Billabong Boardgamers - August 3rd, 1999
Present: Julian, Debbie, Janet, Doug, Roger, Alan, David, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
Eight gamers met for a fun evening of gaming, and to see David walk in with an armload of copies of his new game, 6 Billion, hot off the press so to speak. After spending 2 years assisting with the playtest duties, I was excited, and pleased, to see the final product which I'm happy to say looked very nice indeed. Kudos to David for seeing it through to publication. While we were ooh-ing and ahh-ing, Roger was getting itchy and just had to scratch. There were games to be played!
Doug: 29 (4 suits)
This Knizia game is a bit of a mystery to me. I seem to play it once or twice a year and every time totally forget the rules. I cannot think of another game where every time I open the box I have no idea what you do. Yet again this happened so Julian took over the lecturer duties and explained the rules to Bernie, which aren't deep or long.
This is essentially a betting game where you bet in advance on the outcome of a round of card play. The more risky the bet, the more the payoff should it hit home. The bets are divided between five suits, and you must get your scoring marker for a suit into the 5 and above region of the scoring track to earn points at the end of the game. The game ends where there is a scoring marker above 5 on every scoring track.
Our game saw Doug pick up a 7 and 4 in the first round which put him in a strong position. The other players all got a marker in the five and above slot, with Janet on an 8 to put her in the "lead", however she hadn't advanced any other markers so that was a bit misleading. Four of the scoring tracks where triggered to end the game, and only the "Big Ben" suit needed a marker to finish it off.
It didn't happen in round two, despite Doug's efforts. Bernie made some gains, as did Doug who scored on two more tracks but didn't get Big Ben into the 5 and above, thus the game continued.
A lack of Big Ben's in the third round enabled Doug to bet low and get the game finished, not before Bernie made a lunge for victory by trying to pick up a slam of 10 points for 8 Newspapers. There were 8 cards there so it looked like it was going to hit, however, a No card removed one of them, which killed Bernie's bet. Doug with four markers on five and above, picked up the win.
Doug's rating: 7. Still retains it's popularity at Billabong.
Doug and Roger were keen to try Extrablatt again, having first played it a few weeks back, and really seeing a lot to like about the game. Julian and Bernie were the new players here, with Bernie providing a running explanation of the German pun headlines.
Please see a report from two or three weeks ago for a full description of the mechanics of the game of newspaper management.
Doug was dealt the lowest hand of cheques which prompted the tactic of not putting a lot on the paper layouts and generally laying low until he'd picked up a few bigger cheques off the other players. This didn't really pan out as the big cheques appeared to fly between Bernie, Roger and Julian. This did not stop Doug from being attacked however! Several times the players had to attack almost against their will, with five clock cards on the fax machine making attacks unavoidable. A few times attacks were made to ensure some Extra Turn chips were collected for the vital end game where the stories are worth 30,000 readers each.
The basic trends where Bernie dominating red, Doug dominating orange and blue, Julian trying to take over orange and holding yellow, and Roger in green. Julian donged Doug's orange newspaper section with some "ducks". Bernie, Julian and Roger all did very well with their front page coverage, either filling it entirely or coming very close. Doug started his front page much too late, working on the the tactic of trying to put 20's and 30's there later in the game as they are doubled, but being distracted into damage control of other wrecked newspaper sections.
Julian, who was looking rather bewildered throughout the game still had a pretty good idea what was going on and accelerated the game towards the end with some attacks. After the game was over and lesser stories were removed, Julian's paper was by far the least damaged.
Doug's rating: 7.5. This one got a bit fiddly and analytical towards the end, and there were a few distractions usually prompted by those escort agency ads. Still it was a hoot to play and there were a lot of laughs.
Bernie: 1/3 = 4
This takes the prize as "game most difficult to spell", which is the only thing wrong with it. A first game for all of us, but Janet, and a wonderful trick taking filler by Knizia.
Cards numbered 1-50 are shuffled and nine are dealt to each player. There are no suits and the trick it played to. Highest/lowest card played will pick up a number of scoring sticks, either blue/red. The idea is to balance out the sticks earned by the end of the trick, scoring zero in an ideal world. This opens up into a tricky little game of hand management, which doesn't always come off.
We only played a couple of hands while we were waiting for Chinatown to finish, but I saw enough there to ensure it will regularly get tossed into the Billabong crate.
A silly dice chucking game to finish off the evening. I always enjoy this and it was almost the ideal time with 20 minutes until the finish after a heavy Extrablatt.
