game, hard-fought to the very end. Shannon won with me behind him by 2 points. Joe and Brian finished 2 and 3 points behind me, respectively. I play Torres a lot online and do very well but this is different since I don’t have all the time in the world to walk through all of my options. But we all took our time planning our moves while trying to ignore the rowdy game of Hacienda in the other room.

Two tired kitties after a long day with strangers.

It was a wonderful day and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe one thing. I think my cat, Bess, liked Shannon better than she likes me.


Gerald McD said...

And the fun continues. The Charades game description was so real, I had difficulty remembering that you invented it. (But, then, I'm easily fooled...)

sodaklady said...

What a wonderful compliment, Gerald. Thank you.

ekted said...

Looks like a lot of frequent flyer miles! :)

DWTripp said...

Hey Mary! If you've seen one Dakota you've pretty much seen all the Dakotas. At least that's the way I got it figured.

Fraser said...

And as is usual in a four player game of Trias last place was taken by me.

I think I know what I am doing, I think I am going well and then the scoring occurs...