Sunday, February 20, 2011

BoardGameGathering: Thunderstone, Pandemic, Earth Reborn

2/5/2011: We had another GameDay over at Brother Brett's: This one was a little more chaotic. One of the risks of getting together four to five IT mail/database guys on any given Saturday, is that it's not unlikely that someone's going to be doing weekend IT maintenance, or working some type of outage. And it was so on this outing.

On the upside, with the change in participants we were able to visit some paths less taken, game-wise: :P

Turned to Stone (AEG's Thunderstone): We started the day with a first-time run (for three of four of us), into designer Mike Elliott's Thunderstone. In addition to the base game, we had the Wrath of the Elements and Doomgate Legion expansions in the mix. I've played TS off and on for the last 3-4 months, and another of our group had also played Dominion (the game that initiated some of the core mechanics used in TS, albeit in a more abstract form). So we sailed in smoothly without too much discussion or learning curve.

(right: One of my recent solo games of Thunderstone)

For folks unfamiliar with the game, Thunderstone is a 'deck-building' game. Sort of a distant descendant of Magic: The Gathering. But in deck-building games, as differentiated from M:tG-style 'Collectible Card Games'(CCG), rather than an approach of 'pre-build a stock deck long before playing, and 'play' by using the deck to attack an opponent', in games like TS, the 'deck-building' process occurs over the course of the game and that process is one of the core mechanics and core goals of the game. You start with a minimal 'deck', and build or buy your way up to a better one. By the end of the game the winner is generally the player with the best deck, as measured in victory points (VP).

Oh, and one other fundamental difference from CCG's: Thunderstone's cards are not collectible. The full range of cards used in the game ship with the game. And as to the expansions, unlike CCG's (which give a substantial advantage to the player that spends real money to buy 'better' cards), TS expansions don't grant any edge to players using the expansions. The expansions simply enlarge the range of card types and the features of the game. So it's not a sinking expense hole, or an on-going load on your wallet.:P

For folks familiar with the prior game 'Dominion', TS adds a bit more 'theme' to the mix, by adding a 'Dungeon' deck of monsters, which are advancing out and need to be attacked with a player's deck. You 'build-up' your deck by visiting 'The Village' - an array of twelve piles cards for 'weapons', 'spells', 'useful-villagers', 'light-sources' (you've got to 'light' a dungeon to see what you're trying to hit :P), and general equipment. The Village piles also include four random types of 'heroes' to hire to do the 'fighting' function in your deck.

The idea is that you simply 'buy' your way to the heroes and equipment you need, by using the gold value reflected on some of your cards. Over time, you buy better heroes & equipment, defeat monsters that bring you more gold (or other advantages), and then buy even better heroes & equipment. Wash, rinse, repeat, and continue killing your way through the 'Dungeon' deck of monsters, until the 'Thunderstone' card comes to the top of the pile and advances to the last space of the Dungeon. At that point each player tallies up the Victory Points of their monsters killed, and the high-VP player wins.

On any particular turn, each player has three essential choices: Go 'shopping' in the Village (where you can also upgrade your 'heroes' to stronger versions), Descend into the Dungeon to fight one of three monsters visible at it's entrance, or 'Rest', which enables you to throw out one of your less-useful cards to thin-out your deck.

And thinning your deck is a critical point: An optimally-functioning deck will have you drawing the heroes you need to fight in the dungeon, along with suitable weapons, spells, or light-sources, every hand, with very little deadwood, or useless cards that you don't need. The only way to make that happen is to keep your deck as 'thin' as possible and optimized to solely your most useful cards.

The game is kept interesting in the long-run by making available a wide array of different types of monsters, heroes, and equipment. At the beginning of the game, you figure out which monsters to use, by shuffling a random stack of monster types and picking three. The same process applies to heroes and equipment (pick 4 types at random and 8 types at random, of each). The expansions essentially add in new types of monsters and heroes, and other new card types, along with new variant rules.

It's also worth noting that TS makes for one hell of a single-player game. I've definitely enjoyed a lot of solo Thunderstone play. :^)

The game took a little longer than typical, while everyone got up to speed. But I think everyone enjoyed themselves, and I'm pretty sure TS will see a return in future outings. When playing with folks that know the game, setup takes about 5-10 minutes and you can knock out a full game in approximately an hour. Things tend to move along pretty quickly, and there's generally not a lot of 'downtime', as each player spends the time between turns planning their next turn. It's also not a particularly complicated game; folks have been known to teach Thunderstone and Dominion to their 8 to 9 year olds. Good stuff all the way around. I heartily recommend it.

