Billabong Boardgamers - February 2nd, 1999
Present: Doug, Janet, Roger, Bernie, Alan, David C.
Doug Adams writes:
As this game was new I took everyone through two three player games of this nifty title, originally published in Germany as Wucherer. The object is to amass a fortune in rent from the tenants in your buildings, while trying to stop the other players doing the same. Cards have two functions in this game, you either play the front of the card, which may be a tenant, action or building card, or you play the reverse of the card, which are all apartments. You build buildings by laying the cards reverse side up (thus taking the front of the card out of play, temporarily perhaps) and then move tenants in.
Tenants in buildings generate rent, and you need rent to purchase more cards off the deck (nice, this) as well as win the game. In addition, there are is a wonderful mix of action cards, combined with the fact you can quite often play cards into other players buildings, that keeps the interaction between players high and the game in a high state of flux. Nothing stays constant for very long here.
This is a cut way above the usual "hah, take that!" type of game. There are some real, and subtle, decisions to make to maximise your income as you try to win the game. I like this game a lot.
In our first game, Bernie, Janet and myself played. I missed the vital set-up rule where everyone should receive a roof card, in addition to the five cards. Of course, Janet didn't get a roof in her initial deal or in her next purchase of five cards. We played on, not realising our error, and Janet had a miserable time, spending most of the game in Jail. I took the early lead, but once Bernie caught onto the game play, he steamed past me with about two turns to go and took the game. One of my buildings was demolished on me near the end of the game, giving me back four Move cards. I used these to move Bernie's four students into my building in a vain attempt to capture the lead back. Drat! :)
The game wasn't satisfying due to Janet's predicament. Bernie seized the rules at the end of the game and I made a joking reference to the fact that we were probably meant to get a roof each at the start. Bernie said "yes, here it is!". Oops.
Later in the evening I took Roger and Alan through the game. This was a much more cut and thrust affair, with action cards flying around the table, and it was great! :) Alan was sensing a problem about how to make money if he's not picking up tenant cards, but then had a superb turn where he build a swag of empty apartments then used two or three eviction cards to ensure they were filled for him, mainly at the expense of Roger. By the end of the game Roger was lamenting the fact that Mind Games, our local store where I found this, only bought in one copy of this fine game.
Doug's rating: 8
David Coutts writes:
David & Goliath
Roger had his new copy of David & Goliath with him and quickly recruited Alan & myself to give it try. I understand it's had favourable reports so far. The game is played in a number of rounds equal to the number of players, up to six players, as reflected in the cumulative scores listed below:
Clearly Alan was the most consistent scorer, with Roger & I exchanging places for first & last place.
In game 1 I think we all approached the game as just another trick-taking game. That is, whilst we were aware that both the lowest card and highest card win part of each trick (hence David & Goliath), it was hard to resist the temptation to win with the highest card. Then, if you couldn't resist that temptation, it was hard to avoid the temptation of winning the highest card of the trick by playing the lowest card of the trick! I'm not sure what Roger's approach to the game was, but whatever it was it worked admirably. Roger? I know that in game 1 I felt that being dealt lots of highest or lowest cards (9's & 1's in a 3-player game) felt like a disadvantage. In fact, in one hand, I had 1,7,8,9 in two of the five suits! I was wrong, I think...
When we came to score the final round of game 1, Alan & I could see that Roger had won and we both suspected that I had come second. The way the game scores, you get full value for a card if you only have 1 or 2 of that suit (there are 5 suits), and 1 point per card if you tip over that limit. Nasty. It turned out that, though I'd scored more for my 1 or 2 cards of a suit, Alan had scored far more single points than I.
In game 2 I realised that, above all else, it was best to avoid winning early tricks. I mentioned at one point that the best position would be to have 5 cards, one in each of five suits, with 5 cards to play. I don't know, after only 2 plays, whether this is true but this is exactly what happened to me. The other point that was discussed was that, as with many multi-player games, lack of control in the game can be caused by other player's actions. For a while we weren't sure if this game allowed the players sufficient control. But, when you are out of a suit, and you get to choose a card from all your remaining suits to play, you have a great deal of control (especially if you are playing last for that trick!).
