Billabong Boardgamers - April 6th, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Alan, Julian W, Julian C, Greg, Jared, Anne Marie, Doug, Janet, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
Janet and Doug arrived late tonight, and caught the gamers who arrived on time trying Mamma Mia again. This game is a great filler.
Greg requested another game of this, and I was happy to oblige. Jared, who thumped us in our last game two weeks ago was eager to try it again, and Roger joined us to make four players.
Greg, Roger and I had been chatting offline since our last match, discussing some possible house rules. Tonight we decided to try the following out:
The battle board was left out of the game - it appears to add complexity and length to the nice and clean war rules. Some thrown together rules for the battle board specific cards were:
During our game we started off with a few turns of peace, during which Jared took a fief off Roger, leaving him with one fief. Jared then provoked our first war with Denmark, which Roger decided not to fight. However, some great event cards, and some good rolls, saw Denmark dispatched before they got to fire back. Roger was convicted traitor and was left with no fiefs at all, not going to war was a mistake he admitted to after the game.
The first age saw almost every fief purchased by either Greg or Jared. Doug was concentrating on history cards, trying to build sets of Scientists and Military cards. A turn of Plundering late in the first age saw Roger and Jared both go on a romp around Europe. Jared picked up 20 gold on his first chit, Roger 1 gold! On both their second chits they were caught by the army and both vowed never to plunder again!
At the end of the first age the scores were:
The second age saw the fall of Greg, victim of a couple of event cards as well as being accused of being traitor in avoiding a couple of wars (due to a shortage of funds in the treasury, I think). These wars removed Greg's merchant empire, his chief source of income.
Jared really took off in the second age, primarily choosing agriculture, supplemented by some resource cards - a similar strategy to his last game and one I just have to try. Roger was struggling from his early setbacks and looked well out of it.
At the end of the second age, the scores had become:
It was a case of "get Jared" in the third age, which was surprising in that there was only a couple of wars. Our previous games had seen Sweden totally ravaged by war in this age. However much we tried to get Jared, the event cards just wouldn't give us a good swing at him. A couple of successful wars were fought, and in hindsight this would have been a good way to give Jared a setback or two - however Doug fought by his side and they were both enriched. If Jared was the only one fighting, certain defeat and the removal of fiefs would have made the game more even.
Jared plied ahead on his resource/agriculture strategy, and won the game in a canter. Final scores were:
Note this is the total score, summing at the end of each era. The 'normal' scores would have been:
Thoughts on our house rules/Batalj expansion? I think the summing certainly works and had the event cards fell a different way in the third age then Jared could have had a hard time keeping his lead. I went for a long term history card strategy which netted me four military cards (2 status) and a Scientist (I had two, but these untimely deaths, you know...). There were not as many wars as in the previous games, and although I haven't checked it, we put it down to the fact that the Batalj regent cards had thinned them out a bit - a good thing?
The plundering board was not received well, due to the fact that both Roger and Jared were caught early. Late in the game, given the option, I would have plundered to try and bridge the gap to Jared, but never got the opportunity.
I think I need a bit of work on my house rules for wars, with the cannon and general symbols. It worked okay, but was a bit clunky and I'd like to get something on paper to clean it up. The Archbishop rules were harmless enough, and fitted well into play (apart from my one who was murdered early by Roger, which netted me -1 Status for the end of the game!).
Doug's rating: 8
Das letzte Paradies
A little known Knizia game was bought out for it's first play. It's a very Knizia bidding game that seemed to work well, although I'm convinced we played it badly! The theme is the players are bidding on 16 vacant lots of a desert island paradise, and if they win the lot they have to determine whether they want to develop it (build a hotel or villa), or to leave it as virgin jungle.
Either option has it's advantages - if you build you may earn a bonus later in the game for:
If you choose to leave the site as jungle, you earn a "greenie" chip, which may pay a handsome bonus at the end of the game.
The bidding is pure Modern Art "in the fist" type bidding, however the amount paid by the highest bidder is the second highest bid. Interesting...you may bid outrageously and get away with it if every other player has bid low, or you may get caught out which happened time and time again in our game.
There is a negotiation element to the game where the owner of a just auctioned site can negotiate for cash whether a site will be built on or not. This is the crucial aspect of the game and some interesting deals can be struck.
The winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game (when all 16 sites have been auctioned). However, if you have less than your starting quota of cash, you cannot win. Shades of High Society.
We each started with 60 Paras (the currency) and began bidding for sites. The first thing that struck me was that Greg, Julian W and Roger all seemed to be bidding very high amounts. Greg got away with it first, bidding something like 45 but paying a low amount. After that all players (except Doug!) bid high and paid high for sites. Given that none of us had played before, we weren't sure if this was good or bad. I suspected bad...
As the board started to fill in, bonuses were paid out with Roger, Julian and Doug into the Greenie chips (by not building on sites). Greg tended to build on sites.
The high bids eventually ran the others out of cash, and Doug picked up a couple of the last few sites and negotiated with hotel owners to pick up some cash and pick up some greenie chips. The last play of the game was a 50/50 split with Julian to tie for first place on greenie chips with Julian, giving us 45 each for the greenie bonus.
Very interesting game, with a hint of Modern Art's perceived value evaluation about it. Nothing is obvious, at least from the first game - I'm very keen to try it again. Doug's rating: 7+
Dey Alexander writes:
Players: Jared, Greg, Dey, Julian W, Alan
This was a new game for Julian W and Jared. Alan had played once before, while Greg and I had had a few previous games. Alan indicated that he just couldn't figure out the strategy, and during the course of the game, Julian made similar noises. On the other hand, Jared took to the game like a fish to water.
Players: Alan, Janet, Bernie, Dey, Julian W. and Anne Maree and Julian (playing as a team, since this was Anne Maree's introduction to Billabong, and probably a horror game to start with).
Janet got off to a bad start losing the opening hand as chief, and then having several non-scoring hands in a row. Anne Maree and Julian didn't make much of a showing throughout the game, and Bernie was never a real threat either. Alan and I both got off to a good start, and Julian W. got a 60 point bonus as chief in the third round which brought him into contention, and elevated my score to 152 as I was his partner. Given that I was now clearly in the lead, I had to try to play as chief as I thought no one would allow me to get points by playing as their partner. I missed my target score on the next hand by one point, but didn't suffer any overall loss of points. Janet and Bernie tried for a late run home, winning the next hand, but then I got a free ride home courtesy of Julian W. who won as chief giving us both another 60 point bonus.
Players: Janet, Alan, Dey
We decided at the start to go for 4 goals, rather than 5, as we though we could time the game to coincide with another table finishing. After playing this game a few times now I've decided I really like it. While I find Mu more of a challenge, I like the nifty mechanism of Was Sticht, and the fact that while you think you're selecting low cards, you can just as easily end up with a handful of trumps and have to completely rearrange your strategy and/or goal as a result.
Players: Janet, Alan, Dey
Was Sticht was so much fun we forgot all about switching players and games with another table, and instead, launched straight into another trick-taking game. I didn't have the cards to try my usual 'go for the lot' strategy, and Alan indicated he was in a similar position. Janet took quite a few tricks early on, seemed to be forever adding to her pile of scoring cards, and I thought she'd have won the game easily--but I obviously wasn't paying enough attention to Alan.
Players: Julian W., Alan, Roger, Janet, Dey
A new game for Julian W., but the rest of us have played it a couple of times now. I'm still not sure if I like this game or not--I always play it very badly, which no doubt has had an effect on my opinion of it.
Other games played: Mole in the Hole, Bohnanza