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GiP Session Report 8/30/03

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  • Allan Smulling
    GiP Session Report for 8/30/03 Present were: Larry, Tami, Shelly, Mark, Brian, Allan, Chris, J.C., and Roy I think this was one of the largest GiP sessions
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 31, 2003
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      GiP Session Report for 8/30/03



      Present were: Larry, Tami, Shelly, Mark, Brian, Allan, Chris, J.C., and Roy



      I think this was one of the largest GiP sessions that I have attended. As a side note, the Clix folks were forced to relocate in the Arcade because their old space has been rented out for an art exhibit. If you're visiting on a Saturday and want to get involved in the Clix events, you can now find the action on the ground floor across from the Café. (For you Rhode Islander's they're now in the space that used to be the old McDonalds). The room isn't as large as the previous location but I think it will give them more exposure than being squirreled away on the 2nd floor. I finally brought my digital camera to the event and let Don (one of the Clix organizers) borrow it for about an hour. If you'd like to see some of what was going on, stop by www.squishyturnip.org and check out the mega-battle that they had organized.



      Grape Escape: Larry, Shelly, Tami, Mark, J.C., and Allan



      On a lark, Tami brought in Parker Brother's Grape Escape. Hey, it has Play-Do and a Rube Goldberg -like contraption. What more could you ask to start off with. Well. it generated quite a few laughs. First off, there's really not much to this game; roll dice until you get to the finish line, and oh, yeah, don't land on spaces that are inside the machine. Each player takes a small jar of Play-do and creates their 'grape' playing piece using a special mold. This is basically a race game in which you roll a special dice to move around the board and avoid getting smashed, sawed, cut, or stomped, by a Spanish Inquisition-like device that looks like it was invented by Rube Goldberg. Within 2 minutes Larry had won the game without anyone getting maimed in the machine. Having not sated our blood-lust, we crushed his grape and made everyone start over again. Our second playing resulted in quite a few grape accidents. I think Mark won the game.



      On the whole, this game requires no skill, (except maybe keeping the dice on the table when you roll it. and no, you don't get any points for that either). This game reminds me of Mouse Trap and would probably be enjoyed by young children.





      Elixir: Chris, Shelly, Tami, Mark, J.C. and Allan



      Elixir is a card game of collecting ingredients of spells and then casting them on your fellow players. I'm not certain, but I'd be willing to bet that Elixir would make a devastating drinking game.



      I was the first in the group to be stuck with a spell in which I had to continuously say "Well I'll be a monkey's uncle" every time that I spoke. (Chris was the cretin that cast this one on me. Don't think I'm going to forget it, either!). Mark soon got hammered with having to scratch his head after every sentence that he spoke too. While amusing for the first 15 minutes this soon wore on me (Mark, though, I think enjoyed it). J.C. kept quite a low profile, while Chris chuckled with glee every time I spouted, "Come on guys, this game sucks! Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!" Tami ended the game by casting a poetry spell on me. I ended the game by reciting "There once was a man from Nantucket.."



      I'd play this again, and with the right crowd this would be a hoot. Everyone though has to be into the game for it to be a total success.



      At this point the group split up. J.C. has brought El Grande and managed to organize a game consisting of Roy, Chris, Larry and myself. Mark, Shelly and Tami moved to another table and played Money, Zirkus Flohcati, and Coloretto.



      El Grande: J.C., Larry, Chris, Roy and Allan



      This was my second game of El Grande. J.C., Chris, and Roy had never played before, so Larry taught the rules in record time. J.C. seemed to take to the game right from the start and began moving the King for maximum screwage by placing it in the corner provinces. His placement of the King in Catalonia caused quite a bit of chaos with my forces located in Aragon.



      Despite J.C.'s efforts to corner the King, on reflection most of the action between the leaders (J.C. and Larry) took place in the center. By the end of the 6th turn Larry and J.C. were vying for dominance in Old and New Castille.



      Having only played this game for a second time I can only make some general comments on play.