Like Wildfire (Z-Man Games' Pandemic): For the follow-up game, player number five had gotten his migration/outage to a point where he could monitor a laptop and still play a game. So we decided to tackle a session of Matt Leacock's Pandemic. Several of the regulars had played Pandemic before, as had our most recent new attendee, so it seemed a natural choice. And since we now had five players, we needed to use the On The Brink expansion, which adds additional optional player roles and variant rules, in addition to a fifth player of components.

Pandemic came out in 2008 and took the gaming world by storm, through it's novel theme and new mechanics for abstractly modeling the way that an epidemic spreads, and the broad ways that the Center for Disease Control attempts to slow and turn the tide on raging outbreaks.

It highly abstracts the above concepts, but the basic idea of the game is that each player is randomly assigned a cooperative 'role' in fighting outbreaks or researching and delivering cures, and there are four disease strains breaking out in random cities around the globe. The 'pandemics' are seeded at the start of the game, by drawing three random cities which each receive three colored 'disease' cubes. Then three more cities are drawn and two cubes are applied in those places. And then a final three cities are drawn, and a single disease cube placed in each of those places. This sets up the world stage to be ripe for 'outbreaks'.

The 'outbreak' trigger point to the game is that no city can contain more than three disease cubes of a given color, and that a fourth immediately causes outbreaks in each adjoining city (modeled by placing single new cubes in all connected cities, one hop away). This 'outbreak' process can cause fresh outbreaks to cascade from city to city. And it's the job of the players to run around from city to city treating the various diseases while assembling enough city cards (5) to finally cure a given disease.

The opponent 'disease' process is played in this game, by having each player, at the end of their turn, complete a series of actions that automatically 'seed' further infections by drawing and infecting fresh cities.

The nifty innovation that makes a 'bad' outbreak worse, is that Mr. Leacock has specific cards in the deck that cause the players to take all of the cards used to generate prior outbreaks, and reshuffle them right back on top of the disease-outbreak draw pile. In this way, diseases start in a particular set of cities, and those cities become more and more likely to see re-outbreaks. Combine this with the 'cascading outbreaks' mechanic above, and you've got a situation that rapidly gets out of control if the players don't rapidly get things under control. :^D

In other words, it's a fun game. And it was fun on this outing. :D
BUT, I do have to make an observation: Pandemic is a lot easier with five players than it is using two, when playing by solely the base rules. With two you have to run like a madman to stay ahead of outbreaks. But with five players you've got plenty of people tackling outbreaks and collecting the materials for cures. So it shifts from a frantic and tense game, to more of a leisurely conversational game. :^P

Anyway, it was entertaining, and killed another hour or so.

The Birth of the Cool (Z-Man Games' Earth Reborn): One of our group had to leave at that point, and a second decided to only watch our next game. So our last run of the night was to crack open 'cold' my new copy of designer Christophe Boelinger's Earth Reborn. Earth Reborn is a massively detailed tactical miniatures game, set in a post-apocalyptic America, 500 years after a nuclear Armageddon. As to its inspirations, the game is a definite conceptual descendant of Space Hulk.

In ER, two to four players play as either the NORAD survivors or Salemite cultists pitted against each other through a series of kill-or-be-killed scenarios. The game includes a dizzying array of map components, doors, radios, bombs, and other various equipment tokens and bits, along with 12 exquisitely detailed miniatures representing the combatants, a sizable pile of cards and a stack of specialized dice. Oh, and if you haven't gotten a clue from the cover art and game-layout-picture above, this game owes a ton to the pc/video game Fallout.

The game has a lot of depth, and a 44-page rule book. Yup, 44 pages. On the plus side, the game attempts to scale up it's rather sizable rules set a bit at a time. For example, in the first scenario, the player is walked through building a map from all of the bits, and then utilizing two of the available actions in the game (Movement and Close Combat), to introduce basic concepts. In like manner each scenario introduces more detail until the range of actions and options are taught.

