‘Wot, no eggs!’ the sympathy for Jon’s plight,
being too unwell to come along to games night,
and then of all the games to be played;
‘Last Will’ pops up, and the wreath was laid.
Attending the Wake; Philip, Woody, Scott, James, James II, Gareth II, Alex, Keith, Michel, Jeroen, Mark, Andy, John, Alistair, Tonio (yes really!), David, oh and me, Neil.
Entertainers were; Monster Factory, Terra Mystica, Troyes, Last Will, Fast Flowing Forest Fellows, Bohnanza, Lancaster
Two games of Mr Friese’s F F F Fantastic race game. The stats were on my side; played 6, won 6. My first opponent, Alistair, new to the game, to the club in fact; it was tense, competitive, close; played 7, won 7. Joined by David, another new game for him, for the second race. Closer, not quite as competitive, badly chosen route; played 8, won 7, bugger! Hearty congrats David.
Troyes (thanks Philip)
Michel’s copy with the bonus cards. I had the Chetien de Troyes (people in buildings) secret objective. The meeples were fairly evenly distributed with grey getting one red and one yellow slot. Monk (Yellow die into three white dice), Diplomat (spend influence to fight events) and Journeyman (spend influence to make money) were the first cards out but were largely ignored on the first turn.
The first turn events were War and Interruption of Work. Alex went first and, spending heavily, took out three slots in Interruption of Work, I followed up with 4 slots in War. Michel finished off War and James built the Cathedral. Their followed a fight for space in the Yellow building between Alex, me and Michel which lead to no change at all to its composition. Meanwhile James started the Journeyman. I put a die in the Cathedral before the turn ended.
Turn 2: The new cards were Confession (boost a group of dice by +2 each), Hunting (gain influence with red dice) and Innkeeper (turn money into influence). Events were Attack of the Normans and Heresy.
The combination of Innkeeper and Journeyman attracted me and I invested in it while attacking Heresy. Alex finished off interruption of work and Michel went into Diplomat to fight the Normans and Hunting to gain Influence. Everyone invested in the Cathedral.
Turn3: Pilgrimage (any colour dice to VPs), Banquet (Red dice to Vps but requires Red dice to be still in the pool) and Goldsmith (Yellow dice to Money and VPs) came out, along with Skirmishes and Civil War (everyone loses 3 money). Michel finished off Civil War, I finished off Heresy, James took a Pilgrimage slot, and Alex used the Goldsmith, minting money but pulling a meeple out of the White building to do so. There was also a fair amount of pushing and shoving in the buildings, reducing James down to 3 dice.
Turns 4-6: The events continued to come but were mostly defeated. I built up my position to the point where I had 7 dice on the final turn, Michel had 2 and James had 3. (Alex had 5 or 6 I think). James used the Monk together the Goldsmith for good effect. I stopped bothering with the Innkeeper/Journeyman combo as I had plenty of Influence and plenty of money. The final move of the game was Alex taking Banquet merely for the VPs on the card.
Secret Identities were revealed- Alex and I scored well on Chretien de Troyes, Michel and I scored well on Michel’s Influence identity, everyone scored ok on James’ Cathedral Identity, and I scored best on Alex’s Cards identity.
Anyone ever play ‘Go for Broke’ as a kid ? This is the big grown up older brother of that game wherein players are trying to find ways to spend all their money. Mark, Woody, Tonio, Keith and myself all felt like we had money to burn, and with news spreading of Jon’s impending demise the subject matter felt apt.
At its heart it’s a worker placement/turn order manipulation/card game. Players first select their turn order which also allocated a certain number of cards, workers and actions. If you want to go early in turn order then you’ll pay a price with fewer options. After this and selecting cards, players then place their workers to either gain new cards, manipulate the housing market or expand their personal board size. Finally players can play cards and/or active existing cards to try and spend cash. Quite simple really (it had to be, look who was playing), but the components make it look more fiddly than it really is.
As no-one had played before the early stages were a bit usual haphazard. Given I’d had a rule run through people looked at me like I knew what I was doing, but I’m not sure it helped. I lose track of who did what at the start on to be honest, but I think Woody brought a farm, and Keith manipulated the housing costs to buy an expensive house. Both Tonio and myself picked up a card allowing an extra action each turn, very usual as it turned out and a bonus to be able to get this in the first round.
