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SSG - Session Report

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  • Dave Bernazzani
    Session Report for September 30, 2000 SSG - One Year Anniversary! Roll Call: Dave Bernazzani, Mark Edwards, Alison Hansel, Dan Cashmore, David Hansel, Jenn,
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 1, 2000
      Session Report for September 30, 2000

      SSG - One Year Anniversary!

      Roll Call: Dave Bernazzani, Mark Edwards, Alison Hansel, Dan
      Cashmore, David Hansel, Jenn, Andrew, Jonathan, Pete, Tamara
      Games Played: Exxtra (x3), Hare & Tortoise, Battle Cry, Rage, La
      Citta, Euphrat & Tirgis, Entdecker, Ave Caesar, Pit

      Session Length: 6.5 hours

      Session Details: Our big one year anniversary had arrived. We had
      some small surprises for the group that was willing to come and
      celebrate the day - I had written up a small (~8 page) pamphlet
      of the SSG history and events over the past year (Tamara had
      everyone sign hers... hehheh). Plus Jenn picked up a nice sheet
      cake which read "Happy Anniversary SSG!" but we forgot to take a
      picture of it!! But it was tasty... Thanks to everyone who came
      tonight to help celebrate year one - and kick off year two in
      fine fashion!

      Exxtra Details: After having Joe McSweeney teach us this game
      last week, I got a copy on order and even with my bad shipping
      karma, it managed to arrive on Friday just in time for the SSG
      session. The game is lots of laughs and high tension as you wait
      for someone to either hit the big numbers or crap out. It's a lot
      like Can't Stop in this respect - but in some ways a bit more
      fast an furious. We now use the little X-shaped
      player-color-indicators as HEX material (as in holding them and
      moving them towards the dice roller in order to cause a couple
      X's to show up on the dice!). It's not diminished since several
      playings last week - I even insisted on a 2nd game and there was
      certainly no objection. In all, the game was played 3 times - at
      about 20 minutes for each game this is a nice little filler.

      Game 1: Jonathan=21, Alison=15, Mark=7, Tamara=3, Jenn=2, David=0
      Game 2: Andrew=21, Dave=19, Mark=8, Pete=5
      Game 3: Pete=21, Andrew=15, Mark=9, Dave=3

      Ratings: Andrew=7.5, Dave=8, Mark=7.5, Pete=7.5, Jonathan=6,
      Alison=6.5, Tamara=6.5, Jenn=6, David=7

      Hare & Tortoise Details: I've gotten a few chances to play this
      recently and I've been very impressed with the game. I can see
      why some call it a "near classic" - having been around for 20+
      years. I've not played before this year and was glad to see Rio
      Grande release it again in new packaging. I've only seen the
      other editions, but this one seems to be very good. I wasn't
      involved in this particular game tonight, but there was lots of
      cheers that I could overhear and it appears that everyone enjoyed
      the contest. Alison won the game, followed closely by Jenn.

      Game Scores: Alison=1st, Jenn=2nd, David=3rd, Mark=4th,
      Ratings: Alison=8, Jenn=8, David=8, Mark=7.5, Jonathan=8.5

      Battle Cry Details: We don't play a lot of 2 player games at the
      SSG, but Alison had her sights set on playing Battle Cry and Pete
      was happy enough to try it (he had seen it played at the B&N a
      few weeks back in a lopsided battle between Mark and I). My
      understanding is that they played the "Pea Ridge" scenario and
      both enjoyed the contest. Pete was up rather handily when Alison
      went on an All-Out-Offensive (or was it Counter Attack?) and
      managed a few more flags. But in the end, General Pete took the

      Game Scores: Pete=6 flags, Alison=5 flags
      Ratings: Pete=6, Alison=9

      Rage Details: My understanding is this did not go over very well.
      Ratings were very poor. I bought it on the strength that it has
      been a big online seller and that it's inexpensive. I think the
      group felt it was too random to predict the bids. Maybe a rule
      was mis-interpreted? Don't know, but I hope to play and decide
      for myself - if only I can find someone left willing to try it!
      They aborted after just 4 rounds. Based on the comments I heard,
      the 5 ratings might have been kind.