On your turn you throw your pair of coloured dice. Weird dice these, with the pip distribution up the spout - there is an "X" on each dice, while one dice has a 7 on it! You read the roll "high/low" so a roll of 7/6 is read as "76". You may roll the dice as often as you like until you get a roll you like, however any X rolled after the initial roll ends your turn and moves your score marker backwards. If you get a roll you like, you may put it on the "ladder" on any unoccupied rung. If your dice are still there on your next turn, you may advance your score marker a number of spaces equal to the rung number. A "76" will always go on the "5" space of the rung, well, sort of!
Roger went off around the track early, pursued by Doug who was positioning his dice on the ladder cautiously. Bernie and Julian seemed to revel in the power of the reroll and thus gave the distinct impression of oscillating on the scoring track. Bernie, I must admit, did advance and nearly win the game late...
The rather destructive end game saw all hands to the pumps to stop Roger from tripping over the line. In the end, after several attempts, good rolls positioned on the 1 rung saw him increment up to the 20 space and topple over the line to take the win.
Doug's rating: 7 - raucous fun. This game is criticised for being luck based. I mean, of course it is, I kind of think that was a design intent!
Janet Ford writes:
This is a game where you have to determine how to buy lots of cards, but with very little purchasing power. In our four player game, three cards were placed up for sale by the players. You purchase these cards by paying out your cowboy tiles (from an initial deal of 15 tiles), all numbered with the highest number splitting ties. Usually all cards were purchased, with one person missing out on a card. The player who played the lowest number of tiles hand their tiles into the bank, along with the purchasers, however the lowest player receives two new tiles as compensation.
We all seemed to be running out of tiles but David caught on early that the idea of selling his free spaces to gain more tiles may work. Both David and Alan had a quite a few more land sales.
As soon as a player bought a card they played their cubes onto the board as described on the card. These tiles could only be placed on the board where a flag was located - with the colour of the flag on the board matching the colour of the flag on the card. There are 12 flags on the board which are removed and replaced randomly at the end of each round. Scoring is held at the end of each round.
Points are scored by having the most cubes around the borders and around lakes. Points are also handed out for pairs of cubes, largest group, 2nd largest group.
Alan was always ahead because he jumped off to a good start with having the most cubes around the borders. Debbie and Janet tied for borders for most of the game. There was a temporary split at the end of the game when Debbie had more border cubes than Janet, but Janet immediately caught up with the points for largest group offsetting the points lost to Debbie. Alan won.
Debbie Pickett writes:
David, Debbie, Alan, Roger
This was my first game of Chinatown, though the others had played before. Everyone started in a way that seemed to be typical of the game - with a focus on one or two areas and one or two businesses. David got a good batch of completed businesses down early, as did Roger. Both ended up with complete level-6 businesses. As a result they dominated the final rankings:
I enjoyed this game and am looking forward to playing it again. All the good elements of Big City and Ra, all in one game.
AUF HELLER UND PFENNIG
Debbie, David, Alan, Janet
This was my first game of Auf Heller und Pfennig - possibly this was true of others too, in any case we did a rehash of the rules at the start.
I didn't really have much of an idea of the game in the first round, so it was amazing that I managed to pull off a huge column worth 68 points, giving me a lead of 50 after round one. I put this down to the fact that I squandered a lot of my larger-multiplier discs, not knowing that I would not get them back after the round ended.
As it turns out, this didn't matter, and since all of the other players got evil-eyed at least once in the next few rounds, I was able to just hang on to my lead to the end of the game, which was astonishingly close.
This is a fabulous Reiner Knizia game and I think I'm going to have to go and get my own copy now. :)
David Coutts writes:
DRUNTER UND DRUEBER
David, Janet, Debbie & Alan
A first time for Debbie, I believe. The rest of us were fairly familiar with it.
The main rule we had to confirm (having not played it for some time) was whether a tied vote allows construction over a public toilet. The answer was "yes", confirmed by Julian. I do recall playing one game where I stated the opposite when explaining the rules and boy does the game drag.
In the tile deal Alan had lots of river tiles, I had lots of wall with few river tiles, Debbie had heaps of road and Janet... fairly balanced, I think (but I could be wrong).
I managed to kill off the road early, despite having 5 tiles, because I was winning at that point and Janet and Debbie also had plenty of roads. Also, it took one of the city walls away from my Yellow and onto an edge. I thought I had managed to close off Alan's river, but it slipped under a bridge in the city wall and threatened the central 5's. Lucky for me Janet directed it away, and I played my 1 square river tile to further direct it away.
I ran out of tiles well before the others but most of the danger had passed. The remaining city wall started to look threatening (Alan and Debbie sending in towards Yellow & Grey who were clearly winning), but again Janet saved the day for me.
David (Yellow) 12 made up from 5,4,2,1 (with 10 votes left)
An old favourite, still worth playing every now and then. This game was a quick one.
I've never played with the optional rules (and I've played it a lot) - Julian indicated that they're good fun. Next time!