Billabong Boardgamers - April 20th, 1999
Present: David, Doug, Janet, Liz, Moray, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
On the Table: Gallop Royal, Verrater, Blue vs Grey, Wrott'n Swindler
A quiet night tonight with several regulars missing.
A six player game to get us going, this was a new game to Billabong, although it has been around for a few years now. The theme here is sedan chair races around a park in aristocratic France, well, I think it is France! The game is very attractively produced.
You bid almost blindly for teams of four porters, ranging in value from -2 to 5 (5 being good) - and the better your team the better you should do in a series of six races, with the prize for each race being slightly higher than the previous races.
Your porters are positioned on an attractive card, and when racing you roll a four sided die to determine you movement allowance (the value of the porter matching the die roll). There is a "Crafty Devil" porter who may move chairs backwards, as well as other chairs forwards.
Our six races saw lots of laughs, and lots of groans. Race 1 saw Moray take the prize, with Janet taking last spot. Last position in a race is actually quite powerful as you may fiddle with the other players teams, generally (but not always) removing their highest porter.
At the end of each race, two new teams are bid for, giving you an opportunity to shift a really lousy team away, and it's off to the next race.
Due to a statistical fluke, round 2 saw Liz with four Crafty Devils, which she used to great effect to take the race. The next couple of turns was dedicated to destroying this strong team of Liz's and Bernie moved to the front. David, having a horror run with the die early managed to take race three, and it appeared that David, Bernie and Liz were doing well.
Race four Bernie saw take the race, as he did again on race five to go into the outright lead. Race six was the "Hit Bernie" round, to the extent that Doug's piece was promoted by other player's Crafty Devils. Bernie was pummelled into last place, despite rolling his '5' porter five times in the final round. Doug took the final race, and thanks to some consistent podium finishes throughout the middle races, managed to get the win. Scores were:
Doug's rating: 5, higher with four players, I think. My reason for this is in a six player game the players who position 4th and 5th in a race really lose out - their team typically loses their best porter, while the first three place getters receive cash, and the last player gets to fiddle the opposing teams. This could climb to a 7 after I've tried it with four players.
Bernie, Liz, Moray and Janet played (and enjoyed, from the sounds coming from that table) this Kuhandel derivative. Scores were:
Blue vs Grey
While the Swindlers were being Wrotten, I took David through a few turns of this wonderful little game from QED Games. It is a card game depicting the Civil War (American) in a very simple and elegant format, once the rather hairy rules are mastered. QED have moved quickly to get a very good website going at www.qedgames.com to try and explain the very original concepts in this game at length. In short, I can recommend this game, and have heard nothing but rave reviews from other gamers over this gem.
Basically, it's the American Civil War at the operational level - very much the operational level. You are in charge of gluing your armies together under the very simple but accurate command rules, pointing at an area of the map and saying either "charge" or "hold". From then on it's up to the dice of fate to decide how well you do. However, how you structure your army and how you command it *does* have an impact on results.
The game between David and I lasted perhaps 8 turns each. David as the Union made great gains early, drawing Sherman and using him to move against Manassas. Meade came out and campaigned in the Shennandoah but was blocked effectively by A.P Hill. David then got adventurous and tried to recreate McClellan's Peninsula campaign of 1862, and managed to top Lil' Mac by taking Richmond with ease.
Doug's response was to draw cards like crazy and cobble together an effective (but still outmanned) army to take back Richmond on a roll of 6,6 (defender routed, heavy losses). The game was getting back onto an even keel when the other game finished and we decided to call it quits, after a nice introduction to the game. David was impressed and looks like he'll be ordering a set for himself.
Doug's rating: 9
We were getting near finishing time but we thought we could teach ourselves this little game that we've read so much about. Bernie seized the German rules, while I went through Mik Svellov's translation. By the time we'd covered the rules and played a sample turn, it was nearly finishing time, but we liked what we saw. Bernie spotted some errors in the excellent translation:
Phase 7: Options are: May play, flip OR MOVE a Gutshof/Kontor card.
We can't wait for next week to come around to try this game out - looks very good.