Billabong Boardgamers - July 20th, 1999
Present: Doug, Craig, Dey, Roger, Debbie, Tina, Graeme, David, Donna, Alan
Doug Adams writes:
Good numbers again tonight, as we moved into an adjacent room at Amaroo due to a function happening in our normal living quarters. I almost preferred this room, actually, providing they get the fluoro light fixed.
Debbie, Tina and Doug attacked a three player game of Ra. Tina was the only one who hadn't played this game.
An unusual game in that the first two epochs saw lots of early Ra tiles come from the bag, so there was the continual threat of early finishes to each epoch. Doug decided that a "get what he could" strategy was the go in these two epochs and it paid off. Both epochs finished due to the Ra track being full.
There was a three way tie for most pharaohs after epoch 1, however Doug had picked up a three of a kind in Civilization tiles, as well as some nice Nile/flood tiles to give him the lead. Debbie and Tina scored zero on epoch 1.
Epoch two saw Debbie make gains in the Monument department, while Tina committed her big value suns early to try and counter the threat of an early closure to the epoch due to the Ra track filling up again. However, the Ra tiles dried up and that gave Doug and Debbie some nice auction lots to mull over, while poor Tina was left holding her 1 sun token. Tina scored zero again on epoch two, while Debbie picked up some points, as did Doug who effectively defended his lead from round 1.
Doug's unspoken strategy on epoch three was to watch Debbie and try and keep his lead over her. Doug bought a few cheap lots with low value suns early to ensure his lead in pharaohs was strengthened, but in the process picking up some nice suns to the sun total at the end of the game. The epoch again ended with the Ra track filling up (something I hadn't seen before - all epochs ending this way) which left a juicy lot on the auction track, not to be won. Tina won the Sun bonus, while Debbie was penalised.
Doug's rating: 9. This started as a 7 when I first played it, and unusually for me, it's climbing the more I play it, rather than decaying.
Debbie, Tina and Doug played one hand of Money while waiting for games of Show Manager and Tikal to finish.
Alan took on Donna in his first game of Lost Cities. Here are the scores:
Alan: 20/47/87 = 154
Doug, Alan, David and Dey played Union Pacific, as their final game of the evening. David, Alan and Doug had the experience of several games of Airlines behind them, while Dey had played Airlines once.
The initial share on the table saw Doug and Dey collide in white, while David declared a brown stock, Alan declared red.
This ended up being a very tight game the whole way through. David and Alan went to war over the red train line, which David edged ahead in, partly because I think Alan struck a "good thing" by grabbing black as the only holder and developing the black train line for all it was worth. This gave Alan the early lead after the first scoring card. Dey was busy with the dark blue train line, David was working light blue, while Doug was busy with brown/yellow lines.
There was a lengthy run through the shared down to the second scoring card. Alan had extensively developed the black railway line, while Doug was doing the same with yellow. Dey had 'got in' on Alan's black network by declaring a share, but nobody had become secondary stock holder in yellow. David had finished off the light blue network and was still the only stock holder when the second scoring card appeared.
Despite Alan's protests that he wasn't doing well, he'd defending and extended his lead! Doug's yellow was taken off him by David during the third round up until the third scoring card. David also took an unbeatable lead in the Union Pacific stock, which had settled down to David-Dey-Doug-Alan for the game. However, Doug missed playing a UP stock before the third scoring card, so had to split his UP cash with Alan that round.
Scores were still tight but Dey had picked up some ground by cautious expansion as well as a lead over Alan in UP stock. The fourth round went on a bit too long, I felt, with every player trying to get in on whatever they could. With this happening, nothing much was going to change. The notable plays in the fourth round were David developing the orange Empire State line, with Dey getting a second there; Doug developing the white line; Alan and David tying up the red line to split points; Alan grabbing green back off Doug, who'd taken the lead off Alan during the second/third scoring rounds.
Very tight game, lots of railways where sealed off - Doug couldn't get brown out due to dark blue sealing it off, etc. Doug's rating: 8
Debbie Pickett writes:
This was our first game of Lost Cities so it took a little experimenting before we got the hang of it. In round one, Tina got a huge run from 2 to 10 in one expedition - with two investments - but negative scores in other expeditions cost her. Round two saw Debbie play conservatively, which led to vanishingly small gains. By round three we had both figured out the idea of the game, especially the importance of planning the endgame and drawing from discard piles to slow the game down. The final scores were fairly close:
Debbie: 63 + 7 + 49 = 119
We wanted to try this two-player game but only had about fifteen minutes left before we left. We played about a third of a game. Neither of us is exactly sure of the strategy of the game yet - it seems rather complex. We'll try it again later.
Roger Smith writes:
I was very glad to get a game of this going with Craig and Graeme, having enjoyed it immensely on my two previous plays. Just as we were about to start, David arrived and was quickly roped in. I didn't play well at all. I was the first to establish a new base camp, but in retrospect it was poorly positioned. Craig and David soon after established camps just a bit further out from mine, giving them easy access to the riches of the jungle. Graeme was very successful with his treasure collecting. Near the end of the game he had two treasure hexes feeding off his second camp. Consequently he ended up with two full treasure sets and another set of two pieces. Craig and David concentrated on temples, with Craig having undisputed control of two high-scoring temples, in addition to the two he had capped with sentries. This ultimately gave him the victory, although David was only just behind him. Discussing the game afterwards, we agreed that although there is undoubtedly some luck in the draw of the hexagons, good placement is the deciding factor. We all enjoyed the game, particularly Graeme who is normally partial to shorter games. I'd like to try this with three players sometime - I suspect we'd start getting some higher temples. (The highest temple level I've seen excavated was a '7' , by David, in this game.)
Roger's rating: 9
The other table had started a five-player UP (Doug: four player, actually!), so we decided to try a three-player. I'd played UP and Airlines once each before, Craig and Graeme had played neither. Our game was decidedly slower, perhaps due to not having as many Airlines veterans playing. We also made a few mistakes laying trains on ineligible track and mixing up card colours (e.g. red and brown). However, after last week's game (where I was one of the main culprits), I kept a close eye on placements so all mistakes were picked up as they were made.
As we'd run out of time we only played to the third Wertung card. There wasn't much in the way of fierce competition, although this might have changed if we'd played a full game. Near the "end", there were still a couple of railroad with only one player holding stocks. I was able to take advantage of this and either equalise or establish myself in second place for a few railways I didn't already have a majority in.
Roger's rating: 8
Doug, Debbie, Tina, Dey
We decided to play the full game (i.e. 5 goals to be achieved) but agreed to shorten it if things dragged on. Past experience with this game is that it can be quite lengthy, but tonight's game whizzed by in a mere 40 minutes. This was mainly due to most players getting their goals on each round, while the dealer failed (as is the usual scenario). On the very last round of the game, I was dealer and remembered what Debbie's last goal was (maximum tricks), so it was pretty easy for me to collect the right cards in order to frustrate her attempts while ensuring that I succeeded.
Scores (I think these are pretty accurate):
Alan, Donna, Dey
Alan and I agree that the 3 player version of this game is probably the best. As usual, Alan focussed attention on the perceived leader (ensuring that the perception was shared by all and attention was not focussed on him creeping towards the lead). Donna was lucky enough to grab several 9-point cards, while my game went from bad to worse. Alan snaffled a few 9-pointers whenever they came his way, and in the end it was a tight tussle for the win.