Billabong Boardgamers September 29th, 1998
Present: Dey, Roger, Julian, Alan, Doug, Janet, NeilPrevious session report
Doug Adams writes:
The Billabong circus, braving the "Gas Crisis" that has afflicted Melbourne, arrived at Dey and Roger's for the first time - only 10 minutes from home too! A very pleasant evening ensued playing some new games, as well as some old favourites. In between we made friends with our hosts two cats and their cute 'n' energetic Jack Russell pup, Bacchus - dog of whine!
Janet and I were running a little late, thus skilfully avoiding setting up the chain of pieces. This game was new to Dey and Roger, and I wouldn't blame Dey if she didn't want to play it again, being a victim of the "Coin" tiles several times. The game snaked its way towards a result, and from what I could see it was out of Julian (sitting on two 8 sets), myself and Dey. I was sitting on 3 points to go when Dey finished a '6' set I was collecting, but she played her tiebreaker piece to take the six of me and win the game. My three points saw me over the line in second place. Hmm, perhaps Dey will play it again, after all!
A new game of mine, having decided to purchase this over the similar Ave Caesar - sacrificing beauty for more play options such as different boards, next generation of the system, etc.
With six players and a new game that none of us had played before, we decided to tackle the 'family' rules.
The game is essentially a car race game in the style of the Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix family, in that you play a card to move a car. But, the cards you play come off your own deck of 84 points worth and you only hold 3 cards at any one time. You only move your car, and it can get rather difficult maintaining a good balanced hand of cards so your precious movement points are not wasted. Good stuff!
The first race was run on the Platfuss-Drom circuit, which is rated as 'medium' in difficulty. I missed the rule that removed 6-6-5-4 from the deck in the family game which made the race pretty straightforward, with Janet and Doug leading early. Doug got a nice pit stop after completing lap 1 and got rid of Janet. Dey and Julian finished strongly. Results were:
Doug 9, Dey 6, Julian 4, Alan 3, Roger 2, Janet 1
It was then I discovered the fact we should have left 21 points worth of cards out of the deck, so we decided to run a second race with the cards removed. This second race was on the Nurnburg-Ring circuit, rated 'hard' at 77 spaces long on an ideal line. With the 21 points removed we *now* had 84 points of cards in our deck, so finishing looked tough!
It was tough - not being able to play a 6 card while leading is a killer, and we had a fairly major rules issue when trying to pit. To be specific, the rules say that:
We couldn't work out:
We played that we were eliminated under the rules, and this ended Julian and Doug's race once we crossed the line on lap 2. But it didn't matter, as nobody had enough points in the deck to finish the race. Janet was only a couple of spaces away from the finish line before the tank ran dry. The rules were correct, that track was hard!
In summary, I think the game is a good one and just cries out to use the professional rules. Here you may sort your deck into four piles - effectively giving yourself a gearbox. This gives you a lot more control over your hand at any one time, and gives more of a 'driving the car' feel to the game. The professional rules also give car set-ups - fast, slow, medium - where specific cards are removed. I'm not sure what that does to the game - any ideas by those who've tried it?
All in all, I like the game. It moved along very nicely with 6 players, which means it'll be pulled off the game shelf again soon. Rating: 7
Is this game popular at Billabong? Well, yep, it heads our played list and several members own copies now.
This game saw me playing 6th in a six player game, which is not ideal, I suspect. To make matters worse, my initial deal appeared to help nobody, with my trade offers being laughed at, generally by Julian who revels in the communication aspect of this game.
Lacking the vocal penetration to make my offers...penetrate, I decided to clam up and give ugly cards away, and harvest often to keep the discards topped up (and hopefully giving me an extra turn or two in the game). It was quite hard to judge who was on top in this game, as coin piles were discretely hidden behind coffee mugs :)
In the end, a wonderful final round saw my one planted Shy bean suddenly find a lot of friends, four of them in fact! Well, I don't refuse four gold, and that combined with another four gold from coffees and cowboys, elevated my score into the area of respectability.
Neil Murray had arrived at this stage, so the group split.
Wettstreit der Baumeister
Roger and Dey own this game, never played at Billabong. I was very keen to try it as I own a copy, trouble is it's sitting Germany! I was also keen to see any obvious signs of it being broken, as it has a few variants sitting around the web.
Well, I was inwardly screaming "bring on the variants" after 3 turns where I had rolled 3 Saboteurs and generated no income! Then it clicked, blow up something and you may get paid off, and I can get income by auctioning pieces.
Alan was my only early target, but I held off to see how the game developed. Foolish of me, really, as Alan bombed me as soon as he had the chance. I tried to generate some income by sabotage but it either failed, or destroyed the piece, alas.
It was getting late in the game so I concentrated on picking up a few more pieces to flesh out my score, being rather proud of the left-right corner tower arrangement. After the game ended, I realised they had to have the same value to earn the bonus!
By the end of the game I was still trying to determine whether the game was broken or not, but it's so hard to tell on the first play and my gut reaction was "no, it's okay". I need another game or three to decide, but it looked promising - especially as I thought I was playing poorly but finished close to the others.
Doug's rating: 6 with potential.
I'm not sure what happened in this game, as it was played in a separate room and they had the cute 'n' bouncy Bacchus to contend with.
Janet reports that the lead changed a few times, with Julian doing the best despite Janet claiming the first '9' city.