Topic of the Week: Your Best Sessions (or Worst)

So we talk about games in theory. What are the pinnacle experiences you’ve had actually sitting at a table and pushing the bits?

Any times it went so wrong that the rest of us would enjoy hearing about your pain?


As is usual in life, I don’t remember the highs but have the lows etched on my brain.

There’s my disastorous “punch and play” of Pulsar 2849 at a can with the person (Player One) who selected the game not being able to learn games on the fly and bad at explaining games, a fourth player ducking out to play a scheduled game of Scythe. Player three takes over, gets super pissed of at player one and loses it. Turns out player 4 was also a convicted paedophile, serving a restraining order and keeping this from a mutual contact who is a foster carer. OOF

Followed by being sucker punched by Player one, at the same con the following year. This time it was Legendary: Aliens and Player One this time handing me the box and said “I’m no good at learning game, mind learning this whilst I pop out for a fag?” (Americans: Fag = Cigarrette).

I’m now wary of playing with complete ramdoms at cons


I think someone is going to have to had a very bad experience to top this


I have some legendary game sessions that I remember… it’s mostly stories though… anecdotes… about the people I play with as much as about the games.

Probably 1998 we played a lengthy round of Die Macher. It was quite an incredible experience I had never played a game like this before, nothing quite so complex and involved and also lengthy. I was still living at home while studying at uni and I got home waaaaay later than I was supposed to for a Monday night. It was before mobile phones allowed for easy “hey mom I am going to be late” messages. I missed the last bus and walked home the last 2km. I’ve forgotten most of what the game was about but I’ll never forget my mom standing at the top of the stairs first scowling and then yelling at me because she had been so worried. And I didn’t even win that game–I think :wink:

Next one is Leaving Earth. This was a game I picked up during a lengthy stay in Portland in 2019. I began learning the rules immediately and then my partner got home from work and exclaimed… “wow I could solve that game with excel” and backin the box it went. Who wants “solvable” games? So I dabbled a bit and then took it on a bi family get together where my partner played this all night with my cousin while I had a cold and was too sick to participate. A year later in the summer of 2020 though when I had managed to grab the expansions from somewhere we got out the game and played a legendary game “with everything” over 3 consecutive evenings totalling 15 hours of play-time. I was just about to build a base on Mars when my partner finished what amounts to the Voyager mission and grabbed ALL the VP. Yes, one can use excel to help with parts of the game, but it won’t tell you how to do anything. This game convinced me that actual space is almost as cool as all the SciFi I adore :slight_smile:

That first Blood of the Clocktower we played here where I was the demon was also quite a thing. So many lies. I have never before in my life lied so much or so shamelessly–not even in other hidden role games. It taught me a thing or two about why some people lie so much: it’s addictive and powerful in an awful way but still powerful. To just say whatever gets you what you want without any consideration for fact or truth? This is an experience I will not soon forget. It was really scary, too.

One of my favorite ever plays was my first game of Goldland. It’s a game where you have to discover a variable map I think and collect treasure. I was doing pretty badly but I remembered that there was a secondary win condition that whoever reached the final treasure first, if nobody else could get there “in time” would win automatically. I don’t quite remember the rules or anything just the faces of everybody when I marched in there without any points whatsoever and won. of course the strategy NEVER worked again.

Just about the first thing I did this Millenium was play several huge rounds of Bohnanza with a lot of the same people I still play games with. This was not quite the beginning of those friendships but it was definitely a big step toward what the group is today. And 23 years later just after midnight on the 1.1.2023 I got to play Bohnanza with some of our friends’ kids :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

And finally not a game but just a moment, or a feeling. One of my best gaming moments ever was that feeling when I played a Counterspell for the first time in MtG btw. Almost nothing beats that feeling of wrecking someone’s plans for the price of 2 blue mana. I wish more games had counterspells :stuck_out_tongue:

There is more, but i don’t really remember the wins and losses as much as the above… feelings, anecdotes, people. Our friend who loved to be the betrayer in semi-coop games doing weird shit even when he wasn’t the bad guy in Shadows over Camelot. Luckily we didn’t have any actual hidden role games back then it would have been something I assume. And I haven’t even mentioned exploding Pandemic in the first round. Games that consistently provide me with great moments and tense drama are Spirit Island, Pax Pamir, Oath and the *-havens.


