Billabong Boardgamers - 11th August 1998
A small meeting tonight, with David away and Donna absent. We used this rare occurance to break out some four player games.
Euphrat & Tigris
Julian was still an hour away so we decided to play something meaty. I hadn't tried a 3 player Euphrat, so we agreed to try it out. Good news, it works well with 3 players, but has a different feel. The fact that you get every third turn means you can plot and plan moves with slightly more control now. The game also has a quicker feel, so ideal moves may be missed as we all seemed to up the pace of the game - however that may have been just me and my perception of it.
We had the standard opening, independent kingdoms sprouting in different areas of the board. I went for a kingdom on the central temple-treasure tile, while Alan and Janet were in the corners. For the first three turns we played independently onto our own kingdoms, however I was developing an urgent need for blue points. Alan was playing frequent blue tiles in his kingdom, so I decided to get in on that and placed my blue leader there. Funnily enough, that stopped Alan playing blue there!
With the rapid expansion of our own kingdoms, punctuated by a few smash and grab raids by Trader leaders claiming treasures from minor kingdoms, there were soon 3 large kingdoms on the board running diagonally from the bottom corner, through the centre up to the top corner opposite the first. Something had to give.
Doug gave...caught in the middle, I was evicted from my central kingdom, but not before I had built the blue/black monument to quell my urgent need for blue. Black was not a problem, but green and red were becoming so. I could see Alan and Janet getting rich on all colours from assorted conflicts - these being initiated in the grab for neutral treasures (the need for these seem to drive our games, and I wonder if too much emphasis is placed on them?).
I suspected I was finished as the game drew to a close. I had only five red, six green and two treasures, while the others were cashing in for blocks of five with alarming regularity. I made a futile gesture on my last few turns to claim some needed red and green before the tile bag emptied. This has been a rare finish of late, with the priority being on grabbing treasures the game tends to end with only two treasures left. This game however saw spidery kingdoms joining and breaking apart, severing the link immediately and preventing the treasures from being claimed.
Something silly while waiting for Julian. The finest donkey racing game money can buy. Alan got a first place match, as well as first/second transposed. That beat my first/second match.
Julian was here at this stage, his grief at missing Euphrat balanced perfectly by his delight at missing the running of the donkeys. I wanted to try Show Manager with four players and it worked well. The game is very simple but there are tough decisions, like trying to dance away from collecting what the player on your right is collecting, and the agony of what to pay for on the draft board. Further agony is attained by the decision about clearing the draft board and considering borrowing against shows.
I really like the pace of this game - it seems to hurtle along which can blur the decision making process. I tend to play by feel anyway, making instant decisions by playing by instinct. However, even I felt rushed in this one!
I must have done something right, as I won - helped no end by a superb production of the Ballet in New York, backed up by strong productions in other cities. Janet made an early goof, forgetting you had to have no more than two card maximum after presenting a show. As the game was well underway, we let her present a show and kept on going.
Always glad to grab this off the shelf to learn more nuances. Alan hadn't played this before but picked up basics and played well. For the first time I saw four contracts of the one colour appear with the accompanying 8 ducat payout. We all used the 'toss and redraw' rule at the end of each trading year to good effect. The end result was our closest spread of scores yet for this game. I knew I was doomed when Janet was selling before I was at the end of the third trading year - we were in on the same type of goods. If I got in before her, I would have been ahead instead of constantly behind in the final reckoning. Great game.
Auf Heller Und Pfennig
Our last game rounded out a nice Knizia-themed evening. Round one saw me draw slightly ahead, which was maintained through round 2. It was "get Doug" then which seemed a bit silly as no one had committed the big 3 and 4 value markets, and the narrow 20 gold lead could be easily bridged. No one noticed Janet, either, who was shadowing me only a few ducats behind.
I decided to counter the "get Doug" tactics by committing my high value markets in several places in round 3. I had a "+5" tile as my draw as well. Naturally one of my markets drew the Evil Eye, but I had all my available markets but one down on the last turn to earn income. Janet gained via the attention I drew and came through for a narrow win. Scores were again very tight, but quite low as well.