Billabong Boardgamers - 18th January, 2000
Present: Doug, Craig, David, Alan, Donna, Jack, Robert, Julian, Nick, Amanda, Debbie, Tina, Bernie
Bumper crowd tonight. One of the great things about having the club website is that visitors from interstate, or even from another country, are encouraged to come along and visit. Tonight it was our pleasure to meet up with Nick and Amanda who were visiting Melbourne this week, from Sydney. Nick has purchased one or two games from David Coutts Board Not Bored Games, but from the twinkle in his eye he looked like a true kindred spirit gamer :)
I had a big Pokemon match lined up with each of Julian's two boys, Jack and Robert. I frantically constructed a deck or two the night before and was rather nervous about meeting veteran players across the table.
Pokemon is huge down here. One game store I know of even has a board out the front displaying the current status of their Pokemon stock. That's a first!
I played against Jack for a couple of games, but never got to play Robert (who was playing Stephenson's Rocket with Julian and Bernie). My deck was based on purple and fist energy (not sure of the terms) and was a bit too strong for Jack. An easy win, with Jack only taking 1 of his prizes.
As everyone was still deep in their current games, Jack and I played again against my second (yellow/neutral energy) deck. This was a much closer game that could have gone either way, with both of us down to 2 prizes remaining each. Jack took the win, and I couldn't draw an energy card late to save my life. A late evolution to buy a turn failed to hold off Jack's win.
I never got a chance to play Robert - next time, Rob!
After nearly getting in on a five player Vinci, I decided that if I played this, I'd never get over to Nick and Amanda's table. They'd been playing through their "wish list" with Debbie and Tina.
Bernie, Tina, Nick, Amanda and Doug lined up for this oldie - with Tina being the only new player. Nick agreed that this game takes the prize for easiest to play, hardest to teach. We set up a mid-game scenario for Tina, dealt out a hand of cards, and ran through some sample turns to try and teach her the game.
Once the rules were taught we launched into the game. Tina demonstrated what good teachers we were (or rather what a good student she is) by leaping out to the lead along the first straight. By the first corner all five players had bunched up to be within a few spaces of each other. That was as close as it got....
Bernie had been playing superbly and amassing a very good collection of art through purchases and canny robbery. In the second half of the game Bernie and Tina jumped out again while the other three players just watched them depart. Nick made some gains at the end, but Bernie had this game won.
Nick and Amanda had one more game in them before fatigue took over (they had travelled from Sydney today, walked around Melbourne in 35 degree heat, and were pooped). Bernie disappeared, while Jack and Debbie (flushed with a Carabande win?) made up a 6 player Medici.
Debbie, on my left, proved what a nice person she is by commenting that she shouldn't have sat with me to her right (the nicest thing anybody has said to me in 3 years at Billabong! 8-)
Can't really remember the details but things that stand out....Jack turning up three cards EVERY turn; Debbie turning up 4 blue cards for nothing on the first round; Doug abandoning his strategy of trying for a bonus in 2 colours and going for ship values and 1 bonus...and so on.
Last game of the evening was a three player game of Show Manager between Julian, Robert and Bernie. I sat in and looked over Rob's shoulder for the last 20 minutes. Julian's two good shows in New York saw him over the line.
A first play from Rob (10) & he didn't seem to be doing too well early, by putting on low value shows. As the game moved forward however, he was spending more to get higher value actors. Bernie kept clearing the board before me, and then Rob cleared actors he wanted etc. It seemed that there were some really good plays early, so thinking that the later ones would be poor (& being desperate for some dosh) we started borrowing off earlier plays - one went down to zero value. A good late (Ballet?) for Rob got him clear of Bernie.
Jack(12), Rob & I had played this a couple of evenings before, and Rob didn't seem that keen on it, but asked to play it tonight. I started a Railway in the south, Rob in the north. Bernie & I were building 3 or 4 lines between us, Rob was building 2 on his own. Apart from occasionally allowing him to swap the order of his 2 actions, Rob was given no concessions. I had thought he had too much invested in his own railways (6 or 7 shares each), but by getting several stations onto it, he was in a strong position come merger time. However, we couldn't stop the merger between his railways, leaving him a very strong position. It was only by forcing the (4-merged) railway away from his stations (liberally dotted around the end of the line) that I/we managed to prevent a runaway win by Rob.