      · Larry clearly demonstrated and made great use of the Castle. I was taken by surprise a few times at how one moment Larry didn't have much of a presence on the map and then after scoring the Castle he became dominant. I believe Larry's skillful use of this device placed him securely in the lead and eventually sealed his control in Old and New Castille.

      · J.C. played a more safe and analytical game and diversified in his placement of forces. He and Roy lead in having the most diverse holdings - 5 provinces by the end of turn 6. J.C. ended up with more pieces in these areas than Roy, only because Roy began his diversification strategy later in the game. Chalk that up to being a newbie at it. I feel that if J.C. caught on to the advantageous use of the Castle earlier he would have taken the lead.

      · Roy's strategy started to heat up by turn 4 and he ended up making good use of his action cards. I think that his next game will be quite different than this one.

      · Chris also made some neat decisions allowing him to catch up to the rest of the pack.



      The game wasn't played to its conclusion and ended at the end of scoring on turn 6. Larry and J.C. were clearly in the lead and had very little point separation between them. I think Larry would have eventually taken the game by turn 9, but I also think that we would have seen some very interesting action going on with the use of the Castle.



      Roy, Chris, and myself would have had quite a struggle in taking 2nd and 3rd place. I had more pieces on the board and was a bit more spread out. At the end of turn 6, a clear strategy for Roy and Chris would be to chip away at my holdings. They had already discovered this advantage by Turn 4 and had proceeded to dismantle my holdings. Perhaps if they concentrated a bit more on Larry and J.C. their lead might not have been so great.



      I had a great time playing this and look forward to many more plays. I know that folks are going to start pushing to play the expansions with it, but I'd still like to play a few more core games before moving on.



      Thanks for the great time, guys. See you next week.



      Allan



      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      For the latest news of GiP (Gaming in Providence)
      visit www.squishyturnip.org
      AOL IM: Smullster



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • J C Lawrence
      On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 20:18:10 -0400 ... Is that the full photo set? I seem to recall a few others being taken that I don t see there. ... There once was a man
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 31, 2003
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        On Sun, 31 Aug 2003 20:18:10 -0400
        Allan Smulling <smullster1@...> wrote:

        > If you'd like to see some of what was going on, stop by
        > www.squishyturnip.org and check out the mega-battle that they had
        > organized.

        Is that the full photo set? I seem to recall a few others being taken
        that I don't see there.

        > I ended the game by reciting "There once was a man from Nantucket.."

        There once was a man from Nantucket,
        Who kept all of his cash in a bucket,
        But his daughter, named Nan,
        Ran away with a man,
        And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

        But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
        The man and the girl with the bucket;
        And he said to the man,
        He was welcome to Nan,
        But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.

        Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
        Where he still held the cash as an asset,
        But Nant and the man
        Stole the money and ran,
        And as for the bucket, Manhasset.

        Of this story we hear from Nantucket,
        About the mysterious loss of a bucket,
        We are sorry for Nan,
        As well as the man-
        The cash and the bucket, Pawtucket.

        There now is a man from Nantucket,
        Who used to have cash in a bucket;
        Today, sad but true,
        He hasn't a sou,
        Since the man who ran off with Nantucket.

        Nan decided to chuck it-
        The adventure, the man, and Paw's bucket.
        Whe opened a store
        Three miles from a moor
        And, delighted, grew rich in Nantucket.

        Nan followed her Pa down to Wheeling,
        The bucket of bills to be stealing.
        But her Pa wasn't scared,
        And became well-prepared,
        He knew she'd be Wheeling and dealing.

        The scam about Nan running off with a man
        Leaving Pa without cash or his bucket,
        Tis unfair and untrue,
        If you all only knew,
        Nan, Pa, and bucket are all at Consue.

        Nan's tryst with the man soon turned rancid.
        She could fend for herself while in transit,
        So Nan on the lam
        Told the man he could scram,
        And they split when they reached Narraganset.

        Nan returned to her home in Siasconset,
        With the bucket for whoever wants it.
        Bedecked in bright lace
        She, not one to efface,
        Said: "I gots it and I'm gonna flaunts it."

