Billabong Boardgamers - May 4th, 1999
Present: Doug, Janet, Alan, David, Bernie, Julian, Ann-Marie, Moray
Doug Adams writes:
On the table: Mamma Mia, Europa 1945-2030, Elfenland/Elfengold, Schnaeppchen Jagd
First game involved Doug, Janet, David and Alan, while waiting for others to arrive. A close game initially, with everyone on two each at one stage in the second round.
It ended up being a low scoring game overall, and it was a fun start to the evening.
A fun filler to close the evening. Bernie wanted to play this after Europa, so we played another game between Moray, Bernie and Janet. Each player was tied on five(!!) half way through round two, the scores ended up as:
Doug was involved in a six player Europa that was just resolving the third election in the first turn when Julian and Ann-Marie showed up unexpectedly, but it was a nice surprise! As the game of Europa was in the very early stages, and Doug hadn't claimed a victory point yet, he withdrew from the game and played Elfenland with the new arrivals.
We played with the recent Elfengold expansion, which effectively turns Elfenland into the older and rarer Elfenroads, but with a couple of additional features. The 'meat' of Elfenroads is there, with the addition of gold for visiting cities, and this gold is used for bidding on chits, rather than drafting them as in Elfenland. So the delicious three pronged resource management problem of cards, chits and gold is back again!
The new features are:
Julian had played Elfenroads once (I think), while Ann-Marie hadn't played either Elf game at all, and was thrown in the deep end a bit, as we added all the optional rules (Wizards, home cities, etc). However, she took the bombardment of rules like a good gamer and got stuck into it.
Turn one saw Julian with a nice four city move, while Doug and Ann-Marie had poor first turns. This continued on turn 2, however Julian was low on cards and therefore didn't extend his lead at all.
Turn three saw Ann-Marie catch up slightly, however Julian used those awful exchange chits to nobble Doug's turn, leaving him in a precarious position of low gold and cards.
Turn four was consolidation for Doug as he sought to rebuild his hand of cards up for the last two turns. Julian was starting to moan at this stage, and on turn five Doug managed to pick up some of the good chits he needed for a strong finishing turn.
On turn six, Julian and Ann-Marie were over in the "west" of the map, and glancing at the bottom corner, indicating this could be where their home cities were located. Doug had a dream hand on the last turn, with two pigs (one pig chit), an Elfenwizard (can teleport anywhere for three gold), two dragons and a cloud. Along with this was an exchange chit and a log sat with several other chits picked up cheaply during the turn six auction.
The exchange chit is a killer, really, and chit placement gets very cagey as you try and fish the chits out of the holding players hands. Doug held onto his chit in the hope that a second pig would appear, giving him a useful exchange move and an extra city visited. Cannily, Julian suspected something and held it back. Doug set up a powerful teleport over to an area rich in cities-not-visited and claimed four cities on the way to his home city.
Thoughts? Well, it's certainly Elfenroads to a "T", with a few extra wrinkles. As highlighted, the exchange chit is very powerful, the sea monsters and 2x chits less so. Apart from that, it's very much Elfenroads, and therefore still one of the best games I've played. Game play has been quickened up by drawing two chits from the bag and auctioning 2 for each player, instead of the 1 and 3 from Elfenroads. I prefer the 1 and 3 as you get more control over what you're purchasing in the auction, however play is faster this way.
Doug's rating: 10
We had a question re the taking of gold/cards. The translation said you may draw two cards off the 'deck' - does this mean you can't use the drafting of the three face up cards and therefore must draw blind? Rosie, who did the translation seems to think the German rules do mean you must draw blind, therefore you do not get the choice of the three face up cards.
A filler between Julian, Ann-Marie and Doug to finish the evening. Again new to Ann-Marie, but the game is simple and she picked it up quickly. Julian took a mountain of cards, especially late in the game, and couldn't clear them all but still finished strongly.