Once again I am amazed at the variety of games available in what might appear to be a limited genre, that of trick-taking card games.
David's rating:- 7 (easy to play, easy to teach, fun to play)
Mole In The Hole
Last week I watched others playing this fascinating & original-looking game, so I jumped at the chance to play a game with Bernie & Janet. Janet hadn't played before, either.
As Bernie said, it's a bit like musical chairs in that opportunities for the participants (in this case moles) disappear when the music stops (in this case, the holes!). In the early game Bernie was able to accurately predict what opportunities would be available to Janet or myself. This was because he carefully kept an eye on which of the 6 number discs (1,2,2,3,3,4) each of us had used, and he had an eye for the various maps and their reducing number of holes.
Despite this, Janet was always the front runner. I think she achieved this by dominating one corner of each map, whilst limiting Bernie's options at the same time. Bernie & I seemed to mix our placements more, and I've no idea which approach is the better.
I did level the score with Janet on map two, but she pulled ahead again on map three. Anyway, I won luckily by getting the exact combination (2, then 4) from my 6 face-down discs. The 2 put me on a "draw-again" space, the 4 put in the one and only hole on the last map.
Surviving moles after each map:
Bernie & Janet played for second place, with Bernie winning through.
David's rating: 7 (original & fun, possibly good with adult AND younger players?)
I'm not sure if Bernie had played before (Bernie?), but we all had fun playing. I'd picked Janet as the winner and Bernie the loser (sorry Bernie!), but I was wrong. Bernie had so much rubbish at one point that he just had to lose...wrong!
Anyway, the novel thing for me in this game of Schnappchenjagd was the 3-way tie. I'd never played a game of SJ with any tie! Sure enough, we checked the rules, and there is no tie-breaker rule, which was fine with us!
Roger Smith writes:
Our first play of this Dirk Henn game which I ordered from Adam Spielt after reading the Counter review.
Replenishing the stock and money piles certainly has the feel of Show Manager. The collecting and scoring aspects reminded me strongly of Get the Goods/Reibach & Co. Doug suggested it felt it like a cross between Show Manager and Airlines. The others were also quick to point out the similarities to the latter, particularly suggested by the use of the Wertung cards. So perhaps there is nothing really new about the game, but is does successfully combine several systems.
Janet remarked that it was difficult to see which stocks each player was collecting due to the cards being so similar, and I must concur. It would have been good to be able to sweep the table and immediately see who else was collecting the same things as me. In this game I basically bought when I could, trying to edge in for a few second positions when the first was unachievable. The temptation seems to be to buy whenever you can afford it, as the card you're after probably won't be there next time around. I'll need to play a few more times before I have a real idea on the strategies. Another strategy which suggests itself to me is hoarding money in the early stages and spending big (and effectively) in the latter. This might be particularly effective with a smaller number of players. Possibly Doug was trying something similar in this game. Bernie was the only player to have the most shares in two categories (Petrol and Entertainment) while Alan's second place reflects that he had the most of the highest scoring cards (Bank).
Looking forward to playing this again soon and trying a few different ideas.
Roger's rating: 7.5
A new game for me, but one which all the others had played. One mega track built from two normal and two action sets. Bernie's set had obviously seen more action than Doug's. The former was dull and somewhat pitted, the latter shiny and pristine. We had two jumps and lots of other bits that I lack the racing vocabulary to describe. There was some debate about the number of cars/laps, but we eventually settled on one car each and two laps.
Alan was initially the least keen on playing, but this certainly didn't affect his competitiveness. Doug had major difficulties with the first jump. We didn't keep count, but possibly he attempted it 8 times prior to success. The three finishers had their share of mishaps, but their bolder play set them apart from Doug, Janet and myself, and ultimately worked for them. I wasn't very happy with my performance. I think I need to sit down with the game one day and try and find a flick that works for me (and also apply a bit more pool/snooker/billiards theory when calculating the rebounds).
Obviously this falls into a different category from all other games I've played at Billabong (relying as it does on coordination) so there's not much point comparing it to them. However, I'd happily play again.
Roger's rating: 7