Billabong Boardgamers - November 30th, 1999
Present: Doug, Roger, Janet, Greg, Craig, Debbie, Tina, David, Alan, Bernie
Doug Adams writes:
EUPHRAT & TIGRIS
Doug and Janet joined Greg (new to this game) and Roger (who hadn't played this with three or four players before) for 90 minutes of gruelling Civilization construction.
Everybody made cautious "King then tile" openings in their own corner of the board, apart from the ever adventurous Janet who immediately decided Greg has to be shown the ropes and placed her green Trade leader in "his" kingdom.
In a game that was quite friendly, and reasonably conflict free, Janet seemed to relish the chance to merge kingdoms if such a thing were possible - usually to try and earn her one of those valuable treasure chits.
There were three large kingdoms in action for most of the game, the ones founded by Doug, Roger and Greg. Doug's was covering nearly one long half of the board before he lost control of some leaders after a merger, and from then on this kingdom was pretty much shared between the players (it also featured 3 monuments).
The other two large kingdoms eventually merged, with mixed results, leaving the game about to end either by treasures being claimed, or the tile bag emptying. Some cautious play near the end saw the game finish when the bag did in fact empty.
After kick-starting four newbies off at Vinci (rather than leaving them alone with the English rules and 6 page FAQ), Doug joined Janet and Alan for a three player game of Ra. Alan had only played this once, and Janet twice, while Doug had amassed 12 games experience.
This game was highlighted by all players putting a lot of effort into collecting monuments, all through the game. This saw a lot of "Ra" cries when the auction track had only two or three tiles on it.
The net result of this was the fastest game of Ra I think I've played. It literally took about 25 minutes...Alan heavy scoring early rounds beat out Doug's haul of 7 unique monuments and four 3 of a kind's, as well as highest sun total.
Debbie Pickett writes:
Craig, Debbie, Tina
Roger graciously arrived with the key to the Amaroo centre right on 7 pm, so there was a lot of umming and aahing about what the seven of us should play. Eventually someone grabbed Euphrat & Tigris, leaving the rest of us to find something else. I picked Ra, one of Tina's favourites. Craig had never played this gem before, so after a quick explanation of the rules, which Craig understood right away, we were underway.
As usual, things began slowly and by the end of the first epoch I had practically nothing on the table in front of me, and an absolutely pitiful collection of sun tiles. It turns out Craig had been collecting the high-numbered ones religiously and so had ended up with the 10, 11, 12 and 13. Epoch two was a little more balanced, I landed a number of monuments and Niles, and everyone had a respectable range of sun tiles. Craig was by now the clear leader on Pharaohs and Niles. By now Tina was a little behind, from focussing on civilizations and other tiles that disappear after each epoch. The third epoch was very close, with me holding back as usual and collecting a wad at the end. Craig pulled the final Ra tile of the game with one sun tile left, which may have determined the game.
In the end it was the sun bonus (lost by Craig) which allowed me to sneak ahead by one point.
Final scores: Debbie 39, Craig 38, Tina 29
Debbie, Tina, Craig
By now, some more people had arrived and were in the middle of a game of Andromeda; the other table hadn't finished their Euphrat & Tigris so we pulled out another shortish game to try out. None of us had played this before so I suspect that we got some rules wrong. We didn't (deliberately) use any variants, though perhaps we ought to have.
It took a few turns to get the hang of the mechanics, since I found our translation of the rules a little lacking (upon reading the original German rules, I found them lacking too, so this was no fault of the translator). I settled heavily on one big island towards the beginning of the game, which prevented me from claiming other islands or discovery chips. Craig and Tina had the right idea - to settle little islands frequently. In the end it came down to the last island, which was a monster, and which Tina had managed to get a settlement down onto. Up until that island was scored, there were three or so victory points separating all of us. Tina ended up winning by more than ten points, with Craig in second another five or so points ahead of me.
My rating: Definitely worth another try, perhaps with one or two of the many variants that are out there. This is a pretty game that actually seems to work. I give it a 6.
DAVID & GOLIATH
Alan, Doug, Tina, Janet, Debbie, Craig
I'd missed my chance to get in on the game of Vinci, which had started halfway through our Entdecker. Oh well, next week. Euphrat & Tigris had just finished, so six of us grouped together for a game of this bizarre trick-taking game.
Alan and Janet - our trick-taking-game extraordinaires - pretty much led from the start, with me at the tail practically the whole way through. In the end, there was very little in it.
My rating: I *still* can't figure out how to win this game; I think I am not adventurous enough in my trick-taking or something. This game rates a 7 from me.
Alan Stewart writes:
Players David, Bernie, Alan
A new game for all three players.
David started as first player, then Bernie, and the game ended up going for 7 turns.
Reading the rules took about 15 minutes, and the whole game was over in about 80 minutes, which agreed with what was suggested on the box.
My game start looked disastrous with my initial hand consisting of 4 pairs and a singleton. David traded 3 cards with Bernie, and I had no option but to take my cards back into my hand. On my turn my first action was to trade the singleton in. Luckily I got a card to match one of the four pairs I had. Otherwise, the only other action I could have done was discard 1 or two more cards and hope for matches. But as I now had 1 set of 3, I upgraded on the spaceship track.
On his turn Bernie had traded in a matching set of 6 planets!
This `lock out' on the trading with 3 players may be a problem with the 3 player game. You can play cards to entice a trade, but it will not always work.
David suggested a possible variant. The player who didn't trade, can take back the n cards they offered for trade, after all they may have been forced to offer cards they didn't want to. Or they can random trade. If taking this option, n+1 cards are turned over from the planet draw pile and the player trades his n offered cards for n of these now revealed cards. The spare revealed card, and the original n offered for trade cards are now added to the discard pile.
The early shots at establishing economic centres nearly all came off on the first attempt. Later we weren't quite so lucky. At one stage all 3 players each had 3 economic centres, and I had the most sent back to Earth. All transport crads were used to move stations off Earth.
The game looked as if it would end after 3 or 4 turns, but we couldn't resist the unclaimed 10/12/14 point places, and filled them rather than completing the 3rd centre on a planet.
In the end Bernie kept the most bonus points in his hand, and David was the furthest advanced along the technology track, but it wasn't enough.
As the economic centres are worth at least 4 points, only getting a 1 point score for missing out on a opportunity to score them through no fault of your own, seems a bit harsh. I'd suggest perhaps 2 points per station on Earth.
Doug, Alan, Janet, Craig
Limited to 2 hands and then called due to time. Janet, Craig and Alan had discarded 1 goal each.
Roger Smith writes:
I had been following the discussions on this game over the past few weeks and was very keen to try it. Luckily Doug got the single copy imported into Australia so I was able to have a chance. Thankfully he also spent a few minutes explaining the rules to us (he had played it twice in the last few days).
There's no doubt we all enjoyed the game. It was quite close, with the leadership changing several times. We forgot one rule (-1 attacking from a mountain region) and missed another (once you put an empire into decline, your previous declining empire is removed). This may have thrown the balance off somewhat. I really like the way you can come back into the game from a poor position, and your ability to choose when to decline. These are two well thought out and effective devices. In our game, Greg had a great combination of Revolutionaries and the Field General, which gave him a good push forward in the latter part of the game, and eventually the win.
Definitely NOT a game to play with slower players, or those who overanalyse their moves. Even with four reasonably fast players, I felt the game just dragged a bit. Doug recommended we not try it with more than four players, and I'd have to agree. There would be too much far too much downtime. Hopefully it will be quicker next time as there will be less rules questions.