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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2004-04-01

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  • brosiuse
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 3, 2004
      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:
      Paul, Eric, Evan, Walt, Greg, Dan

      There were 6 gamers at MVGA this week.
      Five were regulars, and we had a rare visit
      from Greg, who was once an MVGA regular, but
      finds the trip from his home near Lowell is
      long enough to discourage frequent attendance.

      (Paul, Evan, Walt, Greg)

      Walt brought a pile of games to MVGA, including
      both Basari and Edel, Stein & Reich (ESR,) its
      2003 remake. ESR has no board, but it will
      accommodate 5 players (the limit for Basari is
      4,) so we selected the higher-capacity game.
      As we were reviewing the rules, Dan arrived.
      Neither version works for 6, so Eric decided to
      play a 2-player game with Dan while the other 4
      stuck with ESR.

      ESR offers a simultaneous choice of actions. In most cases, it's
      best to select an action no one else has selected, because you may
      lose your opportunity (or at least be required to pay a price to
      keep it) if one or more opponents select the same action.

      In this game, Evan consistently made the right selections. Evan and
      Paul both scored three different colors of gems at different points
      in the game, but in the end, Evan finished with no gems at all
      (that's ZERO gems) and yet won by a mile. This game wasn't even
      close to being close.

      Final scores: Evan 90, Paul 60, Walt 53, Greg 35.

      Eric's rating: 6. I enjoy Basari much more than ESR, partly
      because I enjoy having a board in front of me and partly because
      the die-roll option in Basari gives some degree of control over
      when scoring will occur.

      (Dan, Eric)

      Dan and Eric discussed a few 2-player game options and settled on
      Attika. Eric, who had played over a dozen games, had an edge in
      experience over Dan, who had played only once. Some people find
      the 3- and 4-player games irritating because when one player is
      threatening a connection there can be a game of chicken over who
      is going to stop it. This isn't problem in the 2-player game,
      because you have to do all the stopping yourself.

      Eric was selected as first player and drew three cards to broaden
      his choices. Dan placed a building in the middle of the board
      and drew two cards, and Eric responded by playing his Silver Mine,
      his Mint and another building, zipping right past Dan's lone
      building and threatening an early connection win. This game feels
      a bit like Twixt at times; you can hem your opponent in and make
      progress toward a connection in one play.

      Eric extended his line of buildings with two roads, and Dan was
      forced to start a new settlement to make an expensive stop. Eric
      quickly emptied a stack, placed a new map tile in such a way as
      to circumvent Dan's block, and used the amphora from the coinage
      group to finish a connection with only ten buildings on the map.

      Eric's rating: see below.

      (Dan, Eric)

      The first game was over so quickly that, with Edel, Stein & Reich
      still going, Dan and Eric played a second. In this game, Dan
      went first, and each player started a settlement near the shrine
      at his own end of the board. Dan focused on drawing the black
      main buildings, but Eric drew mostly the white buildings, placing
      them using resources on the board and not worrying as much about
      keeping groups (especially those belonging to his city) together.
      Eric drew two streets and extended toward Dan, and when Dan placed
      his main city tile in an accessible location, Eric spent cards to
      swarm around it, cutting off its expansion options. Dan countered
      by placing a convincing blockade across the board, and despite a
      few half-hearted attempts by Eric, connection was never seriously
      threatened from that point on.

      In surrounding Dan's city, Eric had managed to cut the map up into
      several areas with a single large star-shaped settlement. This
      gave Eric room to expand in multiple directions while avoiding new
      settlement costs, while Dan was forced to place new map tiles and
      start new settlements just to find expansion room. This turned out
      to be the difference as Eric completed his thirtieth building while
      Dan still had a number of buildings on his map. Dan's black
      building strategy didn't pay off, as he was unable to find the white
      tiles he needed to benefit from the potential free builds.

      Eric's rating: 7. The order in which you draw your tiles is an
      important source of luck in Attika, but there are many important
      decisions as well. The game is short enough that you can play a
      few times to even out the luck. I particularly enjoy this game with
      2 players, although I've played it more often with 3 or 4.

      (Paul, Eric, Evan, Walt, Greg, Dan)

      Walt purchased Liar's Dice for the chapter, and he's determined to
      get the most out of the acquisition. He insisted that we play one
      game before going on to something else, and it's hard to refuse a
      game that's quick and enjoyable. We had six players, so all 30 dice
      were in action at the start.

      The game kicked off with two exact bids. When a player's bid is
      called and proves exactly correct, every other player loses a die
      (though we play the version in which you can't lose your last die
      unless you are wrong.) There was a lot of grumbling, especially
      from people who lost two dice without being wrong once!

      This seemed to kick up the dissembling level. It's hard to believe,
      given the upstanding nature of this group, but people sometimes bid
      a number, even though they have no dice with that number, just to
      deceive their opponents! We saw a whole series of big misses. Greg
      lost 3 dice at once to go out first. Evan then lost 3 at once to go
      out, Paul lost 2 at once to go out, and Walt lost 3 at once to go out.
      This left Dan and Eric with 4 and 3 dice, respectively. Dan ground
      Eric down to a 3 to 1 score, and Eric came back to even the odds at
      1 die each before Evan rolled a 6 and bid "one 6" to close out the

      Eric's rating: 7. There's plenty of luck in this game. It's a
      big advantage to roll high numbers and multiples. Luck
      causes no harm in a short game, though, and there's always
      a laugh when a bid is called and we reveal the dice.

      (Paul, Walt, Greg)

      In honor of Greg's visit we decided to play a game of Merchant of
      Venus, an older Avalon Hill title that's a lot like a railroad
      game. You pick up goods, deliver them to locations where they are
      in demand, and upgrade your ship. The original design for this
      game was set in the Indian Ocean during the 16th or 17th century,
      but the setting was moved to outer space to allow the sources and
      destinations to move around in a randomly-chosen manner each game.
      The game is playable with 6, but we split up into two groups of 3
      to avoid the delays inherent in a big game.

