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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2004-12-30

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  • brosiuse
    MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm 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 1 , Dec 31, 2004
      MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm 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 H., Eric, Anton.

      (Paul H., Eric, Anton)

      We expected a low turn-out this week, as a
      number of regulars had let us know in advance
      that they'd be away. We decided to meet
      anyway, given the possibility that we might
      get visitors who were in the Boston area for
      the New Year's Holiday. As it turned out, we
      never got above 3, but we had fun anyway.
      We often start with a filler to see whether
      more people will arrive, but there was a good
      chance no one else was coming, so we picked a
      longer game. Puerto Rico moves quickly when
      you have only 3 players, especially when
      everyone is familiar with the game.

      We drew plantations for seating. Eric drew
      first indigo, Paul second indigo, and Anton
      corn. Eric started us off by Settling for a
      Quarry. There was one corn in the initial
      draw, which Paul took as Anton took tobacco.
      Paul then Mayored, filling the two corns and
      Eric's Quarry. Anton Built a Small Market,
      as did Eric, and Paul built a Construction Hut.
      In the second round, Anton Produced, but Eric
      Captained to push the new corns onto a ship,
      postponing any trading activity. Each player
      got corn and indigo going, but there was a lot
      of defensive Captaining, so the Trading House
      sat empty for quite a while.

      Before long Anton scraped together the funds for a Tobacco Shed and
      Eric for a Coffee Roaster, giving each of them a temporary monopoly
      in the respective good. Eric ended one round by Producing and Anton
      Traded, allowing the two players to gain funds to build matching
      Factories. This was a key point in the game. Paul had no high-value
      good to trade (and no Market,) so he fell behind in the money race, a
      gap he was never able to close.

      Eric and Anton continued to mirror each other, buying matching
      Harbors with the funds generated by their Factories. Unfortunately
      for Anton, Eric had purchased an early Small Warehouse (the only
      Warehouse bought in the game,) and this allowed him to keep more
      goods in stock at the end of each Captain phase. At one point, Eric
      Captained, loading four corn onto the four boat for 6 VP and shutting
      both opponents out of the corn shipping business for the round. This
      turned out to be the margin of victory.

      The game took about 70 minutes.

      Final scores:

      Paul H._21____16_____5____42

      Eric's rating: 10.

      (Paul H., Eric, Anton)

      No one else had arrived, so we decided to choose a meatier game.
      Neither Paul nor Anton can stay too late, so we wanted a game that
      would finish in not much more than 90 minutes. We've had success
      with Power Grid at MVGA recently, and we thought we could finish
      promptly with only 3 players. The 3-player version of Power Grid
      uses three regions on the board and ends when a player connects 17
      cities. Eight power plants are removed from the power plant deck
      at random before the game starts; this thins the deck and brings
      the third stage of the game around at an appropriate time. We
      decided to play on the U.S. map, but we choose the northwest,
      southwest and south central regions to make sure we had to pay
      good money for most of our connections.

      Anton led off by auctioning the #04 coal burner, which Eric bought
      for $7. Anton then took the #03 oil burner for $3, leaving the #08
      coal burner for Paul. Anton built in Denver, preparing for the cheap
      connection to Cheyenne, Eric built in Oklahoma City, and Paul built
      in San Diego and Los Angeles. In the next round, Paul scooped up
      the #07 oil burner, bringing his capacity to four cities. Low value
      plants appeared from the deck, and it was clear that good plants
      would be scarce in the early going. Eric and Anton bid up the #10
      coal burner, with Eric finally taking it for $17. Anton then chose
      the #13 windmill, which was the best option among the four capacity 1
      plants on offer. The #11 nuclear plant showed up as the refill,
      further disappointing the expansion-minded CEOs. The next turn
      Anton bought the #11 after Eric and Paul had passed; with a capacity
      of only 1 city he just had to find a way to grow.

      A key turning point arrived on round 4. Anton was looking at the
      #18 windmill in the current market, with the #20 coal burner just
      next to it in the future market. Anton wanted the windmill, as coal
      and uranium were getting pricey (goods don't restock very fast in
      the 3-player game.) On the other hand, if the windmill were bought,
      there was a chance the #20 would drop (it all depended on whether
      the refill plant from the deck would have a higher or a lower serial
      number than #20.) Anton auctioned the windmill, and Paul won the
      bid at $23. The #20 dropped and it was a highly valuable plant.
      The #20 powers five cities for three coal; no plant with a lower
      serial powers even four cities, to say nothing about five cities.
      It can be expensive to run if the price of coal rises, and it can
      run out of fuel if you try to use it as an endgame plant, but it's
      an early mid-game powerhouse. The bidding rose to $37 before Anton
      conceded the plant to Eric; Anton's poor early cash flow meant he
      couldn't afford fuel for the #20 if he paid $38 for it.

