Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Doctor is In

A hello from your erstwhile editor:

Hello loyal readers!  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this week's shindig so I have nothing to contribute other than to wrestle with Blogspot's awkward formatting and deleting all of Jon's ellipses.  However, having seen that two games were played by Herr Doctor Knizia, I could not miss the opportunity to invoke Ra.  Enjoy!

Players: James, Gareth, Neil, Jon, Philip, Amanda, Paul, Andy, John B, Luka, Donald

Newbies Luka and Donald were work colleagues of James (apparently he’s their boss) and they impressed us with their refusal to show due deference to him. We’re more than happy to see them return again.

Lost Cities (thanks Paul)

Gareth and Paul arrived early and Paul had Lost Cities primed and ready to go as he hand't played it for ages. 

As soon as they started their first missions (Ed: way to get into the deep Knizian theme, Paul), everyone else started to arrive, so they only played one hand (rather than the usual three) so that everyone else could join in.

After this one and only hand Paul was ahead, but who knows how it would have turned out; after all Gareth was to Paul's left.

High Society (thanks Jon)

A good number of IBG’ers turned up early, resulting in a couple of fillers being played whilst the numbers were finalised. One of these was the excellent Knizia classic, High Society, which was new to Amanda, but James explained the rules (more on that later…)

After the first round, James left the table to take a phone call (apparently Yeovil FC are looking for a new benefactor and had heard that James had just been given a huge pay raise) so the others bid for him. In his absence, he surprisingly failed to win any bids, despite the temptation to let him have the ‘1’ card for £30m.

Amanda took two of the negative cards (the thief and the x ½), but was fortunate to pick up the ‘1’ card immediately after the thief, which effectively gave her a profit over the other players.

Jon gave in to the pressure to take the -5 when the bidding got too high, but was then struggling to pick up any positive cards cheaply enough.

Donald picked up an early x2, and then bided his time to add the ‘10’ to his portfolio, giving him a potentially game-winning score of 20. The question was – how much cash did he have left in hand?

It was at this point, Amanda queried the process for adding bids – she was under the impression that you had to add a higher card each time you bid – and blamed James for his unclear rules explanation (where have we heard that before?)

Luka had sneaked his score up to 14, so was sitting pretty if he had more cash left than Donald. Jon and James needed to obtain another status symbol, but for a bargain, as neither were very flush for cash. So as the end-game approached, they were left with the usual difficult decisions about whether to bid for further cards, which would potentially give them the least cash and therefore eliminate them – but without more points, they couldn’t win anyway. Delicious.

The last red card was turned over, James and Jon had failed to pick up any more points, and so all eyes turned to Donald as he revealed his remaining cash reserves – which turned out to be only £10m – not enough to keep him in the game. It was therefore Luka’s 14 points that turned out to be a winning score.

Amanda came in last with 6 points, but was found to have a bagful of cash stashed in her hand, and could definitely afforded to bid for more points. She blamed James (fair enough) and was determined to do better next time.

Luka 14; Jon 9; James 8, Amanda 6; Donald 20 (least cash)

Suburbia (thanks Paul)
John and Andy joined Paul for his second trip to the 'burbs. Paul managed to recall most of the rules, and on reading the rule book even challenged John B's rules knowledge from his one previous game, although he probably should know better.

The goals were strange, which is a major factor as they are probably game winners. One was the most Lakes, and another was the largest Lake. Paul's personal goal was the fewest Lakes. Hmmm (Ed: one big lake next time?).

John went for industry, Paul Commerce and Andy built a fancy restaurant and some airports. Paul went for steady income which took some time to build, whilst Andy bought the waterfront development card and made lots of money on developing waterside property, instead of getting any income. John did a little of both and for most of the game had the highest 'attraction' level.

Near the end of the game John realised that although he's left a nice space for one very large Lake, he was one turn behind Andy who then always had the power to get all of the Lake prizes.

Andy did indeed capture both Lake prizes (a cool 30 points), plus his own personal goal which was to get the lowest income at game end. John got his goal of the most industrial areas, and Paul managed to achieve his fewest Lakes, meaning he got none from the other bonuses.

The 'goals' won the game, which had managed to stretch out for most of the evening - unlike two weeks ago when two games of Suburbia were played back to back.