It's had some wildly positive reviews (like Michael Barnes' or Frank Branham's pieces at Fortress Ameritrash), and is widely reputed to be the second coming of 'Sliced Bread'. :P

Or at least that's the theory. :P Unfortunately, I hadn't gotten beyond opening the box, punching out the bits, and building the map for the initial scenario, before I brought it to this particular GameDay. Of course I knew that ER was too much game, too complicated to kick-start without a lot of prep; I'd brought it because it was one of the cooler boxes of bits I'd seen in awhile, and I knew we had a series of games we planned to actually play, instead. :P So I figured we'd pop the lid and ooh and ahh a bit, and put it away.

Unfortunately, a confluence of events got us through fewer games than we'd planned, and fewer players available at that point, earlier in the night than usual. We had some time left, but not enough to get into anything particularly heavy, and not enough players to play some of what we had. So opening ER and trying to work our way through one of the downloaded 3-4 player scenarios seemed a reasonable undertaking. Erm. That was really a mistake. We 'might' have gotten through one of the core-manual's 2-player scenarios, with it's larger more detailed map. But attempting to put together all of the various 2-sided tiles, based on an inkjet printout, was a slow, eye-straining process.

I can tell you that this game profoundly needs test driving by at least one player, prior to putting it in front of a group. The manual, though designed to be a slow introduction, has the relevant bits distributed widely enough, that it can be problematic to absorb quickly. Add the substantial setup time for map building (20-30minutes in most cases), and you've got a recipe for downtime and confusion. Not exactly a good combo when pitching a new game. So needless to say, by the time Earth Reborn left the table, it was a) a relief, and b) not a major hit with the group. I'll admit the fault is mine: I shouldn't have let it come out 'cold'. But, the game's supporters are absolutely rabid on the subject, and that it's worth the hassle to get your arms around. So I hope to get some more prep time into the box - maybe even type up another of the many manual rules summary sheets I've done for other games - before I try another run at getting it to the table at one of our gatherings in the future.

Net review from this end: Pretty and well-liked. But needs work, from both players and in terms of pre-game-prep. What it could really use are some solid aftermarket player-aids, and for someone to writeup a lengthy article on how to efficiently store & organize everything in the box, to cut the setup/tear-down time down. :^D

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Back to Our Roots (Days of Wonder's Ticket to Ride: Europe)

1/27/2011: Saturday night, and we had a fresh 'Dinner & Gaming Night' invitation from the friends that started my whole two year odyssey through the world of board games.  Yup, two years ago in October of 2008 we'd had a prior visit with our friends, and they'd served up one of their amazing meals, and introduced my wife and I to playing dominoes and Mille Bornes. I hadn't played much beyond the odd game of Risk or Monopoly in the prior fifteen to twenty years, when it came to board/table games. So the fact that our cool & respected friends put their seal of approval on the concept, made it ne plus ultra cool!

We'd had them over for a night of Dinner & Games of our own, a year or two ago (for a game of the Gloom card game; fun!). And made an attempt at another dinner & gaming gathering the eve before last Halloween. Sadly that outing had promise - I'd planned to take a run at Avalon Hill's reprint of Betrayal at House on the Hill -- but the 'game' portion of the evening went a bit off the rails, due to lack of interest from some of our guests. But the dessert & port portion went pretty well! :D 

So now, it's January of 2011, and I've gone from a handful of games to a sizable collection. So this go-round it was my turn to introduce them to some cool games. Tough niche to serve though: Although they routinely play & enjoy games, I believe they tend to be more in the card, dice or dominoes traditional social games niche. So I needed to bring a classic gateway game (or two or three). Games with simple rules, an hour or so of playtime, and fairly uncomplicated components and scale

They'd specifically asked about Betrayal: I'd described it to everyone last October as sort of a game of the 1963 Robert Wise version of the movie 'The Haunting'. But since that time I'd had a chance to play it with a group of regular gamers, and found that although it played quickly was fairly simple and not hard to grasp, it was probably not the best gateway game; the mid-game switch in play to the Hidden Traitor mechanic really could weird out folks new to board gaming.

So once again I went to the A-Number-One Go-To Gateway Game™: It's fast. It's simple. Most importantly it's fun & engaging. And most folks can get their head around the theme of 'Turn of the Century Railroad Expansion'.
-- OK, that may sound dry as toast, but ignore the theme, the game is actually fun, in spite of its apparently dry theme!
And bonus: It's even entertaining for regular gamers to play! :P

I'm talking of course about Alan R. Moon's Ticket to Ride. Or more-specifically the TTR:Europe version with the TTR:1912 expansion (visible at right).

