Wednesday, 15 February 2012

"Old Wine is a true Panacea for every conceivable ill"

Ora et Labora
This was a four player game with- at my request, the French version of the cards. Players in order were me, Scott, Barrie, Gareth.
I began by building the Coin for Grain building- in France it turns one Coin into 6 Grain. I failed to notice that the French building is non-monastic and placed it right next to my monastic building...
Not sure what Scott did, but Barrie built the Stone Merchant, exchanging most of his starting goods for 2 Stone. Gareth, in the absence of the Spinning Mill, built the Fuel Merchant, raising some cash which he promptly spent on land. I finished the first turn by cutting Wood.
 The game continued with Gareth getting more coins and buying land early while Scott built the Priory and the Baker’s- not using the Baker’s but a sound investment given I’d already taken the first step to Baking Bread by picking up a heap of Grain. Barrie meanwhile had built the Market, which turns four different goods into Cash and Bread and he too bought land.

I was meanwhile having difficulties as a result of not having any coins and realising that the Windmill, France’s version of the Malthouse, costs significantly more resources and has to be built on a hill. Eventually I was able to raise the money for some hilly and mountainous terrain and build the Windmill, which is worth a respectable 10 Vps (and even more if you place a settlement near it, which I didn’t). About this time phase A began and I was only able to build a small settlement, one step up from the Shanty Town.

The Windmill turns 7 Grain into Straw and the raw ingredient for Bread (Flour)  Then the Bakery turns Flour+1/2 a Fuel into Bread and allows you to sell 2 Bread for 4 Coins each. The Fuel requirement means the Bakery effectively consumes everything you produced at the Windmill, unlike Ireland where you end up with surplus Straw. I needed to Bake Bread but once again I had no money, which I would need to pay Scott, who had built the Baker’s with exactly that aim in mind...

Meanwhile Barrie was going into viticulture, with a Grape Vine and a Cloister Garden (plus one Grape, use an adjacent empty building) next to one another. Gareth had built the Slaughterhouse although not used it. I somehow found the Coin I needed to pay Scott, which gave me a further eight coins which allowed me to buy some Seaside and build the Fishing Village in time for phase B.

Barrie completed his Wine production with the Grapes to Wine (and 1 Wine to 7 Coins) building, also next to his Cloister Garden, increasing costs of using other player’s buildings to two coins (or one wine). Floundering somewhat and as ever short of Coin I built the Shipyard and turned the 5 coin/2 VP token it produces into coins. Scott made some use of my Windmill and his Bakery, turning 2 Wheat into 8 Coins, and indeed Scott was now making money hand over fist, which would later enable him to build the Palace (costs 25 coins, worth loads of Vps). Gareth meanwhile had built a Quarry and his supply of Stone helped him later with the Castle.

The end game saw me completing a couple of monastic buildings, one of which allowed me to take Wood and Peat with the same action and the other of which gave me 2 VPs per monastic building, which I took as a Chalice. Barrie had a monastic building which gave Pots and Books, so I now had the full set of lesser VP items, but I was unable to turn them into an icon because I had run out of space for monastic buildings (the Guesthouse in Ireland becomes the Hospice, a monastic building, in France). However, I was able to make more points anyway through settlements- Gareth’s Slaughterhouse and another trip to the Bakery providing the necessary Food, and Gareth’s Castle allowing me to place the crucial extra settlement with my last action of the game.

Meanwhile  Barrie had turned 15 Cash into 2 Chalices with the Forger’s Workshop while Scott continued to raise cash and build expensive buildings. No one managed to complete an icon.
Scott 200 Me 190 Gareth 165? Barrie 149.
Meanwhile a series of shorter games played out elsewhere...
Airships (thanks Jon)
This was a 2-player duel between Jon and Dan. The Hinden-meeple spent much of the game switching sides, as each player wanted to use the one-pip advantage that it gave. Dan picked up a couple of cards with nice juicy VP’s on them, but Jon had been collecting numerous cheap airships which was just enough to sneak out a win. This is actually a great 2-player game (as well as 3-4) – quick and simple, with enough decisions to keep it interesting.
Jon 18; Dan 16
From modernity to Ancient Greece...
Peloponnes (thanks Jon)
This was new to Dan and Noel, but they soon picked up the fairly simple mechanics. Noel fell foul to an early earthquake (losing 2 buildings), whilst Dan and Jon continued a steady building pattern. However, Jon ran out of money on 2 occasions, and also failed to provide his population with any immunity to plague or drought, which resulted in mass death for his people. Dan had been a little more astute, and his immunity to plague kept his population strong enough to achieve victory.
This was a completely different game to last week, and indicates that the replayability level may be high with this game, with the disasters coming out at random times, as well as the tiles.
Dan 18 pop (22 build); Noel 12 pop (17 build); Jon 6 pop (22 build)
A quick abstract...
No Thanks (but thanks anyway to Jon)
Welcome back No Thanks! Only time for one round, but it ended with a close finish (apart from Noel, whose lack of cash-flow left him picking up some juicy high numbers….)
Dan 44; Jon 46; Noel 90
And another quick card game...
Kakerlaken Poker (thanks Jon)
To end the night, Noel pulled out this strange little bug card game with incredibly simple rules (pass a card to an opponent; say what’s on it; opponent has to guess whether you’re telling the truth or lying; if they’re right you get the card back; if they’re wrong, they keep the card. Oh – and collecting cards is generally bad.)
As the owner of the game, Noel was obviously a target, and soon had enough cards in front of him to end the game. At that point, Scott had he fewest and was deemed the winner.
This is actually quite a fun little bluffing game – I hope that Noel brings it again.
Scott won; Everyone else lost; Noel was destroyed
Retracing our steps to an earlier performance...
Show Manager (thanks Paul)
Show Manager was brought along by John who described it as a simple game with some agonising decisions.

In essence it is a set collecting game. The players must all put on four shows in different cities around the world. The 'sets' to collect are the actors in each of the plays, and each actor has one or more favoured roles that they can play, taking different points for each one. There are four draw piles which display the actors for each player to select, and pay a higher amount for the cards that had been on display for the lesser amount of time.

The points are awarded for the best plays put on in each city, which is calculated by the number of points that each of the characters in each play generate. New York has the highest points for the best play, but the lowest points for the worst play, so it benefited the players to head to New York if they were confident of a good performance. At the other end of the scale, Toisdorf awarded less for the best play, but more for the worst, which were obviously the favoured choices if the score for the play was less confident.

The first few rounds involved lots of collecting actors, but with a hand limit of eight, plays started to open fairly quickly. Tom kicked off the productions by putting on the Ballet in Bochun, followed by John and Andy to earn a place on the board, but Paul delayed a bit to his cost. He'd forgotten another little rule which states that a player can only put on a play if when his actors have been deployed, he has no more than two cards left. He tried to put on Wolf, the three actor play with eight cards in his hand, so instead was forced to put on the Ballet being the only six card play, wasting many good cards and gaining a very low score in the process. Soon after he did manage to clock up a respectable score in New York, which helped to make up for it.

Subsequent rounds saw grimaces on the faces of the producers as the actors they wanted never came. Consequently a trend of raising money against existing shows, followed by paying money to have the cards displayed on the draw piles being replaced - most of the time to no avail.

The last round of plays put on allowed Paul also nip in with the highest score for Queenie at Toisdorf, which turned out to be sufficient to take the game.

A simple but fun game which will no doubt get some takers when it next makes an appearance.

Paul: 43, John: 36, Tom: 33, Andy: 22

P.S “Old Wine is a true Panacea for every conceivable ill” is a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s the Grand Duke.

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