Billabong Boardgamers - September 28th, 1999
Present: Roger, Craig Mc., Alan, Debbie, Janet, Doug, Donna, Julian, Glenn, Bernie, David
Debbie Picket writes::
Doug, Alan, Roger, Debbie
I don't know what is so significant about the date 1452 in German history, but for me this number is hard to remember. Forgive me if I get it wrong . .
This was the first time any of us had played Anno 1492, so it took us a while to go through the rules. Eventually we managed to get started, choosing to end the game after about six rounds rather than the full nine or so.
We all started in pretty much the same way, with Roger and Alan in the north, me in the Bavaria area and Doug hogging pretty much everything Swiss and south. While the two northern powers were expanding like crazy to earn the majority in lots of principalities, Doug and I stayed small, with me trying for the most part to keep my estates down in size so that I could keep the power of the King, which I did except for the one turn that I wasn't watching and Doug took off with it.
This particular game of Anno 1542 turned out to be a friendly one under the rule of King Debbie the Pacifist; not a single attack was made in the entire game, largely because I separated the only other significant military force (Doug) from the two more populous but less militarily-oriented northern players (Roger and Alan). The fact that the Anti-King card never came up probably helped this a lot. All of the rounds were tending to be pretty short too, so we elected to play an extra two rounds before wrapping up.
The final scores vaguely reflected how we played, but I believe that Doug played well enough to deserve to win, and Roger's final score was rather inexplicable.
Debbie: 61 (10 estates, 7 population, 4 cities, 3 principalities, 18 gold
and 19 prestige)
What do I like about Anno 1607? It's got a map board - I can't get enough of maps in games; it's got a little of the El Grande element of controlling regions and variable turn order and plenty of other mechanisms; it's got the need for balance like in Euphrat & Tigris, where if you don't diversify you tend to lose large amounts of prestige. I know the gaming world is male-dominated, but it's good to see in this game that plenty of the cards in the deck are women and carry a bit of power, even if it is only by marriage, and even if all marriages are dissolved each round. To be truthful, that's probably how it was back around the year 1776. Also it's got trillions of wooden bits. Gotta have trillions of wooden bits.
What do I not like about Anno 1812? The condition for becoming King (The fewest estates) seems to be too easy to hold onto. That gave me a big advantage throughout the game as I never had to worry about prestige or action cards. Perhaps this is better in a game where battles are fought, we'll have to try it again in a less "friendly" situation.
All in all, I liked playing Anno 1984; it's got plenty of systems that seem to work well together. I'd give it a 7, which in my scale is something that I could imagine myself playing once every couple of weeks, at least until I can establish if the power of the King is too great. I only wish I could remember the game's title!
Debbie, Julian, Glenn, Janet
Trumpet is a trick-taking game in much the same vein as a vanilla whist, except that trumps change on the time scale of three or four tricks, so tactics are more important than long-term strategy. At various stages through the game, when players take certain numbers of tricks (there is a board to help you keep track of these numbers), the player who won the trick is allowed to declare a new trump suit (there are six) that beats all other trump suits (but the ranking between the lower trumps is unchanged). When all six suits have been declared trumps, the choice is them to switch two suits on the ladder, usually to replace the top spot with cards that you have in your hand at the time.
In this particular game, Glenn and Julian got off to a huge start, leaving Janet and me behind in the dust. We never recovered from this and it became a mad dash for the finish by the two leaders. Glenn eventually pushed out Julian and she finished comfortably.
Final rank: Glenn, Julian, Janet, Debbie.
My rating: This old game was pretty novel for its time (1990), but the rules need a little tweaking to get the rules on following suits just right. Till then, it scores a 6.
DAS LETZTE PARADIES
Glenn, Janet, Debbie
This old Reiner Knizia game is reminiscent of a few of his later ones. It has a closed-fist bidding system, and each tile won gives its owner a quandary about whether to place it face-up or face-down, both of which carry different advantages.
Imagine a square island, with 16 spots in a 4 by 4 grid. Each corner of four squares forms a different resort on the island. Additionally, the central four squares also form a resort and are the only places that hotels may exist.
There is one tile for each location, three villas per resort and one hotel, which belongs to both the corner resort and the central one. Each tile is bid for, and the owner gets to place it in its spot. It can go face down (as a nature preserve, declining to build on it) in its spot, which gives the other villas and hotels in the resort a bonus (because hotel guests like having nature on their doorstep); it can also go face up (as a hotel or villa) which will only earn the owner anything if there are already existing nature preserves in the resort. There are additional bonuses for being in all resorts, for monopolizing a resort, and for being the most environmentally conscientious in constructing nature preserves.
