Billabong Boardgamers - February 23rd, 1999
Present: Dey, Roger, Janet, Doug, Donna, Alan, David, Moray, Bernie, Julian, Greg
Doug Adams writes:
A nice turnout tonight, with Donna making a very welcome appearance after an absence of several weeks.
Oh boy, oh boy, being a cycling nut I do love this game. Roger and Dey, on a quest to play every game in the Billabong collection, were keen to try it, and Moray stepped in to make up four players.
I wanted to run the Tour de France course, which may have been a bit long given there were three new players (the game took 80 minutes), but once I get some victims, I don't waste the opportunity by playing a short course :)
Our game saw an initial breakaway of three riders that hit the first hill together. The main peloton was cleanly away around the first corner, apart from a rider from Moray's blue team and my red team, who didn't make the start line!
The three riders at the front were fighting it out to take the first sprint finish on top of the first hill. I decided to use a power card on my lead rider to ensure I'd stay at the front to pick up the vital yellow jersey, and give the others a free draft behind me. That's the way it panned out, with my rider 21 picking up 6 sprint points. (I was using a variant of awarding 6-4-2 points for each of the sprint finishes).
Dey has somehow got two riders together at the front and managed to crest the first hill together. A power card, a +4 modifier for downhill and a decent roll saw her first across the line on the second sprint finish, just as the main peloton were half way up the first hill. This gave her the yellow jersey (I think I got the rules wrong at this point) but my rider 21 picked up the points for third place in the sprint to take the jersey back.
During the middle section of the race Dey had two riders over the cobbles very quickly, and on the way up the second, and last, mountain. Moray and I had single riders in between Dey and the main peloton. For some reason I had two of my riders at the front of the peloton for nearly the whole race, giving them a 'tow' off my energy cards by drafting. Therefore by the time we reached the cobbles stretch, Roger was starting to make a move with three of his green riders working together nicely. Still it was Doug who led them up the final mountain, just as Dey took the last sprint finish, and the yellow jersey off Doug.
Dey had this race sown up, with two riders guaranteed to finish first and second for some lovely points. I wanted all of my riders in the top 10 and thought I could manage it - and perhaps take the win via the yellow jersey points - when I had two riders over early. My last two riders led the main bunch over the hill and I used my last power card to launch myself at the finish line, but ended up about four spaces short.
Roger's team them tried the same tactic and finished about two spaces from the line, with the peloton drafting behind (about 6 riders)! This meant they moved first on the next round, before my two, and they all drafted across the line, dooming my riders to 15th and 16th respectively. All this from 8th and 9th one turn back!
Scores (rider by rider):
Doug's rating: still a rock solid 8 - love the game, so much more to think about than roll and move. Play a power card? Breakaway here? Get my riders together? Go for a sprint? However, I can appreciate that this wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea and everyone on earth probably doesn't sit glued to the TV watching the Tour de France each year.
Dey commented that the game did seem to go on too long. I'll play a shorter course with first time players next time - probably in about 2001 given my success rate at getting this on the table. My next mission is to play Koalition again before the millennium ends!
This is rapidly becoming a hit at Billabong - very similar to the way Bohnanza took the group by storm. Rosenberg does have something...my throwaway comment of "Mind Games has 10 copies" was met with shrill cries of "why didn't you pick some up?". I have to work on my joke delivery...
This was my first five player game, with Greg who'd just arrived thrown into the fifth player seat with the four just finished cyclists. No rules were explained to him, we just said "bake"!
Not a heck of a lot to report - scores were very tight after round one, with only one or two pizza orders filled each. Dey and Doug made a move in round two. Roger didn't get any pizza's completed. Round three was total panic as orders were piled into the deck in the hope that blind luck would get them completed! :)
I noticed Roger seemed to use the "no pizza cards unless absolutely certain" strategy, while I use the "I'm sure it will come out in the wash" strategy, by tossing cards wildly in. I'm starting to think that holding 7 ingredients when bake time comes around may be good play.