As expected, we had an excellant meal, and then retired to their amazing third floor "entertainment complex" to get to gaming (I'd kill to have a game room like theirs :^D). To cover all bases, I'd brought the aforementioned TTR:Europe, Jeff Siadek's Lifeboat, and Matt Leacock's Forbidden Island. I broadly described the games, and the fast consensus was to try TTR.

I'll admit to a dumb initial mistake: Since I've gotten used to playing with other 'gamers' at our GameDay gatherings, I settled right in to starting to dryly read/quote the rules from the book, without actually getting the game underway. As a result I could viscerally feel the attention spans at the table contracting to a rapidly shrinking dot.:D So, we cut right to Plan B: Dispense with the Reading of the Rules, and just start drawing and playing  cards, explaining each step as it was undertaken. MUCH better choice!Within a time or two around the table, everyone was pretty well up to speed and underway.

Quick overview of TTR and it's mechanics:  The game board depicts a large map of railway lines in Europe, with each route segment between cities designated in one of five colors (WITH color-blind-friendly symbols!) . Two to five players play the game by attempting to draw cards and collect suitable sets of matching-colored cards, to line-up with and 'claim' route-segments on the board (which they mark by placing a row of little colored trains on the route). Points are pegged around the board's perimeter, as routes are claimed (one per car), with additional points given for completing separate 'Ticket' cards that grant points for successfully claiming specific routes on the board. Game play continues round the board until one player has placed all of their little train tokens on a route. Winner is the person with the highest number of pegged points.

Well, that's about the size of it. Variations in play between the original TTR and the various other flavors of the game largely come down to different geography on the map, and the addition of some rules and token variations. It's a nice, simple and fun game, that almost anyone can play.

As with any new game, it took a little while to get things up and running, but an hour or so later, we got positive comments from both of our hosts: "You know, this game is fun! I could play this again. Where do you buy this?"  Mission accomplished! :D

The late-evening wind-down was accomplished over a 25 or 30 minute game of a home rendition of Farkle. You know, for all of my experience divining rules, and figuring out arcane technical subjects at work, that game of Farkel had me guessing at scoring and rules, like an 8 year old trying to play Monopoly. :^D

All in all, I think we did well. I know we _ate_ well. And I think we may even try moving up the hierarchy a little, the next time around! :)

This makes for the third or fourth time I've pulled TTR out of my sock for introducing new-boardgame players to actual 'adult-caliber' games. And in every case, TTR has come through with flying colors. Ticket to Ride is definitely a game that should be sitting on most board gamer's shelves, specifically for these type of occasions. Heck, we've got two copies: A copy of TTR:Europe here at home, and a copy of the original TTR up at our cabin. :) 

BoardGameGathering: Castle Ravenloft, Defenders of the Realm, Battlestar Galactica

1/15/11:  Four guys, and a new player in the mix, so why not take a stroll up to the Castle? Right off the bat, it didn't take long to reach a consensus that we should revisit Wizards of the Coast's Castle Ravenloft. CR is a 'light/fast' dungeon crawl. If you're familiar with it's progenitor Dungeons & Dragons, CR attempts to take some of D&D's standard character classes & monsters, and the core concept of dungeon questing, and simplify and speed things up, to make it all come together quickly and easily, and make a typical game take approximately an hour or less.

CR (and it's soon to be released follow-ups Wrath of Ashardalon and Legend of Drizzt) utilize puzzle-like tiles, and special trigger-tiles positioned at a random location in the tile stack, to stage critical plot-points. In addition, the game brings in a unique new monster-control mechanic: Rather than rely on a player controlling the monsters as a formal 'Dungeon Master', CR has a nifty card-based if/then formula for every monster that fully automates its behavior. Using this system, every player runs the monsters they drew, each of their turns. This lets everyone play an explorer. It also substantially automates and simplifies the entire process. You can pop open the box on CR, and be playing in well under 15 minutes, then play a complete scenario to completion in 30mins to an hour.

For our  part, we tackled one of the later scenarios, and though we had fun, the range of beasties and villains in the scenario roundly wiped up the floor with us; that is, between bouts of chasing us from point to point on the level. Good fun, quickly had.