We all bid too high for tiles early on so that I eventually was almost entirely out of cash and was essentially out of the game. The final scores reflect the more cautious play of the other two players.
Final scores: Glenn 127, Janet 71, Debbie 45
My rating: There's a lot of fluff on this game that covers an otherwise simple concept - the underlying concept is interesting and I'd like to try it again. I give it a 5.
Roger Smith writes:
THE SETTLERS OF CATAN
Alan: 10 - 1 VP card, longest road, 1 city, 5 settlements
Prior to joining Billabong just over a year ago, Settlers was my most played German game. Since joining, I have played it just twice - last week and this week. Both games were at the insistence of Doug Adams, who as many know, is a HUGE Settlers fan. Initially. I was somewhat bemused by the seriousness with which Alan and Bernie tackled the game. As much as I enjoy Settlers, I had always regarded it as a fun, luck-based game. I knew Alan and Bernie had played competition Settlers before, but I assumed that was something like playing competition Bluff / Liar's Dice. How wrong I was. Inferior tactics and set-up soon left me totally blocked in. Doug fared a little better, but his options soon ran out. At this stage all four of us were taking up only two thirds of the board. Alan and Bernie set out to conquer the rest of Catan engaging in a struggle for the all-important longest road. Alan got there first. This was the most interesting game of Settlers I have played. I learned a lot from watching the tactics of Alan and Bernie. Can't wait for the re-match - that I'm sure Doug will insist on - next Tuesday. Any volunteers to substitute for Bernie?
Roger's rating: 8
This game made its second outing at Billabong. This time I managed a much better handling of the rules explanation (i.e. I didn't make any mistakes). Having played before was a huge help :) Bernie's first hand was a -34, which he never managed to catch up from. My success was due to not picking up any negative cards as a result of winning tricks, and playing three 0s and one 1 as my prick cards.
A good little game, and one I can see being called for often in the next few weeks.
Roger's rating: 7.5
Doug Adams writes:
Doug, Roger and Janet had one hand of Quandary while waiting for our quorum of Anno 1452 players arrived. We stopped after one hand before that same quorum disappeared off into other games! Scores were about even in the 20's after one hand.
Our scribe from table 2 records:
Bernie: oozing machismo on 21 points
That's the lowest Viva Pamplona scores I've ever seen.
David Coutts writes:
Janet and David
Janet and I played 2 complete games of 3 hands each. The first game was very low scoring (and I'm not sure why):
Game One: Janet - David
1st hand: 14 - 7
Totals: 69 - 52
I still haven't played this enough to discuss it sensibly, though I'm quite sure I'll get my own copy. It's so quick and easy, yet there really is something to think about.
Our second game went quite differently, with Janet definitely over-stretching in the last hand. Generally, going for all five expeditions is just too risky.
Game Two: Janet - David
1st hand: 19 - 40
Totals: 32 - 149
SCHNAEPPCHEN JAGD (Bargain-hunter)
Craig, Donna and David.
Craig had only played once before, and vaguely remembered the rules. Donna had played before, but took me by surprise when she started to explain Was Sticht? ! I was probably the most familiar with the game. Anyway, between us we managed to get the idea across.
With six rounds and 7 clearing opportunities, I wasn't too worried about what I picked up initially. From round two I tried to concentrate on just 3 or 4 of the numbers numbers hidden in my trash. Craig and Donna went the minimalist approach, which sometimes does work. Not in this game of Schnapchenjagd!
Donna: 9 - 11 = -2
Having recently had enquiries about this game, I was pleased to see Debbie had brought her copy along. The other table played it before us, and they seemed to be enjoying it. Once they'd finished, we persuaded Julian to cross to "the other side" and join our table. He quickly explained the rules, which were simple but intriguing, and we were off.
I won the first trick, and then got left for dead by Julian who was followed by Craig and Donna. For the first few rounds all I could say was "well, I DID win the first trick...." it was pathetic really.
Nonetheless, the game seemed extremely promising. Yet another trick taking game, though this time with a board and the ability to have ranked trumps!
Eventually I managed to catch up, despite a lack of super trumps (which are very useful indeed!). As we rounded the corner for the home straight everyone seemed in with a chance, though my money would have been on Julian who seemed to have it figured a few moves in advance. Nearing the finishing line we occupied consecutive spaces. I had a moment where I could have pulled away, having reached a "change trumps" space. Unfortunately, my 10 hearts was then beaten by Craig's 11 - my moment was gone.
Donna then proceed to jump over our positions, but this set Julian up nicely. He had kept his super trump for a coup d'etat, and used it to jump over all of us into the winning spot!
I wouldn't mind a copy.