        The bucket wound up in Kentucky,
        Where Nan bought a horse named Nantucky.
        When the Derby took place,
        Nan's horse won the race
        So she dumped Man and called herself lucky.

        The Man first hid the cash when he tuck it,
        But when grabbing it from where he stuck it,
        Along came a cop.
        He had no time to drop
        It, to hide it, or simply to shuck it.

        A modern-day Nan would have snuck it,
        (The bucket, that is) from Nantucket.
        Her Paw wouldn't guess
        She had had UPS,
        (For safety, she wanted to truck it).

        She had it sent up to Alaska,
        It's farther, she thought, than Nebraska.
        Did she and her man
        Fool her Paw with this plan?
        Well, the next time I see her, Alaska!

        Nan's lover, named Kit, was from Madaket
        And there he returned to be close to it
        not the lost love of Nan
        but Pa's gold, was his plan
        But, now Nan and her Dad are both Madaket

        There once was a man from Nantucket,
        Whose finger he pinched in a bucket.
        As he roared and complained,
        His distraught wife exclaimed
        "Don't go on so, my dear, just go suck it!"

        Now, where in the Hell is that bucket?
        Has it surfaced again in Nantucket?
        I just can't keep track.
        Did someone bring it back?
        Is there cash left; perhaps just a Ducat?

        While the bucket was stashed in Alaska,
        It was found by a man named Prohaska.
        He said with a grin,
        I know it's a sin,
        But I'll hide it in Lincoln, Nebraska.

        When he tucked the bucket in Lincoln,
        Prohaska started to thinkin,
        Perhaps I'll call Nan
        And be her new man
        And up with her I'll be linkin'.

        Now Paw was back in Nantucket,
        Wondering where in the heck was his bucket.
        He tried to call Nan,
        But instead got a man,
        Twas Prohaska from Nebraska in 'Sconset.

        > This was my second game of El Grande. J.C., Chris, and Roy had never
        > played before, so Larry taught the rules in record time.

        After playing a few new games with him, Larry seems particularly skilled
        at rules explanation.

        > J.C. seemed to take to the game right from the start and began moving
        > the King for maximum screwage by placing it in the corner provinces.

        I've been playing a fair bit of Web Of Power lately, so the thought
        processes needed for the area influence game in El Grande came easily to
        me.

        I also happen to rather like area influence games.

        > His placement of the King in Catalonia caused quite a bit of chaos
        > with my forces located in Aragon.

        Larry's insistence on the King being and staying in New Castille was
        interesting. It had some useful effects for me in regard for the
        defence of my placements. Once the fight was over I was locked into
        second place in New Castille, which was pleasantly profitable, and had
        little reason to fight Larry away from his Grande bonus. 2nd was good
        enough for me -- especially as Larry's lead over me in New Castille was
        slim, making an end-of-game king-move and re-inforcement play
        attractive.

        My holdings and first place positions in the three corners were likewise
        defended, either being out of reach for placement (too far from the
        King), or with me strong enough to be unprofitable to fight for
        placement there[1]. That's the primary reason it made sense for you,
        Chris and Roy to prey on each other rather than me or Larry: you were
        all near parity for most of the game in those other regions, making
        gaining or increasing position in any one of those territories
        relatively cheap and easy (add a couple caballeros), whereas fighting me
        or Larry would have required a spot commitment of far more caballeros.

        [1] I think Chris and Roy didn't fully realise until the middle of the
        game that fighting for placement in a territory makes little sense
        unless it is a scoring round. It took me until after the first scoring
        round to twig fully on that one. If instead they'd fought for
        placement at the scoring rounds directly (which would have required
        taking control of the King) we both would have been more of a target
        for them. I didn't figure this into my strategy in that game at the
        time (actually only just realised it while typing this message), and so
        I guess we came out lucky that they left use along to that extent.

        > Despite J.C.'s efforts to corner the King, on reflection most of the
        > action between the leaders (J.C. and Larry) took place in the center.

