Billabong Boardgamers - August 10th, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Janet, Doug, Debbie, Tina, Alan, David, Julian, Graeme
Doug Adams writes:
Our segregated evening saw a boys table and a girls table busy gaming away, until Graeme arrived and joined the women. Obviously in touch with his inner self... :)
Roger and Doug played a quick game of Schotten-Totten, a 2 player Knizia game, while uttering silent prayers for some more male company to arrive.
This is a simple card game where the theme is, of all things, Scottish clans feuding over the boundary stones between two tracts of land. The boundary stones are 9 cards that are set out between the two players. A deck of 54 cards (six suits of 1-9) are shuffled and dealt out. Players on their turns play one card against a boundary stone and draw a replacement card into their hand of six.
The object is to claim five boundary stones, or three in a row. Stones are claimed by forming 3 card poker hands on your side of the stone, trying to defeat the hand the opponent is building. Hand order is straight flush, 3 of a kind, flush, straight and finally wild rabble (no special hand).
An interesting mechanic is before you place a card you can claim a stone if you've build up your three cards and can prove that it cannot be defeated. This keeps the players on their toes because it may mean the difference between a win and a loss.
Our game was played at breakneck speed as David and Alan had arrived. Roger basically thumped Doug, 5 stones to 1.
David and Alan tried it later in the evening.
David writes: "A first game for Alan and I.
Yet another Reiner Knizia game. How I wish I could design full-time...when I wasn't playing games, reading books etc
Very easy to get into, though I had to keep reminding myself of the priority of the 3 card sets. I got off to a dream start, being dealt a 9,8,7 in the same suit. One down. My second stone was not within two of my first stone, but third and fourth soon followed next to my first stone. One was three 8's, Alan having played two 8's whilst I kept one in my hand. I think I did the same with 6's. The other one was another 9,8,7 in a matching suit (built up over a few turns).
Another quick and light card game, but this time for two players.
David 3 in a row (+1)
With Julian appearing as well, we decided to play a five player Rheinlaender and let Roger try it out for the first time.
Roger jumped out to a very good start with several small duchies scattered around the board. Doug tried to claim some cities but was distracted into not establishing duchies and really playing a poor game. Alan also didn't get early duchies down but came back strongly to dominate the large kink in the river around the 20-30 space area.
Julian and David were embroiled in a battle down on the 51-54 island, with Alan loitering nearby. A few bastions appeared here to stave off the inevitable takeovers, which eventually saw David triumph over Julian. Alan moved in and tied with David which saw both dukes come off the board. David reclaimed his duchy on his next move.
Roger and Doug had squabbled over a duchy around the 35 area of the river, where the second island is located. Doug removed Roger, Roger removed Doug which, along with Julian evicting Doug from a duchy at 12, totally removed Doug from the board.
The game ended when Alan, who'd advanced fairly unscathed through the game, and quietly working on his 20-30 duchies, finished the game by placing his last knight.
Scores (points picked up + points on board = total):
New game syndrome strikes again (a theory that if you teach a game to someone you do lousy at it - see Schotten-Totten above and Colorado County below!).
A new game for Debbie and Graeme, who joined Julian, Roger and Doug for a raucous five player game. This is a very good auction game, stunningly packaged with great cards and a tiny wooden gavel. The game itself has a bit of a chequered history, with it's similarities to Kuhandel so apparent that Mulder and Scully should look into it.
This game is broken into two phases. The first phase is the auction turns, where a commodity card is flipped up and auctioned. The player running the auction has a chance to buy the card after the auction for the final price, otherwise the top bidder claims the card. Money is payed by the winner to the other player - nothing comes from or disappears into the bank - the money circulates continually throughout the game between the players.
The object is to build up sets of four cards. There are 12 sets, valued between 50 and 1000 pounds. Your final score is the sum of the set values multiplied by the number of complete sets - so every complete set has some value!
After the cards have been auctioned off, the game enters a second phase where players try and complete their sets by issuing challenges to other players. Say Debbie is holding the 2 Toys cards I need to complete a set of Toys. I challenge Debbie for her 2 Toys and we each pass each other some money cards face down. Whoever paid the most claims the two toys, and each player keeps the cash passed. This phase of the game continues until all sets are complete and scores are tallied up.
In our game nobody had completed any sets after the auctions had completed. Debbie was threatening with 3 of the 1000 card set. Overall each player has a fairly even distribution of commodity cards which meant trading would be critical.
Roger traded his way into a powerful position early, completing the 900 and 600 pound sets early, with a potential 300 pound set there. Doug managed to complete an 800, while Debbie (who'd struggled for cash) knocked off her 1000 pound set. Graeme, who had appeared to amass a huge fortune in cash took the porcelain set off Doug, however Doug completed the rather cheap Toys set from Graeme.
