Monday, March 07, 2005

Game Night - 5 March 2005

Saturday night dinner and gaming at Frog and George’s place was a dual event this week, coinciding with Nix’s birthday. The first arrivals after myself were Erik and Annie, emancipated from the world of Tantra. We were happy to have them back at the gaming table. While waiting for the others to arrive, I decided to try Blue Moon one more time. I wasn’t hopeful though, since both Erik and Annie were both tournament-class Magic players. After a few turns of play, Nix and Tala arrived. After the expected “that’s it?” reaction to Blue Moon, now unavoidably known as “Magic for Dummies”, we aborted and decided to play a real game.

Modern Art [5P]

We devirginized my new Mayfair edition of Modern Art. It had been in shrink for quite a while since a lot of people now own this game thanks to Titus’s last shipment of 12 copies, now sold out. We broke out the components, and I began explaining the game to Nix and Tala who were new to the game. (Erik and Annie are Modern Art sharks, of course.) While trying to flatten the board, I applied a light amount of pressure and promptly creased the board right down the middle. Eek! Ah, who cares, we’re gonna play the thing to death anyway. I think everyone was more upset about it than I was. :)

After the rules explanation, we were underway. The first season saw just three artists auctioned: Yoko, the talentless hack Christin P and Karl G. The second season was just three artists auctioned: Yoko, the talentless hack Christin P and Karl G. The third season saw just three artists auctioned: Yoko, the talentless hack Christin P and Karl G. See a pattern? I thought so. In the fourth season, Lite Metal and Krypto finally broke into the scoring column. Nix was mostly just selling art. Erik was in the lead, or so we thought. Tala learned how to be a vicious Modern Art player in short order. She killed my Yoko investment by playing a talentless hack Christin P double auction. Sheesh, I should learn to card count. Or not. Anyway, that little snafu cost me $50k and sunk me to last place. Argh! Annie sneaked in the win with her usual underhanded subterfuge kind of way.

Modern Art – final scores:
Annie - $419
Nix – 388
Eric – 323
Tala – 305
Rick – 301

Another game of Modern Art, another new fan. Tala enjoyed herself. Ladies seem to take to Modern Art and do very well in the game, according to Erik. I can’t argue.

While everyone headed to the dinner table, I broke out Mexica at the request of Frog.

Mexica [3P]

I like Mexica so much I had a copy allocated for me from the Ubergames Ubersale. $22 for such a nice game is a steal!

After the requisite rules rundown, which was painless since Frog and George had already played Torres, Java and Tikal, we were off to build canals and neighborhoods. The large Calpullis were claimed early, as usual. George took a lead by founding two big ones, while Frog and I settled for a large and a medium-sized neighborhood each. There was a slight miscommunication on my part as I failed to make it clear that the first phase ends when the Calpulli tokens are used up AND one player builds out, not OR. Oh well, it’s a learning game. I built out to end the phase.

Mexica – midgame scores:
George – 52
Rick – 47
Frog – 41

The second phase had the large neighborhood going quick. George put up the 12 in the far eastern side of the island; I put the 13 in the far west. Frog put the 10 in the middle-eastern part, and then headed south for the other mid-sized ones. I chose to try to burn up all my monuments quickly, teleporting to the 12 on the other end of the board to try to take the 12 away from George. I failed, just tying her. That was the final margin in a very close game.

Mexica – final scores:
George – 116
Rick – 113
Frog – 112

It was good that Titus has enough of Mexica to put it on inventory sale. Anytime I can get a game this good, at that price (which is around what an American online retailer would charge, before shipping), it’s a very good thing. The only Kramer/Kiesling AP game that I now lack is Tikal, which I don’t really care for.

While we were playing, Erik, Annie, Nix and Tala were telling truly hilarious stories about the local MMORPG scene. It’s amusing how these virtual worlds gravitate towards imitating life, complete with all the small and large annoyances that accompany it. Really funny.

Nix blew out the little blue candle on his birthday cake, then we broke out Rudiger Dorn’s The Traders of Genoa as the night’s main course. Frog had been wanting to play this game again, and it’s one of Erik and Annie’s favorite games (we were playing with their copy). Nix and Tala had to split soon so they sat out.

Titus also arrived at this time, and we chatted with Nix and Tala about games the various fantasy series that Tala likes, particularly George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, A Feast of Crows is still delayed. At least Neil Gaiman gives constant updates on Anansi Boys.

Oh yeah, the game.

The Traders of Genoa [5P]

This is not an easy game to talk about. It was the highest scoring game of Traders I’ve ever played, and the amounts that people were willing to give up were pretty crazy. The market was never rolled so we played all the turns. Erik was playing the ownership / message game, Frog was doing Large Orders like nuts, and the rest of us were playing some variation of the middle ground. I’m not great at this game because I can’t stand playing loose.

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In the next-to last turn I had an interesting decision. I could end the game by playing the start anywhere tile to start in the market, or I could take my turn and deliver a large order and a message (I was last in turn order). However, that opened the door to the other people to cash in the cards they had in hand. Erik owned six buildings and had a handful of messages. I took the risk that no one else could generate 130 ducats in the final turn (I’d be tapped out and have nothing else to do.) Of course, Erik delivered a gazillion messages (okay, more like four) and collected even more rent. Frog delivered an large order that I didn’t know he could complete.

In the end, the decision I made didn’t help me, but it allowed Frog to overtake Erik and win the game.

The Traders of Genoa – final scores:
Frog – 835 ducats
Erik – 800
George – 765
Rick – 725
Annie – 625

Erik and Annie said goodnight after Traders, but we wanted to get a game in with Titus. After looking through the available games, we settled on Kuhhandel, or Call My Bluff.

Kuhhandel [4P]

Sorry, I don’t like the English name, as I confuse it with Bluff, which I call Liar’s Dice. Anyway, this is a bidding/bluffing game by some guy named Rudiger Koltze. You’re buying and trading animals. I’d say livestock, but there’s a dog and cat mixed in here. We played the short game by dealing out four animals to each player to begin the game.

The initial draw had three of the four “Golden Donkeys” which meant that we added three more money cards to our initial hand of seven. I had two of the asses, Titus had one. Titus had two horses, I had one. In the first turn, we each offered and succeeded in taking the third of our animals. It wasn’t exactly a fair exchange since the horse was worth twice what the ass was, but at least we were on the way to full sets. The auctions saw Frog threaten to complete five sets of animals. George tried to take a donkey from me, and anticipating that she’d offer me a huge amount, I just took it so she had two of them. I was next in order, and offered an amount I more or less knew she couldn’t match for the two asses and completed my set of four asses.

The pivotal play of the game was for the fourth 800 animal (I can’t remember what it was), which I had two of, and Titus had two of. I miscomputed and thought that I could win even if I let Titus have the set. Not close, and Titus won with two sets of 1000 and 800 or something like that.

Cute game, a bit long but it’s got some things going on that aren’t quite obvious. There are ways to shorten the game (deal out more cards to begin, or auction off animals in lots) so at its price (around US$5) it may be worth scoring a copy. The cards are nice, but I do agree with Titus that the presentation is questionable. The theme is cutesy-comedic, as if the game is targeted at kids. Kids will have trouble with the bluff element. This is more of a 12+ game than an 8+ game, and they should have used some other more mature theme.

1 Comments:

At Tuesday, March 08, 2005 3:31:00 PM, Blogger Titus said...

Just a small correction, Rick. I didn't win the Kuhhandel game, Froggy did. He had 4 or 5 sets I think and his total score was 4000+.

Nice session report again, as usual, and thanks for advertising my sale. :)

 

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