Billabong Boardgamers October 27th, 1998
Present: Donna, Dey, Janet, Roger, Doug, David, Alan, Neil
Doug Adams writes:
We had seven to start with, so we split up into a four and three. Tonga Bonga, a recent arrival, was bought out at Janet's insistence.
The idea here is to hire sailors, represented by dice thrown by the other players, to your ship. The higher the roll, the better they are. You put up salaries to try and attract the better sailors to your ship. Better sailors translate into better movement. Ships must move across the grided board to visit four of the five islands, picking up 25 coins per island, but having to pay a commission of 5 coins to each player already at that island. Coins are also claimed via the dice rolls that went onto the other players ships. First ship to visit four islands and get back to Tonga Bonga claims 10 coins (as do other ships that make it back that turn) and the game ends.
Our game saw Dey head for open waters while Donna, Janet and myself jostled each other on one section of the map. Dey also benefited from some nice crew die rolls, having 3 scores over 11 during the game. However, it was Janet who seemed to be performing the best. Donna was suffering from a scourge of seasick sailors (they aren't placed on any ships) and thus trailing. I decided to backtrack my ship to get clear of Janet and Donna, hoping to trade off time for speed in open water.
Dey and Janet were fighting it out, which suddenly saw a lot of good dice get placed on Donna's ship, as well as my own ship. This turned the finish into a close race, with Dey finishing clear on a turn. The other three ships kept getting in the way of each other, thwarting movement.
A surprise win to Donna considering the tough time she had trying to move during the middle part of the game. I didn't pay enough attention to the flow of coins throughout the game and in hindsight that was silly. Still, a fun game, initial rating: 6
This is a game that doesn't get played much at Billabong, a shame really as I think it's one of the better games to appear in the past 18 months. We lost Dey and Donna to Alan's trick taking game table, and picked up Roger and David to play Janet and myself.
This was Roger's Rio Grande version, identical to the Gold Sieber game. Roger hadn't played it, while the rest of us had only had a game or two, so we were a bit rusty. I went into the game with a nagging feeling that hills were powerful scoring opportunities so decided to go for a defensive strategy, in that I wouldn't provoke an opponent, and try to pick up lots of hills.
The early game saw Janet placing lots of walls, trouble was she was working on two different regions at once! Roger, David and I jumped away on the score track through early expansion, but once Janet's construction was complete, she'd caught us, and Roger was dropping away.
Janet's construction was handy for me, as she was building half of MY kingdom at the same time. David was also doing a bit of work in the area, so eventually all I had to do was place two walls to create a kingdom in the centre of the board with potential for ... silver! In creating my kingdom, I also created one for David, which was done on a 'non-aggression' understanding.
My middle kingdom started steady expansion into the hills, and the silver mine cards kept me in the game. Roger was starting to struggle, being new to the game and having some problems with the money rules. Janet and David began a squabbling match over on the other side of the board, with lots of pushing and knight placing, but not a lot of positive movement on the score track.
The king turned up his toes on the very first "E" card, right after a silver mine card. I got a double slingshot on the score track, advancing 14 spaces to give me the win. The others had forgotten about the silver mines scoring at the end of the game as well...oops, that was accidental!
Doug's rating: 8 - hungry for another game now.
The finest game about bears and honey that I know of! Well, I haven't heard much about this Knizia release from Nuremburg this year, but I snapped it up as I try to do with all things Reiner. It's another simple, mildly thought provoking game - similar in weight to say, Exxtra, or En Garde.
There are four bears that start on the bee hives. They have to get back to their cave. The first bear back ends the round. Players do not control the bears, however the players move the bears by playing a card and advancing the indicated bear one or two spaces.
There are about 20 spaces from beehive to cave, and each space has a points value associated with it. When I first opened the box and saw the board I had a mental image of two bears fencing along this track, En Garde like. Ahem... the first 10 or so spaces are worth -1, then the spaces increase to 0, 1, 2 and finally 3, the cave. Cards are played, one at a time, and the bears advance. When the round ends, the players score points for the cards they have *remaining* in their hands. There's the catch, you have to play these potential scoring opportunities to move the bears so they do actually score points!
The scores for each card are simply the product of the card value and the space value, with a 6 point bonus to the player who finished the round. There is a special bonus for a pair of '1' cards held, these are worth five times the space value - nice!
This game is actually rather good, high on 'cute' factor and will definitely be played again. Roger, by the way, is now our reigning "Honeybear King" :)
Scores, round by round:
Doug's rating: 6
Alan Stewart writes:With seven people attending, the group divided into 4 and 3.
In the initial three player group - Alan, David and Roger, we tried out
After reading the rules, we were away. The mechanics were relatively easy to pick up, but none of us discarded from our junk pile on the first turn. Maybe we thought you had to have at least 3 of a value to do it. So scores may have ended up 1-2 higher than necessary.
In the end it was David 6 (23-17), Roger 5 (14-9), Alan -2 (13-15)
There was a question regarding the `super special'.
Can it be lead by choice? (i.e. it's not the last card in your hand, and you've got the lead).
If so, does the person who played it declare the trumps colour for the round, or is the next coloured card played on it trumps? Do people have to follow with trumps if they have them?
Again the group split 3-4, and this time Alan, Dey and Donna played
Over two games the results were:
Alan: 10 (21-11) - 3 (14-11)
Donna seemed to be taking a lot of tricks, and got it right in the second game. I was trying for a minimalist trick taking strategy in the last game, but it didn't come off.
Things I learnt the hard way:
1. Pay attention to what you have in your junk pile. 2. Try to note what hasn't been thrown away, as they're sure to be in peoples' junk piles and won't be come available for you.
With the arrival of Neil, there were two groups of four.
Neil, Donna, Dey, Alan
When we stopped with a time limit,
Three successful bids, one failed bid.
On the initial hand I was dealt 4 fours, so was determined to make them major trumps. In the end Donna and I won all tricks! So it was an underbid at 3 cards. It was not certain Dey would make 7 the minor trump, but maybe I should have gone on that assumption and increased my bid, knowing the 4s would probably drain out lots of 7s.
An enjoyable game, and I want to play more of it.