      Merchant of Venus can be played to a set monetary goal (such as
      $2000) or a time limit. This game used a time limit; whoever had
      the most money at 10pm would be the winner. The scores were close,
      but Walt had a bigger pile of cash, outweighing his slightly less
      valuable collection of deeds.

      Final scores:

      Walt $1100 deeds + $1160 cash = $2260
      Paul $1200 deeds + $920 cash = $2120
      Greg $1200 deeds + $753 cash = $1953

      Eric's rating: 8. I enjoy reacting to the changing opportunities
      as the civilizations are discovered and lucrative trade routes are

      (Eric, Evan, Dan)

      Puerto Rico is always a favorite at MVGA, and we haven't played
      very often with 3 players, so we decided to give it a try. With
      only 3 experienced players, the game flew along. Dan won the random
      draw to be first player, Eric won the dreaded second player slot,
      and Evan received a starting Corn plantation as third player.

      Dan started us off by Settling for a Quarry. No Corn was available,
      so Eric took a Sugar, starting off a game-long Sugar monopoly, and
      Evan took Tobacco. The new plantations again contained no Corn, and
      it was clear that shipping would be more difficult than usual. Evan
      got some Corn shipping in early, before the Indigo boys were up and

      Eric and Dan bought early Factories, and Evan began to worry, but
      Evan got a Wharf and Evan and Dan sold Tobacco and Coffee to fund
      Harbors. This left Eric in the dust; he picked up several Corn
      plantations and bought a Wharf too late but was unable to keep up,
      despite respectable income from his Factory.

      We weren't sure who was in the lead as Evan took Mayor to end the
      game, and indeed it was a close game, with Evan winning on the tie

      Final scores:

           VPs  Bldgs Bonus Total
          ----- ----- ----- -----
      Evan  25 +  18       =  43 with 5 doubloons
      Dan   16 + 20 + 7  =  43 with 1 barrel
      Eric  20 +  17       =  37

      Eric's rating: 10. Once you've gained experience, the 3-player
      game is almost a different game from the 4- and 5-player games. The
      Trading House is especially different, because a single round of sales
      cannot fill it up, so that there are often solo sale opportunities.

      (Eric, Evan, Dan)

      Puerto Rico finished in record time, and Merchant of Venus was going
      until 10pm, so we selected another quick 3-player game. It's a
      mystery why Ra hasn't been reprinted, but several MVGA regulars have
      their own copies, so we get to play it often. With 3 players, each
      player receives four suns to bid with (as opposed to three,) and this
      again gives a different feel to the 3-player game.

      Evan started the game with an emphasis on monuments and Nile tiles.
      He almost ignored civilizations and Pharoahs, costing him in the
      first two epochs, but building up future potential. Eric and Dan
      dueled over Pharoahs, but their monument collections were anemic.

      In the third round, Evan made a serious play for Pharoahs, passing
      Eric who had decided to take a Pharoah killer. Dan bid strongly to
      ward off the threat, but Evan grabbed even more monuments and Niles
      on the rebound, capping it off with a flood tile. Evan beat Eric
      by 1 to avoid the low sun total penalty, so Eric gave 5 to Dan (who
      had the high sun total.)

      Evan wound up with all eight monument types and a string of about
      10 Niles to edge Dan out for the win.

      Final scores: Evan 55, Dan 54, Eric 30.

      Eric's rating: 9. Timing is everything in this game, as each move
      by the sun god Ra (or each failure to move) re-adjusts the bidding

      (Eric, Evan, Walt, Greg, Dan)

      It was still only 10pm, and we had time for one more game. Paul had
      to leave, so we discussed our options for 5-player games and settled
      on El Grande. Although El Grande is a big game, it plays quickly as
      long as you can avoid analysis paralysis, and all 5 of us thought we
      could live up to the MVGA motto: "play fast, make mistakes." Greg
      had only played once or twice long ago, so we reviewed the rules with
      him before we started.

      The initial card draw saw the "score all 6 and 7 regions" card turn
      up. With Walt in Granada and Dan in New Castile, this was a
      big threat. Evan bid his 13 and Eric bid his 12 in an attempt to
      get into the action, but neither of them took and killed the 6 and 7
      card, so Dan and Walt started out staked to a big lead. Eric pursued
      a "cabs on the board" strategy with some success, and by the
      two-thirds mark Dan was in the lead, with Walt and Eric about 10
      points behind and Evan and Greg way back in the distance.

      In the last three rounds, the spread tightened up quite a bit, but
      Dan made a number of clever moves to hold the field off and win.

      Final scores: Dan 92, Walt 89, Eric 85, Evan 77, Greg 70.

      Eric's rating: 10. El Grande is one of the great games of all
      time. Every time I play it I tell myself "it's even better than
      I remembered!" I have to remind myself to play it because it's
      too good not to be played regularly.

      Eric Brosius
    • brosiuse
      ... Correction: It was obviously Dan that rolled a 6 and bid one 6 to win. Eric
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 4, 2004
        --- In Unity_Games@yahoogroups.com, "brosiuse" <public.brosius@c...>
        > [...]
        > LIAR'S DICE
        > (Paul, Eric, Evan, Walt, Greg, Dan)
        > [...]
        > This left Dan and Eric with 4 and 3 dice, respectively. Dan ground
        > Eric down to a 3 to 1 score, and Eric came back to even the odds at
        > 1 die each before Evan rolled a 6 and bid "one 6" to close out the
        > win.

        Correction: It was obviously Dan that rolled a 6 and bid "one 6" to

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