      Armed with the #20, Eric built his way to eight cities, gaining
      an income edge as his opponents struggled with the apparent lack of
      innovation among power plant designers. Paul continued to buy
      plants: he got the #22 and the #19 as Eric and Anton waited for
      better plants. The following round, Eric passed, declining to bid
      on the #27 windmill, which powers three cities. Paul bought the
      windmill and the #26 oil burner fell into Anton's lap at list price.
      This excellent plant powers five cities for two oil. It gives an
      economic benefit and is a solid endgame plant. This is one
      advantage of going late in the turn order; you benefit from any
      good refills. (Of course, you aren't guaranteed a good refill, but
      the person going first has no chance at all to benefit.) Anton
      used the #26 to make a comeback, sliding ahead of Eric in the
      city race for a round, though he was running tight on cash the
      whole way and couldn't always afford the fuel to run all his plants.

      On the last turn of the game, Eric had the #15, #20 and #32 plants,
      powering 3, 5 and 6 cities. He had 14 cities connected. Anton had
      the #23, #26 and #34 plants, powering 3, 5 and 5 cities. He had 12
      cities connected. Paul had the #19, #27 and #33 plants, powering 3,
      3 and 4 cities. He had 11 cities connected. We had just reached
      the third stage of the game, so all six plants on view were available
      for purchase.

      Eric started by auctioning the #50 fusion plant. Paul bought it for
      $61, giving him the ability to power 13 cities without using any
      fuel at all. Next Eric put up the #46 hybrid, which powers seven
      cities. Anton bought this plant for $47 and could now power 17.
      Eric then took the #39 nuclear plant at list price; he could also
      power 17. Paul bought no fuel, and Anton bought fuel for only two
      of his plants; it would have taken over $40 to power them all and
      this would have constrained his building. Eric paid $31 for a full
      load of fuel. Paul connected two more cities, giving him the 13 he
      could power. Anton realized that with the #46 plant, he would be
      first in the turn order if he built a 14th city, since Eric would
      pass his builds. This would allow Eric to buy up so much fuel that
      Anton could not run his plants on the following turn. For this
      reason, Anton passed. Eric was not sure he could connect 3 more
      cities to end the game, but because Anton had not built, Eric was
      able to connect San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco for $66,
      making 17 cities. Eric had $1 left at the end of the game, so
      Anton's ploy came within $2 of giving him a shot at a win.

      Final scores:

      Eric 17 cities + $1
      Paul 13 cities + $0
      Anton 12 cities + $30

      This was an exciting game, full of twists and turns. The luck of
      the power plant draws was important; the eight plants removed at
      the start were mostly valuable plants, leaving lousy plants for
      us to play with, but we didn't know that as we played. Even
      better, the game took only 70 minutes, so it easily met our
      objective of finishing before Paul and Anton had to leave.

      Eric's rating: 9. The only reason I don't rate Power Grid "10"
      is the fact that the power plant draws introduce a great deal of
      luck. On the other hand, if the game finishes in 70 minutes, I
      can tolerate a lot of luck.

      (Paul H., Eric, Anton)

      Power Grid finished so quickly that we had time for yet another
      game. We unanimously voted for Wyatt Earp, a closer we're all
      familiar with. The first hand ended quickly, as we drew many
      outlaws and played them in bang-bang fashion. Anton emptied his
      hand in just 3 or 4 plays.

      Scores after the first hand: Anton $12K, Eric $9K, Paul $8K.

      The second hand went a little more slowly, but again Anton was first
      out. Paul and Eric tried to target him, but to no avail. He
      extended his lead slightly, and it was almost certain that the third
      hand would be the last, since Anton with $21K was only $4K away from
      the $25K needed to finish the game.

      Scores after the second hand: Anton $21K, Eric $17K, Paul $15K.

      The third hand was a bit more of a tug of war. Paul played a Most
      Wanted to take a card from Anton. Eric then played a Hideout to
      cover one of Anton's suits. Anton had only a single card in the
      suit, but we were willing to try anything to catch him. Anton
      countered the Hideout with a Wyatt Earp, but his shot missed. Paul
      got several good runs on the table and went out. As we counted our
      scores, we realized the game was extremely close, and in fact, it
      was closer than we realized!

      Scores after the third hand: Anton $25K, Eric $25K, Paul $25K.

