Billabong Boardgamers - 4th January, 2000
Present: Doug, Donna, David, Alan, Janet Bernie, Julian C., Craig, Karen, Roger
Our first session in 2000! After much hesitation where a game of Vinci flucuated between 4 and 10 players, we sorted ourselves out into three tables.
STEPHENSONS (sic) ROCKET
New players Bernie and Julian joined 2 game veteran Doug for our first three player game of this heavy Knizia beast. Doug must have done a masterly job on the rules explanation, as Bernie and Julian seemed to intuitively grasp strategy right from the outset and totally dominated the game. Game play was very fluent, and a suspected over-analysis problem didn't eventuate until very late in the game.
Orange and Green collided early, with Green surviving and Julian holding the majority of shares. Doug was trying to build up the yellow line and get it "ahead" of green to ensure its safety. Bernie seemed to realise what Doug was up to, and tried to move yellow into green, bleeding Doug dry of yellow shares countering vetos to try and keep it alive.
It was about this time Doug could see the writing on the wall, and tried to adjust strategy to claim the majorities and second majorities in passenger and goods tokens. This is really a second string strategy, as the big money comes from stations and shares, with payouts accelerating as the game progresses. Doug was having a lot of difficulties getting stations onto lines, and with very little shares in hand, had no power to counter the moves away from his stations.
It was a two horse race between Julian and Bernie. Bernie had begun developing the grey line in the north, while Julian was trying to get red and purple together to his advantage. With Doug desperately trying to get some stations on the lines, there was the threat of a four way collision in the centre of the game board with green, red, grey and blue rapidly closing to a point.
At around this point, the game ended with the last tile being used up. There were three (perhaps two) lines left active, and Julian did very well in the final payouts.
Doug's rating: 8. Julian was very impressed ("best Knizia game" noises, etc). The game play is very deep, and both Bernie and Julian playing it very well. It really highlighted I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm determined to delve deeper and understand this beast!
APPLES TO APPLES
With an epic Vinci happening on another table, six floating players played a few hands of this great party game to fill in time until the Vinci finished. After about 10 rounds, the leaders were on 2 green apples each, when we pulled the plug.
David, Roger, Doug, Janet and new player Julian settled down for a five player Andromeda. A game I've enjoyed each time I've played, resigned to the fact you really cannot control your destiny a great deal if the cards don't fall for you.
This game saw them fall for David, and not very well for everyone else. David hit 26 points via the Galactic Ashtray on the very first turn which pretty much meant game over - however, good sports that we are, we played out the remaining 90 minutes!
>From Doug's chair, it was grab what I could. Playing fifth in turn and with a lousy hand of cards, I aimed to try and get to the "Round Up" technology level by the time I was start player to cash in on the extra action. David's stunning success early made it all rather academic, but we all played for position.
Everybody pretty much stumbled through the game, highlighted by a stunning run of bad luck with the Ashtray from Roger; Doug and Janet squabbling loudly over the "green cheese" planet; David collecting wild cards for points and Julian doing nothing much spectacular!
Guess who won! :)
Doug's rating: I'll give it a 6 even though it probably doesn't deserve it. It's fun, no matter how appalling you do at it. Julian commented on how good the art looked, with some surprise given the criticism Doris's work had attracted for this game.
Alan Stewart writes:
TITAN THE ARENA
Craig McBride, Alan, Bernie, Karen
Every played a secret bet. Bernie and Alan had 2 bets on round 1, Craig only had 1. Guess which creature died? Craig's!
It was a strange game from my point of view. Betting on the Ranger initially, and playing a 9 to use his power, the only other Ranger card I saw for the game was the 0!
As I was busy killing off creatures (rounds 1 and 2 at least), by the time I next played, it wasn't safe to play the Ranger 0. In the end Karen used her Titan power and took that card. She played it later but the ranger was mysteriously saved by Craig.
Not so mysterious when he revealed his secret bet a bit later.
I was also the backer of the Hydra. The only Hydra cards I saw before round 4 were an 8, played in round 1, and the 0! But other people played Hydra cards which kept it alive.
By the last round all other players had revealed their secret bets - Craig Ranger, Bernie Warlock, Karen Ranger.
All my 4 bets were still active in the second last round, but they were on four different creatures.
In the end my secret bet, Dragon, and two others survived as Craig killed off the Hydra.
In the last round I played the 0 Hydra card, then used by power to play a 10 Behemoth on top of it. But I could not play another card for the rest of the game. Someone played a 1 Hydra, and the sickly creature died. Everyone else still had plenty of playable cards, and wouldn't support my stalemate call.
In the end, Craig 12 (played last), Alan 12, Bernie 11, Karen 9. All secret bets paid off.
Craig, Alan, Bernie, Karen
Craig was playing the minimalist game and didn't win a trick in the first hand. Bernie was getting as many cards as he could. Karen and Alan were sort of playing a middle of the road game.
Janet Ford writes:
Janet, Karen, Craig
We had a spare 20 minutes so played through 2 hands of Fluxx. The first game went for longer than usual, we had actually made it to the end of the deck before Craig finally won.
The second hand was your more standard game, lasting about three rounds before Janet won with The Brain and No TV.
Karen Babcock writes:
Craig Macbride, Janet, Karen
This is a card and word game for 1-8 players. In the non-solitaire versions, the game consists of 8 rounds. In the first, each player is dealt three cards; in the second, four; and so on with the final round being 10 cards. Each card has one or two letters and a point value. At their turn, players can draw a card from the top of the discard pile or from the deck. They must discard one card. When a player is able to use all the cards in his hand (with one left for discarding) to spell words (which must use a minimum of two cards each), he may go out by placing the words on the table. The other players then get one more draw, and must play as many cards as they can. Scoring is done by adding up the point value of all cards used in words and subtracting any left over in the hand (not counting the discard card). In addition, the player with the most words and the player with the longest word each get 10 bonus points. If two or more players tie for a bonus, that bonus is not given in that round.
The game started with Janet going out quickly, but she discovered that's not necessarily the best strategy in the early rounds, as Craig and Karen were both able to create words with higher point values. As the number of cards in the hands increased, it became a matter of getting the right types of letters (Craig seemed perpetually short on vowels) and deciding whether to go for the most words or longest word bonus. Janet proved very adept at finding words in other people's hands, managing to help Craig get 51 points out of a hand that looked impossibly full of Y's and Z's.
The final scores were:
Roger Smith writes:
First time for Donna. For a while it looked like we might get to try Vinci with five players, but Doug was dragged away by the lure of Stephensons Railway. This was quite a topsy turvy game, with the lead changing frequently. David, who eventually won, was a long way back at one stage. The end couple of turns were quite tense with myself, then Alan, playing kingmaker. Alan's tactic was to try and cause the leaders to draw. As you can see, he _nearly_ managed it.