Billabong Boardgamers January 12th, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Janet, Doug, Lindsay, Alan, Julian, David, Moray, Liz, Greg, Chris
Doug Adams writes:
Another 12 gamer turnout at our new venue, it all adds up to lots of games played, and a great social evening! Here's some views on games I was involved in.
Dey requested this cute hedgehog racing game, essentially a roll a die and move a piece type game, with a dollop of backgammon tossed in. We didn't use any of the 40 variants (any recommendations?), so it was simply a pure four player hedgehog race that was full of tension :)
Team Adams hedgehogs have now beaten Team Smith and Team Alexander twice in two days. The game now goes back on the shelf for a year or two ;)
David joined us to make up a five player game, and we'd just covered all the rules when Chris called in. So now we had a six player game, and I was interested to see how it played out.
The good news is that it seemed to work well. Janet and David failed to expand out early and suffered for it at the end of the game, while the rest of us struggled to expand into as many regions as possible. Dey and Roger were making a bit of hoo-hah about the '8' city so I decided to start there as well - I wasn't having them drawing 30 thalers per turn from it! It proved a good move as I could go literally anywhere and managed to get in on a few '6' and '7' cities unopposed. I found the game almost easier to play with six players, as some of your options that you may have with fewer players (i.e.. possible expansions) are just not worth it in the six player version. Hence your possible expansion choices drop from about ten to five!
The game went very well for me, with chief threats being from Dey and Chris so I decided to expand into their territory and pick up some free city disks. It was that extra disk or two that proved the difference as Dey charged home for second place.
Scores: (Influence + regions + cash)
Doug's rating: 8 - rock solid, fine game. For the record, I don't see any flaw in the city distribution. I set up near the '8' and jumped in when it appeared - and my initial distribution of 2/3/4/6 didn't hurt my game at all.
Take It Easy
Dey was organising a mass Take It Easy game, so I joined in. It became a seven player game that split into two separate games after Julian scored well every hand. The other six mere mortals battled out the minor placings. I look forwards to reading Julian's strategy notes some time soon!
Doug's rating: 7
Wettstreit der Baumeister
My final game of the evening was up against Julian, Roger and Chris. We raided Mik's variants (okay, they are not Mik's but Mik supplied them in an issue of Games Games Games), namely:
plus our own...
Chris got some early Gates down and was soon rolling in income. Cities were progressing nicely when I broke my own rule by bidding fourth on a hidden tile and of course, it ended up being the corner tower I already owned - for four thalers!
I responded by attempting sabotage against Roger, right after he'd picked up 7 thalers. He bought off my attack for 4 thalers which was what I was hoping for all along. All this didn't really matter, because while I was busy rotating the face up tile to extend the game and finish my puny city, Julian was building a majestic metropolis. Roger picked up a needed tile but then realised he couldn't play it at the end of the game (he can only play three tiles at the end of the game, he was holding four).
When the game ended, Chris had about 30 thalers sitting behind his screen, is this some sort of record!?
High scoring game, and closer than I thought.
Dey Alexander writes:
I've been trying to avoid writing a Billabong report for some time now--not because I'm not prepared to 'do my bit', but because I've got such an appalling memory I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to write anything much at all about what happened or who did what and why.
However, finding myself at a table with Moray and Liz who have no internet access at the moment, and Greg, who was attending his first (of hopefully many more) Billabong session, the challenge of reporting had finally to be faced. Fortunately, this was at the end of the night and we played two games I'd already played before.
HARE AND TORTOISE
Greg brought along the English edition (Ravensburg published) of this classic game--the only difference in components being the tortoise replacing the hedgehog on the game board.
We got off to a fairly slow start with no one rushing the first lettuce square as is usually the case in my (albeit rather limited) experience of this game. Having been trounced in a recent game by racing to the lead, I was determined to hang back and collect some carrots and try the late-charge-home approach which I'd found more successful in the past. In a second departure from the kind of tactics I've seen adopted in this game, Moray, Liz and Greg took the opportunity to land on just about every hare square in sight. Having learned to play the game under Julian's tutelage, I found this strategy most disconcerting. I was only just coming to terms with it when I realised Greg had shot to the lead and it was well and truly time to make my late charge for the finish line. Moray decided to head for home as well, but Liz still had two lettuces to chew, and as we all know, it's mighty hard to eat and run. As was soon apparent, Moray and I had left our run too late and Greg made it home ahead of us, though we both got to the finish line on the same turn.
Results: Greg, followed by Dey, then Moray. Liz, busily preparing salad dressing for those left over lettuces, DNF.
THE GREAT BALLOON RACE
We played this to fill in the last 20 minutes of the night, but about 20 minutes into the game we had a lot of balloons still lagging back towards the start, and all indications were that the game could be quite drawn out. Greg eventually put the first balloon (orange) over the line, and a few turns later, looking for a quick result, I put the dark blue balloon over (admittedly I had this balloon on my card, but my others were miles back at this point). Finally Greg sent the third balloon home and announced he'd achieved his objective.
Results: Greg won - given the time, we didn't play on to determine minor placings.
Alan Stewartr writes:
A close game for first, and it ended in a tie! Moray saved up coupons early on, but was unable to get rid of cards from his hand. Julian went out when Lindsay took the route past his last card, but Liz caught up with her last turn.
Going last, and having a card 1 space north of the starting space was terrible. Each time I could restart an expedition, and possibly collect this destination, I had to go for one of my markers instead.
Only Julian managed a `mega run' of about 8 spaces in one turn.
A game where the degree of control goes down markedly with 6 players.
THE GREAT BALLOON RACE
Julian: won first race
Roger: 620 Chris: 390 Janet: 270 David: 190 Alan: 185
Roger, Chris and Janet had played this before.
It was too steep a learning curve for David and Alan. In the first turn Janet, Chris and Roger all bought 4 cards. David didn't buy any, and Alan actually sold 3 cards. Bad move.
By the end of the game I'd realised it wasn't worth selling unless you had 6 cards, but there was no way I was going to catch Roger or Chris. Though I had 5 diamonds in hand when the game finished. Next time I'll have a bit more of a chance.
Rogers house rule - a `covered' commodity sale circle means you can't sell just 2 of that commodity any more, but you can sell 7 to get maximum price.
(Possibly started a bit late in the evening, and we called it quits at a time limit)
Just getting very interesting when we had to call time.
More losing bids this time. But the bidding was higher, 4 and 5 cards, versus 2 and 3 last time.
1 bid got it exactly right, 1 bid achieved quite a few more, and there were some big losers. That minor trump can undo the best of plans.