Defending the Defenders: Next up was a cold run at Richard Launius' Defenders of the Realm. DotR is a fantasy board game that takes the core Pandemic mechanic ("more than 4 of a 'disease' in a single city, causes an expansion of the disease into adjoining connected cities, which may in turn regenerate outbreaks of their own") and applies it to an invasion by four different groups of nasties, as led by four different generals. As per Pandemic, the purpose of the game is to wipe out the assembling minions, and eventually amass enough strength to take on and wipe-out the Generals, before they arrive at the land's capital city.

The game has had a generally good reputation and pretty decent array of reviews (albeit generally with some reservations). And the Pandemic mechanic does make for a fun game in a fantasy setting. But I can absolutely agree with the range of opinions that the game has more than its share of flaws: For one thing, right off the bat, the game's manual is in serious need of more illustrations and better organization. For another although I grew up on and absolutely loved Larry Elmore's D&D illustrations (even had a red dragon poster of his on my bedroom wall as a teen) , the art and more specifically his font choices (Comic Sans on the cover? Ye Gods! What was the man thinking!) both looked less than ideal. Not to mention his use of a variety of detailed serif fonts in bad-contrast color schemes, left large parts of the board almost unreadable, without one of the player-developed cheat sheets for the map.

A direct impact in our group, on the manual issues, was that it took awhile to get the game in the air due to some extended time spent sorting out exactly what each of the token types actually look like, and where they were supposed to go. Yup! The manual generally lacks examples, especially on the pages that describe setup steps.

For what it's worth, I personally burnt some time the following day, to write-up my own illustrated DotR reference sheet (uploaded over at BGG). Hopefully, if I can talk the other folks in to it again, we'll be able to give DotR a better shot. I know there's a solid and FUN game hiding in there, but it takes some patience to get up the curve on it, and on to the fun. :D

 Another dance with Number Six: Round-about 8:30 or 9, it became clear that we had a quorum to take on another run at Corey Konieczka's Battlestar Galactica. No matter how much I made faces and whined. :P Yea, we have a history with BG: Three of us took a run at the game over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and I ended up spending several hours in the Brig, reading my Blackberry, while the game ran on for 3.5 hours altogether, before it was mercifully put to death by concession at 1:30 in the morning.

It's a sincere understatement to say I'm not BSG's biggest fan - though I absolutely LOVED the TV series. IMHO the game is a light 'poison voting' mechanic dressed up with some contrived emergency decision making, all aimed at forcing the hidden 'Cylon' to reveal himself over the course of several hours. There's not a lot of 'game' there. It's almost completely a social exercise in paranoia and distrust.

So, we took a fresh run at it, with four players -- Fans say three-player BSG is guaranteed to suck, as it will often pit one 'Hidden-Cylon' and one 'Dupe' -- Er I'm sorry, I meant 'human' -- running around loose, while one misidentified other human sits in the Brig space. Wow! deja vu! Sounds like those folks sat in on our Thanksgiving outing. :P

Another pet peeve mine, regarding the game is the substantial imbalance in character abilities and dynamics. The President and Admiral roles are hugely powerful, while the remainder of character choices are on a gradient fading from meh, to absolutely worthless. After several rounds of 'character picking', I had my choice of the Pilots (characters whose raison d'etre is to wait for Cylon ships to attack so that they can climb in a viper and... well wait for Cylons to attack). Anyway, by this point around the table, it seems the political and command positions had been locked up.So I had my pick of the also-rans. At that point I decided to just throw in for some fun, and chose Boomer, the suspected cylon with a guaranteed trip to the Brig at the Loyalty Phase. Oddly enough, 90mins in, my Boomer didn't actually get Brigged: seems our Baltar player had decided use his special Cylon Detector skill to validate that I wasn't actually a toaster, which made my Boomer the only non-Cylon he could be sure of. :P

Anyway, after four hours of wrestling, we finally failed to make our final jump in time, and lost to the Cylon. W00hoo. Er. Yea. At that point it was well after 1:30am again, and I was dying to get home.

