Billabong Boardgamers July 28th, 1998
Present: Julian, Alan, Doug, David, Janet, Donna, NeilPrevious session report
Alan Stewart writes:
Players: Doug, Donna, Alan
Doug started, random choice, and drafted a player at $0 cost. A strategy he pursued fairly consistently for the rest of the game. I don't know if this was because he kept saying "money will be tight. It's a resource management game", or the ones he wanted just happened to be in that spot.
My first show was a Ballet, without the bonus, I just had to get rid of cards. My next, Queenie, while gaining a bonus, came in lowest on the table. I borrowed against its "$19" later in the game, but it ended up gaining me 4 points as it was in the extreme right city (16-4 ?).
Meanwhile Donna was snapping up 9 cards, even clearing the board and getting one to turn up in the $0 spot. Her initial Ballet was a spectacular $48.
Just past half way through the game no Wolfs had been staged. I put on one for $22 and took the risk of starting it in New York, the last city to host a show. Later I did another Wolf for $21, and they remained first and second in New York. Donna and Doug ran into trouble with Wolf.
Overall a very even game. Doug and I both took out a $5 loan, and Donna took out a $10 one. None of these loans resulted in a change of position for the borrowed from show.
I think each player only missed the bonus once - myself with my initial ballet, Donna and Doug towards the end with a Wolf. There was a lot of reshuffling and clearing of the board during the final drafting stages
Final scores: Alan 81, Doug 77, Donna 65
Donna finished first in three cities, but also last in three. I was first only in New York, and only last in the right-hand one. Doug consistently filled the middle spots.
A very interesting and enjoyable game.
I suspect it would be much harder with six players, where you would have to try and collect what the player opposite you was collecting, to avoid conflicting with players upstream on your right. Though changing the board might be a viable strategy. I didn't use it enough, either to possibly turn up the card I wanted, or to deny someone else a card I suspected they wanted.
I'd give it a 7, but would like to try it with 4 or 5 players.
Doug Adams writes:
This is a new game, released at Essen '97 to some acclaim by small time publisher dbSpiel. I've had it described to me as "Linie 1/Streetcar done right" which was enough for me to want one. I've often thought Linie 1 was a great game trying to get out but hampered by a horrible end game. So it was with great interest we started a six player games of Iron Horse.
Well, the game had a couple of problems with this many people. First off, you have a very few number of trains so you can quickly get half of them terminated before you get a second turn. So it quickly became apparent to me that the earlier turns should be used to get trains going.
Unfortunately, the others didn't realise that and some trains got cut down very quickly, which to be fair is 50% of the tactics in this game. David got a fantastic train late in the game mainly because we couldn't do anything to stop it - restricted by the tiles we're holding and the spaces still available to place these tiles. Another excellent case for keeping your own trains alive for as long as possible.
We then played a second game which Janet took narrowly from me - Janet skilfully sent my last train into the centre to finish it behind her score, rather than run the risk of me earning several more pieces of track...
Scores (Game 1/Game2):
Thoughts? Well, I wouldn't play it again with six, but I think the game is very good with 2-4 players, having tried it with all those numbers. After our two six player games at Billabong, they all (apart from me) put Linie 1 ahead of Iron Horse - however, I don't think Iron Horse was viewed in its best light that night.
Also played was Res Publica and Adel Verflichtet - a report may follow...
David Coutts writes:
I've seen this played and had been quite keen to have a go (it's an attractive game), so this was my choice. As the clear loser in this game, my view of events differs from the others. I felt that I was "frozen out" of most trading until it was too late for me to catch up. I hasten to add that this was not intentional - I was (I felt) a victim of circumstance. Julian, in particular, felt that it was more likely bad play on my part. I guess, after only one game, that I'll reserve judgement. My view is that a player is less likely to be frozen out of trading with more players, so perhaps I'll try it again with 6 players. I also felt that this is a game that rewards those players who have already taken the lead, but again I'll reserve judgement until next time. For Neil it was his first ever game, so he did well to win. Well done!
David Coutts writes:
This was the copy of the game that I gave to Julian. It's a little battered, but still quite playable. Neil and Donna had not played before, so we quickly went through the rules. It's a game that resembles Scissors/Water/Stone, except it's broken into Auction House / Stately Home and then (respectively) Thief / Cheque, or Thief / Detective / Exhibit. The idea is to race around the board to be the furthest along the dining table (pink squares) at game end. At the Auction House the highest value cheque buys an antique, and a solo thief steals the cheque. If there is more than one thief they get nothing! At the Stately Home (or castle) thieves try to steal from all exhibitions. However, the largest (based on number of antiques, oldest antique being a tie-breaker) 2 exhibitions get to move, as do Detectives that successfully caught thieves. People generally get the idea pretty quickly.
Julian & I were always competing for the lead. In mid-game there was a crucial phase for me where I exhibited alone twice in a row, gaining about 8 points. Then I managed to steal an antique from both exhibitions on my next turn! In the home straight Julian & I managed to exhibit successfully twice in a row (accompanied by our gleeful high-fives). I seemed to have an edge, so I went for the end-game. Basically, once you enter the pink squares (and all players complete their movement) the game stops, and ALL players exhibit. Much to my dismay Julian had the largest exhibition and advanced the bonus 8 squares (making him level with me) and, even worse, Alan had managed to improve his exhibition to 8 antiques (the same as mine), but he had the antique dated 1468 and so got the 2nd place bonus of 4 squares movement. It was a fun and exciting finish to the game.