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23042SOG SR: 5/30 in Andover

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  • Josh Bluestein
    Jun 1 10:27 AM
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      We had three people in attendance at Chris's house in Andover on
      Monday night: me, Chris, and Rob Eno (his last SOG before his move to
      East Boston, although he says he'll still come back every now and
      again, assuming he isn't mugged or beaten on the way out of the city).

      Games played: Money, Die Fugger, La Citta, Rigatoni Intriganti,
      Geschenkt.

      Thanks to Chris for hosting!

      We were initally expecting Evan and Mike to join us, so most of what I
      had in my bag was tuned for five-player games, but I did bring a few
      others that worked well for smaller numbers.

      I should note ahead of time that I apparently did not bring my gaming
      mojo with me on Monday night, so if you're reading this SR,
      breathlessly awaiting the story of how I triumphed over Rob and Chris
      game after game, well, all I can say is wait until next week.

      We started with Money, since we weren't sure if we'd see more people
      or not. Chris and Rob both managed in each round to get two good sets
      to my one, with the net result that Rob took the victory with Chris
      not far behind and me, well, far behind. Not *too* far behind, but
      not exactly close either.

      Still unsure of other attendees, I pulled out Die Fugger, the sort of
      Modern Art-like commodity trading game. You're trying to play
      commodities in order to sell them, and the number played will affect
      the price. Which is good, unless there are too many out there, and
      then the price crashes. Whoops. Rob's every move in this game seemed
      to help Chris and hurt me, but it turns out they also helped him out.
      Chris was the first to 100, but Rob had better cards in the final
      payoff. The game ended in a tie, and since there's no tiebreaker it
      was a joint victory for Rob and Chris.

      At this point, we were pretty sure there wouldn't be any other people
      showing up, so I suggested La Citta. I've been wanting to play this
      game for a while and never managed it before. The game is all about
      city building. You're trying to build your cities so that they can
      a) produce enough food to feed all of your citizens,
      b) contain enough interesting features that you attract citizens from
      neighboring cities, and
      c) continue growing.

      There are three 'categories' of attraction: education, health and
      culture. Most buildings you can build generally provide points in one
      of these categories (the exceptions are: the Hospital, which provides
      one health and one education, Farms, which provide food, Quarries,
      which provide Gold, and Marketplaces, which allow your cities to grow
      beyond five citizens).

      Most simple buildings can be freely built, but the more complicated
      ones (generally those that provide more attraction points) require the
      use of special cards.

      There are two barriers to population growth -- the first, the
      Marketplace, allows your city to grow past five people, while the
      second, either a Fountain or a Bathhouse, allows your city to grow
      past eight people. An important distinction, however, is that most
      buildings need to be staffed in order to be built. So, if you don't
      have a spare citizen you generally can't build. The exception to this
      is the Marketplace, which gives you a free citizen when you build it.
      There is no such free citizen for building a Fountain or Bathhouse, so
      if you use your eighth citizen to build something other than a
      Fountain or Bathhouse, you suddenly find yourself in the untenable
      position of being unable to add to that city anymore as you can't
      grow. Your only hope is that eventually someone will attract a
      citizen away from your city and you'll be free to add a new one and
      expand.

      Well, anyway...guess who made that rookie mistake? Hint: Both Chris
      and Rob had played before. I found myself in the position of having
      one city that couldn't expand because it was locked up as before, and
      another city that was trying to expand but kept on having citizens
      sucked out of it by Chris and Rob both. They just took turns sucking
      until I was spent, and let me say it was less than satisfying.

      Rob built two very large cities and then proceeded to shore up his
      food supplies for the final round. Chris attempted to do the same but
      found himself short good places for farms. I chose to found a couple
      of new cities in hopes of being able to expand them a bit.

      In the end, I made something of a comeback from the untenable position
      I was in, but nowhere near a win. Final scores were: Josh 21, Chris
      28, Rob 31. Chris was very close to Rob -- had he not been forced to
      disband a building in the last year he would have had 31 points as
      well. As it was, another victory for Rob.

      I liked this game...it's quite clear that it has a learning curve, and
      being crushed underneath it is perhaps not the most pleasant
      experience. But it seems like the most obvious mistakes are easy to
      avoid after you've seen them once, and I'd expect my second play to go
      much better. That's as much as I'm willing to say after a single
      play. Enjoyed it. Wasn't blown away by it, but it was clear that
      there was a good bit to it. I will certainly want to play it again.

      I suggested Rigatoni Intriganti as our next game. This is a light
      game about manufacturing pasta, with sort of a Cosmic Encounter feel
      to the gameplay. Essentially, each player has a secret goal that they
      choose at the beginning of the game. There are four choices:

      1. Control four factories and have a bankroll of 20 Talers
      2. Control five factories and have a bankroll of 13 Talers
      3. Have 13 noodles of a single color
      4. Have 18 noodles of mixed colors

      Dice are rolled to determine how many noodles of each color are
      produced, and people blind bid for their preference of die. There's a
      selling round that goes in reverse order of the production round, and
      then players have a chance to take actions. The most important action
      is Takeovers, where you can attempt to steal a factory (and any
      noodles on it) from an opponent, and this is where the CE comparisons
      come in. Both sides can invite supporters who contribute money
      towards the cause.

      The game goes on like this until someone reaches their victory
      condition. Our game took about 45 minutes, ending when Chris stole a
      Yellow factory with six noodles on it, giving him 13 yellow noodles
      and his victory condition.

      It's been quite a while since I've played this, and, well, memory has
      been kind to it. It was fun, but not as much fun as I remember. I
      believe that it would play better with four people, as the battles are
      pretty much guaranteed to be lopsided with only three players.
      Enjoyable, though. I had managed to amass 12 noodles, but was too
      short on cash to make a takeover bid to grab the last 6 noodles I
      needed for my victory condition. Rob had lots of money, but not
      enough...and he was having a hard time holding onto factories.

      We closed the night out with a game of Geschenkt, played in three
      rounds. The first round went better for Chris than Rob and I (we each
      took 70-ish to Chris's 50). The second round I was proud of my 15
      score until Chris showed up with a -1, marking the first time I have
      ever seen anyone actually take a negative score in Geschenkt. Rob
      took another 70 (whoops!). I actually did better than Chris in the
      final round, but not by nearly enough, so Chris won the game.

      All in all, I had a great time. Looking forward to next week...

      Josh
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