      Game Scores: David=42, Alison=16, Mark=13, Jenn=3, Jonathan=0
      Ratings: David=5, Alison=5.5, Mark=5, Jenn=3, Jonathan=5.5

      La Citta Details: Finally - a game I was involved in! La Citta
      is, quite simply, a long game. I had just played a full 2 player
      game of it the night before and it ran 1 hour 30 minutes. Tonight
      we had 4 players and the game was a bit over the 2 hour mark (not
      counting a break taken after the 3rd year for SSG 1-year
      anniversary cake). It's just on the verge of being too long for
      me - and as such won't get pulled out too often. But I do like
      the game - and it's grown on me quite a bit in 4 plays (rating
      has steadily improved). It's a city building game - and a game of
      conflict as the cities get nearer to eachother. You need to
      balance your population growth, food supply, gold earnings,
      services (health, education and culture) while keeping an eye on
      all your neighboring cities. Each turn one service is dominant -
      either health, education or culture - and if you haven't kept up
      on that particular service, your citizens might just wander off
      to another city! Oh - and the bits are great too. The main
      problem is the length and the downtime between turns - there can
      be some serious analysis-paralysis and game turns can feel a bit
      repetitive, but in the end the game is solid and one that I'm
      happy to play on occasion. I did quite well - getting off to an
      early lead and holding it. I worked hard at having my central
      city contain lots of services and placed my other cities as
      quickly as possible in secluded areas (if there is such a thing
      in La Citta) of the board. Only once did I not manage to feed my
      people, but it was due to serious "suckage" of other citizens due
      to my having more important services than my neighboring cities
      that year. At the end of the 6 game years, I had a huge
      population that I was just barely able to feed (I had tons of
      farm houses built). I also worked to secure the 3 point bonus in
      3 or my 4 cities for an extra 9 points. Andrew had starvation on
      several years and Dan starved his people on the final turn
      (losing like 6 citizens mainly due to a farm collapse due to a
      citizen suckage - very cool!). Dan also had to endure the 5 point
      penalty for not feeding his citizens on the final year. Pete had
      some early trouble with one particular city that kept getting
      citizens sucked from it - and by year 5 it was removed entirely
      from the board. Good game - now if I can just get the play time
      to 90 minutes and it would be much better (this might see most of
      it's playing as a 2 player game for me - it worked well enough
      the one time I tried it with this many).

      Game Scores: Dave=46, Andrew=34, Pete=30, Dan=25
      Ratings: Dave=7, Andrew=8.5, Pete=3.5, Dan=7.5

      Euphrat & Tigris Details: While Alison and Pete were playing
      Battle Cry -- Jonathan, Dan and Andrew settled on E&T which has
      made an appearance at almost every SSG session in the past two
      months. It's a great game and I think all three participants were
      pleased with the game. I have only scores and ratings (which were
      almost off the scale!)

      Game Scores: Jonathan=6, Dan=5, Andrew=3
      Ratings: Jonathan=9.5, Dan=9, Andrew=9.5