Doug's rating: 8 ... for a fast, fun game - very good!
This was a new Wizards of the Coast game, recently purchased by Roger. This is not so much a report, as some comments thrown together.
The game is interesting - basically you are trying to make a lot of money with which to acquire "luxuries". You need to acquire three luxuries to win the game. Luxuries get more expensive with each purchase, so getting in early is ideal, but puts you in a dangerous position due to lack of funds.
You make money by opening companies. To open a company you purchase a deed cards (play it out of your hand and pay some cash) and slot an advertising billboard into a collectible card game folder - yes, one of those plastic sheets that holds 9 cards, in a three ring binder! There are four sheets in the binder, with 9 cards per sheet. Cash is earned by your business via the roll of a die, or several dice. Reading left to right, top to bottom across the folder sheet, a business pays off if you roll it's position number. A roll of zero means it's tax time you have to pay for businesses or luxuries held.
The spaces in the folder quickly fill up, and as pages are turned businesses on lower sheets get covered up, meaning a die roll in that position will pay the business you can see, not the ones lower down. This is simple, clever and quirky. There are a bunch of action cards to make things spicy, the business names are very funny, and the easy game play sucks you in.
Yes, I enjoyed it! Such a simple idea and it seems to work well. There appeared to be tactics and strategy there - especially on what level to place a business. A "four card" business on level four would be a killer combination, due to the four die rolls. My wallet was getting the familiar tingle during the game.
We played with the rules as written, but aborted before two rounds were complete due to every player being on the verge of bankruptcy. I suspect a bit of this was self inflicted as the "luxury" cards were purchased with the initial $10 allocation of cash, leaving virtually no protection from tax. Those tax rolls are killers.
Roger then explained that there is a variant flying around that if say four 0's are rolled, tax only hits your once, not four times. We agreed to begin the game again with this variant, and it worked. However, it appears that this adds considerable length to the game. Roger speculated that perhaps the 45 minute playing time took into account players being eliminated quite easily.
I'll let Roger chip in with some "what happened" talk, as it's his game. The general consensus around the table was "clever".
As an aside - just about every game I own that comes with 10 sided dice contains instructions on how to interpret the '0' face. I've never seen a game with '10' on the dice with rules explaining it's a '0'!! It has to be a joke!.
Initial rating: 7
Janet Ford writes:
Mamma Mia is a fine game with great tasting pizzas! At the start, Alan and Donna were a bit slow placing their pizza orders, but soon sped up their kitchen work. David and Janet had played before and realised that you need to get those pizza orders out. Alan's orders couldn't find a match in the ingredients stack, thus causing him grief in the kitchen.
Donna made a suspicious mushroom pizza, four mushrooms with her own mushroom ingredient. I suspect that this was illegal, but I followed suit with a 7 pineapple Monotonie pizza.
It was then picked up that these were no-no's so at least we know in the future. Adjusted scores:
Definitely an addictive game!
Wettstreit der Baumeister
Julian looked like he had this game won towards the end with a perfect
town scoring all the bonuses.
Scores (- cards left):
David Coutts writes:
David, Alan & Donna playing.
This was my first experience of Code 777, though I've seen it played at Billabong often enough.
Donna took an early lead with her first correct guess, then a few rounds later myself then Alan made our first correct guesses. One rule we got wrong during each persons first correct guess was that, with 3 players, the 4th dummy player hand is supposed to be replaced whenever a player guesses correctly. Hopefully we got this rule right after each player's first correct guess.
I don't remember now who got their second guesses right first, but I know by the end of the game both Alan & Donna suffered the ignominy of an incorrect guess. With us all on 2 correct guesses, Alan was in the unfortunate position of asking a question which effectively ruled out 3 colours. Unfortunate for Alan because the questioner gains nothing from their own questions. It only took one more question and I was able to close the game with my 3rd correct guess.