      I'd only been in one Wyatt Earp game with even a 2-way tie, but we
      had a 3-way tie here, and to heighten the drama, it was a 3-way tie
      at exactly $25K. The rules specify that ties are broken by a
      shoot-out. This is a totally random procedure that captures the
      unpredictable nature of the Old West (I guess...) In the shoot-out,
      Anton turned over a miss, Eric a hit, and Paul a miss. This gave
      Eric the victory. The game took about 25 minutes.

      Eric's rating: 9. What an enjoyable game Wyatt Earp is! There are
      enough options to keep things interesting without bogging the game
      down with excessive analysis.

      (Eric, Anton)

      Paul H. had to leave, but Anton agreed to stick around for one more
      game. Eric had brought a brand-new copy of Buyword, the new Sid
      Sackson word game from Face2Face Games. Buyword was Sid's wife's
      favorite game, but it was never published during his lifetime.

      Buyword is built around a set of letter tiles similar to the tiles
      in Scrabble. The difference is that the letter values range from
      1 to 4 rather than from 1 to 10 as in Scrabble. Each tile has from
      1 to 4 dots marked beneath the letter to indicate the value. On
      each turn, each player has a chance to buy a set of from 2 to 5
      tiles (as determined by a die roll.) The cost of a set is the
      square of the total number of dots (so 4 tiles with 7 dots cost $49.)
      You may buy the set or (if you don't think it's worth the price)
      discard it. You may then form words to sell, with each word valued
      at the square of the number of dots. You may make one or more words
      on your turn, or you may pass, but you only keep 8 tiles at the end
      of the turn, so if you have more than 8 tiles you have a strong
      motivation to make at least a short word to get some money rather
      than throwing away tiles you paid for.

      Each player in a 2-player game starts with 4 wild tiles and $200.
      The wilds are 1-dot tiles that substitute for any letter. You may
      use only one wild in a word.

      Since you buy and sell using the same formula, the key to winning is
      to sell dots at a higher average price than you bought them at. You
      do this by assembling large words, allowing the squaring to help you.
      We played with the "drafting" rules in which (for example) if 2
      players are getting 3 tiles each, you place 6 tiles in the middle
      of the table and the players alternate adding one tile to the set
      they will have a chance to buy.

      Eric and Anton started off buying three lots before they were over 8
      tiles. Anton paid more for his tiles, but was able to sell SHIMMY
      for $169 as Eric sold HAZELNUT for $144. Next Anton sold VIDEOS for
      $81 as Eric sold CAVING for $100. A few more small purchases led to
      Anton's TRAFFIC for $100 and Eric's CLUSTERED for $144.

      At this point Eric had $400 to Anton's $297, but Anton had an
      inventory of tiles and Eric had used almost all of his tiles up.
      Eric had to save up while Anton got VIXENS on the board for $121,
      leaving him ahead by $346 to Eric's $326. Eric noted that no Q's
      had shown up, so he stashed a U away for future used. This paid
      off when Eric was able to sell QUICKLY for $196 as Anton sold
      GOPHER for only $81. This left Eric ahead, $441 to $327, but again
      Anton was ahead in inventory.

      Anton drew closer on the next sale, gaining $100 for MAJOR as Eric
      got down to 8 by selling TAT for $9. Eric then sold ROBBED for $121,
      countering Anton's $100 for TOUCHED. Eric widened his lead by
      selling NAPPING for $100 as Anton passed and the tiles ran out. In
      the endgame sale, Anton got $81 for WOOLEN and $9 for ARE as Eric
      sold FEARS for $49.

      Final scores: Eric $554, Anton $460.

      During the game, Anton bought 81 dots at an average price of $7.17,
      and Eric bought 77 dots at an average price of $6.61. There was
      one round in which the cost was so high that we both opted not
      to buy the lots we had drafted. Anton sold 84 dots at an average
      price of $10.02, and Eric sold 79 dots at an average price of $10.92.
      Each player started with 4 wild dots; Anton had 1 dot unsold at the
      end and Eric had 2. Anton's sale price per dot exceeded his
      purchase price by $2.85, while Eric's sale price exceeded his
      purchase price by $4.31. This difference in margin outweighed
      Anton's greater volume of dot sales.

      The game took about 50 minutes. This was longer than the 30
      minutes promised on the box, but we took some time thinking
      about our options as we drafted the letters; the non-drafting
      version would be quicker, though more driven by luck.

      Eric's rating: 7. I'm not a huge word game fan, but I enjoy
      Buyword more than Scrabble. As you can see from the words listed
      above, the 2- and 3-letter words that are so critical in Scrabble
      don't play a big role in Buyword. This makes it easier to play
      without trying to memorize word lists.

      Eric Brosius
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