MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the
Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just
east of the center of town. Turn north on
Church Place (which is more a driveway than
a street) to find parking.
We welcome visitors.
Roll call: Paul H., Steve, Eric, Rich,
Ian, Dan, Anton
(Paul H., Steve, Rich, Anton)
We had all the regulars this week, plus
Dan's son Ian, who often shows up in the
summer (he's now at college during the
school year and as a result can only come
when he's home.) We were in the mood for
something different, so we pulled out the
copy of Eurorails that Walt recently added
to the fabulous MVGA game locker. Rich
and Eric are both big crayon rails fans
(Eurorails is a member of the Empire
Builder family, a set of games that all
use a common set of basic rules in which
players draw track on the board using
colored markers and then deliver goods
by running trains along their tracks (or
from time to time, other people's track
that they rent.)
Steve hadn't played any crayon rails
games before, so we signed him up to
play. There were 4 others who were happy
to play, but Eric bowed out (only Dan and
Ian were not interested in Eurorails, and
the game is better if you limit the
number of players, at least while people
Eurorails is a game of judgment and efficiency, and Rich is one of the best at
it. He won the crayon rails tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships
one year and finished at the top table two other times, so he really knows how
to play. Rich started with a north-south-ish route from England down to the
French Riviera---not the ideal route on this map, but you need to play the
cards you have and not the cards you're hoping to draw. One player built a
line to Scandinavia. I almost never build to Scandinavia on this map, as it
costs a bundle of money and it often seems hard to get more cards later in
the game that use the track you've invested in.
Not surprisingly, Rich made it to $250 million and all but one major city first.
He was far ahead of the other three players, but it was a fairly close race
for second place. Steve did quite well for his first game. Although this
seems like a straightforward game, there are many little nuances that go into
good play, and it takes practice to pick them up.
Final scores: Rich $253, Anton $150, Paul $128, Steve $104.
Eric's rating: 10. I'm a big crayon rails fan, and Eurorails is one of my
two favorites in the series (the other is Empire Builder, with or without
(Eric, Ian, Dan)
With 4 people committed to Eurorails, a game that would take most of the
evening, the other 3 of us reviewed our options. Eric had just obtained a
copy of Royal Palace, a 2008 release by designer Xavier Georges. It is the
first published game he has designed.
Royal Palace has at its heart a 3 by 3 grid. The grid is made up of large
cardboard tiles that are arranged in a random pattern, so that the game is
different each time. Players place and move meeples on this grid in such a
way as to obtain victory points (yes, it's most definitely a Euro!) Most of
the victory points come from recruiting the nobles displayed on a large board
that serves as a sales display (like the main board in Puerto Rico is a sales
display) but with some geometric considerations as well (once a noble is taken,
adjacent nobles come cheaper, and bonuses are awarded for most nobles on each
of the four edges of the display.)
Eric was chosen to be first player, and he placed his 10 starting meeples on
the grid. The meeples are custom-made for this game, with wigs in the fashion
that was popular during the reign of Louis XIV. Some people have compared
Royal Palace to Louis XIV, but in my mind the main similarity is the theme.
Ian and Dan then placed their meeples and we began play.
Royal Palace is a game in which you spend resources to get more resources
which you then convert to victory points. Many games share this feature, but
there are quite a few types of resources in Royal Palace, and the random set-up
makes the effectiveness of particular strategies vary from game to game. It
often seems to be the case that you find yourself short of one or two of the
resources, and that this hinders your plans.
In addition to recruiting nobles, you can score points by collecting cards that
are available for players who put meeples at the "back door" tile of the
palace. Dan did well in this regard, gaining 10 points for VP cards, and Eric
got 6. Ian finished the game with one unplayed card, worth only 1 VP. Ian
scored better in other ways, but Dan's cards made the difference.
Dan_ 74 = 56 nobles + 10 cards + 8 edges
Ian_ 71 = 60 nobles + 1 card + 10 edges
Eric 70 = 56 nobles + 6 cards + 8 edges
Eric's rating: 7. The rating '7' is the broadest of my ratings. I buy a few
of the games that I rate '7' and pass over others. Royal Palace is unusual
enough that I wanted to play it several times, and I was able to obtain it at
a good price, so I have it in my tub o' games for now.
(Eric, Ian, Dan)
The Eurorails game was still a long way from finishing, so Eric pulled another
game out of his tub. Lokomotive Werks is a Winsome publication by designer
Dieter Danziger (who also designed Union vs. Central, among other games.)
Lokomotive Werks is an economic engine game with a huge player-order effect.
The players who start the turn with less money get to sell trains first, and
if they get it right, they can effectively exhaust much of the demand for the
players who go later in the turn (the ones who were richer.) It's tricky to
get this right, but when it smacks you between the eyes, you won't soon forget
Lokomotive Werks has been out for a while, but it has received attention
recently as a result of the similarities some people see with Martin Wallace's
new game Automobile. I find the similarities fairly noticeable, and after
playing Automobile I gained a new interest in playing Lokomotive Werks.
Automobile is due to be published soon, and I'm sure I'll play it once it is
out, but I can play Lokomotive Werks right now.
It was the first time playing this game for Ian and Dan, and Eric pushed and
pulled on the turn order lever to squeeze his opponents out of the odd sale
here and there. Eric developed many new types of train, and this gave him
the flexibility he needed to sell everything he produced. Dan and Ian dueled
neck and neck the whole way (as a father and son should,) and Dan just eked
past Ian for 2nd place.
Final scores: Eric $342, Dan $238, Ian $236.
Eric's rating: 8. My rating has wobbled back and forth between '7' and '8'
as I continue to play Lokomotive Werks, but it's currently on the high side.
For now I'm suspecting that the "bad luck" and "runaway leader" problems I
have seen are largely due to naive play. It's possible that I'm wrong, but
this game is high on my "want to play" list right now.
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Eric, Ian, Dan)
Eurorails was almost, but not quite done, so we played a game of Race for the
Galaxy while we waited. None of us was happy with his cards, as Dan tried to
produce and consume (with limited success,) Ian set up a conquering machine
but couldn't get the military worlds he needed, and Eric grabbed a few VPs by
settling windfall worlds and consuming the goods on Old Earth. Eventually
Eric found Terraforming Guild to put the game away.
Eric [OE] 43 = 5 VP + 13 cards + 10 (Terraforming) + 9 (New Economy) + 6 goals
Ian_ [NS] 39 = 2 VP + 15 cards + 7 (Imperium Lords) + 12 (SETI) + 3 goals
Dan_ [DA] 32 = 9 VP + 10 cards + 4 (Galactic Genome) + 9 goals
Eric's rating: 10.
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Eric, Rich, Ian, Dan)
Eurorails finished. Paul, Steve and Anton left, but Rich hung around for one
more game of Race for the Galaxy. This time Eric got the big Produce/Consume
engine going, but Ian scooped up a whopping 19 VP for goals to win by a mile.
Dan, uh, played too.
Ian_ [EE] 50 = 6 VP + 15 cards + 10 (SETI) + 19 goals
Eric [DA] 35 = 17 VP + 10 cards + 5 (Galactic Renaissance) + 3 goals
Rich [SC] 30 = 0 VP + 15 cards + 8 (Gal Fed) + 5 (Gal Imp) + 2 (Alien Tech)
Dan_ [DA] 18 = 3 VP + 15 cards
Eric's rating: 10.