Billabong Boardgamers - September 7th, 1999
Present: Roger, Janet, Doug, Tina, Debbie, Julian, Peter, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
Great to see various Billabongers surviving 5 days at Aussicon3, and the return of UK visitor, Peter Card, for another dose of punishment at Billabong before flying home tomorrow.
Doug was sitting in on a 5 player game of Medieval Merchant when extra numbers arrived, so Bernie and Doug moved over to join Julian and Peter for a game of Tycoon.
This money making game always seems to "connect" for me, it works well, and has some neat twists in where you can go and what you can do. Cash is always tight and throwing a bit of it around can lead rapidly to ruin. Money is made in three ways - for hotel coverage around the world, for factories (better to get these built early), and finally for majority or second majority of hotels in individual cities.
Our game began with Julian and Doug staying at "home" to take out loans, while Peter and Bernie went out into the wide world. The early loan issue was something that bothered me when I first played this game, but now I believe there is nothing to worry about - each player will *have* to take out at least one loan during the first year, so whether it's before you enter the board for the first time, or later on, is moot.
I like going for a large spread of city coverage during the first round so aimed for 5 or 6 cities to cover loan debt. That succeeded, with Doug ending the round with 5 cities having hotels in them (New York had two hotels, not having a good fly option to leave when there). The other players had 2 or 3 cities covered with hotels, having built a few factories in round 1. Doug took $39 from the first round, the other players taking $33 (Julian), $29 and $26 (I think).
Round two saw Doug looking for a presence in all nine cities, with perhaps a factory or two popping up. Round two is where the game shifts as hotels begin to be removed for renovation, and scores begin to peak. Peter did well this round, as did Bernie, both taking around $90 each at the end of the round. However, Bernie was in loan trouble and still had $50 to repay at the end of round three. Doug and Peter cleared their loans during round two, and were both taking around $45 into round three - probably enough to get them through without the need for another loan if they were careful.
That is how it panned out. Round three couldn't end quickly enough for Doug, who with no factories on the board was intent on devaluing the other players factories. Doug landed in Hong Kong and proceeded to build three hotels there, and (along with some help from Julian) filled up Hong Kong track to ensure that all other factories would be paid out according to the secondary value. A side trip to New York and Monaco to protect interests there and the round (and game) was over, with Doug again being the first to build 6 hotels.
Doug's rating: 8 - a fine game, and one that Julian enjoyed after having to wait so long to finally try it. However our game took over two hours, which is not normal. It's usually a 90 minute game, and I'm sure the playing time will drop next time.
A new game to Bernie, who again joined Peter, Doug and Julian in a faster game while waiting to link up with the other table. This is a fine Knizia game of the "buy low, sell high" kind.
This game saw Doug dealt the +1, +2 and +3 for green which immediately led to the plan "invest in green during round 1". That kind of hit a snag when all the other players gleefully played what appeared to be every negative green card under the sun to send green down 5 after round 1 (it would have been 8 but for a fortunate mirage - these aberrations can be handy!). Red and Yellow were the big winners in round 1, with Julian heavy in yellow, Bernie in red, while Peter held a balanced hand and was leading comfortably on the cash track.
Round two was where green made a comeback, with everyone in on the cheap price. As the round progressed, some very pro-green cards came out, and during this, Doug was picking up yellow contract after yellow contract as a replacement card. A subtle conversion of green to yellow holdings began late on round two.
Round three saw the great green sell off as the starting price began at 28! Bernie was guarding his red hoard of amphorae, but once the yellow contracts began to appear even he began purchasing yellow. All available yellow was purchased as the four contracts appeared giving a payoff of 8 per amphora at the end of the game.
Doug's rating: 7
HASE UND IGEL
With Debbie and Tina departing on the Buffy Express, that left six of us with an hour to kill, so we dragged out Hase und Igel. Having played the "Julian Rules" for two years, we finally played the "holding 10 x finishing position" rules which helped a great deal. We also discovered (courtesy of Peter - thanks!) that we can in fact fall back from a hedgehog to an earlier hedgehog for more carrots. We'd been playing you could not fall back past a hedgehog ever. Quite a difference!
Julian, playing first, jumped out to the first lettuce and the usual queue formed. Peter, Bernie and Doug struck out for the second lettuce space with I think Bernie reaching it first. Bernie then very quickly drew a hare card which allowed him to drop a second lettuce so it was go for the line for Bernie!
A queue of Peter, Roger and Doug queued up for the third lettuce space, only to have Julian leap across the board for 391 carrots (I think) to take it off us. The usual turn order queue then proceeded with Peter, Roger and Doug all having to wait their turn on the lettuce (this is where the six player game breaks for me). Peter, Bernie and Julian were striking out for home, Doug and Roger were comparing lettuce size, while Janet (remember her?) having dropped her lettuces at the first two drop off points was making headway.
With Julian, Peter and Bernie desperately trying to get the carrot balance right to finish, Janet landed on a four space, managed to stay fourth and earned enough carrots to enable her to finish in first place.
Doug's rating: 7
Roger Smith writes:
Tina and Janet: 5 sticks
A new game for Tina and Debbie. I was suffering from a bad cold and my brain just wasn't working. This is a tough game at the best of times, so why I suggested it, I will never know. I neglected my second 'fant, resulting in him being left so far behind the rest of the pack as to be effectively out of play and ruining my chance of a halfway decent score. The others were all quite even, so much so that I got to play kingmaker on my last turn, enabling Janet to draw with Tina.
Roger's rating: 7
WETTSTREIT DER BAUMEISTER
Tina: 38 (tower bonus)
Another new game for Tina and Debbie - played at the request of Debbie (I think). Despite Janet and I having played this several times before, we forgot that the auctioneer gets half the auction proceeds. It was only when we were all desperately short of money that we realised something was wrong. Debbie and Tina has forgotten (or possibly misunderstood my garbled rules explanation) and finished off their cities just prior to the final tile being auctioned. Therefore they couldn't play any tiles in the final tile laying round.
Tina's score reflects a large, high-scoring, city, with a tower bonus. Debbie lost out badly by having 19 points of cards left in her hand at the end.
Roger's rating: 6.75