Billabong Boardgamers December 9th, 1997
Present: Julian, Doug, Alan, DonnaPrevious session report
Doug Adams writes:
A quiet night tonight with David busy developing his game (looking forward to seeing the modifications, David), and Janet home not feeling too good.
Alan bought up a copy of AH's Successors for me, courtesy of Board Not Bored Games - looks very nice. I had to resist the impulse to open it up and start punching counters. Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage may well be one of my top 5 games, I never say no to a game. I've been looking foward to this one for a while, and the pulse quickened as I absorbed the gorgeous artwork.
However, Billabong beckoned ...
Formula Motor Racing
Julian, Alan and I had about 20 minutes before Donna arrived so we set up this Knizia game. Julian and Alan had played it before, I've seen it played at another Billabong session but hadn't participated.
We played two hands (i.e.. races) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Basically there is a line of coloured cars (we took 2 colours each, i.e.. 4 cars), and you play cards to influence the positioning of the cars relative to each other. The car in the first six places when the deck is exhausted earn points ala Formula 1 scoring. Card play can get quick tricky, especially towards the end of a hand. It was good stuff.
After two races the final scores were:
This game reminded me a lot of Roadkill, by Avalon Hill. I quite liked Roadkill, but never got to play it so sold it off. The positioning of cars was reminiscent of that game. A game I'd readily play, not sure if I want it or not. The Doug of several months ago wouldn't have said that!
Well, we couldn't have escaped this evening without humouring Julian (just kidding!) with a game of this one. As the current incarnation of Billabong took form, Julian would drum into our ears "if you see a copy of Metropolis, let me know". Well, the quest is over as a contact of his in the UK found a copy, and I have a Funagain Games copy on the way as well.
What's it like ? Rather good, actually. There are some really nice mechanisms here, and I'm sure the majority of this list know about it. As usual for me in a new game it took until late in the game before it all started to click together, and from then on I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The game is about building different sorts of building on lots you claim. The board represents the city, with 8 'blocks' of 10 'lots' each numbered 1 to 90 (that may be slightly wrong). Each turn you get to choose a lot from a random selection of 4 face up 'lot' cards. A mechanic that appeared later in Airlines and Elfenroads (and these are just the ones I know), and Metropolis appears on Alan Moon's top 50 list too.
As you claim lots (marked as yours), building possibilities start to appear and you can lay plastic building pieces on the board. There are about 8 different building types, and the way they are placed onto a block with respect to one another determines a building's score. For example, houses score more if they are adjacent to the park and have shops and things nearby. They score less if they are on the same block as a factory, etc.
So there are nice mechanisms going on here. If you build prematurely, you may jeopardize your score, but if you hang back you may lose the opportunity to build using that particular building piece (which are rather strictly limited). Add to that the opportunity to deal with the other players, and share buildings, and it's rather an intoxicating mix.
Very good, and I will have to play it two or three more times to fully digest the game. The final scores were:
A good close game, and I'm sure we played poorly as well.
I just had to play it! I was hoping for 5 tonight to fully test it out but 4 was pretty good as well, and the game was a lot of fun.
I won't describe what happened as I just don't remember. We quickly dubbed the various cards Hippy, Poo, Drunk, Psycho, Shy, Cowboy, Boxer and Fire and this made for some interesting trading discussions .. "I'll give you a cowboy for your poo!".
It took about half the game to get the mechanics right. I tended to take traded cards back into my hand automatically, even though I knew it was wrong. Donna tried to lay out more than two cards on her turn, etc.
However, once it clicked, it was great. We really liked the way the game accelerated after the first deck, as the gold gradually builds and the next decks get quicker. Keeping track of which beans get converted to gold is a must as well. 5 (of the 6) Psycho beans went into Alan and my gold pile during the first deck, which left Julian with one bean field 'locked out' with the last Psycho. WE didn't want it!
The game also saw Julian, Donna and Alan all purchase a 3rd bean field, but I didn't. I managed to turn over good crops of mainly poo, hippy and drunk beans, which kept the gold coming in.
At the end of the game the scores were:
Interesting. That 3rd bean field is a crucial decision. Is it good to have one or not ? Hmmm.
Anyway, the game was a hit and an immediate repeat playing was called for. However time was short so we stopped there on the promise we'd play it next week. I want the expansion!