Billabong Boardgamers
 

Billabong Boardgamers - 12th September, 2000

Present: Tina, Debbie, Alan, David, Steve, Janet, Doug, Roger, Asher, Donna

Previous session report

Debbie Pickett writes:

EUROPA 1945-2030

Debbie, Doug, Tina, Steve, Roger

Hot on the heels of my first playing of this game (Saturday) came my second attempt. Steve was the only first-timer here, but he picked up on my backwards rules explanation pretty quickly. I believe this was the first time that any of us actually played the game completely correctly; playing with dodgy translations is never fun.

Doug writes: I'm not so sure we did. I cannot find the rule that allows successful Euro dudes to be moved into a country that has already had, and failed, and election this turn. Apparently the designer plays this way, though.

We also tended to railroad coalitions through without following the exact rules. I think that was our loss in not waiting for the individual coalition proposals and votes. Playing the correct way would create some interesting opportunities for turncoat tactics come voting time.

But I'm comfortable in the fact that this is "The Game We Will Never Play Correctly" :)

I'm sneaking this report into a five-minute gap I have at work, so I couldn't possibly begin to explain the game mechanics - of which there are oh so many. What I will say is that true to most Eurogames offerings, the bits are just incredible - a huge map of Europe, lots of country-shaped cardboard tiles to lay over the top, cute little figures for our diplomats and language-neutral(ish) cards and pieces. Wow. After my first game I just had to put all the pieces on the board to see how it looked. :)

In this game, Doug and I were shut out of the whole first round, in what will become known to history as the "Iceland incident". Subsequently we were chosen lots in the second round as partners in alliances involving just one or two of the stronger-placed powers.

Round three began with just six blobs of tension in eastern Europe, and no wars. It was easy to quash the political tension, with Doug winning the prize of most-valuable-peacekeeper. Poor Steve had committed heavily to the effort with almost no benefit. This, coupled with some unfortunate placements of pieces in eastern Europe, helped Tina to take over the position of political leader. She single-handedly brought Poland into the union, among other feats. This earned her bunches of victory points too, to catch up to Doug who was being everyone's friend and scoring the victory points to match.

By round four, most of the board was EU, so the piddly tension was easily dealt with (Steve as major peacekeeper), and we amazingly managed to bring the entire Balkan hotspot into the union too. At the end of the game, only those aloof Swiss were holding out. Tina got the El Presidente 3-VP bonus and it proved to be the match-winner.

Final scores: (Victory points/political points)
Tina 25/155
Doug 24/126
Debbie 21/130
Roger 19/111
Steve 18/124

My rating: This is a pretty neat game, but I'm already burnt out with it to a degree. It's definitely better with the proper rules (that can be said for many games, I imagine). Unlikely to go over its initial 6, because it's unlikely to come out and be played more than once or twice a year. It's also quite a long game with five players.

Collective noun: a BUREAUCRACY of Europa players.

Best quote:
[We were using unplaced country pieces as shields to keep our VPs hidden]
"Steve, we need Belarus, here, have Switzerland instead" - Debbie [Debbie hands Steve this tiny country tile to cover his tiny stash of VPs.]

Alan Stewart writes:

BATTLELINE

Alan , David

Sort of an expanded Schotten Totten. The suites now go up to 10, and there is a deck of 10 tactics cards. A bit more of a theme than the original, with the leaders Darius and Alexander.

The very important rule that no player can be more than +1 played Tactics cards, and can control how the game is played. In our second game David was ahead in the played Tactics cards, so I held off playing one. This forced him to have to play in groups he didn't want to.

Interestingly enough all three of our games were decided by the winner taking 3 adjacent flags, where in Schotten Totten games usually were decided 5-4.

We just played the basic rules where you played a card then claimed a flag, before drawing a card.

Alan: 5/-5/-5 = 15
David 2/-3/-3 = 8

David adds: I got beat (boy, did I get beat...) but I'll be getting my own copy of this one. Despite the war theme, it's Schotten Totten with bells on. Still, they're nice bells. The tactics cards (where's the Rampaging Elephants card?) and the artwork (familiar to players of the Great Battles Of History series) help quite a bit with the theme, but leave your general's hat at home. I'd buy an expansion if it featured the Romans/Carthaginians and some new tactics cards.

MONOPOLY CARD GAME

Janet, David, Alan

Janet had played this a couple of times, Alan had played it once, but it was a new game for David.

We didn't use the "extra trade pile" rule suggested for 3 players.

In the first round Janet went out very quickly, using a Chance card. It was a similar story in the second round, but this time David used the chance card to go out. Only having more 'Mr Monopoly' cards was keeping me in the game.

In the third round I finally managed to complete a colour group, and went out. Just before David could use his Chance card to go out, and his 5300 point hand became worth 0. Game then halted on account of time.

Janet 1500, 2650, 3650
Alan 1000, 2250, 9850
David 750, 6400, 6400

Roger Smith writes:

SILBERZWERG

Roger 601
Doug 546
Donna 540
Debbie 405

Silberzwerg hit the table for the fourth week running. New dwarves on the block were Debbie (who had been hungering to play this) and Donna.

I found this to be quite a different game as I tried a few new strategies. About 2/3 of the way through I decided to give up filling jobs and play the gem market. For the first time ever, I let one of my jobs (a 120) decline away to nothing (OK, I did have a bit of help from someone) and paid the -40 penalty. I didn't go out of my way to fill any more jobs, however with the collecting strategy I think I found myself in the right position to fill one more contract.

