Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"The Trade that we Ply"

“The Trade that we Ply”
Two weeks are combined into one for this entry, and still we only have 4 games in total...
We begin with a final vindication of my railroading abilities...
Steam (thanks Jon)
4 players – and several choices of games to play – and the one they agreed on was Steam (which gave Jon his newly-acquired ‘train obsession’ fix for another week…)
Philip and John had played before, and Philip did a reasonable job of remembering and teaching (most of!) the rules…
We played the basic game, which is supposedly halfway between Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon in terms of complexity. Jon was start player and set up camp in the centre of the map. Philip went to the North East, and James and John shared the North West and the bit between Jon and Philip.
Philip had very quickly set up an unopposed section in the corner of the map, and had created a nice little loop to enable him to make longer deliveries. John diversified into the South West and started pillaging goods cubes that Jon had intended to deliver. James, meanwhile, was getting into a little piece of the action in several locations.
After about 3 or 4 rounds, the players had nearly maxed out their income, and transferred their gains into victory points. Philip was the first to do this, and with the help of some Urbanisations, he kept his network in the North East running and pulled into an unassailable lead.
The other 3 players were fighting it out for second place, and thanks to stealing the use of a newly placed (by John) grey city, Jon was able to make 5 consecutive 4-point deliveries to edge ahead of James.
Philip 50; Jon 37; James 36; John 31
Progress to a party game in more senses than one..

Crappy Birthday (thanks Jon)
John brought this little party game along, which is basically Gift Trap in reverse – pick the worst gifts possible for each player, and hope that they decide that out of all the choices, yours is truly the crappest.
It turns out that Scott is best at giving crap gifts, so my heart goes out to Amanda when it comes round to birthday time…….
Then a quick filler
Kingdom Builder (thanks Jon)
Half an hour left, just time for another outing of Kingdom Builder. There were 2 mutually exclusive scoring cards (points for lots of settlements / points for settlements in one group) and another which encouraged building around the cities and landmarks.
Philip picked up the most ‘add another settlement’ tiles, and was therefore able to end the game with Scott and Jon still having settlements in hand, which was probably the deciding factor in his victory.
Philip 44; Jon 37; Scott 33
And finally a traditional euro, though set in America.
Gareth had brought his latest worker placement game and Barrie, Neill and I all joined him. Although the basic elements (place workers, obtain resources, build buildings, score victory points) were familiar there were extra features. Each round three things are auctioned- normally the chance to build buildings of a particular type. The fourth player gets compensation by advancing along the ‘railroad development track’ and taking the depicted item or one he could have taken earlier.
Not unsurprisingly everyone was being fairly conservative in their bidding for this first game and bids stayed low until the final round. The auction uses a similar system to Amun-Re, except you can directly overbid an opponent. I persistently opted for compensation, winning an item in only three out of ten auctions. Gareth and Neill almost never took compensation, while Barrie dabbled in it.

Players can buy and sell goods freely at any time through the ‘marketplace’ (not to be confused with the ‘market’ which is just one of the buidings available). Selling goods scores a VP per good and money prices for selling/buying are the same. The catch is that for every transaction you must pay a trade token. Trade tokens are generated by commercial buildings and also available as compensation. We all had plenty of trade tokens on turn 10, perhaps suggesting a failure to use them earlier. If you have a spare dollar then you can make 1VP per two trade tokens by repeatedly buying and selling wood, so the surplus wasn’t harmful...

If you don’t have enough ready cash you can take a loan from the bank- borrow $2 pay back $5 or lose Vps at game end by a complicated formula. Gareth had a building which wrote off loans and everyone else was able to write off all or almost all loans with their spare cash at game end.  Again, perhaps more experienced players would have ended in greater debt but with more return on investment.
Three resources aren’t worth VPs (Wood, Food, Steel), three are worth 2 VPs each (Copper, Livestock, Gold). Gareth quickly built up to Copper and Gold production, while I was reduced to claiming Copper and Livestock as compensation in the auction phase. I also built up an impressive pile of wood, since the basic building produces Wood and I wasn’t spending it on anything else. I also had a very small workforce, 2 workers to about 5 for the other players.
The game is divided into ten turns, turns 1-4 are settlement phase, turns 5-8 town phase, turns 9 and 10 city phase (and there is an extra income phase after turn 10). Each phase has its own buildings with a limited overlap between town and settlement. The city buildings are all Vp related rather than generating goods and income.
The first auction I won, in turn 2 or 3, allowed me to buy a commercial building, generating trade tokens and giving a $1 bonus when selling goods. Then in turn 6 or 7 I was able to build a church, worth 10 VPs and earning 2 VPs a turn. In the final turn there was intense bidding and I ended up selling off my wood to pay for my  bid on the third item, which was a straight 6 VPs.
Gareth was the clear winner, but I was surprised to find myself in second place. I must apologise to Gareth for my less than enthusiastic demeanour at the end of the game- I ‘m keen to play the game again and see what happens if there is more competitive bidding...
Gareth 58 Philip 47 Neil 46, Barrie 33.
P.S “The Trade that we Ply” is a quotation from the Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan

No comments:

Post a Comment