For best session, I think I have mentioned it already. It was my first ever game of Thurns und Taxis. I was enjoying myself, but struggling to keep up with the leading duo. I could see the end of the game getting closer, and I sort of plotted a “good move”. On my very last turn, I managed a lot of points (11 or so), getting the lead, and ended up second by just one point. I think what made it more memorable was that I nearly snatched the win in one final turn, I am pretty sure that if I had won I would not remember that game so well.

Honourable mentions: my first couple of games of Firefly (including a PBF here), my first Gloomhaven game, defeating the big baddy on Hero Quest Advanced many, many moons ago (early 90s) after a long campaign with my brother in which I had only the dwarf and magician left alive… and there might be a few others I am forgetting. My first game of Dune Imperium was quite memorable as well, it did impress me very positively (even if I finished 3rd out of 4) when I played it last July-August.

Worst Sessions: I’ve had a few euros (beige in their majority) where after an hour I knew they were not for me and they lasted another couple hours longer (things like Alma Mater, La Stanza, even Prague Caput Regni), most games I have played of Race for the Galaxy (I still don’t get it), but specially, my first and only game of Killer Bunnies. There’s no way to get those ,couple of hours back. All that back and forwards, with some moves that made the terrible random game longer just for the sake of making it longer, to end up with a lottery to see who got the prize carrot. The game should be called Kill me, Bunnies…


Ah, you reminded me of when I played MtG online (the original online version) around 2004 or something, and someone played 2 blue creatures that each mill half your deck to do that much damage. They’d clearly found some infinite combo to kill anyone with. They spent all their cards and a full 30 seconds clicking to boost them to ridiculous levels, and I… played a 2 White pacifism and 1 White Llifelink to completely neutralise it and they instantly quit. Good times. (White/Black 2005 Angel decks for the win).


That game really strikes me as having the potential for GREAT experiences.


It didn’t end well for Player 4

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It is weird that the highs don’t stick in my memory as well as the lows. I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s the tension during a game that I love, and the climax is always something of a letdown, as tension is released, leaving no great lasting impression.

Anyway, a high that I related once, and has since become an anecdote I can refer back to, was a great game of Galaxy Trucker with two experienced fans who visited for just one game day, using a pile of expansion content. It was great, though any further details have been eroded by time.

Lows are mostly when someone vocally hates the game. Even worse when you taught it. “Oh, another shitty turn!” It’s just awkward.

Speaking of awkward, there was once a group of three people I didn’t know all that well who once came to my apartment to play games. We had such a good time, and everyone wanted to finish the game of Mage Knight that had overrun slightly, so everyone decided to miss the last train and play games through to the first train in the morning.

Well, that started to go sour not long after the game of Mage Knight finished. Galaxy Trucker was a mistake - one guy loved it, and one girl obviously didn’t. I made the mistake of commenting on how frequently it seemed to split along gender lines, and she basically called me a sexist pig* and stormed off to the toilet. I apologized profusely when she returned, for saying stupid shit when I get nervous when someone isn’t having fun, and we somehow soldiered on. It probably didn’t help that her boyfriend seemed to be really patronising towards her all evening. DungeonQuest kind of salvaged the mood, along with some other lighter games, but I think everyone was relieved when 5am rolled around.

(* as a happy coda to this, she visited and couchsurfed at ours many years later, long after she had left the country, and she made a point of bringing up that occasion and apologised profusely for her outburst - apparently regretting it all that time.)


I don’t think I’ve had a really bad time with games, although there were plenty of disappointments. My friend decided he liked Betrayal and House on the Hill, Smash Up and King of Tokyo, and definitely there were some games of those that just felt pointless and boring. (The Betrayal surprise turned out to be a player who couldn’t possibly win, or couldn’t lose, so you’re just playing out the remaining turns when everyone knows the outcome). He also played Cards Against Humanity for about 10 turns too many, and that was unpleasant to start with.

