I married a beautiful woman who thinks I’m great, and yet we can’t seem to meet in the middle, board-games wise. Something about the games we do and do not enjoy don’t seem to match up. When she wants a fun co-op or silly party game I want a resource-management territory grabbing drag-out fight. We find a few games we both dig on, but our relationship is built on things other than gaming, and I can’t believe I can say that without flipping the f*** out. Guess I’m growing up.
The issue is multiplied when her parents are involved. They’re not big gamers; very few parents are. I bring a game to every gathering of the family, and I see success about 30% of the time. Aside from their beloved go-to game Sequence (which is essentially a piece of crap, sorry Nana and Papa), it’s hard to get a game of anything going, though Carcassonne saw some play time. Once.
This 4th of July weekend saw us taking a trip to Cape Cod to spend some time at her parents’ cottage. These trips always have a moment where we eyeball the alpha shelf and decide what games have a chance of hitting the table. We usually bring two. We’re both sick of Dixit, and Carcassonne isn’t around. I decide on Vegas Showdown (it did not get played). And Katie chose the game that’s near the top of every gate-way and family game list you’ve ever seen, Alan Moon’s classic Ticket to Ride.
And It’s Alright!
As you can probably guess, this is the game we played. I enjoyed it so much, I thought a little recap of the night would be fun.
Derailed At The Track?
Mary and Brian are kind, generous people who love me and like their daughter very much. I think they’re amazing, and I’m excited to teach them a new game. So I’m sort of grinding my teeth when, 20 minutes after we sit down I haven’t gotten to sentence 1 of the rules because, at all times, at least one of them is off doing something else. They’re hosts in a new house and things need to be cleaned, put away, adjusted, etc., so I’ll cut them some slack. And you can’t really say anything to your in-laws about paying attention or you come off as priggish. We’re gonna get the game going, I know it, I just gotta…
I know someone’s going to forget a rule, I can taste it in the air. When Brian and Mary both exclaim, “oh, I thought gray was a color, you didn’t say that. I’ve been waiting for them forever!” I was amused and humbled. Remember, no matter how many times you say a rule, there’s a great chance someone’s going to miss it when it comes up. Still, things are going well, everyone’s having fun, and aside from a few odd plays which prompt some more rules explanations and helpful suggestions, we’re racing toward the end-game.
The Couch Shot
It’s a curling term I made up for a very specific instance. It’s when you’re playing against your SO as skips, and you make a shot so amazing against him/her that you’re going to be sleeping on the couch that night. So, here was mine…
Katie’s Blue, I’m Black, and Miami is looking mighty nice. I didn’t snap pics of my hand, but I had a fistful of purples. It would be so easy to jam that Miami path. It gets me points, I’m dead certain it stops a ticket of hers, and it would essentially guarantee me the win.
I don’t do it. I decide it really isn’t worth it. Screwing people over in a game, even if it’s opportunistic and totally in line with my victory, is a bitter pill. This is my family, I can’t do that. Besides, I’m pretty confident I can put in a good showing elsewhere and get the win that way.
I end up using those purples on that 6-train path to Toronto. 15 points is a sweet deal any way you slice it. I do it as my last turn, leaving me with 0 trains. I did have the chance to do it on my penultimate turn, and use my 1 remaining train to complete a critical path, but I was worried I’d get blocked. That last turn allowed Katie to place a few final trains.
Our final scores I forget, though I do remember that Katie and I were super close. I go to my tickets, expecting a grand flourish only to realize that holy shit I forgot to take the path to Denver! I didn’t snap that pic, but Denver was a 4 purple train path away. That little mistake cost me an 11 point ticket. With that, Katie and I were tied. Same tickets accomplished. She had longest path across Canada, and took the win.
I was, in truth, extremely happy the game concluded that way. It couldn’t have been closer, and she deserved the win. I was also very frustrated with myself. That Miami play would’ve been a winner. Placing the 1-train and 6-train moves in reverse order would’ve been a win. Taking another look at my tickets at any time before the final play would’ve been a win! I mean, damn!
And knowing that Katie was enjoying my impotent nerd-rage making her own victory that much sweeter is, well, it has to be why people play games in the first place! If I won, well great, I’ve played ToR a lot, Katie a little bit, her parents maybe once years ago. But to line up a sweet victory for someone like that (and no, I didn’t do it on purpose, I was trying and I lost), to be a facilitator of joy like that? Well AnyGameGood, my friends!