        Yup. Larry insisted on it being there, and after I took one first place
        round there I was quite happy to trail him with a well protected and
        largely unassailable second there (only down by one caballero -- thus
        making an end-of-game lunge potentially attractive).

        > By the endof the 6th turn Larry and J.C. were vying for dominance in
        > Old and New Castille.

        We had a quick battle over Old Castille (assuming that is the southerly
        one) before Roy stepped in with a vengeance (it was his home/Grande
        territory). I then fought Larry briefly for second before he
        Castille-whipped me into third place (there was no way I could compete
        with 7 caballeros coming in at once). While it was unplanned, this was
        in all a fairly cheap exercise for me as I really only 'wasted' three
        caballeros across that whole territory, while at the same time forcing
        Roy and Larry to invest far more heavily than that just to gain and
        maintain their positions. In retrospect it seemed like a near ideal set
        of tradeoffs.

        Additionally from my perspective this squabbling had a rather good
        effect on my other placements as it effectively protected my relatively
        week outlying placements in the corners. That allowed me to retain
        first position in those corners with minimal investment, while also
        keeping them too far from the King for anybody else to really mess with.
        Of course this also meant that the two times an action card came up
        which could have cast those weak corners at risk (eg, move five
        caballeros from any territory to a neighboring territories), I made sure
        that I either got the action, or Roy did, and that when he did he was
        much better served by kicking you about (he joined your northern forces)
        than beating on me in the corners for little gain to himself. [2]

        [2] See note above for how this logic was flawed.

        > Larry clearly demonstrated and made great use of the Castle. I was
        > taken by surprise a few times at how one moment Larry didn't have much
        > of a presence on the map and then after scoring the Castle he became
        > dominant.

        Yup, Larry was the true Castillo master. After he so trounced the rest
        of us on the first scoring round with his Castillo caballeros I made
        sure to always have at least enough in there for a Castillo third
        placement. I wasn't (and still aren't) comfortable enough with the
        mechanic to exploit it fully -- the fact that all the caballeros have to
        be invested in the same location rather than strategically scattered is
        daunting. However I spent much of the drive home delightedly pondering
        how it could be best used in future games for a light weight
        strike-force type of affair to swing critical territories over to my
        side just before scoring.

        Much to think about and explore. We must play again!

        > I believe Larry's skillful use of this device placed him securely in
        > the lead and eventually sealed his control in Old and New Castille.

        Actually he gained control of New Castille (which I stole from him), via
        a quick shift of the King in and out (the King was was there, he moved
        it out, added enough to gain first place, and then moved the King back
        in). This was perfect from my regard as it secured and utterly
        protected my second place scoring there (albeit while giving him the
        first, Grande and King bonuses). However this matched my basic strategy
        of diversified income rather than toe-to-toe (and debilitating) contest
        over key scoring territories.

        Old Castille was more brutal. It was Roy's home territory, but you, Roy
        and Chris had so fought over the area and ripped it about that I was
        able to come in and steal first (briefly). Roy then lunged back to
        regain first (at the expense of quite a few caballeros), leaving Larry
        having to commit everything he had in the Castillo (7) to get first for
        himself.

        For an investment of three on my part it was a nicely expensive tea
        party.

        > J.C. played a more safe and analytical game and diversified in his
        > placement of forces. He and Roy lead in having the most diverse
        > holdings - 5 provinces by the end of turn 6. J.C. ended up with more
        > pieces in these areas than Roy, only because Roy began his
        > diversification strategy later in the game.

        I also got some nice actions regarding placement in king-illegal
        territories (which I carefully kept away from y'all) and King movements
        that allowed me to grab the corners safely. In all honesty they weren't
        fully planned that way, but rather happy accidents which I then palmed
        off as fully intentional (Hurm I could take this action or that one, but
        lessee, if I take this one look at all these cool things I can do! Yea,
        I'll do that! I planned this from the beginning! Really!)