My next personal contract went public just before it was due to decline off the board.

I finally managed to squeeze through to a win with 601 points. The turn before I could only have achieved 596 points.

Still an excellent game, and well received by Debbie and Donna. We seem to be able to zip through a game fairly quickly. I think we all made at least one silly mistake (usually relating to Silver Dwarf placement).

David Coutts writes:

ALADDIN'S DRAGONS - Janet, David, Asher & Alan.

I'd played the original (Keydom) once, back when it came out. I seem to recall thinking it was over-fussy, a little mechanical, but not a duffer. Janet & Alan had played this version before, with Asher being the newcomer to the game.

Alan explained the rules and we were off. Asher & I made typical novice mistakes throughout the game. For example, on turn 1, we both bid high for the artefacts in the palace. This was dumb, because we didn't have the gems to pay for them, so early in the game. Another classic of mine (later in the game) was to cunningly bid high on all gems, ensuring a fair haul, and then play a spell which forced all players to hand back 7 gems each to the bank. I was laughing, because I still had plenty of gems. What a genius! Oh...I'd now used my Aladdin's Lamp artefact in casting a spell, so I couldn't use my Key artefact to get into the palace for free...and I hadn't placed a token with the guards....which meant all my low bid tokens for the artefacts were removed. Dumb, dumb, dumb... and quite frustrating, but entirely my own fault.

Meanwhile, Alan and Janet pulled ahead on artefacts. I think Janet was always the leader, after a 2 artefact haul on turn one. They knew what they were doing, most of the time. I recall Janet, who had secured the Djinn's ability to use 2 artefacts, was very keen to cast a spell despite having already used 2 artefacts (neither of which was Aladdin's Lamp). An easy mistake to make. Alan had one turn which looked very promising after he cast a spell forcing us to place our tokens face-up. Somewhat bemused, Alan revealed at the end of his turn that he'd gained nothing on that turn!!

On the last turn things went wrong for Alan and right for me, with Janet too far ahead to catch. I cast a spell to remove one of Alan's tokens (bidding for the same artefact as me) and place it in another artefact space where Alan had the only token. This would have made the cost to Alan prohibitive, but he used a cancel spell artefact to void my spell. I had bid a 9 token against the palace guard, Alan had only bid 6. The guard was a 9, so Alan had to pay the difference in gems. This meant that Alan couldn't afford to bid for any artefacts, and couldn't use his 3-bid artefact either. I picked up 2 cheap artefacts, but still managed to come last.

I guess this shows that there's quite a lot to keep your eyes on, and much concentration required. The game is quite unforgiving of mistakes and, given the bluff element of placing bid tokens face-down, a bit of luck comes into
play too. However, on the plus side, this version of the game plays very smoothly and felt less mechanical then the original. I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay of the various game mechanisms, and the player interaction in
the game. The theme is ok-ish, but the production is excellent. As I said to Asher on the night, I could buy the game just for the bits! Finally, in discussing the game with Alan on the way home in the car, I can see me getting my own copy. I feel the game offers something different, offers plenty of repeat playability, and fits into my favourite game length of around 2 hours (give or take half an hour).

Scores (artefacts/scrolls/gems):
Janet 7/1/5
Asher 6/2/1
Alan 5/1/1
David 5/0/4

David's rating. It's early days, but a solid 7 (could go up to 8).

Janet Ford writes:

TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES

Steve, Janet, Asher, Tina

The long-awaited English edition still hasn't appeared for Steve, so he resorted to bringing along his friend's copy of the game, which they had asked him to baby-sit.

It is a different looking board from the original edition, and the board is quite busy. You can actually see the terrain on the board. One thing we were unclear on, was an extra stream of water on one section of the board. This created another potential area for four river tiles, and possibly a monument. Nothing was mentioned in the rules so we elected to ignore this extra patch of water and treat it as normal land.

While it appears you have to be aggressive to win, there were not a lot of battles. It was noted at the end of the game that there were six catastrophe tiles on the board - a large number for us!

I did not adopt my usual strategy of trying to collect treasures, as my mind was more occupied with how I could engage in battle and win it. In fact none of the players adopted a treasure strategy - all players had their trader leaders on the board, but there were not a lot of merged kingdoms and treasure grabbing. Steve tried once, but the kingdom split and he was unfortunate to miss out. Steve had more misfortune in that he twice set up terrain to create a monument, having placed three of the four required tiles, but missed out as the next player placed the last tile and picked up the monument in their preferred colours.

There were only two black tiles on the board at the end of the game. Most unusual, but with every game I play of this there is always something different happening from the last. For example, how can we explain Tina's score of 20 in black? Well, her black leader was in a blue/black monument kingdom from turn 2. Surprisingly, nobody relocated a blue leader into that kingdom for most of the game. I collected most of my blue from another blue monument, before anyone decided to challenge. My blue leader was knocked out of that kingdom, but by the halfway point of the game blue was not a problem for me - my main concerns being red and black.

With the tile bag nearly empty, my last turn didn't have an obvious move that would benefit myself, so I played a catastrophe tile to split Asher's kingdom of green from the area that contained a monument. Asher performed a tile dump to end the game.

Scores:
Janet: 11/11/11/17
Tina: 8/9/10/20
Asher: 6/6/7/8
Steve: 6/6/7/7

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