Billabong Boardgamers
 

Billabong Boardgamers - 13th June, 2000

Present: Janet, Doug, Alan, Craig, Torben, Tina, Debbie, Donna

Previous session report

Doug Adams writes:

The Settlers junkies disappeared off with my copy of Space Settlers, and from past experience that was going to wipe them out for 150 minutes. Time for something meaty, with perhaps a short game or two afterwards!

ACQUIRE

Tina, Janet, Alan, Doug

This is the spectacular new Avalon Hill/Hasbro edition, with the 3D tower pieces and moulded game board. The only copy of Acquire I owned was the previous Avalon Hill edition in the large blue box, with the cardboard tiles. This new edition leaves my older copy in the dust. The smaller board, with grey tiles on black, make the situation much easier to grasp. Quality components, including the nice thick stock cards, and a tray to hold these cards and business pieces, complete the set. A couple of small nitpicks - it would have been nice to include the special "powers" rules from the previous edition (easily added and they make the game more interesting). Also, the plastic tiles that are placed on the board are just a little too thin, and don't stand up that well. Apart from that, the game shines.

It's now three days since we played, and that's about the threshold of my "gaming memory". I do remember my hand of tiles didn't allow many early opportunities to found businesses. I did have the opportunity to merge several businesses, but could never get the majority in stock before doing so. In the end I ensured I had second majorities before proceeding with the merger, and luckily (or so I thought) the winners were each of the other three players (Janet twice). I had to do this to keep my cash flow high.

The business Fusion dominated the centre of the board and was quickly made safe. Several businesses sprung up around the perimeter of the board, but were quickly merged into Fusion by stockholders. Alan and Janet invested heavily into Fusion stock, and finished on 11 each, with Tina and Doug holding the remaining three. All players thought Doug was doing well via payouts from the mergers, and I quickly ended the game as soon as Fusion hit 41 tiles. How wrong we all were! :)

Tina: 38,000
Janet: 34,000
Alan: 28,500
Doug: 25,000

Doug's rating: 7. I know this is regarded as a classic, but I don't quite see it as such. Still a fine game, and with this new set it is a pleasure to play.

PALMYRA

Tina, Janet, Alan, Doug

Debbie was beginning to look slightly desperate in response to our "how long will Sternenfahrer take?" question, so we figured we had time for a Palymra. It had been a while since we'd played this Knizia "buy low, sell high" game, and it was good to return to it.

We taught Tina the game, and she didn't have any troubles at all with it. This was a hard fought game with lots of fluctuations, market cornerings, and several visits from the tax man! Once again the game proved that a full warehouse at the end is the key to victory. Janet had almost completely sold up during the game and looked miles away on the scoreboard (in fact she'd lapped Alan!). But Tina ran her down in the final sell off to just edge over the line.

Tina: 144
Janet: 140
Alan: 123
Doug: 118

Doug's rating: Another 7.

5IVE STRAIGHT

This was a gift from K-Ban many moons ago, but I'd never had it on the table. Others had sung its praises as an excellent pairs game, so Alan and I tried to break the streak of defeats Tina and Janet had inflicted on us in the first two games.

Interesting game this - a spiralling board of numbered boxes, from 0 to 99, with the low numbers in the centre. A deck of cards numbered 0 to 99 is shuffled and four are dealt to each player. On your turn you may draw a card or play a card. If you play a card, you may place a peg of your team's colour in any numbered square on the board equal OR OVER your card number. This essentially means the 99 card can only be placed on 1 space, while the 0 card is all powerful - it can go anywhere. The object is to form a line of five pegs in your team colour on the board, horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

This was a very engaging game, played quickly, and saw a nice mix of offensive and defensive play. If you were lucky enough to draw a low card, the decision to play it aggressively or hold it to block an opposing threat was a tough one - especially when table talk was disallowed.

We slotted two games in, both wins to Doug and Alan. The second game nearly got away as Doug missed a move that would have guaranteed a win on Alan's next play, but we won it anyway.

Doug's rating: Yet another 7.

TORBEN'S PROTOTYPE

Torben yet again made the trip from Copenhagen to Melbourne for the third week in a row to join us. He was finally released from the Sterenfahrer game and persuaded Tina, Debbie, Doug and himself to try out a game he was working on. I won't say much, basically it's a route planning/trade game that is a blend of Elfenroads/land/gold, Die Hanse, and Eurorails. Seemed okay with some nice ideas.

JUMBO GRAND PRIX

A Knizia filler that hadn't hit the table in over a year. One of his better ones, IMHO. Players are using a simple "draw 2, discard 1" mechanism to try and build a formula 1 racing car. Starting a race with four cards, four rounds are played to build your hand to eight cards. When everybody has eight cards, a race is run for the "laurel points" on the table. The points range from 1 to 20, with the better car taking the highest points on offer that race. You carry your four remaining cards over into the next race and do it again for four races.

Very fast, fun, with that usual tablespoon of Knizia anguish thrown in (you have to toss your card before drawing two!). Torben proved that Europeans make the best drivers.

Torben: 50
Doug: 45
Alan: 41
Janet: 38
Craig: 31

Doug's rating: 6

Craig Macbride writes:

DIE STERNENFAHRER VON CATAN

In the past, I've found having lots of guns or trade rings is of limited use, until late in the game. However, having lots of speed is crucial for getting to planets, building colonies, getting more production, etc. So, I concentrated on buying booster rockets whenever I could and getting a centrally located base. At that point, I run out of ships and, with a run of 7's being rolled, I sat doing nothing for a couple of turns, before building some ships. I had also sent a trade ship to visit the aliens and collect a 1:1 trade goods card, since 4's were coming up a lot and I seemed to be collecting a lot of those generic trade goods as a result.

In the end, I was racing Donna to get to the upgrade aliens. I hoped to either grab enough upgrades to take the majority off her there and the victory points for that or, at least, get enough blasters to be able to take a pirate planet. Donna had got to the upgrade aliens first. I got their second. She didn't have enough trade rings to take the third one, but I thought she'd probably still be able to build one extra ring, at which point I'd either have to send another ship there or to the socialist aliens who were as yet unvisited.

Donna didn't remember to buy the required trade rings and I didn't check, just assumed she had by the time she got there. When my ship got to the upgrade aliens, Donna realised that she wasn't actually entitles to be there, giving me the majority there and victory.

Debbie doesn't like how long this derivative of Settlers takes, but I've seen some awfully slow games in other versions too.

Scores:
Craig - 15
Debbie - 11
Torben - 11
Donna - 9 (but bristling with bug guns)

TRUMPET

Janet, Alan, Craig

Scores only...
Craig: -3 0
Alan: 0 -8
Janet: -2 -7

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