        Roy had to fight you and Chris for his spread across the top and right
        side of the map, leaving me all pretty well alone. The fact that the
        corners are low earners helped make attacking you and Chris more
        profitable to him than attacking me. If the corners had been worth more
        that situation would have reversed, with my becoming the preferential
        target.

        To an extent this reveals how much impact the initial grande placements
        had. I was essentially way off by my self with Larry buffering me from
        you three. To an extent that gave me room to get an initial growth (and
        scoring) spurt in behind Larry's early wall building.

        > Chalk that up to being a newbie at it. I feel that if J.C. caught on
        > to the advantageous use of the Castle earlier he would have taken the
        > lead.

        Aye. I held the points lead for almost the entire game, but Larry was
        so close behind me and his position was so visibly unassailable in his
        main territories that I was seriously worried about the end game.
        Conversely I earned almost everywhere, but with weak positions. As I
        still had my 13, 10, 2, and 1 cards left I *think* I could have made a
        good go of it, but I'm not at all confident that I could have held him
        off as the Castillo master. Much of it would have depended on what
        actions came up in the last rounds, and especially what happened with
        the King.

        > Roy's strategy started to heat up by turn 4 and he ended up making
        > good use of his action cards.

        Yup, he quite had me worried, especially as it was clear that I was
        going to be next on his target list. If Larry didn't keep control of
        the King and let Roy move it out toward the edges I was slated to be
        cinders. Aiiiiieeeeee!

        > I think that his next game will be quite different than this one.

        Yea and verily.

        > Chris also made some neat decisions allowing him to catch up to the
        > rest of the pack.

        Chris targeted Roy early, especially with that 4/0/0 mobile score sheet.
        If he'd played that on Larry instead it would have been an utterly
        different game. I think that's what really set up the core of the
        cannibalistic battle among you, Chris and Roy. Without that my approach
        would have been dog food very early.

        > The game wasn't played to its conclusion and ended at the end of
        > scoring onturn 6. Larry and J.C. were clearly in the lead and had
        > very little point separation between them. I think Larry would have
        > eventually taken the game by turn 9, but I also think that we would
        > have seen some very interesting action going on with the use of the
        > Castle.

        Aye. Larry had spent his 13, I think his 12, and also his 3 and 2 (I
        think he had the 1 left). I'd already determined that I had to milk the
        Castille for all it was worth as there was no other effective way of
        defending point locations. However Larry had already repetitively
        proved himself quite tricky and I'd have been unsurprised if he did it
        again.

        > Roy, Chris, and myself would have had quite a struggle in taking 2nd
        > and 3rd place. I had more pieces on the board and was a bit more
        > spread out.

        If you'd gotten a move-five-caballeros-about action you could have done
        serious damage to Chris and Roy's scoring positions on the northern
        border. You also had a nice setup down south that threatened my (weak)
        corner placement. A few good actions there could have demolished Chris'
        and Roy's strongholds, kicked me out of the south western corner, and
        seriously threatened my placement in the north east. No matter what I
        might have done with the Castillo there's not much I could have done to
        rescue from such a broad fronted attack. Larry's comparatively strong
        and isolated positions in old and new castille would have made him an
        unappealing target (or at least me a far more appealing target).

        > At the end of turn 6, a clear strategy for Roy and Chris would be to
        > chip away at my holdings. They had already discovered this advantage
        > by Turn 4 and had proceeded to dismantle my holdings. Perhaps if they
        > concentrated a bit more on Larry and J.C. their lead might not have
        > been so great.

        Yup!

        > I had a great time playing this and look forward to many more plays.

        Absolutely! I'd love to play El Grande more over the upcoming weeks.

        And then there's Liberte, Santa Fe Rails, Clippers, Wongar,
        Metropolis, Lowenherz/Domaine, Quandaray...

        > I know that folks are going to start pushing to play the expansions
        > with it, but I'd still like to play a few more core games before
        > moving on.

        Agreed. I see no need to move on just yet. Explore the base game
        first.

        --
        J C Lawrence
        ---------(*) Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
        claw@... He lived as a devil, eh?
        http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/ Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.
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