Sunday, February 20, 2005

Game Night – 12 February 2005

After a nice dinner at the invitation of Frog and George, we cleared the tables for some Saturday night gaming goodness. Frog had been wanting to try Tikal ever since he’d seen it during Titus’s birthday bash. (I had Tikal, Mexica and Age of Steam on loan from Titus.) So, we set up the original Kramer / Kiesling Action Point game and 1999 Spiel des Jahres winner on the dinner table and prepared to explore the jungles of Guatemala for Mayan artifacts and ruins. Over at the other table, Greg, Nix and Erik prepared to explore the Far East for spices, fame and fortune in Rudiger Dorn’s Goa.

Frog, Javy and George had all played Tikal’s younger sibling Java and cousin Torres, so explaining I didn’t have to elaborate on the Action Point system. I did screw up one rule – the exchange of treasures. It didn’t really have a huge impact on the game, thankfully. We set up for the regular Tikal game; I didn’t want to bother with the auction since this was the first play of the game for my three friends.

Javy’s strategy was to isolate a couple of ruins and explore them to the maximum level. He used both of his temple guards early. The main thing he missed was accumulating artifacts, which ultimately cost him the game. Like Javy I deployed all my grad students and tried to get them all over the board. I established my private camps in opposite regions, though I got blocked from participating in a fairly fat temple when Javy capped it before I got there. Evil. There was a problem with my strategy. The guys I deployed early on got stuck too close to the common camp, and it was too far for them to hotfoot it to the better temples deeper in the jungle. After Javy secured the two largest temples closest to the common camp by massing grad students there, those guys had very little to do. Not good.

Frog and George waited a bit before bringing the main gaggle of their grad students onto the board. This game them greater strength in the deepest part of the jungle and more flexibility in gathering around the larger temples later in the game. They also had about as many artifacts as I did. While I was ahead for most of the game, it was only by a few points. When we entered the final scoring round, I had a problem redeploying my guys. I ended up scoring less points in the final scoring round than in the previous volcano scoring. Bleh. Frog won by a small margin over George, who took second.

Verdict – Javy felt that it was worth a second play after seeing the scoring potential of the artifacts and getting a feel for the game flow. Frog and George weren’t too impressed. My opinion of the game didn’t really improve from my last playing. It’s a nice looking game, but it’s been easily surpassed by the later Action Point games.

Over at the other table, Greg had gotten his expedition card cycle going and won the game handily.

With both games over, the call for a light and fluffy game to end the night was heard. Puerto Rico inevitably hit the table. With six players on tap (Erik had called it a night), I sat out and kibitzed for a few turns. Here’s the report from Nix on what transpired:

That PR game was a doozy, running out of VP chips and almost running out of buildings in the same round (turn? Governor cycle?) PLayers in turn order: Frog,
Greg, Javy, Nix, George. Opening was mainline... The first game I ever scored
more on shipping than building. Frog and Greg stole my factory (my favorite
build), I ended up with harbor-wharf, some 42 shipping, 22 building and 8 bonus
(72 total). Javy came in second, 60-something I think.

Overall, another satisfying night of gaming. We’re looking forward to the long weekend of the 25th to 27th to meet up again for dinner and games.


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