But generally all the memories are good ones. Just had Facebook remind me that I introduced my partner to Everdell exactly 3 years ago and she beat me by playing a Fool skunk into my final space, totally derailing my plans for a big final combo. There’s a winner’s card you get if you win, and she was entirely too happy to be holding it :slight_smile:


I may have written about some of these memories in other posts here, so forgive me if I am repeating myself again.

My best/worst gaming memories are almost all from my childhood/teenage gaming years. I have played so few times with other people in person since then that more recent events and occasions do not stand out as strongly as when others are present to witness, share, suffer from or laugh at my experiences.

Two games of the first edition of The Fury of Dracula have always stood out: one with me playing as the Count where the hunters never got close to me before I had all of my vampires played, and the second where the Dracula player was getting too cocky and tried to ambush me playing as Van Helsing. A night combat ensued due to one of Dracula’s event cards, and Dracula won initiative on the first round, using his strength to snatch my stake. Convinced I would flee, the Count then went for a bite in the second round, but I won initiative and speared him with my second stake for an instant kill and victory. The Dracula player was stunned.

I remember a game of Kingmaker too which only lasted about an hour as I won a few early combats and then drew/acquire Percy, Earl of Northumberland, amassing my forces so much that everyone else just gave up.

But my strongest memories of greatest wins and defeats came in our many games of Statis Pro Football, playing through leagues and friendlies using the 1985 and 1988 season cards. My greatest victory came while playing as the 1985 Denver Broncos against the 1985 Houston Oilers in a league game, where I was outscored 28-3 in the combined first 28 minutes of each half, only to score two flukey touchdowns in each two minute warning and freakishly get a 31-28 victory. Another league game playing as the 1988 Buffalo Bills against the 1988 Minnesota Vikings saw the Bills totally bypass the feared Vikings pass rush through screen passes and quick passes, many of which broke for long gains and scores.

Bad Statis Pro defeats were also common too, including a 1990 Super Bowl preview pummelling, playing as the 1985 Broncos and getting destroyed by the 49ers - only to see the real match end much the same way a couple of hours later that night - and a 1985 league game playing as the Broncos against the New York Giants when my opponent first discovered the Tony Galbreath exploit and I just couldn’t stop his running game. I recall a friendly game playing the 1988 Saints against the 1988 Eagles that went sour for us both too, as neither offense could move the ball and we abandoned the game near the end of the 3rd quarter with the score at 3-0 or 6-3 maybe. Tough slog, that one.


The first one that comes to mind is early days in the Boardgaming club I set up in our village. We had a number of very experienced gamers come from other nearby groups (nearly all older and retired so could play games every evening if they wanted!) and I enjoyed that they always brought new games to learn and try out.

We played a 4 player Power Grid with me being the only one who had never played and two of the players being really quite experienced. I muddled through most of the game, kinda getting the hang of it. But it was the final turn and I was the last to go. As my go approached and I was planning what I wanted to do, I spotted what I thought was a way to win the game. I checked and nervously rechecked. Even then, when I started to play my turn, I was constantly expecting someone to say that I’d done something wrong. When we counted up the points and I won, I was ecstatic. It was usual practice that we’d play these games, I’d enjoy learning but would get more or less trounced by the more experienced players so was delighted to have won.

Strangely enough, I’ve never played since. We went into COVID and with the people I usually play with, I didn’t think it would get played enough to warrant buying it!


CaH helped kill our yearly group ski holiday. Need I say more?
(It would have fallen apart without it but it was there and enhanced the issues)

This probably qualifies it as my worst game experience ever. People got competitive over humor… it was awful.

  1. I have a few very memorable live plays of Galaxy Trucker. How can it not be? One in particular was great where it ended with one guy limping in at the end with two tiles remaining to his ship. He got soooo unlucky. The table was screaming every time he was hit again. Only Robo Rally games ever came close to this kind of hilarity.
  2. I thought I was the only one who might have highs that remain thoroughly entrenched as such despite me not remembering many of the details.

And for truly worst household game experience: my partner will never forget spending 45 minutes watching the rest of us paly out round 3 of a game of Terra Mystica–after having run out of actions early. When I mentioned the topic to him this was the first thing he said. He also remembers that Leaving Earth game as an absolute highlight.


