Billabong Boardgamers October 20th, 1997
Present: Doug, David, Janet, AlanPrevious session report
Doug Adams writes:
A small gathering at Janet and Doug's place tonight, with usual host Julian feeling ill. Get well soon!!
David bought this Reiner Knizia design down and we gave it a go. It was played by David, Alan and Julian a couple of weeks ago while Janet and I were away interstate, so I was grateful to see it. This game has a bit of a story here, it was sitting on the shelf of our local Melbourne game store for 18 months, and I used to look at it often with an urge to buy it. The fact that it was 3 players and the packaging is a little drab always kept me from pulling out the wallet. Even after I learnt what the words "Reiner Knizia" meant on a game box, I still didn't pick it up, and the game recently disappeared. It turns out that David had bought it during a 20% off anniversary sale!! Well, he kept it in the 'family' and I still get to play it!!
The game itself is quite good, you have to move your senators from the entry spaces, across the board, and into the senate chambers at the far end of the board. As you move you cross laurel counters which contain values 1 to 5. There are a couple of snags, however. You move from chamber to chamber, and chambers are rooms of 1, 3 or 5 spaces. You cannot leave a chamber until you hold a majority number of votes in that chamber. You can do this by having your own senators forcing the majority (tough) or by doing a deal with another player in the chamber - usually trading laurels for a vote later, or a payment in laurels.
The game ends when the senate chamber is full, and the winner is the player holding the most laurels, who also has a senator in the senate chamber.
Our first game saw Doug happily gathering laurels at a great rate, accepting payment to let people move and watching them all crowd into the end chamber. It was late in the game that David warned me I was going to lose as the senate chamber was filling fast - that's when it clicked I had to get a senator in their to win. Until that point I thought it was simply the most laurels!! Luckily I had a majority in the left side chamber adjacent to the senate chamber and quickly whipped a senator into the chamber, ending the game. Scores were (in laurels):
Doug 28, Alan 16, Janet 20, David 7
Now that Janet and I knew what we were doing we played another game which saw Alan dominate the right side paths early, while David and I shared the left. Janet and Alan performed a few deals to allow them to both advance. David, Alan and Janet were holding the same amount of laurel counters but as they were face down you couldn't see their value. Nearing the game end I was out of it, and David was looking the goods - only problem was he was the only player without a senator in the senate chamber. I had the choice, on my turn, of taking the last spot in the chamber to end the game and deny David victory. That would have meant Alan or Janet would have won as they had more laurels. I did a deal, I promised David I wouldn't end the game if he gave me 7 laurels, which he readily accepted.
David then ended the game immediately and we tallied:
David 22, Doug 22, Janet 20, Alan 18
I took this game by being the first player to reach the senate chambers (out of David and myself) - I was a bit stunned, and rather glad I took the 7 laurels on the second last turn.
Thoughts ? Very good game with 4 players, I suspect it would be excellent with 5, not sure about it with 3 players. Lots of wheeling and dealing, very easy, quick playing.
I recently bought this off David, having thoroughly enjoyed my only other game of it a few months back. Alan was the pacesetter early, purchasing wisely in a couple of commodities and holding a lead. Janet and David were in 3 commodities while Doug was I in Cloth. In round 2 I reached the 10 bonus space in cloth, the only one to do so in any commodity, but didn't pick up an end of round warehouse bonus for the entire game. In the end it was Alan's game, with David having a late attack:
Alan 141, David 128, Janet 105, Doug 83
Something substantial to close out the evening. This had been played by Alan, Janet and myself, only being new to David. Early positioning saw David and Janet form a neighbourly non-aggression pact and some very chummy wall building occurred over there. Alan and I were forming territories adjacent to each other and I suspect he was a little jumpy because I had second knight there early. That lead to a bit of an arms race between Alan and myself, that was probably unnecessary as we both had plenty of room to expand away from each other. The middle game saw everyone with a territory and the scoring very close. Doug, Janet and Alan were forming their second territories, with David jumping on the bandwagon by using a lot of existing walls to form his second territory adjacent to mine. I was struck by three renegades during the game too (there much be a law against this :) as one of my knights went over Alan and another two over to David. No one else had a renegade played against them.
The end game saw myself jump out to around an 8 point lead, thanks to my second territory being unchallenged and it being allowed to swallow two cities. David tried to attack it late in the game, and was only 1 turn off taking them back when the king passed on, first card in the "e" deck.
The silver mines and scrolls were added to the score and it came out:
Doug 46, David 45, Janet 43, Alan 34
This was a much more enjoyable game than our previous one where Alan went off to win by a mile, while the rest of us stumbled around doing nothing. Alan was leading this game in the first half, then it evened up until I burst away late. I didn't think I'd hold it, due to David mounting an attack on my cities, and the game ending as early as possible helped me no end. Even then I didn't have many silver mines and I didn't know where the scroll cards were. I only drew one Politics card late in the game, after all the good ones had gone - the Renegade cards are *very* nice to have, and awful to be on the end of. Another important factor in this game was the money, it was lovely to have. Good tight game.
That closed out the evening, with some good games played. That's the great thing about Knizia's games, you can knock a few off in an evening and still play something bigger like Lowenherz. Apparently Tigris & Euphrates is a bigger Knizia game, it will be interesting to see how he's done it. A few days to go ... :)