Billabong Boardgamers - April 13th, 1999
Present: Doug, Janet, Jared, Bernie, Roger, Dey, David, Alan, Donna, Julian
Doug Adams writes:
On the table: Tutanchamun, Magalon, Mamma Mia, David & Goliath, Schnaeppchen Jadg, Mu, Hornochsen, Asterix Das Kartenspiel, Stimmt So, Something of Bernies, no idea what!
Nice to see David and Donna back again, but sad to see Jared leaving for a couple of months due to studies. Keep checking the web page, Jared!
David also bought along demo copies of recent arrivals - Verrater (wow), Europa 1945-2030 (WOW!) and a few other bits, including the latest Games Games Games magazine. On to the gaming...
Bernie, David, Jared and Doug were starting to set up Verrater when Julian arrived. Verrater was quickly turned into a game of Tutanchamun, which was just as well as Donna also arrived just as Doug was taking the first turn, so it became a six player game.
Not much to report here - it looked like Julian's game, when Jared closed the bagpipes (okay, I don't know what they are) which scored a majority for Doug, who then managed to close out the pianos (don't ask) for the win, as he was playing ahead of Julian.
Doug's rating: 7
Roger, Janet, Jared and Doug cracked open Magalon, which prompted a few oohs and ahhs. This game has a pretty horrid reputation on the internet, and for the life of me I cannot determine why. I cannot find any information telling me specifically WHAT is wrong with it. I've played three games and I rather like it, as a tense if rather abstract race game.
The theme is a race between wizards, who must in effect to a lap of the board, picking up three magic items along the way. Every move burns up one energy, and the wizards start on 10 energy. However, in order to finish, you must be on 16 energy or higher. This has the nice effect of slowing down early pace setters as they have to stop to gain energy somewhere along the route.
Obstacles hinder the wizard's movement, in the form of the giant, moveable walls, and 2 imps. Oh yes, other wizards as well as their protective shield pieces also get in the way.
Movement is governed by action cards - this is very similar to El Grande and El Caballero. A set of 11 cards numbered 0 to 10 is each players starting hand. A card is played, and the number indicates the movement available. Once played, a card cannot be played again unless a "pick up the discard pile" spell is cast.
This leads into spells, as well as the number of spaces on the card, there is also a spell which is either:
So on your turn you may, in any order:
The first player to pass through the three checkpoints, collecting the magic items, and exit the board with 16 energy wins.
Our game saw Roger and Doug head up the "left" hand side of the board, while Janet and Jared went right. Negative play struck right away with shields and walls being positioned on the opposite sides of the board to prevent players entering their respective checkpoints. Doug vacillated (legal in Australia) and spent some turns gaining energy while the mess in front sorted itself out.
Just before he could pick up his first amulet Roger was struck by the giant (the lowest played card in the round allows that player to move the giant 2D6 spaces). Roger's piece effective disappeared down the board and out of the running, for the moment.
Doug managed to get the first amulet just after Janet did. There appeared to be a mass of walls in the centre of the board, in one instance trapping an imp. Jared was having problems and in desperation went for the checkpoint at the opposite end of the board, which I suspect was a mistake as he had to 'criss-cross' the board to pick up his remaining two amulets.
Doug had picked up his second amulet and was looking good, when suddenly a wall of shields appeared in front of him - sheesh. This gave Roger and Janet a chance to catch up and it was close for second place.
Doug performed a "take back cards" action, giving him access to those valuable high point cards again, and a quick 10/9 later he was through the third checkpoint and threatening to win the game next turn.
Again, walls, shields and giants magically appeared right nearby Doug which meant he couldn't finish next turn and would drop below 16 energy, costing him another turn. A low card gained some energy and when it was seen he could not be stopped, the game was conceded - it basically came down to Janet having to throw a 10 or more for the giant to stop Doug.
Thoughts? I really like the game, but can see how a flurry of negative play would ruin the experience. I don't think we saw that last night, and I'm happy I went against the rather strong anti feeling and grabbed it. The opportunities for defensive and attacking player make for some tough decisions - I rather like using my shield to keep spaces in front of me open, but that leaves me vulnerable to attack, etc. Good stuff. Rating: 7
A quick game of this (see review on reviews page) to fill in time while the others were playing something of Bernie's.
