Billabong Boardgamers - February 9th, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Julian, Moray, Liz, Greg, Doug, Janet, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
A neglected game at Billabong but one I wanted to introduce to Dey and Roger given their fondness of the crayon rail games. We managed to lure Roger into the game, along with Janet, Julian. Bernie turned up just as we were covering the rules, so it became a five player game.
I really do like this game, it's a cut or two above the 'roll and move' type game as you must hit cities by exact count to trigger a public contract auction, which makes movement a little trickier than is first apparent. If you purchase contracts haphazardly then you are going to get burnt at the end of the game, especially if someone ends it early.
Our game saw Bernie and Roger invest heavily in public contracts, while I decided on a very cautious purchase policy. Janet and Julian were playing a middle of the road type game. One benefit of this game was having Bernie providing 'on the fly' translations of the event cards, even to the extent of explaining the story behind the "Road Runner" card. Wonderful stuff, and added a bit of flavour to the game.
At the half way point this looked to be a shootout between Roger and Bernie, who both with trailers and a fistful of contracts, seemed to be doing well. Julian was struck by a card that seemed to read he had to dump his loads and drive back to each of his three declared contract start points and pick them up again. He was talking about resigning and heading off to the other table to share his misfortune when we passed the card to Bernie to read it again. Ah! It basically said to move immediately back to any one load start point. Much better, Julian hastily climbed back in his rig and the game continued!
Julian was starting to make some serious money as the contract draw pile emptied, and Janet's cash pile was growing steadily. But none seemed larger than Bernie's and we'd all placed him in the lead. The game was getting vicious with Roger being the victim of several attacks of the dreaded "road works", and retaliating (quite reasonably as I was the one blocking him most) against Doug whenever possible.
The game came down to Julian, Janet or myself ending the game by delivering the final contract held. It was Julian who finished:
Janet, playing after Julian, would have ended the game if Julian hadn't. This would have given her 2200 and the win. I was playing after Janet and if I ended the game, I would have netted another 3200 which would have moved me up the positions. This goes to show just how close the game was, and even when counting the cash, I would have given it to Bernie, who had an enormous pile of cash. I enjoyed the game but found it to be too long by about 30 minutes. It took up a good two hours of play time, and I suspect a lesser number of public contracts, or perhaps playing this as a four player game, would solve some of the perceived "this is dragging a bit" problems.
Doug's rating: 6 to 7
Janet adds: it would probably work better as a 4 player game as there seemed to be a lot of down-time. A very enjoyable game all the same.
Greg, who for some inexplicable reason I kept calling Chris, requested a game of this recent favourite. Roger had disappeared over to a game of Was Sticht, but we picked up Moray. Julian, Moray, Greg and Bernie hadn't played this before, so the rules were covered which produced the mandatory "huh?". We got the game underway as I knew by two or three turns in they'd pick up the simple mechanics, no problems.
I started in the northeast, Janet in the centre, Bernie in the northwest, Moray in the north, Julian in the southwest, and Greg in the west. Each player seemed to make solid openings despite some confusion over reading the route paths. Julian was planning on reaching the '8' city, but then realised he couldn't get there as there was no easy route directly across to it. Bernie was first into the '8' tile, promptly followed by myself and Moray. I was drawing nice income from the 5, 4 and 7 cities in the north east so I decided to get playful and add a branch to the '8' city. That prompted Bernie to raise an eyebrow and add two more via a document chit, which in turn led me to close it with a chit of my own. Rack up 8 points and the ire of Bernie! I've since been told by Jay Tummelson that this city was resolved incorrectly. As I only had 4 of the 8 available spots, I didn't achieve an absolute majority, which meant I only earned four points - this has been adjusted into my score below.
Moray was expanding northeast into the cities I'd been drawing on, which was probably a mistake but then I realised he was desperately short on money and couldn't afford to break out south. I tried to give him a broad hint or two that he should be trying to get out of the northeast before it was sealed off, while trying to stay ahead in the cities he was expanding into.
Greg, Bernie and Julian were having a nice battle for control of the cities in the west. As seems usual in this game, the southwest quickly filled up, denying access to most of the other players. Janet was playing her turns quickly and methodically, leading me to believe she'd picked up the strategy of this game at last, although her expansion still seemed a tad slow, she appeared to be working to a plan.
I felt like I was leading, but I was becoming more and more concerned about how well Bernie and Greg were doing now. They both seemed to have nailed the rules and strategy down very well and both were picking up city disks regularly. Bernie still had a 7 city to claim, while Greg and I were keen on ending the game. The game ended with the 20th town taken, the first time I've seen that happen.
Doug's rating: 8
Alan Stewart writes:
Players: Alan, Liz, Dey, Greg, Moray
This game followed a trend that has happened in all (three) games of this which I have played so far. Namely, there seemed to be an awful lot of one currency showing up early, in this case Euros.
In the mid-game two or three of the share positions were occupied by Banks and as neither of the current investors in banks, Dey and Moray, were buying them, and no one else was interested, they remained there for a long time. People just kept picking up money.
The scores after the first round were fairly close, and no one achieved a clear double majority in the second round, so it was not clear how the game would go. I think only Greg's automobile (?) majority was beyond doubt at this stage.
In the end I scored a third in Banks which tipped me past Liz.
Tips: Try not to diversify into every stock. You need at least one clear majority. Even a second or third in Banks at the end is better than a majority earlier in the game.
DURCH DIE WUSTE
Players: Liz, Dey, Greg, Alan, Moray
The game seemed to play fairly straight forward.
Liz and Greg were going for fairly large areas. Dey, Moray and Alan were fighting for palm tree points in a couple of areas of the board.
Moray was trailing my longest camel train for most of the game but managed to tie it just before Dey ended the game.
Dey and Liz complained a bit about only placing 1 camel initially, but as Dey finished the game, they ended up placing more camels than anyone else!
I missed out on a few palm tree points by not noticing same coloured camel trains approaching from the opposite side to where my leaders were staked out two hexes away. I also left it just too late to extend my longest camel train.
>From the scores, the three people who enclosed the largest areas won, so it looks like areas are crucial in a fairly long game with most of the board filled, and virtually all the oases taken, which this one was.
Players: Alan, Moray, Liz, Dey, Greg
A first time played for Greg, and I'm not sure how many times Liz and Moray have played it.
Moray seemed to be having the hardest time of it, harvesting single fields a lot. Liz made few but large trade ins.
Players: Roger, Alan, Liz, Dey
An interesting game. The way things went, we usually knew what was trumps by the time the second or third cards had been drawn towards our hands!
Thus it was very hard for the dealer to get rid of any tokens, and in fact Dey was the only one who managed it. This was on a hand where the color of the trumps was evident early on (red) but the number wasn't determined until right near the end of the drawing cards phase (3).
Towards the end I had `win no tricks' and `win the end trick' tokens left, but every time I picked low on the first trick, say a 1 or a 2, it turned out to be trumps! So the one token I never got rid of was `win no tricks' which should have been easy to get rid of!
Dey 0 (tokens remaining)
I think the game took about 11 deals.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
Players: Roger, Alan, Liz, Dey
First game for Liz and Dey (I think).
Abandoned after two hands due to time.
Roger 61 95
I'm still trying to work this one out. It was very different with four players (previous games had been with 3), as if you played the highest cards, you ended up with 3 cards straight away. If they were in the one suit, they were immediately worth only 1 point each.
I'd like to try it with the full 6 (?) players, and compete a four player game.