Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Titus’s Boardgaming Birthday Bash - 5 February 2005

Titus’s Boardgaming Birthday Bash
5 Feburary 2005
Monchot’s Place, 3pm on down

Well sure, I would make it. Once all the stuff I had to do for the house was over (and it all finished a bit later than I intended), I hopped into the car and drove over to Monch’s place. Traffic was cooperative, and I made it there in short order.

I arrived to find a whole gaggle of gamers seated around the big table, chatting away. It’s been too long since we’d had a gathering this large. Lessee: Carlos, Javy, Titus, Mars, Greg, Monchot, Manuel, Frank and John were already present, talking about all sorts of stuff. I distinctly remember a lot of Lord of the Rings film banter (hey, Carlos was around).

We broke the games out a few minutes later.

Puerto Rico (5P)
Javy, Monchot, Mars, Greg, Carlos

I understand that this was a semi-brutal game that ended with Javy notching the win.

Maharaja (5P)
Rick, Titus, Manuel, John, Frank

John had received Maharaja several weeks ago, and we’ve been meaning to play it, but it never got to the table until now. It’s an unusual Wolfgang Kramer/Michael Kiesling game, not because it doesn’t use their now-familiar action point system, but because of its inherent chaos. There’s a lot going on in terms of changing the board; couple that with simultaneous blind action selection and you have a game that might have been a Faidutti/Cathala production.

Each turn, players select two actions using a Pirate’s Cove style action wheel. The actions allow a player to take cash, build or move a house, take houses from supply, build a palace, switch a role or fiddle with the governor track. Houses allow movement on the map and provide income to the owner when built on roads and other players move through. They also allow scoring when built in a city. Palaces are built in cities, and score as well. If the player builds a central palace, those score triple. This all goes to city scoring, which occurs at the end of a turn. Scoring is a majority thing, and the player with the strongest city presence gets a lot of cash; other players present in the city get correspondingly less cash. When a player builds a seventh palace, the game ends, and the player who has built the most palaces wins. The two actions that lend the game a much of its chaos are the roles and the governor track. Each role has a turn order hierarchy and a corresponding power. You can switch these up on other players, taking their role away and using them for your own purposes. A player can also fiddle with the governor track, changing the order in which the palaces are scored.

All in all, it’s a game that’s not easy to get a grasp of quickly. There IS an opportunity to plan ahead, while sacrificing the current situation, but this can easily be blown up by other players. No plan is safe, and everything is iffy until you get to take your turn since even turn order is mutable.

The players went for building central palaces early. Because I was a bit more familiar with the game than the others, my initial houses were placed in spots where they gave me a bit of cash, which allowed a couple of central palaces to the east. Soon, all the central palaces were taken, and the fiddling with the governor track was introduced. With a couple of actions, I managed to set up three of my cities to score in five turns, which is a significant advantage as the central palaces go a long way to giving a top score when the cash is doled out. I protected the lead and built all my palaces, ending the game and giving me the win.

Maharaja is an interesting game, and when players are more familiar with the shenanigans possible, the “score all my cities in a row” trick will cease to work.

During the games, the hotdogs arrived. We also welcomed Nix, Tala, Myles and Mark to the party. After everyone had some eats, the second batch of games began.

Colossal Arena (5P)
Javy, Carlos, Greg, Monchot, Mars

The monsters took to battle in Reiner Knizia’s Colossal Arena. I have no idea who won, so I’ll let one of the players or spectators fill that one in.

Modern Art (5P)
Rick, Mark, John, Manuel, Frank

Titus had been wanting Frank to try Modern Art, and this was a perfect opportunity. Mark is a vicious, veteran Modern Art junkie – I think it’s the only German game he really likes. Manuel and John are no slouches either – we’ve played this game at Mark’s place a LOT.

Pretty typical Modern Art game, with Mark tying to play Jedi Mind Tricks on the rest of us. We remember that no one else can be leading a Modern Art game other than Mark if he’s in. Despite our best efforts, though, he still ended up being in the lead as far as I could tell. People just can’t keep away from giving him money. Don’t ask me why. It’s Jedi Dark Side Powers I tell you.

In the end, though, Mark ended up screwing himself by supposedly misreading a card in his had. Hey, don’t look at me, I just tell the story. So, he thinks a Christin P is a Krypto or something else in the “dim light” and buys a double auction for far more than any sane person would have paid.

I ended up winning the game by a few thousand dollars. Frank loved the game, and began looking for a copy to snap up.

No real pauses between the games now as they were starting up just as others were ending. Frog and George arrived in the meantime, so another Puerto Rico game was started up.

Puerto Rico II (5P)
Javy, Greg, Nix, Frog, Carlos

This was a long, drawn out affair featuring a lot of scoring. Nix won this one by the slimmest of margins over Javy. Nix, post the story sometime willya?

Liar’s Dice (6P)
Rick, Mark, Tala, Myles, George, Titus

We don’t get the opportunity to play party games a lot, because our group is composed of mostly gamers, but occasions like this lend themselves to Liar’s Dice. We were using the Richard Borg version titled Bluff, with the nice board and cups and starry dice.

Myles quickly lost a couple of dice on aggressive bidding. However, he managed to stay in the game until a lot later. There were exact bids three times in the game, quickly decimating the dice in the cups. The call of the night belonged to Mark, who bid three stars with around 14 dice left and five players still in. None of us had any stars – except for Mark, who had three. Ouch. We were the last two players in, but Mark had a 3 to 1 dice advantage and made quick work of my last die.

That was FUN.

We took a break for dinner as the Puerto Rico game raged on. When dinner was over, Carlos, Mark, Manuel, Tala and Frank took their leave, while Deej arrived for some late-evening fun.

Amun-Re (4P)
Javy, Mars, Titus, George

Adjourned after the Old Kingdom

Runebound (3P)
Myles, Greg, Monchot

Adjourned with no one killing the head honcho.

Java (4P)
Deej, Frog, Rick, Nix

We didn’t finish any of the games since they were still running at 3:30am. Java was yet another crazy game. It was the first play for Nix and Deej, so the going was slow (and hey, it was after midnight) but we still ended up with a decent distribution of water all over the board. It was a tough game with a lot of cities being locked up in terms of position, probably two to three turns before the expected final scoring. We never did get there, and called the game with a half-dozen three-hex tiles remaining. I had a slim lead over Frog, but I was again out of festival cards, which didn’t bode well.

We called it a night (day?) after twelve solid hours of gaming, chatting, friends and fun.


At Thursday, February 17, 2005 10:38:00 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

Rick, your Kung Fu in Modern Art was truly great. You entranced the others into believing I was in the lead, and then go on to handily win the game. I have much yet to learn from you Master.

Nice Blog! :)


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