Billabong Boardgamers - March 2nd, 1999
Present: Roger, Dey, Bernie, Doug, Janet, Moray, Liz, Alan, Julian, Greg
Doug Adams writes:
Lots of people, lots of games - due to a rotten cold I'm having a hard time remembering what I'm supposed to be reporting on, so I'll just wing it.
This is one of Greg's favorite games, and a game strangely neglected at Billabong. I can only ever recall playing it once there. Janet and I went berserk when we first received a copy, and played it to death several years back. It was good to play it again.
Playing were: Alan, Greg, Doug, Janet, Bernie House rule: all stock open
Bernie arrived just as we finished setting up (Bernie is clever!), and we went into the game. Tower started in a strong position in the center of the board and expanded in an "east-west" direction across the board. American and Festival were soon swallowed up and Tower quickly became "safe" with 11 in the chain. Doug and Greg were the majority holders in Tower.
Alan and Bernie had put a lot of early effort into Continental, a lucrative chain, but seemed to be having some trouble getting it merged into the large Tower chain. Janet was holding the other rich chain, Imperial, which was also in danger of takeover. Doug quickly invested in Imperial.
Worldwide up in the top left of the board was started early by Greg, and he invested in it very early. Doug began collecting Worldwide as well. From this point on the holdings of Greg and Doug were remarkably similar, each player having trouble in establishing a majority over the other.
At about the 90 minute mark the game looked like ending shortly, with Tower threatening to hit 41 hotels. Worldwide had finally slid into Tower, giving Greg some nice cash, while the Tower majority was split at 9-9 between Greg and Doug.
At the end of the game the scores were:
This could have easily been Greg's game: - Greg had the opportunity to sell off all his Festival after a takeover, but held one share in case the chain restarted. It wasn't, so that single Festival share was left in Greg's stock. - Both Greg and Doug missed an opportunity to purchase the single Tower stock that was left, to give a 10-9 lead over the other player. I can't believe we both missed it! Janet bought it.
Doug's rating: 8
This started off as a five player game with Liz, Moray, Dey, Roger and a very croaky Doug trying to explain the rules. All that "Moo-ing" during Zoff in Buffalo had really caused the voice to degenerate.
The rules were explained - and I think this game must take the prize for the "easiest-to-play-but-hardest-to-explain" game of all time - when there was general hilarity and uproar from the other table. Greg had been eliminated from a game of Filthy Rich and was pushed in our direction.
Aha! Time to try the 6 player version for the first time, courtesy of K-ban's purchase and distribution of an extra set of selection cards. Thanks K-ban! Basically, this game appears to have been designed with six players in mind, given the distribution of the thieves and cheques. An extra set of cards, and an extra pawn, and you have a six player game, with the new values being:
Thieves: 6 and 7
The cheques total the same amount as all the other sets.
Once we started playing, all the new players (all apart from Greg and myself) were playing like old hands within 3 turns. Roger appointed himself drill sergeant with barking commands of "card number ONE!", "Right, Auction house!", etc. It certainly kept the game moving!
I was lucky enough to be dealt an exhibit hand at the start, so I thought I'd jump right into the Castle to exhibit - teach the game by example (not to mention take the lead!). I was alarmed to find two others had joined me, still I jumped out down the track and was on the way.
That didn't last, as Liz played a thief early and stole two cards, giving her a powerful exhibit that she put to great effect. The size of her lead blew out very quicky and the game was in danger of becoming a farce. However, some applied thievery and some nice catches by detectives started to edge the rest of the field towards her.
Dey and myself had managed to build our exhibits up to reasonable sizes, and had almost caught Liz when she crossed the line, trigger the final "exhibit-showdown". Dey took the 8 points, while Doug took the four, leaving the final positions as:
Liz (about 8 from the finish)
The six player variant worked well, I think. The only slight niggle was the auction house emptied faster than usual, but I don't think game play was impeded. Six players meant more clashes and I think this certainly helps the game at the Castle, perhaps not so much at the Auction house. Still, it's a very handy variant to have.
Doug's rating: 8
Dey Alexander writes:
Zoff in Buffalo
Players: Moray, Liz, Roger, Doug, Dey (Doug had played one two-player version of the game; the rest of us were newbies).
Despite having two cattle farmers in our midst (Moray and Liz), poor Doug whose voice was rapidly deteriorating (suffering after-effects of Die Macher Day?) had to explain the rules for moving cows into the various pastures that comprise the game.
The game consists of five rounds where each player (erm, farmer) is required to move cattle from his or her holdings into a particular paddock area, using sets of cattle cards (numbered 2 to 5) and pasture cards (one for each area). The winner is the farmer who puts most of his/her cattle out to graze.
The game seemed simple enough.
Each turn, a player selected a cattle card (showing how many cows were to be moved) paired with a pasture card (showing which paddock the cows were to be placed in). All farmers played their cards simultaneously and movement of cows began from the smallest paddock moving on through to the largest. Placement within a paddock was done in order of stock holdings: majority stock holder placed first, second-largest stock holder next, and so on. If a paddock was empty, or where placements were to be made by farmers holding no stock in that paddock, the farmer moving the smallest amount of stock placed first (with ties being broken by the cattle card with the lowest letter).
Bonus placements were awarded once a paddock was filled with stock. Majority stock holders might be awarded 1 bonus placement (though in larger paddocks there was no bonus); second-largest stock holders got a bonus of 1 to 2 (depending on the paddock); third-largest bonus was from 0-3, and I think some of the larger paddocks had a bonus for the fourth-largest herd too.
One important rule was that no two herds within the one paddock could be of an even number. So if you played a 5-cow card to enable you to place 5 cows into a paddock where another player already had a herd of 5, you would be restricted to placing 4 cows, thus wasting your 5-cow card.
The strategy seemed simple enough too.
I played my biggest cattle cards early in the game into paddocks where I was pretty sure I'd get full placement. From about turn three, I started to think about playing into paddocks where I could maximise my bonus cow placements. Some, I'm pretty sure Doug was one, got caught out playing 4- or 5-cow cards late in the piece and weren't able to place all the cows. And Liz seemed totally distracted by her discovery that the cow chits were actually arial views--a unique vantage point for an ex cattle farmer, she assured us.
Dey - 7
Dey's rating: 6 (5 points for the cute cows)
Janet Ford writes:
Greg, Janet, Bernie, Alan and Julian played.
Greg was put out of the game early due to the dreaded tax, so he joined in on the Adel Verflichtet table, as they were just beginning.
Bernie was put out of the game a few rounds later after a card was played that had each player paying $3 to the bank, and Bernie could not afford this. His assets were thus auctioned. Julian bought the asset, and this completed a set of three for him, this asset being at a cheaper price than the next one for sale, and thus ended the game. Alan finished second, with not enough cash for a third luxury. Janet was third, with one luxury and getting poorer every turn!
Janet Ford writes:
Moray: HHHHH (maj) RRR BB **WINNER**
This was the first non-three player game for me. I was pleased to find it played just as well with four. Dey tried the Edo strategy, however I shied away from this for a change. Up until the end--which snuck up rather suddenly--I don't think any of us knew who was winning. It was an unusual game for me, in that I still had both exchange tiles left at the end of the game. I waited so long to use them that the opportunities dwindled. I also stuck to and achieved my majority plan for rice paddies, but Moray and Dey were ultimately more successful.
Another first for Liz and Moray who came in equal winners. Moray had everyone yelling at him in frustration over his repeated failure to state whether he was asking for, or offering, cards. Looking at the scores, it may have been a cunning strategy on his behalf!