Finding the right balance between actions, cards and turn order is the heart of the game. And a lot harder than it looks. Sometimes the move would be obvious, such as when a 1 action for 3 card was made available. Other moves are more subtle in terms of whether you got for the housing market, or just treat a few ladies to a dinner and the theatre. Tonio, being the smoothy he is was obviously doing his best to look after the ladies… Mark was also taking the hedonistic approach splashing the cash on long carriage rides, and expensive meals. Woody just kept building farms, with the dream of one day owning a pony, and buying a season ticket at Portman Road.
I managed to pick up a second bonus action card and I’d also picked up early a card giving me a bonus 3 companion cards. These combined gave me a good advantage as it took some of the turn order pressure off. I could focus on taking early turn orders while still getting a full set of actions and cards… I’d also picked up a house which I could fill and that enabled me to spend 10K a turn for a single action.
Both Woody and Keith had cards that allowed them to spend money on housing without using actions and these were working well mid game. Tonio was collecting cards like Neil collects eggs and had run out of space after 3 turns. For the next few actions he was focused on expanding his board.
One of the mechanics of the game that became apparent late was factored by the rule that you had to sell housing in order to win. Everyone had started to use up the available cash so was left with selling property in order to have more cash to get rid of. This became an important timing issue to make sure you sold up and maximised the loss. Keith was again manipulating the housing market for this, with a few action cards helping along the way. I realised that although my mansion enabling me to spend 10k each turn was great I had to sell it for 20k so was still left with a sum to lose once it had gone.
Luckily though I realised I had the bonus again of all the extra companion cards I was getting each turn so could try to pick up the white border single use cards and then treat various ladies to slap up meals (at Mrs Miggin’s Pie Shop) to fritter away the last of my wealth.
At the start of turn 6 I only had about 7k left so everyone was aware that this would be the last round. Woody had belatedly realised that the game wasn’t necessarily going to last the full 7 rounds, and everyone else was looking to see if they could also move into liquidation this round. At the end I picked up several great cards, while Tonio was 1 companion short (that might’ve been my doing) for him to complete his master plan. I ran out a comfortable winner with Mark in 2nd.
I liked the game although not as much as I’d expected. There’s a lot of subtly mixed in, as well as some luck over card availability and turn order. We didn’t use the Turn Order board for the game, mainly cause I had no idea how it was implemented. Having checked since though it looks like a good addition as sometimes players had workers left and nothing useful to do with them. This would provide a useful option. I’d certainly play this again, but need to get through a few more Essen goodies first J
Final scores… (to be confirmed tonight as they’re at home) [ten days later...]
James -10, Tonio 2, Mark 4, Keith 11, Woody 17
James -10, Tonio 2, Mark 4, Keith 11, Woody 17
Then I joined Philip, Michel and David for a game of Lancaster. My grandfather was a policeman in Lancaster, then was a prison officer there. Neither are relevant to the game, or any help to me tonight either, but certainly worth a mention.
This is a really good game for player interaction; the selection of counties, joining forces to battle the French, and the voting for laws all allow for plenty of ways of scuppering your competitors’ best laid plans.
Saying that in your first game it takes a while to decide what options are the best to go for. For Michel and David they both did really well on promoting their knights and picking up squires too. We hardly mentioned fighting the French to Michel at all, very good of us in the circumstances!
My only previous game had seen me concentrating on picking up VPs directly through battling the French and picking up nobles. I’m pretty sure I scored better this time and was happy with that strategy. Last time others went for predominantly two-target strategies as well, somehow Philip, in that wonderfully enthusiastic, caution-to-the-wind, way of his, opted for every possible strategy he could remember. And boy oh boy did it work! Well played that man.
And you’ll all be pleased to know that for my birthday last Friday my sister sent me a red wooden block, size 2 knight, to add to my own copy of the game, it wasn’t there when the game arrived. How kind is she?
Scores; Philip 84, Neil 75, David 51, Michel 46