      Entdecker Details: I've owned this Klaus Teuber game for some
      time - but have never tried it. I don't think it's gotten much
      exposure and some say it's under appreciated. Maybe because
      people were expecting another Settlers of Catan? Anyway, it's a
      fairly nice game - a bit luck driven but that doesn't bother me
      too much. Play time was a bit more than suggested on the box - I
      think we took almost an hour (not bad by any stretch), but the
      box claims 30-45 minutes. Maybe with fewer players? Anyway, the
      game is about island exploration - each turn you pay to move a
      ship on the big board and fill in the square tiles. The object is
      to explore land, found settlements (or forts or scouts) and
      generally be the largest "discoverer" of that land once it's been
      fully explored. Once an island is filled in, scores are given for
      the size of the island - the largest discoverer (the one with the
      most influence there - be it settlement, fort or scouts) gets
      points equal to the size of the island, the next largest gets
      half, the next gets half of that, etc. The largest discoverer
      will also get a discovery chip containing a plant that is found
      on the island (only if they won the island with a fort or
      settlement, not with the lowly scout) and that gives a bonus
      victory (both immediately and potentially at the end of the
      game). Our game was fairly random - lots of exploration, land
      masses filling in and some contention on the bigger islands. Some
      tiles contain events when they are revealed. There are some
      events that are bad (like pirates stealing your gold) and some
      that are good (like discovering ruins which earns 3 victory
      points immediately). Mark and David were all over eachother's
      islands - and there was some conflict going on there. Also, they
      held the larger islands - and although I had very little contest
      on my discovered islands they were simply too small to give me
      many points. Jenn grabbed a few mid-sized islands to keep her in
      the running, but when the last two islands filled it, it was Mark
      that shot ahead of the pack. I think I should have placed a scout
      at most new land masses - I ended up with excess gold and could
      have taken a few points from the bigger islands if I had just
      gotten one scout down (at the cost of 1 gold). David and Jenn
      battled for 2nd place while I was left in the dust. The game was
      made a bit more exiting with the use of the Pit Bell (see next
      game) where we would strike the bell whenever a poor tile was
      turned up - and it rang quite a bit! The game is a bit too random
      for serious play, but it's a nice diversion and one I look
      forward to playing again. There was something really neat about
      watching the little ship sail around the board uncovering
      different land masses. And if the play time gets down to about 45
      minutes with repeated play, this will make an excellent short
      game. Good stuff.

      Game Scores: Mark=41, David=36, Jenn=26, Dave=19
      Ratings: Mark=7, David=6.5, Jenn=6, Dave=7

      Ave Caesar Details: Dan, Alison and David sat for this game of
      chariot racing. I've only played once before and really enjoyed
      it. Don't know any details from this session, but they played 3
      games and here are the scores and ratings:

      Game 1 Scores: Alison=1st, Dan=2nd, David=3rd
      Game 2 Scores: David=1st, Dan=2nd, Alison=3rd
      Game 3 Scores: David=1st, Dan=2nd, Alison=3rd (very consistent
      Ratings: Alison=8, Dan=6, David=7.5

      Pit Details: Wow! Talk about frantic! This game is wild - and we
      had seven people left to finish out the evening with Pit (with
      Bell!). Only Dan had played before - so he talked us through the
      simple rules. I couldn't believe it would be too much fun - just
      trading commodities to try and obtain a set of them. As soon as
      the dealer strikes the bell, you can start to offer one or more
      like-commodities by simply placing them on the table (face down)
      and calling out the number of cards you want to trade - if
      someone takes the trade, they will pass you the same number of
      cards (all the same commodity). As soon as you get a hand full of
      one type of commodity, you have cornered the market on it and can
      end the round (by ringing the bell). There are also a few special
      cards (Bull and Bear) which spice things up and can cause you to
      get a bonus or penalty (depending on if you held them in your
      hand and were not the person cornering the market that round).

      The game moves at warp-speed - with everyone shouting out
      numbers, passing their cards to another player and then often
      getting them back within seconds because the player you gave them
      too has passed them to someone else who gave them back to you!
      I've never seen action this fast - and we were laughing so hard
      it was difficult to keep trading at such a rapid pace. This game
      makes Liar's Dice and Exxtra look like a sleeping contest. My
      voice was nearly gone when we finished the final round. The great
      thing is that it doesn't seem to matter how well you are doing -
      more than half the fun is in the play. Hope this makes it to the
      table as a closer in the future!

      Game Scores: Mark=165, Dave=125, Andrew=25, Dan=(-20),
      Pete=(-20), Alison=(-20)
      Ratings: Mark=8.5, Dave=8, Andrew=8, Dan=8, Pete=8, Alison=8.5

      Dave Bernazzani
      http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)
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