Billabong Boardgamers - June 6th, 1999
Present: Roger, Janet, Doug, Bernie, Julian, Ann-Marie
Doug Adams writes:
On the table: Evergreen, Ra, Heimlich & Co, It's Mine, Medici
The first of our planned Sunday meetings (1st and 3rd Sunday's of the month) was a pleasant afternoon, and an opportunity to try out four new games to most of us.
HEIMLICH & CO.
This is a game that Julian has owned ever since before Janet and I met him (about 2 years now) but a game we had never played. I asked Julian to bring it along last week, but it was missed, however we caught it this time.
It's a very simple game of trying to deduce which colour secret agents your opponents are, and to knobble them. You get d6 movement factors to move men around a gameboard, with various numbers on their spaces. When a man finishes his move on the safe space, all pawns matching the colours of the secret agents are advanced a number of spaces around the outside of the board equal to the number of spaces they are sitting on.
You are dealt a coloured card at the beginning of the game to indicate which agent you are, and this is a secret. So, the rather simple strategy is to try and trigger a scoring round when your agent is on the 10 (ideally!) but not make it obvious!
As a very light 6 player opener it was okay - I kind of picked Bernie as yellow and Roger as red during the game, but had no idea about the other two. Roger had picked me as green. I don't think anyone had realised what colour Julian was, and he snuck around the track to take the win.
Doug's rating: 5
We slotted in one hand of this Knizia game which we'd owned for ages but never played. A nice game of thinking quick and trying to maximise your limited opportunities to grab a pile of cards.
This is a 'real time' card game where cards are dealt face up, rapidly, onto the table. The first player to slap the table takes that pile of cards and becomes dealer. Players may only claim three piles of cards in a hand. After the hand is over the scores are determined by the way the cards taken interact with each other - a 10 point bonus to the player with the most of a particular card; other cards only score if you have two identical ones; etc.
Good fun, and perhaps a favourite filler of the future.
Scores are really irrelevant, as you either win a hand or lose it. First player to win two hands wins the game.
Doug's rating: 6
At last! I wanted this game from the moment the reports of the demo games came in from Essen...
Ann-Marie and Julian had left so we have four gamers remaining to try Evergreen and Ra. I don't think we can read much into this game as it took us a bit to get used to the scoring system, and specifically which tiles are returned to the box and when.
The game is about collecting sets of tiles, these being drawn from a bag of 180! Tiles are broken up into gods, Nile, civilization, monument, Pharaoh, coins and Ra. The different tiles score in different ways, for example you are forced to have more Pharaohs than at least one other player otherwise you will suffer a penalty when scored. You need at least one civilization tile otherwise again you suffer a penalty, however if you collect several different ones you earn a bonus, and so on.
Tiles drawn are laid out along the game board and are auctioned immediately when a Ra tile is pulled from the bag, OR whenever a player decided to invoke Ra to force an auction - however, if the player called Ra then he is committed to bid if no other players bid. Bids are made by playing bidding the value of one of your suns - you always hold three of these and they vary in value from 1-13 (in our game). A nice rule is the sun you bid is put onto the game board, and you take the sun already there into your hand. There is a bonus/penalty at the end of the game for the highest/lowest sun totals after play finishes - something more to think about!
To be fair at the end of the game I think we were all comfortable with the game and it's nuances, and I certainly enjoyed it. The choices on your turn certainly reminded me of Medici (well, the calling Ra bit), and I found the decision to bid or not was often influenced by the value of the Sun tile on the game board. Paying 13 for an average lot of tiles, and earning a '2' sun back was not that attractive!
I certainly found scoring tough, losing 15 points over the three epochs due to not taking any Civilization tiles at all during the game. However I concentrated on collecting monuments, which looked rather impressive at the end of the game (all 8 monuments, with two sets of three) but I was rather lacking in other areas. Of course, I had the lowest total of sun tiles which was another five point penalty.
The jury is still a little out for me, but there is a lot to like in this one for the Reiner fans, especially fans of Medici. I suspect this will become yet another favourite from Knizia.
Initial rating: 7
Roger Smith writes:
Nothing new to say about this one, other than that Doug has STILL never won it. This was the Amigo version: I have a Rio Grande up for trade if anyone was interested.
With Julian and Marie-Ann departing, we decided to try one of the new games that arrived in Melbourne last week. To explain: there is ONE game shop in Melbourne that stocks Rio Grande titles (not counting Board Not Bored Games). It got in ONE copy each of Evergreen (I got), Klunker (Doug got), Big City and Money (we left these for another punter). No sign of Mamma Mia, Ra, Union Pacific or Ricochet Robots. As Doug explained, he picked up Ra from the distributor's factory outlet the next day. The distributor openly refers to them as the "weird" games and knows even LESS about them than the staff of the game shop (a remarkable achievement). So you can imagine how us Billabongers seethe with envy when we hear you Americans comparing the service and range at the SIX or so game shops in their immediate vicinity! Sorry...but I had to get that off my chest.
What an unusual little game! I admit to being somewhat sceptical before play. I had read the rules (badly as those who saw the question I posted to the list will realise) but I just couldn't get any idea as to how the game would play. A bit like Lost Cities really. Anyway, I was pleased to find it plays very well indeed. The timer (about a minute) puts on just the right amount of pressure to keep things interesting. There is plenty of scope for strategic play. One of the nice features is that both high and low level cards are equally important. Low, to bring your opponents' totals down, and high to raise yours. The problem with raising yours though is that you have to cover one of your own cards. Very Knizian. I wonder what this would be like with 6? Totally chaotic I assume with so much more to keep track of.
Roger's rating: 7.5
Doug writes: I'd like to go on record and give this a '7' - I really enjoyed the way you were forced to think quickly as that timer doesn't take that long to expire. I can remember two errors I made simply due to being rushed. I thought the game was a lot of fun and look forwards to trying it again...there is some strategy to it in terms of hand management.