I’m lucky to have a lot of good memories with friends (and strangers) through the years of gaming that it’s hard to give examples.

I tend not to remember bad sessions because it’s much easier to forget. But I still remember that one Eldritch Horror session where we play with 4 players and the two experienced players are literally analysing the game state to death with me and my friend being utterly bored. First, why are you analysing the game state like it’s freaking chess in an immersive dice-chucking game like EH? Second, they are completely oblivious on how bored we are. We might as well not be there. That game singlehandedly made me not play EH for years.

Terraforming Mars was the fault of our old group culture being slow players. Every session takes so long for a game like TFM that I didn’t touch it for several years.


AP can lead to really boring sessions, agreed.

Some of my worst ones are when 2 people play in one seat because the player count just did not match and people wanted to play the game. This is even worse when I have to teach that game and at least one of the tandem does not know the game. Two people talking tactics or strategy while I am trying to teach is terrible. Happened to me 3 times this year: Outer Rim, Ark Nova and Distilled. I probably mentioned all three games at the time. I will not teach again with two players in a tandem. I’d rather sit out the session myself.

I will avoid games with 2 players playing in tandem in general unless we’re at SPIEL where limited table space is a real issue.


All the first highlights that come to mind are from party games, oddly enough.

Several games of Eat Poop You Cat come to mind, which we called Telephone Pictionary or Picture Poetry and has since been packaged as Telestrations. Just lying on someone’s carpet, crying, laughing, unable to breath. Somehow two rabbits are now having a water fight on a mountain? Who knows.

Anomia has done this as well. My parents are surprisingly competitive when given the chance. And my mother is not good on her feet. I still remember the extended splutter ending on MUSSOLINI… for the category “Jazz Artist.” And the category “Pies,” BERRY. BERRY. BERRY. BERRY. What kind of berry, Mom? BERRY. BERRY! BERRY! Just love it.

I’ve only gotten to play Spyfall once. It was Easter brunch. My best friend saw me nervously playing with the box, having dropped out of the conversation, and mercifully said, “Alright, (Acacia), what’s the game?” It took off and we probably went through over half the box. Even when I stopped, other people would just grab another pack of cards and start handing them out. Two of the clearest memories came as the spy. Once, someone mentioned a “shift,” so when I was asked what I was doing that working I regretfully said, “I have to work.” I got the certified check for that and was able to sit back and try to figure things out. I think in the end i went restaurant, but we were actually in the casino, oh well.

Second time, I drew the spy and someone immediately turned to me and said, “What’s your favorite color?” I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE frack MY FAVORITE COLOR WAS. I said “Brown? ??” and was immediately called out. We were at the day spa. In theory I was supposed to be doing my nails. sigh


Spyfall speaks fairly directly to my social anxiety over “everyone knows something except for me”—similarly Dead Last, and honestly a lot of comedy. (I bought Dead Last on the basis of the SU&SD review before I figured this out—fortunately at a convention bring and buy so I was able to move it on for the same price.)


I have played a fair bit of Spyfall, and I still haven’t had once the Crusades scenario. I have always wanted to catch a spy saying something random completely out of place in the Middle Ages, but so far it has never happened…


I don’t really remember any “worst” sessions, other than they were probably games that ran on too long due to child interference. I know my first try introducing Inis to my wife and friends did not go over the best, as the game seemed to drag, but at least it seemed like everyone understood how to play.

Same really with “best” sessions. I mean, I remember certain games just because something funny or memorable happened, like the game of Betrayal at House on the Hill where the traitor got control of a dragon and got really cocky, only to deflate when one of the heroes went and killed it in one attack. Or a game of Nuclear War in high school using the nation powers from one of the expansions where one player got totally eradicated before they even got their turn. “Remember the Nippio!” became a cry for a bit (the name of the player’s nation).


I had some very memorable games of Battlestar Galactica in the mid 2010s. Back in the day I even wrote them down in a kind of diary word file.

I thought about translating them and posting them here but when I found the file I noticed there are 7 pages of text and that’s too much :joy:

But BSG is a great game for crazy evenings, hours of lying and betrayal culminating in one last die roll deciding the fate of humanity.