The most tense plays of the game were between Julian and Debbie, who were holding two 700 Art cards each. Julian, trying to keep his fingers in both this pie as well as the 150 set as well, was playing cautiously before Debbie got him and claimed the 700's. Doug took the 150's off Julian (no idea how) and the game had finished.
Great game, as always.
Another Knizia card game - this one about knights jousting to win four different tournaments (I can never connect with this theme!), and a filler that is always received well here. We played a couple of hands while waiting for Tina to extract herself from the gargantuan Mu-a-thon that had been running on the other table.
Game 1: Graeme
With the hour late and the head thumping, we tried out Roger's new game. I'd been calling this "Colorado Country" in earlier reports, but I see it's actually "County". Having enjoyed Basari, I was really looking forwards to trying this Rheinhard Staupe game, and based on one playing, it appears a good one.
In this one you are blocks of wood trying to position yourself on what appears to be a golf course! David, who played it last week, asked us to try and work out what we were supposed to be achieving in this game, and to be honest, I couldn't really tell. From the cowboy hats on some of the tiles I guess we are ranchers trying to stake out a land claim on the board. Not sure, but I'll work with that.
A grided game board is set up with around 6 lake tiles on it. The lakes have numbers on them, which are points that are awarded during the fourth and final scoring round. A few flag markers are sprinkled around the board, which I'm guess are plots for sale during the current turn. Each round, three flag cards are turned up which correspond to the flags on the map. You bid cowboy hat chips for the right to claim one of these cards and of course in a four player game, one will miss out. Compensation of two new cowboy chips lessens the blow.
If you do win the bid, you may claim an available card and use the orientation pattern on it to position control markers at that flag point. The object here being to build up control markers in such a way that you will score points during the scoring rounds (four of these). Points are awarded for game border coverage, lake control, pairs of control markers, and the largest group of markers. Cleverly, and this is what makes the game rise above ordinary, is the payout for these scoring options rise and fall at different times. Borders pay out well early, but are virtually worthless at the end of the game. Lakes pay low early, but high at the end of the game. This made for some interesting decisions.
Our game saw Roger fall victim to the teaching syndrome, while Graeme appeared to enjoy himself thoroughly. He took the border points on the first two rounds, and the largest group on the final two rounds, both when they were scoring heavily, and this appeared to be enough for the win. Doug tried to go for borders early, but losing out to Graeme there tried to pick up pairs and lakes for the endgame, which came within an ace of working. Julian and Roger appeared to be working on a pair of lakes down the less cluttered end of the board, with Julian making a late rush for the 11 points for largest group, which Graeme took off him with the last card play.
Doug's rating: 7. A game that feels a bit odd but one of those rare beasts when I can look at the board and instantly tell what is happening and who is doing well. Durch die Wueste is another one of these games. I forgot to mention the "For Sale" rules which allow lots to be sold for bidding chips - a nice source of revenue for worthless lots - chances are they are valuable to someone. The rules for positioning the flag chits from round to round seemed a bit odd. You randomly position them without thinking about it. How can you not think about it!!!?
Tina Canton writes:
Yet another in the long list of trick-taking card games with a twist. Being fairly new to the group, Tina and Debbie hadn't played it before, but Dey and Janet were more than willing to explain it. We played four hands, with Tina and Debbie admittedly a little baffled through the first one. It isn't a difficult game though, and by the end of the first hand they'd figured it out. As often happens, beginner's luck prevailed (even with Janet thwarting Tina at every opportunity :).
Alan Stewart writes:
Present: Alan, Tina, Janet, David, Alan
Alan 58 (+30) - 89 - 58(-40) - 113(+40) - 213(+50)
A successful first bid, followed by two losing bids (both lost by 4 cards or more), and then two very successful bids. My first losing bid was when a hand with 5 7s was shot down by 1 being called as the minor trump. By contrast the closing bid for the game saw 6 7s turned into 48 triangle under-bid. On David's losing bid he didn't like the minor trump at all, and went no trumps just in case the bid came off, but it didn't.
David 89(+40) - 100 - 135 - 1777 - 202
The first bid was the only successful bid of the game. The losing bids were fairly bad, losing by 3, 3, 4 and 5 cards!
Dey 8 - 77(+50) - 165(+60) - 260(+60)
On the last hand I didn't think I could stop Dey, so went Vice in an effort to try, but she had a good hand. The first successful bid saw David and Dey get the exact 34 triangles they needed. Usually the bids either failed dismally or turned out to be under bids. We are still learning despite having played quite a few games.
These games were quicker than usual, only 4 or 5 hands each, so we are probably getting better.
Graeme McIntyre writes:
Durch die Wueste
Players / Scores :
Having only played this once before (with three players) I found a five player game to be quite different. With quick moves early, it became increasingly difficult to work out each other's strategy. Hence we tended to only concentrate on our own "riders" and not play defensively.
As the (whatever the collective noun for camels is - anyone ?) grew, it also became difficult to cordon off large tracts and therefore visualise who may be in a strong position.