Billabong Boardgamers - 14th December 1998
Our lowest numbers for several weeks as the Christmas rush begins to hit and everyone is suddenly busy!
Take It Easy
Donna was expected shortly, so the six of us decided to play something together and split up when Donna arrived. Well, Roger and Dey were enjoying the game so much (not!) we decided to play out the four rounds, with Donna joining us for the last two. If the last two tiles of the game came out the other way around, I could have had another 38 points! We doubled Donna's score to determine her position:
Quote of the evening from Roger after three rounds of Take It Easy - "Can we play a game next...?"
Doug's rating: 8 .. addictive game!
Wettstreit der Baumeister
With everyone here at this stage, we split up into a four and three. Dey, Roger and Alan disappeared with Was Sticht - trick taking games are becoming popular at the Billabong Cardgamers. The remaining four players tackled Wettstreit der Baumeister, a game that was new to Julian, and still fairly new to the rest of us.
It was so new, in fact, that we couldn't remember how to play. We implemented a variant where we could sabotage any legitimate player, not necessarily the weakest, rolling over their shields to succeed. The sabotage could be called off via a negotiated settlement between the victim and Donna....I mean the saboteur!
Our game was very cat and mouse, as Donna picked up two sabotage markers early so no one player was prepared to begin building until they absolutely had to. Janet and Doug picked up a marker as well, and the women were really earning some nice gold compared to the pitiful amounts coming into Julian and Doug's possession.
Donna began building first, quickly followed by the rest of us as we approached a hand size of five. It was interesting to see the building tactics, some of us started from a tower, others from the 'middle' of a city. I went for a town hall, church and city gate initial build.
Janet and Donna, supported by their buying power, were looking quite strong and Donna went for one of Janet's city gate pieces with a saboteur. It succeeded. Janet, with a hole blown in her city, had a wonderful pout going as she retaliated on her turn against Donna, which failed. Donna then went for Julian - successful, and then Janet again but the attack was bought off for 3 coins.
I was sitting back trying to look as small and inconspicuous as possible, managing to get four shields into my city - a nice little fortress. In the end I didn't use my saboteur marker as I couldn't see a clear leader to play it on. This game was going to be close at the end of the game.
At the end of the game there was confusion about the church rule. Janet and Julian both though it had to be positioned evenly on either side of the town hall to earn the bonus - in symmetry, whereas you just had to have an even number of churches to earn the bonus. This caused Janet to be unable to finish her city as she endeavoured to get the symmetry correct, when in fact she could have completed her city if she'd reversed two pieces which she could have legally done on the last round. We factored this into her score:
All I can say is thank god for town halls! I will dig up the recent Games Games Games magazine that had the letter explaining the differences between this game and it's ancestor, Teutopolis. From memory, some of the features in the older game seemed to be very interesting.
Doug's rating: 7
Durch die Wueste
The Was Sticht match was still going strong so we went for a quick 30 minute game to try and finish up at the same time to allow some mixing and matching of players. Donna requested "Camels" - I nearly bought Targui down but I suspected she meant "Sausage"!
Julian was declaring Janet the winner before we even began! Granted, Janet does enjoy this game, but I'm not sure where this aura of invincibility started. I decided to watch her like a hawk!
I followed my usual strategy - deploy four camels equidistant between two oases, and the fifth off in some secluded corner of the board for some area points should the opportunity arise. After grabbing early oasis points I'll look for which camel trains I want to try for longest with.
It all went beautifully to plan - there's a first! - Janet and I were claming five point oasis tiles by the handful while Donna was walling off a huge area with her green caravan. Julian was claiming waterhole points in the centre of the board and appeared to be in a fight for longest yellow (lemon sherbert to purists) with Janet. I had longest pink with five camels, so I decided to watch and protect that caravan while using my lone purple to wall off an area and perhaps threaten Julian's longest purple.
I still don't believe it, but it worked. I secured a 9 point area with that purple caravan, took the longest purple off Julian and nobody noticed my longest pink (all of five camels) until Janet decided to end the game. It was definitely the correct move as she was in a strong position herself and it was a toss-up as to who was going to win out of the two of us.
Donna had made an error, in walling off an enormous area with her green caravan she thought she was earning area points. However, her pink camel was inside this area, therefore she wasn't going to earn these points. Had she earned these points, she may well have won as there were around 30 hexes at stake here.
Julian remarked half way through the game that he thought this was the best of the 'trilogy'. I'm inclined to agree - no hidden holdings, random draw problems, etc - just a simple, elegant and marvellous game.
Doug's rating: 9, pushing 10
It was time for Donna to leave, while the others had finished Was Sticht and had launched into a three player Samurai - with some problems judging from the complaints. Janet, Julian and myself decided to play a quick High Society before linking in with the noisy Japanese nobles in the other room.
Wonderful little game, up there in the gem category. I thought I had so much more control over the bidding and play with only three, but it's not that easy. My first purchase was a '2x' card, which I followed up with a '7' possession. That put me nicely in the lead, so I decided to sit back and not burn cash for a bit. Julian had taken the half card, while Janet hadn't bought heavily yet.
Then the game flipped on end...the thief appeared on Julian's opening bid. Why wouldn't he pass immediately to cancel out his half card? Could he in fact use the thief to take that card? Something didn't ring true here but the half card appeared to be classified as a possession card and therefore eligible to stolen by the thief. Is this true?
In any case, Julian sent the bidding around once, THEN passed forcing us to give up some cash while he disposed of his half card with the thief. I am not sure we got that right, but we couldn't see that we got it wrong either, so it stood. This put Julian into the lead, and Janet made the next purchase to put her ahead of me. Alarm bells clanged as I purchased the next 2x card, giving me effectively 4x on my 7 possession and warm fuzzy feelings.
The game ended on the next draw - reveal cash and kick out the player with the lowest holding. Aargh!
Doug's rating: 8 .. a gem.
This ends my report. Roger will reporting on Was Sticht, Samurai and our rather hilarious closer game of Exxtra - a game that will be instantly vetoed by Dey should it ever show it's face .. err.. box cover, again!
Roger Smith writes:
I have almost come full circle from someone who hated trick-taking games to someone who is enjoying them more and more. Schnappchen Jagd was the eye-opener for me, and this little game has increased my enthusiasm even further, Maybe I'll be able to overcome my "Fear of Mu" in the near future and give that another try.
This was my second play, the first also being a three-player game with Alan. This time Dey (who has been known to enjoy a trick taking game) joined us. What is encouraging to me is that while I don't win these sort of games (yet), I seem to be managing not to make a total ass of myself. I want to play this with four players - soon!
Goals left at end of game:
Roger's rating: 8
My second game of this, again a three player, again with Alan. Dey had played at least three times before. We were obviously following the scoring with interest given the recent discussions on this list. I messed up my calculations and was surprised to find I had a majority, and even more surprised to draw with Alan. In a way I felt I didn't deserve to do so well. However, the strategy of _just_ achieving a majority of one piece, and then concentrating on collecting the other two pieces is a strategy I will certainly be exploring in future games.
Alan: 5 (maj) + 4 (equal first)
Doug writes: I think Alan has won this game...
Roger's rating: 8
I played this game the first time I cam to Billabong way back in September. I've suggested it several times since and each time was soundly outvoted. I was therefore greatly surprised when someone else suggested a game to finish off the evening.
Dey has a firm conviction that she "cannot" roll dice. Unfortunately this game did nothing to improve her confidence! IMHO, this is a better game than Bluff - much more scope for intelligent play ;)
Roger's rating: 6.5