Janet: 6 pizzas
Other games I played were Hornochsen (which I think I both won) but Alan has the scores, I suspect. Then a game of Schnaeppchen Jadg was played, which I also won - but again Alan has the scores. Gee I had a good night :) Last game of the night for us was:
Asterix Das Kartenspiel
As an Asterix fan (well, the early books) I couldn't resist the opportunity to pick this up. It's essentially a Hols der Geier variant by David Parlett, where you a trying to collect sets of Romans by playing cards simultaneously with highest card taking it. It's deeper than HdG in that sets of like Romans pay handsome bonuses (bonii) and there are the Pirates lurking in the deck.
The Pirates help Romans escape, and thank god we had Bernie playing as I had made a mistake in the translation, heavily influenced by Dave Farquhar's review on The Games Cabinet. The pirates only steal ONE card, not all cards, of the type listed. This is a pretty big oversight and makes the game a lot more palatable. There was also some German text on the Pirate cards that I didn't realise was there - I thought they all listed Roman card types. So again thanks to Bernie we found out that there are pirates who take:
away from the player with the pirates.
The addition of the Dogmatix (Idefix) cards also add some depth to this otherwise simple game. If you are the sole player of a Dogmatix card, you may draw the top Roman and either keep it or give it away. If you give away a "good" card (ie. not a pirate) you keep your Dogmatix card for another day, otherwise you lose it. If it's a pirate, you reverse the above (ie. keep a pirate, keep Dogmatix).
Although I played an appallingly bad game, handing a 50 point bonus to Janet who was outside my peripheral vision, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The card play saw Janet and Alan out of cards early, with Bernie holding a fistful that could all beat my lowly 2. Bernie therefore cleaned up and took the game, but yet again Alan has the scores (I think!).
Alan writes:: I probably spent my cards too early in this game, now I can see what the scores are like. Though if I'd turned any of my 3 x2 bonuses of 20 into a x3 bonus of 50, I would have been close to the leaders. But the artwork is so cute.
Doug's rating: 7
Roger Smith writes:
David: 7 (6 cards left)
Julian hadn't played this before, so we mercilessly made things hard for him :) Seriously, it is so much easier to play through to the first pizza deal with minimal explanation, as this is where the game comes together. A personal best for me, although unfortunately a draw with David Coutts. One question: when is the expansion due out, and will it have anchovies as rumoured?
To quote the guru (on an off day perhaps):
"It hasn't quite clicked yet...I have a nagging suspicion that you might need to remember the cards that are played into the pile, but don't hold me to that." Mike Siggins G3 130
Another newbie from Julian C. As you can see from the scores, we were a bit easier on him. I tried a strategy of collecting and not spending for the first few turns, then specialising in 2 or 3 stocks. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make enough exact payments for this to pay off.
Things to do: stop drawing with David!
Alan Stewart writes:
I seem to have ended up with a lot of score sheets from this session, so I will type them in and write some commentary around them. Some will be short as Doug has already covered then in his report.
David and Goliath
Dey: 35/73/115 = 169
An interesting game with 4 players. It looked like being dealer was a liability initially, but Dey turned that around. I played consistently, and got over 30 per hand, but that's not good enough.
If people were dealt the 11 and 12 of colour, they tended to lead them off and end up with 6 of that colour. I can't really see any other strategy for such cards, as you may not be able to short suit and play them off to get cards of other colours before people lead at them. You just hope you get a lot of the 7-11 value cards so they are out of other people's hands.
The first hand was interesting with Bernie bidding No Trumps after Blue was called as the minor trump. He didn't mind Blue as trumps. In the end David (Vice) managed to defeat us by 2 points. But Bernie didn't mind as he could have got a +70 bonus.
The next hand saw Donna get dealt 5x 1 card, and she capitalised on it. Over 40% of the cards were on the table by the time the bidding finished.
In the third hand I was dealt 3x 8, plus 2x 9s. I probably should have upped the bidding even more. I chose Julian as a partner as he had played an 8 on the table. David (Vice) chose orange as the minor trump. I had the 3 orange on the table, plus the 9,8,1 and 2 orange still in my hand! I chose 8 as the major trump and it was all over. The only trick I lost was the 1 black which I had on the table, and Bernie took it with his black 9.
In the final hand I was dealt 3x 6, and it was enough to bid to win.
A couple of dreadful plays in the second game saw me on a negative score. I should have spent more time analysing. People seemed to be controlling their +5 card into their hand pretty well, but the x2s were more random, often played out on a hopefully negative pile.
Doug: 17-11= 6
Trying the minimalist game which worked except for round 3 where my rubbish pile went from 3 to 14 cards! I never took a trick in the last round. Bernie was saddled with a lot of rubbish in the last round. I never had the opportunity to trump in during the last round. It was a strange hand.