Drew’s Extra Life Experience
This was my 5th year playing in Extra Life, and once again, it was tons of fun.
I go there early to help setup so we could start gaming. I also have been in charge of helping with the raffle, so we spent the first 40 minutes or so debating the best way to set it up.
We started the day with Pioneer Days which is a fun game of dice drafting as you are seemingly travelling along the Oregon Trail or something like that. I’ve been on a Western kick lately, so this was a fun one to teach.
After that, it was decided that we should play a game with everyone who was there. DC Spyfall and Hail Hydra were thrown out, but many of us weren’t interested in that, so we settled on Welcome To… , a flip and write game that plays up to 100. We had a good time playing that, then we sort of split up into groups.
We then played Great Heartland Hauling Company which had been on my list for a while to pick up and even longer to play. There is a deceptively deep game hidden in the tiny box, and I think it does the pickup and deliver mechanic well, especially in a quick time frame.
Next up was one of those classics I have been told that everyone needs to play once to be a euro gamer, and that was Power Grid. Although I had no idea what I was doing, I still really had a good time playing it. I came in last, but if I recall it was actually a pretty close game even though we couldn’t catch up to Ryan. I did pick up on some things that I did poorly, so I would give this one a try later on to see if my assumptions are correct.
I also got the chance to play Pandemic: Iberia, which I have owned since its release but never had the chance to play. Samantha and I had played a three player game earlier in the week, but this time we played with 4, and had a good mix of lucky card draws and special powers that we were able to research the diseases (since you don’t cure them in the olden days) and win. I really liked some of the mechanics the game added, but the familiar Pandemic tension was there.
Next up I was able to teach Century: Golem Edition. This was a hidden gem (pun intended) when I picked it up on a whim. It is a quick engine builder in the same vein as Splendor but I like the gameplay better, as it feels a little deeper to me than Splendor. This is one that I think I will keep playing for years to come, and I’m glad I was able to teach it to the others in my group who haven’t tried it yet.
I picked up Hitler’s Reich which was supposed to be a lightweight wargame of WWII, so Bryan and I set it up and fumbled through a rules explanation. This one did not go well. The rules aren’t written the best, so we were using a player aid that I feel might have left out some major information. We both felt like we weren’t having a great time so we agreed to watch some videos and read through the example of play and save it for a later date.
From here, we ran a joint mission of B-17 Queen of the Skies and Target for Today. Both of these games simulate a mission or campaign of B-17 bombers in Europe. B-17 is an older game, and Target for Today is a more updated, in depth treatment, so we used the B-17 version Bryan had to run through a campaign. One of our bombers hit the mark, but we both returned home safely.
The last game we played was The Gallerist which is heavier game all about running an art gallery. I learned this one at 4 in the morning, and loved it, even though we stopped early since everyone else had left. I really want to play this one again since I loved the mechanics and it’s a unique theme. But, the next time we play, I want to start at a reasonable time.
I also managed to win some games in the raffle, but the one I was most excited about was Tiny Epic Zombies, which was new in shrink and the deluxe edition from the Kickstarter. I really liked Tiny Epic Quest, so to add an extra, quick, zombie game that can be played co-op is always a plus.
Extra Life was a ton of fun this year, and while it took me a while to recover (some might argue I still am) I’m looking forward to doing this again next year. I don’t remember what our finally tally was, but I know it was more than $1,000! We are even talking about trying a “Extra Life Blitz” next spring to do another longer game day and try to raise more money.
Ryan’s Extra Life Experience
The local Extra Life event has turned into one of my favorite gaming days of the year. I go and hang out with my friends, play some games, usually eat some good food, and then stay up WAY too long.
This was my second year of participating in the full 24 hours, although I’ve dropped in and played some games other years. Even though my 45 yr old body doesn’t really enjoy the lack of sleep, I like it to remind myself that I can still do weird things just because I want to.
I knew I wasn’t going to get there by 8, so I was hoping 9-9:30. Dina, Joe, and I stopped by Burger King for breakfast, because I was craving a Croissanwich. So we’d be arriving around 9:30 it appeared…
Clunk! Wow, I hit something switching lanes. Never even saw anything, especially something big enough to make that loud a noise. Oh well. A couple more exits to go…which bell and light is that? Nuts. Low tire. Better pull off here and check.
Ok, so now we need to change a flat tire. At least it was with Joe and I there, and not after Dina dropped us off.
So it’s closer to 10 when we arrive. No big deal. Obviously still plenty of gaming time.
I don’t see any of my typical gaming buddies yet, so I head over to check out the raffle table. There were a TON of games there, I wish I had remembered to get a picture. I hadn’t even thrown my stuff up yet. Not all of the games donated are gems, but people take them anyway. Games are games, although I think it was Bryan who commented wondering how many of those games show up again next year.
I was luckier last year in the raffles. The only thing I won was a second copy of Star Realms, some promos for it, and Scopa as a bundle from the grab something table. Joe won a couple of things for us to take home, he grabbed For Sale from the grab table, and won an item from the nicer games table, and I talked him into grabbing Bottom of the 9th plus some expansions.
Ok, so onto the gaming…
As we were kind of waiting for some folks to come back from breakfast, I decided to show Eric Palm Island. He’s big into solo games right now, and I knew he’d enjoy it. I’ve been playing it like crazy lately, and it’s a blast. It’s a deck of 17 cards, and you try to create a engine to get goods and build things up. You have only 8 turns total, and you are just trying to score as many points as possible. One of the really cool things about it is that you can play it just in your hands, no table required.
