MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7:00 in the
Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just
east of the center of town.
We welcome visitors. We'll even
waive the $3.00 fee for your first visit.
Roll call: Eric, Bill, Anton, Charlie,
Rich, Jeff, Roland, Paul, Mike
We had our second first-time visitor in
less than a month. Roland read about MVGA
on the Internet and decided to come. Of
course, he didn't pay the $3.00. We also
had Mike visiting from Virginia for the
first time in a long while. This gave
us 9 gamers, the largest attendance since
August. Dave Bernazzani will be happy
to hear that I have 3 pre-pays for UG7
ready for him.
ATTIKA (Eric, Bill, Anton, Charlie)
Although January 1 was New Years Day, we
had agreed at our previous session to meet.
Most of us thought it would be more fun to
play than to watch college bowl games all
evening. We met an hour early because none
of us had to work that day.
Eric and Bill arrived promptly at 6:00 and
chose Attika as the first game. We played
two games of Attika in December and it
works well for 2, 3 or 4. As it turned out,
Anton and Charlie arrived as we were setting
up, so there was a full complement. Only
Eric had played before, so he explained the
rules to the 3 new players. The object of
the game is to place all 30 of your buildings
on the board first (or, as a more dramatic
but relatively unlikely option, to connect
two shrines with an unbroken chain of your
buildings.) Shrine connection serves more
as a threat than as an actual way to win, but
if you miscalculate, someone may be able
to pull it off.
This game began with a quick connection threat on the part of Bill,
who played first and got about 5 buildings in a string across the
map. Charlie drew his main city tile at the start, and this gave
him the firepower he needed to block Bill, as his subsequent white
tile draws were full of white city tiles and he was able to draw
and place for free a few times. Eric played in the middle of the
board and got hemmed in quickly, while Anton focused on one corner
and had plenty of room, but no immediate connection threat.
The initial rush of placements left us card-poor, so we paused to
replenish our hands, placing buildings here and there as our
settlements grew. We started to deplete stacks, giving us the right
to place new game board tiles and opening up fresh connection threats.
The extra room allowed Bill to make a fresh attempt at a connection
win, and he came within 1 hex at his high water mark, needing only to
draw his one remaining road from a set of about 10 tiles, but Charlie
held him off and blocked the move for good. Normally a player who is
forced to block as much as Charlie winds up wasting cards and falling
behind, but Charlie used space and resources on the board well, and
was well ahead of us at this point. We tried half-heartedly to stop
him, but the best we could do was delay him for a turn or two before
he placed his last building.
Winner: Charlie (there are no second and third places, just a winner)
Eric's rating: 7. It's obvious that luck and skill are both
critical in this game; what's not clear yet is where one leaves
off and the other begins. Charlie had some good luck, but he also
had bad luck in having to stop Bill twice, and he won convincingly.
This game took almost two hours; it moved more slowly than
the two games we played in December.
WYATT EARP (Rich, Jeff, Mike, Paul)
While Attika was underway, the 7:00 shift arrived, with Rich and his
son Jeff and Mike who was visiting from Virginia. We asked Mike
whether it was his first time and he said he was here 16 or 17 years
ago, so we took his $3.00. Wyatt Earp is a top filler for us, and
this game proved to be close. Paul arrived after the first hand and
joined in to fill out the table. Final scores: Mike $22K, Jeff $21K,
Rich $19K, Paul incomplete.
Eric's rating: 9. I played Wyatt Earp 29 times in 2003, more
often than any other game.
AMUN-RE (Charlie, Rich, Jeff, Mike, Paul)
Both games ended at roughly the same time, so we had 9 gamers looking
for two games. Rich suggested Amun-Re, one of his favorites, and 5
of us sat down (the ideal number for Amun-Re.) After a rules review
for the new players, the game started off, and it was a close one the
whole way. Rich has had a lot of success with his "favorite of
Amun-Re" strategy, but in this game he kept being outbid by small
margins. You can win by bidding high or by bidding low, but it's
hard to win by bidding high and getting meager gifts. The top three
players finished in a pack; the other two did not divulge their
scores. Charlie completed his sweep with two wins in two games for
the evening. Final scores: Charlie 46, Rich 44, Mike 43,
Jeff less, and Paul even less.
Eric's rating: 6. This was an ideal night; Rich got to play
Amun-Re and I didn't have to help!
