Billabong Boardgamers - 2nd May, 2000
Present: Alan, Janet, Doug, Tina, Debbie, James, Rob, David, Pat
Doug Adams writes:
Certainly a different feel at Billabong tonight, with Pat Brennan on a return visit (despite shock treatments via Svea Rike last November), and newcomers James and Rob who were spied holding a copy of El Grande in the local games store by David.
Tina, Alan, Doug
A new game from the designer of Inkognito and Mini-Inkognito, Leo Colovini. This is a very clever and elegant design, vaguely reminiscent of El Grande. The object is to place castles from your pool onto the "board" - the board being 15 floating islands or territories.
Alan seemed to grasp the simple mechanics and subtle strategy right off and linked five islands in quick succession, and managing to get them all in a row so that they merged together. Merged islands are stronger, as castles present defend islands from takeover just like paladins.
Doug managed to do a similar thing to Alan on the opposite side of the board, but with only four islands/paladins. Tina took up the remaining islands with 1 or 2 paladin "tiny" islands.
At this point our game entered an intense battle off the board, for control of paladin suits at court. Control between the five colours was passed backwards and forwards frequently, but no player seemed to be able to make the break to grab the win. The game was threatening to end at any moment, as if either Doug's or Alan's island fell, the replacement paladins would drain a player's pool and end the game with a win for them.
In the end it was Tina who managed it - despite having a dispersed presence on the board, she took control of the red paladins mid-game and Doug began feeding his spare red paladins into Alan's island to try and break up control there. When Tina finally took green control off Alan (there was a large green presence on "Alan Island"), all she had to do was take the first turn next round to claim the game, which naturally she did!
It was at this point Debbie pointed out the three player game rules we *should* have been playing by...!
EUPHRAT & TIGRIS
Janet, Doug, Rob, James
The nine gamers split into a five player Taj Mahal and a four player Euphrat. Rob and James hadn't played before, but Rob had read the rules and seemed to know exactly how to play the game. James had the mechanics down by half way through the game and spent the second half claiming he now knew exactly how he should have been playing in the first half! :)
Doug and Janet played a very aggressive game this time, gradually coming around to the belief that controlled conflict is the way to really rack up the victory points. The blue monument was built very early in the game by Doug, but he was kicked out of that kingdom almost immediately. Janet, who did the kicking, was on her usual treasure quest for those valuable wild victory points.
Several more monuments sprang up, and about the midway point in the game, Doug had somehow managed to position his four leaders in synch. with the monuments, and was pulling 5/6 cubes per turn. This was allowed to happen for four turns, which combined with tile play, was enough for Doug to flatten out his weak colours and build a half decent score.
The tile bag seemed to empty early, due to a lot of conflict early in the game that tended to drain the hands of the players.
The game seemed to go over very well with Rob and James. I think a copy will be acquired very shortly!
James, Rob, Doug
A three player closer to end the evening. Three players is not the ideal number for this game as you really need more to get the trade element going. Still, Rob and James seemed to enjoy it, and Doug's voice just held out to the end of the game, before collapsing in a mess of vocal cords.
Debbie Pickett writes:
Janet, Debbie, Rob, James, David
I don't really like to play Ra with five players, as it tends to become something of a random affair. But since there was a three-player game of Carolus Magnus going on on the other table, we had little choice.
Nothing particularly unusual happened in this game. In the end, Janet had the most balanced collection and ran away with the game. The rest of us were specialized too much, and lost points on one thing or another.
I didn't keep the scores, but fortunately Doug had the scores from the game:
Apparently I was playing twice, and tied with myself . . . Actually, I think I recall that David scored something like 19.
My rating: With five players, only a 6. This game is much better with three, in my opinion.
Patrick, David, Tina, Debbie, Alan
Yet again, I demonstrated how abysmal I am at this game, losing some rounds big-time, playing a lot of cards and still getting nothing for it. As a result, my network strategy was completely shot by about round three, and I was unable to get enough cards to pursue another strategy. Much the same happened to Alan, who was dogged by bad luck throughout the game. Tina had to withdraw once without winning anything, which probably cost her dearly. Only David and Patrick managed to get everything they wanted, and it was always going to be a question of which of them would win. It came down to the points for the longest run of cards in the hand; Patrick had more cards and was able to sneak ahead.
Final scores, again courtesy of Doug:
My rating: Sheesh, this game is evil, I'm beginning to suspect. But I don't mind, It's still fun. I give it a 7.