Billabong Boardgamers - October 26th, 1999
Present: Roger, Debbie, Craig Mac., Alan, Janet, Doug, Glenn, Julian
Debbie Pickett writes:
There were only four of us at the start, so we picked one of oodles of short four-player games while we waited for others to arrive.
TITAN THE ARENA
Craig, Alan, Debbie, Roger
Having only played this one with two players before I was wanting to try it out with a greater number of players. As expected, it worked better, with more conflict and more upsets. Still not the kind of game I expect to have come from Avalon Hill.
My rating: 6. A solid beat-up-on-everyone game with nicely balanced powers for the creatures. Can't wait for Knizia's _Galaxy_ to come out, it's supposed to be similar.
By now, Doug and Janet had arrived and played a game of Stonehenge (despite the lure of Kingston biscuits almost cutting the game short), so we found one of our few six-player games and settled down with it.
Doug, Alan, Janet, Craig, Debbie, Roger
We played with the rule (I won't start the argument again by calling it a "variant") that the only way you can get Union Pacific stock is to trade away a stock card. We also played with the "six normal share cards on the bottom of the deck" rule, though this honestly didn't make any difference, as it was quite a short game. Almost half the share deck went unused.
The colours to not be expanded in this game were grey, green and light blue, with huge swathes of the landscape dominated by dark blue (me in control), yellow (Doug) and red (Craig).
The unbalanced scores were because of a double-dividend payment in the early stages of the game, which affected Alan and Doug's scores inordinately, as they were the only two to have UP stock down. The final scores reflected a game greatly dominated by UP.
Final scores: Doug 82, Alan 78, Roger 72, Craig 58, Janet 57, Debbie 44
My rating: 7. I still come back to this game even though I get trounced through bad luck. I find it very enjoyable for some reason.
Just as we were finishing, Julian and his mother Glenn walked in. We split into two groups of four, and tried out Mini Inkognito.
Glenn, Julian, Roger, Debbie
This game clearly has elements of Cluedo and other guess-the-secret type games, but the difference here is that this one actually works. Not that we played it right, which kind of messed things up for us all, and we all came up with the wrong solution. We realized this close to the end of the game and so decided to move on to something different. But I definitely want to try it again, this game has fabulous potential.
My rating: 7. Really makes you think!
Our Something Different was a little game that I was shocked to learn was not from Reiner Knizia.
Glenn, Julian, Roger, Debbie
I had never played this before, and it showed! The more experienced players came away miles ahead.
Final scores, game 1: Roger 67, Glenn 65, Julian 58, Debbie 41
My rating: 6. A classic teeth-itching kind of game.
Doug Adams writes:
Janet and Doug arrived late to see the others enthralled in a bloody game of Titan: The Arena. We dragged out Knizia's Stonehenge to kill some time, and continue our "Knizia 2 Player Play Through".
A nice, light game of position. Players must position their power stone markers onto a Chinese checker like board, in order to win control of "ley lines" (we are druids, after all). Any position on the board will be a part of two or three ley lines, and when a line is full, the player with the highest face value total of power stones along the ley line (numbered 1/1/2/2/3/3/4/5/6) claims that line. Ley lines can also be claimed before they are full if the claimant can prove they cannot be beaten on that line.
Ownership of lines is denoted by a hunk of Stonehenge type wood - each player has eight of these. The first player to place their eight markers wins the game. If a series of games is played (recommended, as the player placing first seems to have an advantage), the winner scores the loser's remaining markers as points.
Over three games Janet won two of them, however, the points score overall after the three games was 2-2. Not totally sure of tactics here, but I liked committing my 1's and 2's early around the shorter perimeter spaces, while Janet typically plonked her 4/5/6 markers down right away. I thought if I held my high scorers back to late in the round, I could position them to maximum effect, each influencing along three different lines. Losing 2 games to 1 is hardly conclusive vindication of my strategy, or perhaps it was ability? :)
Doug's rating: 6
A boisterous 6 player game of Union Pacific followed - I don't have the scores so I assume a report is coming in from somewhere else....
MU (und nicht MEHR)
Janet, Alan, Craig, Doug
I was invited to sit in on the highly regarded Mu table - something I've always aspired to, but never made it through the complex initiation rituals. Tonight, however, they were simply a player short and I rather nervously said I'd be happy to play.
As with all trick taking games, my memory is very poor as to what actually happened. I spend all my concentration on not doing anything foolish in the presence of Mu Immortals.
Alan and Janet easily made the first contract - four cards for 60 points (7's over 2's from memory), but then Janet suffered a severe setback in the very next contract (this time 2's over 7's!). Doug was holding several trumps here and was void in orange, and had several strong off suit cards. He took control of the hand, won his strong off suit leads, then led back trumps at the contract holders.
Alan went chief on the third hand and took Doug along as his partner. The contract was made, but I don't remember the details. Fourth hand Doug went chief and took Craig as partner. Alan was vice (and threatening the win sitting on 182), however Doug/Craig made the contract.
That ended the game....here are the gory details:
Doug: 7 / 42 + 15 (shot down Janet) / 15 + 40 / 32 + 60 = 224
Doug's rating: 7
After that totally unexpected performance from some upstart Mu pretender, the Miffed Mu veterans groped for a game they had a chance in - i.e. something Doug has *never* won.
The same four players lined up for Medici. The four player game tends to get a little unpredictable as 12 cards are removed from the deck each round. This was a fairly routine game, with Doug in his usual last place after each of the first two scoring rounds, and each player typically doing well in 2 of the five commodities on offer. Alan hit the 20 bonus rung in metal at the end of the second round, very nice, and a big threat to take the game.
Craig and Alan spent a lot of money chasing valuable ship cargo totals, so the 30 point bonus for this tended to flatten out and didn't influence the game that much. That is, until the third round. Doug picked up his five goods pretty cheaply in the third round, and early as well, guaranteeing a 20 bonus in red along with a lead in blue. Janet flipped up three cards twice when she had control of the pack, and both times they went unpurchased - somebody (or somebodies) was going to miss out on a full ship.
Craig was holding out for a high value green card to give him the 20 bonus in green. He let a green 0 and a green 1 go unpurchased - and then never saw another green. The round ended without the 10 appearing (lucky!), giving Doug the 30 point cargo bonus (very nice considering he'd spent about 10 on the five cards) narrowly from Janet.
Doug's rating: too choked up to rate it. "I'd like to thank my mum and dad...."