MAGNA GRECIA (Anton, Bill, Roland, Eric)
Roland arrived in time for the second set of games, and after we all
introduced ourselves, we chose Magna Grecia for the remaining 4
players. Eric got this game as a Christmas gift and had read through
the rules, but it was a first-time playing for all of us. The rules
are quite straight-forward and logical, but it's almost
impossible to get your head around them the first time you play.
One key thing to remember is that the cost of a market is
the number of hexes in the city or village plus the number
of opponents' markets, while the value of a market is based on
the number of things the city or village connects to. We played
the 8-turn version (which is more like a supermarket sweep
in that you try to grab as much as you can) rather than the
longer 12-turn version that involves more head butting. The
rules suggest 8-turn games for beginners.
The first tile was poor for roads and cities but good for restocking.
Bill, Anton and Roland started cities and began road networks, but
Eric simply restocked 7 tiles (before even laying a tile.) On the
second turn, he hooked onto Anton's city and struck out for the
center of the board, which was ripe with possible connections.
We kept asking questions as we played in an attempt to figure out
what we were doing. Roland started a large city on one side of
the board, while Bill speculated by placing a few markets in villages
that looked like they'd develop into important hubs.
Halfway through the game Eric was touted as the runaway leader given
his central cities and temporary oracle dominance, but this was a
bit of an illusion. Bill and Roland had some key markets in
Eric's cities, and as Eric connected, he drove up the value of
those markets. The game seemed to fly by, and in fact took
a little under two hours. When we added up the final scores,
the victory points and the tiebreaker were both even, so the result
was a tie. Bill missed an oracle connection on Turn 8 that would
have won it for him, and Roland ran out of roads and had no time
to restock or he could have won as well. Final scores:
Bill 40 with 1 extra tile, Eric 40 with 1 extra tile,
Roland 38, Anton 34.
Eric's rating: 8 at this point for a game that moved nicely, had
a lot of interesting decisions and that was close at the end.
Next time I'll have to watch more carefully to make sure my
connections aren't helping my opponents (through their
markets) more than they help me.
PUERTO RICO (Bill, Anton, Eric, Roland)
The other game was still going, so Bill suggested Puerto Rico, which
he learned only recently and wanted to try again. We've played a
few dozen times now at MVGA and we have a good feel for the game,
though we are by no means sharks. Interestingly enough, Roland
had played on BSW but the face-to-face version was new to him.
He protested that his record was 0 for 13 lifetime, but that's not
an unusual result for someone playing on BSW.
Bill took Builder as Governor, building a free Small Indigo. Anton
also built Small Indigo, Eric Small Market and Roland Construction
Hut. Anton then snarfed a Quarry, making him the early favorite, and
Eric mayored. There were several instances of loose Crafting in the
early going, and Eric profited with several good Trades. Anton took
the first Factory and Roland the second, leaving Eric to build Harbor
and then Wharf from the proceeds of his Trades. By mid-game Anton was
a money machine as the rest of us tried to ship around him, but quite
a few large production buildings were bought and the resulting
colonist shortage ended the game, leaving Anton with over 10
doubloons in unspent cash compared with only a few coins for the
others. This was a quick game of Puerto Rico and the scores were
relatively low. Bill was cash poor but had 12 VPs before anyone
else had 5, and Roland got moving just a little bit too late.
Ship Bldg Bonus Total
---- ---- ---- ----
3 Eric 20 19 5 44
1 Bill 23 15 38
2 Anton 15 16 6 37
4 Roland 11 14 25
Eric's rating: 10. I played Puerto Rico 50 times in 2002-2003
and I enjoyed my first playing in 2004 just as much.
ATLANTIC STAR (Rich, Jeff, Mike)
Paul and Charlie had to leave, but the other three decided on
Atlantic Star as a closer. When you play with fewer players there
are dummy players that fill in the gaps. I don't have the
details, but Jeff proved he can hold his own with anyone.
Final scores: Jeff 56, Rich 50, Mike 35. The players made
sure to tell me that one of the dummy players scored 43,
leaving Mike in fourth place in a 3-player game!
Eric's rating: 7. My rating is 8 for Showmanager, the earlier
of Atlantic Star with rules that are identical, but I don't like
the theme of Atlantic Star nearly as much.