After more people arrived, Drew graciously taught Ben, Eric, and I Pioneer Days. I’m not sure how I missed this game when it came out, I typically enjoy Tasty Minstrel games, and this one has a couple of mechanics that I like, card drafting and dice rolling. It was a very fun game. I’ll need to pick it up, or maybe borrow Drew’s copy so DIna can try it, I think she’ll enjoy it. It helped that I won.
Drew taught the next game too, with a large group of us coming together to play Welcome to…
It’s another roll and write, which is kind of my personal hotness right now. I’ve played so many of these over the past year, and this one was a really good one too. I was terrible at it, but I look forward to trying it again. I think Clint won this one, but he had played before, I think David Cook was the highest finishing newbie.
Drew, Eric, Joe, and I decided to go for a short walk to The Pennant restaurant. We ordered some excellent food to go, and sat and had a beer while we waited for the food. It was a beautiful day, and this was a pleasant diversion.
After getting back Drew again taught Eric, Joe, and I a game. This time it was The Great Heartland Hauling Co, which Eric had won in the raffle earlier in the day. I’ve always been interested in this pick up and deliver game. I was interesting. I wouldn’t mind owning a copy due to it’s small size, but I;m not running out to get it either. I was still thinking about how it cleverly made you have to move every turn and how 2 trucks can’t share the same location. It made each turn mean something, but also made it difficult to plan in advance. Maybe I liked it more than I thought.
Then I actually taught a game. I’ve been trying to get Power Grid to the table all year, and it finally happened! Joe left us, so we played with 3, and I think 4 or 5 might be a better number, but I was happy to play. Drew had never played, and he said he enjoyed it. I used my experience (Although I hadn’t played it in something like 7 years.), and pretty much led the whole game. I am not sure I played well or not, but I was able to keep one step ahead on powering up cities. This play helped me complete my 10 games that I hadn’t played in forever challenge for the year.
So by this time it’s late afternoon/early evening, so I decided to hold off on starting a new game until after Dina and the girls came, so I could drive them home and keep the car. They did hang out for a while, so I should have gotten into something, and by the time I realized I should play Palm Island, they were ready to go. So I took them home and returned prepared for the late night…
Upon returning, I waited for my friends to finish playing Pandemic: Iberia, I had played it once before, and remember enjoying it.
Drew got out Century: Golem Edition next. I’ve never played any of the Century series, but I’ve heard good things. I really loved the art and bits for this game. I think even though this version isn’t supposed to get expansions, it’s the version of the game I’d want to own because of that. I very much enjoyed it. Turns are quick, fairly simple, and it’s done quick. I did better than I thought I might, although it took me a little to realize what I was doing. I think Drew and Bryan did better because they had played before, and I think it was Eric’s first time too.
Zack wanted to try Best Treehouse Ever, so Bryan, Eric, and I played it with him. What a cute and vicious little game. It was fun, but really mean Zack said it best when he mentioned he was thinking about picking it up for the kids, but he thought they might cry. He was the winner.
Drew and Bryan were taking out a war game, so I taught Eric Patchwork, which he had won in one of the raffles earlier. Patchwork is probably my favorite 2-player only game right now, I always enjoy it. Not surprisingly, I won, but I am pretty sure he was happy with his prize.
Eric had brought a game I’ve been really wanting to try, so we took out Aeon’s End next. I love deck builders, and fantasy themed and co-op to boot? Count me in! Joe wandered over as we were setting up, so he jumped in too. I really had a blast with this one. I will probably need to pick it up. The lack of shuffling your cards is an interesting way to differ it from most deck building games. We did manage to win also, which is surprising, it looked really bad for a while.
The last game is another personal favorite of mine, Runebound: 2nd Edition. Joe really wanted to play it, so we had brought it with. It felt like a good, fairly mindless game to play at 2:30 am. Eric joined us. We had an epic adventure that came down to who could get either their last dragon killed (Joe and I.) or kill the big bad Dragon (Eric needed that, there were only 2 dragons left to fight.). Eric and I both came up short in our attempt to move to a red space, so Joe was able to squeak out the win.
We hung out for a while longer, trying to read some rules and wait to play something, but almost everyone else was leaving, so Joe and I called it a night. I went home, was in bed by 7, and up at 10:30, my body not wanting to sleep any more. I was fine though, I had taken Monday off from work just in case I needed time to recover. While my body hates staying up that late, I really enjoy it. It’s odd how you need to push yourself to keep going at random times in the middle of the night.
So another Extra Life was over. More memories, and more money raised for children’s hospitals. I don’t need the charity as a reason to play games, but at least it makes me push myself to stay up all night, just because I feel like I’d be cheating if I didn’t. I came home with less games than I left with, so Dina was happy about that, and I was too of course, knowing those games may have encouraged people to donate more.
Thanks to David Cook for continuing the job of organizing this. I suspect there is a lot more preparation involved than we see, and he handles all of it. Thanks to Drew for helping set up the raffle too, that’s a big chunk of our total donations. And of course, thanks to everyone who participated. I’ve been lucky, none of my 3 kids have ever needed any kind of major help from a children’s hospital, but several of my friends have, and even a little bit can make a difference.
This is an easy thing to do to help out. Another easy thing is organ donation. My Sister-in-Law’s 9 yr old nephew recently had a heart transplant, and while not at a children’s hospital because they are close to the Mayo Clinic system in Rochester, MN, it still strikes me as something we all can do without much effort. Most states I believe even let you just check a box when you get/renew your license, and that’s something to think about. I admit, I don’t know why a person might choose not to, although I understand there are reasons, but it seems like something that most people can, and probably should, do.