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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2005-04-21

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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. Turn north on Church Place (which is more a
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2005
      MVGA meets Thursday nights at 7pm in the
      Masonic Hall in Holliston, on Route 16 just
      east of the center of town. Turn north on
      Church Place (which is more a driveway than
      a street) to find parking.

      We welcome visitors. We'll even
      waive the $3.00 fee for your first visit.

      Roll call:
      Anton, Dan, Ian, Eric, Evan, Rich

      (Anton, Dan, Ian, Eric, Evan)

      It was school vacation week in Massachusetts,
      and Dan's son Ian came out to MVGA. Ian
      often visits MVGA on non-school Thursday
      nights. We usually start the evening with
      a quick game so late-comers don't have to
      wait too long to get into a game, and this
      week we started off with Liar's Dice. Ian
      had never played, so we explained the rules
      before we started (it seemed a little odd
      luring a teenager out of the house and then
      teaching him Liar's Dice, but his dad was
      there to make sure everything was above

      The game started off quickly as first Ian
      and then Evan missed big-time, losing several
      dice and going out. It took a little longer
      for Dan to lose his dice, leaving Eric with
      four and Anton with three. It's a big
      advantage to have extra dice, since extra
      dice provide extra information.

      Anton rolled his dice, looked under his cup,
      and called "three 3's." Anton only had three
      dice, so Eric called even though Eric had a
      3 of his own. Anton lifted the cup and lo,
      there were four 3's showing, costing Eric a
      die. It went downhill from there for Eric
      as Anton took all Eric's dice without losing
      even one to win with three dice left.

      Winner: Anton.

      Eric's rating: 7. Liar's Dice is light and enjoyable, and it
      fits nicely at the start or end of a gaming session. You don't
      face too many tough theoretical choices, but you don't need too
      much depth in a quick game like this.

      (Anton, Dan, Ian, Eric, Evan, Rich)

      Rich came in while we were playing Power Grid, and it looked like
      we'd have 6 players for most of the evening. Six can be a tricky
      number to find a game for, but we've been playing Power Grid a lot
      recently and it works just fine for 6 players. It's not the
      easiest game to play, and the competition in Power Grid is tough
      at MVGA, but Ian was up for the challenge of learning the rules and
      jumping right in.

      Bidding was energetic for the more desirable plants. Dan paid $8
      for the #04 coal plant (usually the most sought-after plant at the
      start, because it gives you first shot at the cheap coal, even
      though it uses 2 coal to power just 1 city.) Anton paid $9 for
      the #07 oil plant and Ian paid $9 for the #08 coal plant. Both
      use 3 fuel to power 2 cities; the #08 generates more income than
      the #04, but you pay more for coal. Rich got the #05 hybrid for
      list price, leaving Eric and Evan to buy plants. Evan put up the
      #10 coal plant (which uses only 2 coal to power 2 cities but pays
      even more for coal early on) and got it for $12, and Eric took the
      #09 oil plant (a low capacity plant that uses 1 oil to power 1 city
      and can be a useful supplement later in the game) at list price
      rather than take either the #03, #06 or #11 plant.

      We built our initial cities. The Southeast was out of play, and
      Dan started out west in Las Vegas, hoping to avoid the crush in
      the East. Rich started in Cincinnati, hoping to get access to the
      East while retaining a window to the west. Anton, who could
      light up 2 cities, took Oklahoma City and Dallas, and Ian took
      Minneapolis and Duluth under the same theory. The cheap East was
      still unoccupied, so Eric jumped into Pittsburgh. Rich urged Evan
      to move in east of Eric, but Evan decided that room for Eric was
      more critical than squeezing Eric and took the Denver-Cheyenne
      pair, generating grumbling from Rich.

      In Round 2, Evan took the #13 windmill at list price when no one
      bid him up. The #13 requires no fuel, but its 1-city capacity can
      be a limitation. Ian took the #03 oil plant at list price; this
      plant was already outdated when he bought it, but you can't beat
      the price at $3. Ian's purchase brought the #21 hybrid plant down
      into the current market. This plant powers 4 cities for 2 fuel
      (coal and/or oil) and was by far the best plant we had yet had the
      chance to buy. We bid Anton all the way up to $27 before we let
      him take it. Eric had no interest in the remaining plants, but
      Rich took the often-despised #06 trash plant for list price. Dan,
      Rich and Ian connected cities, putting Ian in the lead at 3, but
      Anton, Eric and Evan saved their money.

      There were no high-capacity plants on offer for Round 3, so Ian
      put the #22 windmill (which powers 2 cities) up for auction, taking
      it for $26. Anton and Evan passed, as both had adequate capacity
      already for this stage of the game, but Dan decided to pay the $11
      list price for the #11 nuclear plant, which powers 2 cities. Rich
      let Dan take the #11, hoping for a much better plant as a
      replacement, but the replacement was the #17 nuclear plant, which
      is identical to the #11 except for the higher price tag. Rich
      complained half-heartedly before taking the #17. This proved to
      be a boon for Eric, as the #29 hybrid became available, and he
      was happy to take it for list price. Eric now had only one city,
      but he had the Northeast all to himself and could power 5 cities
      for 2 fuel. Some of the players felt Eric was a shoo-in to win,
      but Power Grid can be a tricky game---there's many a slip twixt the
      cup and the lip.

