Billabong Boardgamers
 

Billabong Boardgamers - March 30th, 1999

Present: Roger, Alan, Julian W, Julian C, Doug, Janet, Moray, Liz, Greg, Bernie

Previous session report

Doug Adams writes:

Solid numbers again tonight with some great gaming - I enjoyed it!

Hornochsen

We had six players ready for a game so this new arrival was seized ond broken out. Doug quickly explained the rules, that are quite different from it's ancestor 6 Nimmt/Take 6, while still being a worthy game.

Thoughts? Not bad at all - very much inspired by 6 Nimmt, but certainly more of a gamer's game. You are dealt a large hand of cards (differs depending on the number of players), and several cards are dealt onto the table in a circle, forming the foundations similar to 6 Nimmt. Cards are then played ala 6 Nimmt, although now it becomes 5 Nimmt :) You may play up to three cards onto foundations, obeying the rules of the parent game, with one important difference - cards that are too low to be played onto a stack must be played onto the highest number - thus making it the lowest number.

If you play the fifth card you have to take the pile of five, with the object being to claim green bullheads, while avoiding red bullheads. >From what I could see there were red bullheads on any card divisible by 5 or 11 (I'm not that clever, the rules said so); two green bullheads on any card with a '2' on the end of it (eg. 52) and one green bullhead on anything else.

There were also special cards, each player receiving one '+5' card and one 'x2' card. These can be used as one of the card plays, but don't count against the 5 card limit.

The game played very smoothly and had a totally different feel to 6 Nimmt, so any similarities between game play shouldn't be drawn. One is a simultaneous free-for-all, while this is a much slower and more thoughtful game.

Scoring is simply a matter of getting a net total of green-red bullheads, adding 5 for any +5 cards, and multiplying the result by 2 for any x2 cards. If you have an unplayed special card, that's -10 from the total!

In our game there were several foundations that had close numbers thus requiring that several higher ones were claimed before these opened up. There was a lot of red (bad!) cards played early, including the hideous 55 (which I hadn't seen before). It became a game of chicken to see who would be the first to crack and claim one of the awful piles on offer. Janet lost, and claimed a truly awful pile of red cards. After than the other piles were rapidly cleaned up and scores tallied:

Roger: 22
Alan: 12
Doug: 6
Julian C: -3
Julian W: -8
Janet: -32 (-8 doubled twice!)

Not a bad game, some interesting decisions to be made as to when to throw off cards, when to play specials, and when to attack and claim a foundation pile. Cleverly, the number of cards held by the players and the number of foundation piles means that every pile will be claimed, the last going with the last card - so bugging out of a hand early is a valid tactic if it means protecting your score.

Judging from the amount of table talk late in the game and after the game, it went over well, and I'm sure it will be played again.

Doug's rating: 7

Qvo Vadis

Julian C had nearly bought this very good Knizia negotiation game along, and was thus delighted to see I'd tossed my copy into the games crate. On opening the box I was rather shocked to see the game was unpunched - I always punch games immediately, so I don't know how this one slipped through the net :)

The rules were explained to Greg, Moray and Bernie and off we went. Greg went for a 'benevolent goodwill' strategy early, being all kindness in helping other players advance towards the senate, and earning chips along the way. Julian and Doug were progressing up the right half of the board, while Moray, Bernie and Greg took the left.

Bernie, Moray and Doug were in the five space central chamber, with Caesar guarding the entrance to the Senate. Bernie took the opportunity to enter the Senate, then Julian strangely did not move Caesar away, thus allowing Moray and Doug to get in as well. Julian admitted afterwards this was a mistake, as it allowed the three of us to concentrate on gaining laurels.

The game progressed nicely, with some rather earnest negotiations coming out late in the game as the new players got a handle on what was happening. Towards the end Greg didn't have a piece in the Senate and was desperate to keep the game going. Julian had the Caesar piece poised over his path into the Senate, to end the game, so Doug asked Greg for four laurels to move Caesar away and prolong the game - Greg paid, and Doug's star started to rise.

Eventually Bernie ended the game with Greg still not in. Scores were:

Doug: 19
Bernie: 13
Moray: 12
Julian: 11
Greg: 13 (but not in Senate)

The game went over very well, and as the six player Medieval Merchants was "about 20 minutes" away from finishing, we played again. Some of the pieces were removed from the board before we remembered the variant to keep pieces on the board, which I would have liked to try, so we started a totally new game.

Play was much more tight this time around, with Bernie and Julian totally dominating the right, with Greg and Moray battling on the left. Doug tried to move up the centre unopposed, to sneak a quick piece into the Senate via Caesar, but Caesar was moved away, and Bernie blocked that avenue of expansion.

Moray got the first piece into the Senate, sat back and haggled like a master for the rest of the game. Doug was desperate to deal with Bernie to get a piece into the Senate, but Bernie couldn't be bought. Greg was again playing a cautious game, totally dominating the left once Moray entered the Senate.

The game ended with everybody in the Senate this time - scores:

Bernie: 23
Moray: 21
Greg: 16
Julian: 13
Doug: 10

This second game felt as though it was played to a very high standard, and I think all the players enjoyed it. Rating: 8

6 Nimmt

Doug dashed off to get some milk and when he returned 6 Nimmt was being dealt out, with the same five players that played Qvo Vadis participating (Medieval Merchants was still "about 20 minutes" away from completion!).

As we had five players, the 1-54 variant was played, with Julian insisting on the 55 card being tossed in for chaos! (I'm not sure which card was taken out as I was out at the time - Doug).

This variant is much better, as there is now a very evident memory aspect, and you just can't blame luck any more (damn!).

Scores over four hands:

Julian: 30
Greg: 46
Bernie: 53
Moray: 69
Doug: 72

Doug's rating: 7 with the variant.

Shark

We play this great game once a year, so we thought we'd get it in early this year! It's a favourite of Janet and Doug's and we were keen to introduce Acquire Fan Greg to the game, and Roger was keen to knock it off his 'to play' list.

This was the most amazing game of Shark I'd seen - there was only one takeover for the whole game, on the very last turn. The game board where the share prices are driven in an abstract manner was so delicately poised that groups should have folded into other groups regularly, however the dice just didn't tumble that way and the game ended with Green reaching 15 on the index, spread across five small groups!

Doug played the game in his usual jumpy manner, selling off shares at the slightest sign of danger, as did Janet. Greg and Roger happily diversified with large amounts of shares in every group. Doug threw out a gentle hint that it could be dangerous, as takeovers could happen at any time, but that didn't phase them!

When green hit yellow on the last play of the game, Roger and Greg were barely scratched, paying for the hit with vast sums of cash. Shares were traded in and the scores were:

Greg: $244000
Roger: $169000
Doug: $163000
Janet: $138000

As I said, a very weird game. Roger and Greg walked the tightrope all the way through, thumbing their noses at fate, and fate didn't hit back. Doug's rating: 8

Expedition

There is no report at this stage. Scores:

Liz: 21
Julian W: 16
Julian C: 11

Roger Smith writes:

MEDIEVAL MERCHANT

Janet: 43 (7 city markers)
Liz: 43 (5 city markers)
Julian W: 39
Alan: 31
Roger: 30

This was played at Liz's request, and she went on to tie with Janet on points. However Janet had more city disks, making her the winner. This was the first play for Alan and Julian W. Luckily I had I warned them that this was one of those games you can't expect to win on the first play when matched against experienced players (although I think Julian C did just that on his first play :)

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