Billabong Boardgamers - 1st February, 2000
Present: Doug, Janet, Craig, Alan, Tina, Debbie, David, Bernie, Richard
It was our pleasure to meet up with Richard Vickery this week, who was down in Melbourne from Sydney for a conference this week. Having exchanged emails with Richard over the past year or two, it was wonderful to finally meet up and put a face to the name.
Richard had obviously done his homework, as he produced a package of chocolate coated Scotch Finger Biscuits (="cookies") for consumption. Janet was immediately smitten. Richard, you are always welcome back :)
David, Doug, Richard, Tina
Amongst the many games played was this curious beast. The new game from Mr. Bohnanza, which is basically Beans in Space. After a few minutes amusement trying to identify the various space themes (we got 6 and Bernie chipped in and told us about the German TV show that was the 7th Spacebean - even explaining the significance of the iron on the illustration), Tina taught us the rules and we began playing.
A bit of a strange one, this. You begin with 3 cards (unless you dealt, in which case you get zero!) and on your turn you can draw 0 or 2 cards, then may harvest spacebeans, then must plant beans of one type into one of two bean fields. One bean field is face up, the other face down. If and when you harvest, if you have a card rank matching the number of bean cards in your set (i.e. you have a 7 of Darth Beans in a 7 card set) then you may keep that card as points. First to 30 points generally wins.
The big quirk here is that after drawing, harvesting and planting, the cards remaining in your hand go to the player on your right, and play then passes left. This really created a strange sensation to me, and I was rather confused for most of the game. It felt that play was going both ways at once!
As far as skill in this game goes, it doesn't count for much. If the player on your left is on the ball (and to be frank, BBG are a pretty cluey bunch of people) then they will try to ensure you get precious little when their hand comes your way. If you get lucky and can keep your face down beans hidden for a while, then you may work up to something decent.
In our game we kind of looked puzzled at each other as we all struggled to about 15 points each, then a tactic or two emerged. Doug took a few small sets for 1 or 2 points, just to get his score moving. Then Doug decided that for this game to ever end, we all had to draw two cards *each* turn to get the hand sizes up. That worked for a bit, but from what I could see, this is a pretty average game. A shame really, as I won :)
Doug's rating: 4
AUF HELLER UND PFENNIG
Richard, Bernie, Doug, Janet
A new game to Bernie (always useful as he seizes the German rules and finds the bugs in the translations) and Richard.
Richard had a nice payoff on the first round, while Bernie committed a large market early for a poor return. Bad luck (or rather, Doug) plagued Bernie on round two, which looked as though any of Richard, Doug or Janet could win on round 3.
Round 3 was dominated by markets going out all over the place. In fact, I think there were more markets than tiles out in round 3, something I hadn't seen before. The Auf Heller veterans prevailed....
Alan Stewart writes:
Alan, Bernie, Craig, David
4 hands, all bids successful (2 by 1 triangle only). Final +70 bonus gave the game to Alan in last hand.
5 hands, 3 successful bids (2 with the exact triangles), then 2 losing bids. Bonus +60 on the first hand got Alan and Bernie off to a good start, but Bernie was Chief on the last 2 losing bids.
Debbie Pickett writes:
Tina, Debbie, Doug, Janet
Finally Janet managed to be present when this game came out for another play, the third in as many weeks. The game was quite close, but no surprises as to the eventual winner.
Final scores: Tina 119, Debbie 110, Doug 110, Janet 107
My rating: Still a solid 6, even though I can't play this game to save myself.
Doug, Richard, Tina, Debbie, Janet
Richard from Sydney had intimated that he'd turn up for this session, and so he did. We were just finishing Medici and the other table was still knee-deep in Mü. We picked this classic, new to Richard and Tina.
Doug made an early start and was looking quite unthreatened early on, so a concerted effort by most players to gang up on him later in the game took place, by which stage Tina had quietly earned all four treasures and get herself safely into the Chambers. She won with almost no challenge.
Final scores: Tina (winning with four tiles), Richard (4), Doug (3), Debbie (3), Janet (2)
My score: This one I give a six, though I keep wondering if it'll go up, because it has some really neat mechanisms in it. I can't wait for Morgenland, or whatever it'll be called in English. (Though reading the latest Nürnberg report on Brett & Board I can't see any connection between Keydon and Morgenland.)
Tina, Debbie, Doug, Janet, Richard
Tina once again showed her true ancestry when she blitzed us all at one round of Mamma Mia, which we played while waiting for the Mü table to finish.
Final scores: Tina 3, Debbie 2, Doug 2, Janet 1, Richard 0
Debbie, Alan, Craig, David, Tina
This Günther Burkhardt game has been receiving a fair bit of play since it arrived, and everyone agrees that it's just diabolical, in the sense that it hurts your brain at every stage of the game, from bidding to playing tricks. That doesn't make it a bad game, it just means it's very taxing and causes more brain-drain than a hand of Mü. Especially after having just played a game of the Doris & Frank creation.
Tina, David and I were outclassed in this game, being constantly outbid and losing tricks.
My rating: I probably put this on a par with Mü - five.
Alan, Bernie, Craig, Debbie, Janet
We shuffled again and looked around for something to play for half an hour. We discovered this Reiner Knizia game and gave it a go.
The idea is that there is a deck of 30 people and 36 gold coins (some worth zero). Each player draws the top card and places it on a grid, people to one side and money to the other. Players placing a person card can then put a bet on that column of cards to get a share of the final gold that is placed in the column. Each player has only three bets, though. If this sounds a little like Titan: The Arena, I thought so too.
We stopped after one round because we all agreed that there was just too much randomness to the game. It really would have worked just as well if we'd dealt out the deck of money to each player and the one with the most cash won. Perhaps the game could work with some house rules.
My rating: After one game, I give this one a three, with not much chance of an increase.
Janet, Bernie, Debbie, Craig, Alan
So we put away Gold Rausch and still had twenty minutes to kill. Out came Medici again, this time the German-language edition. Yet again I came in close to last.