Billabong Boardgamers - 29th February, 2000
Present: Alan, Bernie, Debbie, Craig, Karen, Donna, Doug, Janet
Our special millennium "Leap Day" Billabong session (we hold one every 400 years).
Karen, Craig, Doug, Alan
Bernie, Donna and Janet began an epic game of Vino which took them about 3 hours to learn and play. That allowed the other table to work through several games for the evening, beginning with Dolce Vita.
This is a very interesting filler - all most Knizia like in its simplicity and nasty little twists. The only time I'd played it was when David turned up the week after Essen '99 with a copy fresh from the convention. I liked it then, and I still do.
The idea is players are collecting a set of luxury items, as well as cash. The cash and items are represented by small cards which are dealt onto the table in 7 rows of 9 cards. Players take up a set of cards numbered 1-6 and may play five of them in a round, one at a time.
Cards are played against the rows of luxury items, and when all have played five cards, each player sums their cards played against that row. The highest total takes the commodity card on the end of that row, next highest takes the next, and so on.
Now the twists appear - if totals of cards played are tied, the players take nothing. Nasty! Also, if you take a luxury item that you already own, you must hand back the one you own, and take the new item. As these items are in sets of 7 and range in value from $100000 to $700000, trading a $700000 in for a $100000 is hardly a good deal!
After each player has had a turn being start player for the round, cash and value of items are summed up. Highest total wins.
This was a new game to Alan, Karen and Craig, but they all picked up the mechanics very quickly. This is a very easy game to play. In the first two rounds Doug tried to collect on of each of the luxury item types just to get a good base score, with a view to improving it in the end game. Most of the cards picked up were valued around $400000. This combined with some regular cash cards (of which you can pick up and keep any amount) turned Doug's score into a winning one ($4.3 million).
Alan and Craig tied several times, leading to destructive play. If this happens you go a card down on the other players, so it doesn't help, unless you are forced into this play by realising your lot may worsen if you don't tie a row.
Doug's rating: 7 - good filler.
Alan, Craig, Karen, Doug
I really have to be in the mood to play this game as I'm not a "trick taker" by any means. Still it's a rare evening at Billabong if Alan doesn't get a game of Mu or Was Sticht in, so play we did!
We played the meaty "5 goal" game which can send the game spiralling towards 2 hours if the goals aren't met. I chose my usual timid selection of "2 tricks", "Minimum tricks", etc.
Craig was dealer and immediately had success (defeating Alan?), along with Doug who fluked a goal. Doug as dealer defeated Karen's goal on round 2, and Craig also picked up another goal.
The next few rounds saw Alan begin to move, Craig continue to make goals, while Karen and Doug didn't move at all. Craig missed his goal as dealer that would have given him the game, but picked it up on the next hand with Doug as dealer. Doug defeating Karen's goal again. Alan, after a slow beginning, finished strongly.
Craig: 5 goals
Doug's rating: 7 - classy trick taker.
Debbie Pickett writes:
Debbie, Alan, Craig, Doug, Karen
A new game for Karen, and amazingly enough Bernie announced that he too had never played this game as we were almost finished. I thought *everyone* had played El Grande.
Alan and I got off to a good start early on, with me managing to spread myself into almost every province by the first scoring round. Alan was concentrated in a couple of provinces but was getting plenty of extra scoring opportunities.
By the end of Round 6, there was a sizeable gap between the two leaders and the others. Unfortunately for Alan, events conspired to keep me slightly ahead, a lead which I kept till the end.
Quite a spread in the end, but everyone played well.
My score: Still an 8 from me for the five-player game. Wonderful mechanisms seamlessly joined.
Janet Ford writes:
Bernie, Donna, Janet
While the other table began a game of Dolce Vita, Bernie, Donna and I decided to play Vino. I had played once before, but as usual couldn't remember the rules! Bernie read through them.
This game box says a game of 60-90 minutes duration, however it took us nearly 3 hours - I'm not too sure what went wrong there. The most notable comments on our game was Bernie's monopoly of Lazio. This gave him the ability to sell off those vineyards and regain them instantly in the next round. Donna missed out on a few government vineyards early in the game, but she made up for it later on Sardinia, buying enough to stop Bernie getting the free ones.
I forgot the goal was to purchase as many vineyards as possible and left a few inexpensive ones on the board when I could have bought them. My main goals where concentrating on just getting enough to stop the other players picking up free government vineyards. In the end a very close game, as the results show: