Billabong Boardgamers - 10th February 1998
A nine card hand for five players. The early action saw the red expedition cover a lot of territory, first across Asia and then into North America and south to Antarctica. Janet and Doug managed to get a lot of early cards down, with David and Julian struggling early. The mid game saw Donna and Julian begin to make an impression into Doug and Janet's lead. Janet got a couple of turns where she picked up public research missions, whereas Doug didn't collect one for the game. The game ended with Janet playing her last card in Australia. Doug had begun what was to be the final round, and thus didn't get another play (his final card being adjacent to the destination Janet finished on).
The final scores were:
Doug's rating - 8
Julian was keen to try this game of apply buying and selling. I've asked Julian about this game once before, having long spotted it on the game shelves - and I got the impression that the game was average. Julian explained the rules, as the game was new to all of us, and I must admit for such a simple game I didn't understand much from them. Once we started playing, however, the game came to me very easily.
The idea of this game is to make money (I think), well, to at least advance your marker further around the track than anyone else. To do this you must buy cheap and sell dear. The game is quite abstract, almost Shark like, in that the game is played on a grid that represents the apple orchard. The grid is about 7x7 in size, with each outside border of the grid numbered from 2 to 7 (which would make the grid 6x6 ? It seemed bigger than that.). Each side is a different colour which matches the colour of the apple you are buying or selling. Depending on the position of the Mayor (a wooden pawn) in the Orchard will set the prices of each of the 4 apple colours for the turn. Thus you may have prices of 7, 6, 2, 3 for red, blue, yellow and green apples this turn, for example. You buy by simply taking the top apple card from the deck, while selling is a little more complicated. You must be holding an apple card, which come in the four apple colours, and you play it face down in front of you. If no one else chooses this colour of apple to sell, you get the full price as indicated by the Mayor's position in the Orchard! If someone else chooses the same colour apple, then it's a confrontation!
I didn't mean to turn this into a lengthy review, as I'm sure most of you would have seen this game before. I really liked the simple mechanisms that had elements of Knizia about it. Game play was engaging and the lead fluctuated wildly as you sold apples (and advances) or bought cards (and receded). The only thing I didn't like was the purchasing of dice to augment confrontation, but that's me. Maybe a better option would be to spend 2for a second card from your meagre supply, rather than purchasing a random value from 1 to6.
The winner was (in spaces from the finish):
Doug's rating: 7 - I like it, the game has very nice components, plays well, and the finish was quite tense (although I wasn't involved!).
I've owned this game for about 12 months, but had never played it. It was getting late so we just had one turn to get the feel of the system. It seemed quite a promising game, and we look forwards to trying it in anger next week.