To be fair, I have it on good authority (from the BSG forums at, that our attempts at BSG have been broad tactical and strategic failures. It's not supposed to take the humans long to figure out that anyone cooling their heels in the Brig is just costing the humans the card draws, actions and votes they need to keep things moving (the human goal of the game is to survive a full series of jumps. The hidden-Cylon needs do little more than thwart that goal, to win). The Brig character shouldn't have to wheedle their way out. Once the humans can even vaguely determine that the brigged character may not be a cylon, self-interest should drive springing them. So maybe, our next outing will be different. I know that some reviewer's who's opinions I respect a lot, absolutely love the game.

Hmmm. Well I still think a game that relies on 'smart' players, to deliver fun, has huge holes in the rule set. *shrug* Pftftft.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BoardGameGathering: Game Day at Black Rock (Survive, Mystery of the Abbey, Betrayal at House on the Hill & Cyclades):

Great day of gaming at Brother Brett's.

1/13/11 Opened the day up with a Lite-n-Quick™ pass at the new edition of Survive: Escape from Atlantis! . I'd just received the new release earlier in the week on a pre-order from Stronghold Games (the preorder bundle included a bonus "Giant Squid" expansion). Fun, light, easy-to-learn. Completes in well under an hour. Definitely delivers on the game's prior vintage reputation from the old mid-80's Parker Brothers edition..I've never seen the original to compare, but the current wooden bits are quite nice. I'd give this one a 7 out of 10: I'll play it pretty much anytime it hits the table.

We then played a game of Mystery of the Abbey. Interesting game. Sort of a variant of Clue, with a broader set of attributes to track and exclude, to determine who the perpetrator was. Doesn't move quite as fast as the other games we played that day. But its short enough to make a decent change of pace game.
After breaking for dinner, we came back and took a run at the recent Second Edition re-release of Avalon Hill's classic and long out-of-print Betrayal at House on the Hill.

The premise here is that the initial players are playing through a standard 'night in a haunted house' movie: Players wander from random room to room, finding materials, having encounters, and collecting items. Eventually (determined by a die roll with increasing likelihood as time passes), the formal 'Haunt' is triggered, and one of the players is revealed as The Traitor!
From that point, it's the Traitor's job to wipe out the Explore/Hero players using an array of new monsters or supernatural powers. And the Heroes are of course obliged to respond in kind and battle to survive the night! :D

There are an array of 50 haunts to play. Which you play is randomly determined by a combination of a room and a card at the time the Haunt begins. So you'll seldom battle the same 'Haunt' twice.

Fun game. Fairly simple rule set. Seems well-suited to trying with non-gamer's as well; you can always sell it as, "... like playing the 1963 film 'The Haunting'".

We/The Heroes didn't win, but the denouement actually was suspensful and a race to survive. It ended up playing down pretty close to a creaky old horror film plot...
...and the Traitor sucked the house,
and everyone in it,
directly to Hell

I enjoyed it. I think everyone else did as well. I'd give it a pretty solid 7.5 to 8.
Finally, to wrap up the night, we took a 3-player run at Cyclades. This was probably the top game of the night!

The rules are well-covered in review over at the game link above. But in a nutshell, the game uses an auction-for-the-gods-favor mechanic to distribute very limited resources. Each player seeks to supplicate the right mixture of gods to build their way to two metropolis-level cities, or, if their feeling a bit nasty, to send forth the Beasties of Legend to harass their competitors.:P

Fast-moving. Little downtime. Plays in an hour or so. It's got solid stratee-gery and loads of cut-throat play. All of which keeps things interesting no matter who's turn it is to pitch the gods first.
There's a reason it's been on the top of a lot of Game of the Year lists for 2010. :^D

Also: Cyclades has GREAT bits as well, including some damn-fine little plastic monsters. Hey who doesn't want to yell "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!"? :p
This one is a pretty solid 8.5 and up.

Very likely to make returns to future gatherings. :D

Good stuff! We started around 1pm, and wrapped up around 1am. Four games over 12 hours isn't exactly a screaming pace. But considering that we were tackling a series of new unfamiliar games, everyone had fun, and the 'wins' made their way completely around the table, it was a pretty successful gathering!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Da Bar is in da Howse!

11/30/10: We finally got the bar moved from the porch into the house! Yea! :^D
I don't know how many guys can say, "My wife found and insisted that we buy a bar!" :D Amazing antique store buy.
 And it's completely full from day one!  Four years of tiki-drink mixology bits & bottles certainly look larger in the bar than they did in the built-in in the dining room!