For those who have been running threads on games for younger children, the answer to me is pretty much anything, as long as you take the time to explain why a move could be better a different way when you first play, and let them change to it, they'll pick it up pretty quickly. I was brought up knowing that if I won a game it was because I had played better. My parents never threw a game to allow me to win. Losing is part of playing for me, and the boys have adopted that philosophy. There are now very few games that I would say they are too young for - Incognito for example.
David Coutts writes:
Alan, David, Donna & Craig
I picked this one up at Spiel '99, and finally got around to laminating the 4 part board. The board now doesn't fit in the box, but will last much longer than it might have done otherwise. This was a first outing for all of us.
The game is set in Wales, with King Arthur's knights out to stop the evil Mordred taking the place over. The rules are short and clear, leaving us with 1 question: Is a single castle a token, or all the tokens in a space? We played the latter.
Craig was started, and set the tone in the early game with a gamble on the C column. He failed to gain Build Points (BPs), and zoomed ahead on the Mordred table (you don't want to be ahead on the Mordred table). The rest of us either followed his lead, or went for column B, and generally we also failed to get BPs and so Mordred's evil influence spread across the land. Eventually we started rolling on columns A and B, gaining some BPs but still climbing on the Mordred table. Just unlucky, I guess.
Craig was the first to fight back against Mordred (though not after a turn or two where he could have lost the game on a bad column C result). Initially, we attacked each other. Then we all fought Mordred (and each other, after a while). Alan only managed 1 successful attack all game. We really had no idea what we were doing...
Eventually, some of the game's niceties dawned on us. King Arthur won the day 27 villages to 21(hoorah!). On the last turn, with the right rolls on our choices of columns A, B or C, any one of us could have won, with the odds favouring Alan and Donna...
Alan - 8 villages
After that the same four players continued on together to play...
Doug suggested using money instead of the scoring track to avoid the kingmaker syndrome seen in previous games (lengthy analysis to see which way to tip the scales between two other players... dull, and frustrating).
Donna got off to an impressive start with her mining specialists, with Craig following with his small but lucrative Coinage empire. I started in the central mountain region with my revolutionaries who looked impressively successful but scored modestly, and Alan's starting empire escapes me. Alan's high point toward the end game involved having large, side-by-side empires (courtesy of heritage). He also seemed to specialise a lot in Ports.
Craig and I had strong Fortified (with heritage symbol) empires in the North for a while, both swept away by Donna and Alan.
There were no Rebirths used in the whole game. I like using the Rebirths.
Towards the end, it looked like it was probably Donna, no. no, David, no, wait...maybe Alan, or perhaps Craig who was winning. Craig was playing 4th, and Donna then announced she'd won, only to realise she'd miscounted. Unfortunately, this let people realise that I was winning, with Donna only second. The game lasted 2 more turns.
On the last turn, my large but recently declining empire almost disappeared from the map. My Specialisation / Livestock empire, and the one remaining token from my declined empire, scored only 5 points! Alan also broke Donna's empire in two, and Donna lost a couple of tokens when her turn ended with them still separate from the main body. Craig scored around 13 on his last turn and...
Debbie Pickett writes:
Debbie, Tina, Nick, Amanda
Nick and Amanda were keen to try this game, and there was no shortage of copies at Billabong. After a quick explanation of the rules, we were underway.
Amanda was planning on putting on a performance of Queenie, but unfortunately would have had too many cards left over in her hand after putting on the play. So instead she was forced to put on King Lear instead (yet still got the bonus, which was amazing). It was the only mistake of the game, and the rest was quite straightforward. The final scores do not reflect the tension in the game, and I felt the scores should have been closer than they were.
My rating: I give this a 5. For some reason I don't seem to like it as much as Tina, but I'll give it a go on occasion.
Debbie, Amanda, Nick, Tina
The Vinci Game From Hell (tm) was raging next table, so the four of us picked another game, this one Klaus Teuber's exploration game Entdecker. We played the basic game without any variants.
Amanda got the idea of this game right away, and Nick was doing well despite some bad luck with his tile draws. Poor Tina was forming a nice huge island in one corner, but the rest of us came in and stole practically every part of it. The winner came down to who earned the most discovery discs.
My rating: I liked this one more on a second playing. Currently earns a 6.