The other 2 tables still had about 15 minutes to go, so we played a short version of Code 777: the first player to guess correctly just once! I had all the information needed for a win, but misinterpreted what I knew. I made an incorrect guess. I think Alan also made an incorrect guess. Then, Alan again asked a question which told Donna & I a huge amount of information, this time ruling out 3 numbers (I think it was), and soon after that Donna guessed correctly.
David's Rating: 6 (Clever game, a little "dry" for me)
Alan Stewart writes:
Players: Alan, Moray, Janet, Bernie, Dey
This was Moray and Bernie's first game of Mu.
Bernie wasn't used to `equal highest trumps' which had to be led to win, as this was different to other games he had played where highest trump would always win the trick regardless of when it was played.
This allowed Janet to claim a successful 7 bid and 80 point bonus!
Moray just failed on a 7 bid (39/42), but Dey was determined to go Vice in that round and wouldn't leave him on his 5 bid.
Things got hectic towards the end, and after the fifth hand, anyone could have won, but "destructor Dey" came through!
Round by round scores:
Alan: 10/51/106/106/106/116/ 153
Bernie Meyer writes:
Schieb die Trennwand
Doug writes: do not troll the world looking for this game, it's in inside joke penned by Bernie, and is so good (you had to be there) I just couldn't condemn it to the trash....
Dey, Janet, Bernie, with comments from everyone else...
This game was played for the first time since I've been at Billabong, although I seem to understand from comments made by Dey that she often plays a variant which essentially turns the rules upside-down earlier in the evening, prior to other players arriving. There was considerable discussion as to whether we should even start this game, seeing as it was already past 11pm, and especially as it turned out that no rules could be found in either German or English. However, a sort of consensus was reached that the mechanics should be relatively easy and the game a very quick one.
One of the most unusual aspects of this game is that is completely cooperative --- all players try to achieve a common goal, and try to help each other in achieving that goal. There is no way to score individual points. The game is played with 4 large puzzle pieces, three of which consist of two connected pieces each, and is played on a large and lavishly decorated set which provides suitable grooves and attachments to hold the game pieces. At the start of the game, all the multi-jointed pieces are stowed away at one end of the set, and the single piece is at the other end.
The aim of the game is to manipulate the pieces in such a way as to connect both ends. Extra points are scored (for the whole team, see above) if this is managed while at the same time keeping all players on one previously agreed upon half of the set.
We got off to what seemed to be a good start, managing quite quickly to extend the three larger pieces to almost span the set, by moving them towards the single piece. However, after that we made what turned out to be a bad move, starting to build the connection where we were, which naturally was the end that held the single piece. Closer inspection revealed that the puzzle pieces had ridges and grooves that would allow them to partly slide into each other and link up. When we tried to do this for all the pieces of the line (expecting a swift and sweet victory), we found out that the game designers (who, strangely enough, seem to have disowned their creation --- no mentioning of their names is made anywhere on any of the playing material) seemed to have anticipated that strategy --- the set is laid out in such a way as to make it impossible to fit the last puzzle piece, rendering any attempt into an agonizingly-close-but-just-not-there exercise of futility.
At this point, Dey suggested starting at the other end (i.e. the end where we couldn't fit that last puzzle piece). This turned out to be the winning move, as suddenly everything just slotted together. We almost lost the bonus points, with Bernie getting caught on the wrong side of the set, but temporarily reversing one move allowed him to make it to safety, too.
All in all, a challenging game, although I doubt its long time viability --- there doesn't seem to be enough variation between games. Also, the complete lack of individual scoring seems to conflict with the highly competitive nature of the participants (which was highly evident in the preceding game of Mu) --- I have a nasty suspicion that me nearly getting caught on the wrong side wasn't merely an accident, but might have been Janet's shot at gaining some form of individual victory.....
Bernie's ranking: 5/10 for first time players, 1/10 afterwards.