Billabong Boardgamers - 8th February, 2000
Present: Janet, Doug, Alan, Tina, Debbie, Craig, Greg, Bernie, Julian, Ewen, Donna
Solid numbers, with Ewen being added to our growing list of visitors from afar. Ewen is from New Zealand and was visiting Melbourne this week. He admitted during Die Sternenfaher von Catan that he didn't play "games like this", while proceeding to give us a sound beating at it!
DIE STERNENFAHRER VON CATAN
Julian, Ewen, Craig, Doug
First foray into the world that is Siedler for Ewen, and first game of this version for Craig and Doug. Julian had played it three times previously.
The rules took 40 minutes to explain, and another 150 minutes to play. This is way too long for me, and the unwanted spectre of Downtime loomed it's head here. I spent way too long gazing wistfully at other tables where games of Ra, Was Sticht, Tightrope, and the like were being played.
Still, the game does have a certain something, and the basic Siedler mechanics slot nicely into the space theme. Now the "settlements" are colony ships that must traverse the stars to reach a place to settle. Trade envoys are sent to other peoples to pick up powers (all of them seem very useful). Add to this the upgrading of your ships with cannon, drives and cargo bays, and you have the makings of a rich game.
It gets richer still with the addition of the event deck. If you roll an event you enter a little role-playing scenario - "do you trade with the Merchant?", "do you rescue a ship heading towards a sun?", and so on. It seems a rather random mechanic to me, with the usual results being the gaining or losing of fame rings, but if you get lucky you may pick up a ship, or upgrade, and so on.
In our game Ewen picked up a space jump and immediately departed for a trade base that gained him 2 victory points, and his choice of commodity if he didn't get anything from the regular die roll. A powerful card, indeed.
The emphasis during this game was on colonisation, rather than trade. No trade tokens were taken off another player for the whole game. Doug's strategy was as rapid colonisation as possible, and that got him into the lead at the half way point. From there, however, he only picked up another two points for the game.
Craig and Ewen were fighting out the lead for the last half of the game. Both players had production balanced nicely, and were picking up multiple resources when the big 6's and 8's where rolled. It always looked like Ewen's game, but Craig was still a chance, jinking a very fast ship around at the end. Julian chimed in late with a second trade chip (2 points) and was an outside chance, but this was Ewen's game.
Rating: Tricky....if it was a 2 hour game, probably an 8. At 3 hours, it's a 6.
As we only had about 50 minutes after our space epic, we grabbed this considerably lighter game. Janet came scurrying over as this is one of her favorite games and, along with Medici, consistantly misses out on playing it.
The game was dominated by Doug and Craig. Doug scoring 10 points for "hats" during round 1 and not having to worry about that suit for the rest of the game. Doug scored in "tea" during round two and decided it was time to end the game is possible!
Round 3 saw the others make gains as Doug went for outragous bets and lost them all. However, that saw them all bets returned to Doug for round 4, where a juicy hand of "umbrellas" saw this final suit score and thus end the game. Some "topping up" of his "tea" suit and the game was Doug's.
Alan Stewart writes:
After 5 hands,
Most hands everyone achieved their goal. Alan was the only dealer to successfully discard a goal.
Janet's large score for monuments did not quite off-set Alan's consistent scoring each turn. In each round Alan used all his suns first, then Janet, and finally Bernie.
At the conclusion both Janet and Alan tied for lowest sun total (24) and both lost 5 points.
3 player, played to 120 points.
Tina started well with a Militia plus x2, so no one attacked her until her empire went into decline. Janet had fortification and agriculture, so a chain of yellow lands containing forts sprang up. Alan had double slavery, so conquered as much as he could then went into decline.
Alan had revolutionaries and general, so launched in to the hills in the middle of Tina's old empire. But it cost him 10 VP to purchase this. Tina got the +2 VP ports and astronomy, and took every anchor around the coast, making it very hard to split her empire. Janet went into decline and came back with double livestock.
It looked like Tina was running away with it, but Alan brought in a mountaineering and agriculture empire in the last turn, but it wasn't enough.
Alan 0 11
A filler. Not that exciting with 2 players.
An interesting game. Some victories were first to 5 stones, others were 3 stones together. Quite often the card you wanted was played by your opponent.
Debbie Pickett writes:
Greg, Debbie, Donna, Tina
I picked up the new edition of this game last week. Tina and I tried it ourselves, to learn the mechanics, and decided that it was a real dog of a game for two, with absolutely no balance at all.
We tried it with four players at Billabong, and it works a little better. This is the second edition of the game, which is apparently in a smaller box than the old version, and with some rule changes. Having not played the old game, I can't say what the changes are, but I understand the requirement to win three adjacent provinces is one.
The game's mechanics remind me a fair bit of the recent Star Wars tie-in, Clash of the Lightsabers. Play a strength card and the next player then has a go; last one standing wins the battle, then do it all again.
Donna managed to completely thrash the rest of us by having us fight among ourselves for provinces she didn't care about, then go for Florence at just the right moment to get her third province in a row.
My opinion is that we didn't understand the importance of cooperating with our opponents to thwart the greater enemy. I hope that's the case, because so far I haven't been very impressed.
Final scores: Donna won with about four provinces, Tina three, Greg two, Debbie one.
My rating: I give it a five, which may go up or down depending on how the next games go.
Greg, Debbie, Bernie, Donna
It was an act of purest optimism to start this game partway through the night and expect to finish it when some of us needed the rules explained to us. But Bernie was quite quick at covering the rules and we were underway. I was Venice, Donna the Turks, Bernie played Valencia and Greg was Genoa.
We ended up finishing five of the eight rounds, but with each round progressively slower than the last, we were never going to get to the end.
By the time we quit, Greg had formed some nice forts on the coast of Africa for a monopoly on gold. I'd done the same for gems next door. Bernie had just attacked and defeated Greg's home port of Genova, and I was close to filling in all of my goods on my home port of Venezia. It would be difficult to say which of us was ahead, since Greg had a strong collection of sailors in Africa and could easily have taken back his home port. Donna, too, was working away peacefully in the east, amassing great wealth.
I definitely want to try this game again.
My rating: I'm a sucker for games on a map. I give it a 7.