Scores: Andy: 107, Paul: 94, John: 82

Glass Road (thanks Neil)

After an outing a couple of weeks ago it was time once more to get this one infiltrating the club, it’s a big Horafave at the mo’. Up for some glass and brick production were Amanda, Philip and Jon. So everyone has the same fifteen cards and the same starting land, then it’s choose five cards, three you will get to play and you hope to play the remaining two by piggybacking off your opponents. From there it’s about collecting resources and building.

The initial buildings that came out were particularly good ones, lots of VPs available for continuous sand pits, ponds and shrubberies, plus an upgrade of 300% on glass production. Going last in the first round I decided to play the Feudal Lord as he lets you have a private offering of buildings, I’d thought the sand pits might get purchased before I had an opportunity. And amongst my private buildings was one that gives 4VPs for a 2x2 block of sand pits – the Friends of Nature House (go tree hugger!), now if I could only get the Sediment Factory .

Amongst the others Amanda was targeting ponds through the Floodgates, gaining VPs per pond at game end. Jon went for the Plant Nursery collecting Groves/Shrubberies as well as the Glassmaker’s Village giving him 1VP per sand, and Philip had his Glassworks increasing glass from 3 to 9VPs as well as using the Shingles Manufacturer to help with resource production.

As the final round came around I was fortunate enough to be able to build an extra building, the Hot Springs, worth 4VPs which gave me total from my buildings of 10VPs: Lumber Storage, the Spa, Soup Kitchen and those beautiful Hot Springs. Added to that I got 14VPs through the bonuses: seven from a network of seven adjacent sand pits – the Sediment Factory; four for a 2x2 sand pit formation; and three from forests left in my lands - the Forester’s Office. 

Amanda scored well on buildings with 8 VPs although Philip pipped her there by one. She also achieved 8VPs through the bonus tiles, Jon hit 14 VPs and Philip 7 VPs although he maximised his glass production to gain 9VPs through that. My estimations of 15-20 points being reasonable were on the low side, and I’d achieved my highest score to date.

Final Scores; Neil - 27½, Philip – 26, Jon – 22, Amanda – 19

Havana (thanks Jon)

1 hour left to play – 4 players available – “speed Terra Mystica” was vetoed, so Havana it was. This was new to Gareth and Philip, but having just played Glass Road, the main mechanism was very similar (choose a character to give you a special ability this round, which may well be affected by what other players choose).

Jon started by gathering a stack of workers, despite there being only one building available which required then to build – he was banking on more valuable worker-buildings coming out later.

Gareth was the first to get some buildings constructed, and he also took great pleasure in removing building materials from other players at every opportunity. Philip was accumulating a fair amount of building materials, whilst Neil was picking up as much debris as possible – keen to clean up the rubble-strewn streets of Cuba.

Gareth used his Siesta card to ensure that he often had the coveted first player advantage, but this did limit the number of positive actions that he could undertake during the game.

Jon managed to accumulate enough building materials to build a couple of buildings to take his total to 10 – within a single build of victory – but still no worker-heavy buildings became available.

Neil then looked like he had constructed his way to victory by taking a couple of large buildings, but could only get up to 14 points – 1 short of the win.

The race was therefore on to get the final building built, and going first in turn order might be vital – which Neil managed, picking up even more debris and converting this into the necessary materials to buy a little shack and win the game.

As usual, this game plays wonderfully quickly; this is no engine-building experience, it’s a case of grabbing as much stuff as you can, as quickly as you can. A refreshing change of pace.

Neil 16; Jon 10; Philip 5; Gareth 5

Finally, as a special treat (and because James couldn't find it within himself to file a report), Natasha's account of James' triumph at Lords of Waterdeep:

James, Luka, Donald and Gareth (Ed: or so I deduce) played Lords of Waterdeep.

They placed workers in an atmosphere of little-to-no tension as there is more than enough of everything to go around and no time pressure.

As soon as there were more tempting options than people had actions - people gained another action for free, to prevent any tension or real choices from having to be made.

James won by fulfilling more of the following criteria than the other players:

1. James went first (by luck) and was therefore not stopped from buying the best building and used to income momentum to stay ahead.

2. James's starting quests were better than the other players (by luck), both matching their special mission and being income generators as opposed to non-matching point scorers.

3. James's special mission did not clash with any of the other players (by luck), giving him a free run at those quests.

4. James picked up (by luck) the small minority of Intrigue cards which were not complete crap.

5. James did not use any turns to stop other players or deny them bonuses, as any such effort to introduce competition to this race game is as futile as it is self-destructive.

Congratulations James on your skilful victory!

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