      Round 4 began with the entry of the #30 trash plant (which powers 6
      cities for 3 trash) into the current market. We've seen a lot of
      people crash and burn when they buy this plant in Round 3 or 4, and
      we avoided it like the plague. Eric put the #15 up for auction and
      let Rich have it for $16. Eric was hoping for a better plant, but
      passed when nothing better than the #24 trash plant became
      available. Ian and Anton also passed, but Evan wasn't as fussy.
      He took the #24, which made the #31 coal plant available for Dan.
      The #31, like the #30 and the #32, powers 6 cities for 3 fuel, but
      the fuel for the #31 is coal, which is more abundant than trash.
      The Round 4 auction ended with the #28 nuclear plant and the #30
      unbought. Eric caved in at the start of Round 5 and bought the #30
      at list price as the others gave him a wide berth. This brought the
      #26 oil plant, another highly-desired plant, powering 5 cities for 2
      oil, into the game, and Evan paid $33 for it. Everyone got a plant
      this round, with the remaining plants going for list price: Ian took
      the #19 trash plant, Anton the #28, Rich the #32 oil plant, and Dan
      the #33 windmill. We had been building steadily, and by the end of
      the round, Eric and Anton had 6 cities, Evan and Ian had 5, and Rich
      and Dan had 4.

      Eric led Round 6 off by auctioning the #25 coal plant, the coal
      version of the #26. Evan was the high bidder again, taking it
      for $34. Evan now had the #24, #25 and #26 plants with a capacity
      of 14 cities. Eric settled for the #35 oil plant at list price,
      and Ian got the #36 coal plant while the others saved their money
      to build. Anton shoved us right into Phase 2 by connecting 3 more
      cities to take him to 9. Eric connected the last open New England
      city, Boston, to give him 7. The other players stayed at 6, hoping
      to take advantage of cheap builds in the following round, when each
      city would be open to a second player. Only one plant was sold in
      Round 7, with the #20 coal plant going to Anton for $34, as we tried
      to save money for building while the opportunities still existed.
      Everyone connected 3 new cities except Anton, who sat at 9 as the
      others each made it to 9. Eric went on to build a tenth city; this
      proved to be a mistake, as it put him last in the building queue for
      Round 8. Eric would have been better off stopping at 8 cities so he
      could build first in Round 8.

      The Round 8 auction was anticlimactic. Rich took the #40 coal plant
      for list price, and Anton took the #38, the granddaddy trash plant.
      Evan built first, stopping at 13 cities so as not to end the game for
      Eric. Each of the other players built aggressively, and when it was
      time for Eric to build, he counted his money and realized that he was
      $3 short. Rather than build to 13, Eric stopped at 11 so he'd have
      the best position for the final round. Bidding in Round 9 was
      remarkably calm. Evan put the #50 fusion plant up for auction and
      got it for list price. This gave him a capacity of 16 cities. Rich
      put the #34 and #39 nuclear plants up, with Dan taking the #34 for
      $40 and Ian the #39 for $47. Eric dropped out of the bidding for
      these plants when he realized that he couldn't afford to buy one at
      such a high price, buy fuel (trash was getting costly) and connect 16
      cities. Rich settled for the teeny #23 nuke; Rich was still running
      the #17 nuke he had bought in Round 3, and the #23 added one to Rich's
      capacity, bringing him to 15. Anton already had capacity for 16
      cities, so he didn't bid. His question was whether he could connect
      the 16 cities so he could power them.

      Evan took the drama out of Round 9 early, connecting three more cities
      to bring him to 16 with $9 left over. Dan connected 15 cities, all
      he could power, and Ian could only make it to 14 despite his 16-city
      capacity. Anton counted carefully and built to 16 cities himself,
      with $1 to spare. Rich built his 15th city, and Eric stopped at 15
      despite having $64 left over; there's no point connecting more cities
      than you can power. Evan beat Anton by $8 on the tie-breaker to win
      the game. Ian came in only two cities behind the winners, an
      impressive performance for a first-timer.

      Final scores:

      Evan 16 cities + $9
      Anton 16 cities + $1
      Eric 15 cities + $64
      Rich 15 cities + $23
      Dan 15 cities + $22
      Ian 14 cities

      Eric's rating: 9. I'm really looking forward to the new France and
      Italy maps, which are expected to be available in May.

      (Dan, Ian, Eric, Evan, Rich)

      Anton had to leave (he has a long way to drive,) but it wasn't quite
      time to fold up shop. We decided to play Web of Power, a game that
      accommodates 5 but takes less than an hour. The game started in
      Burgund and moved quickly to Franken; you'd like to begin play in
      a region someone else has already entered, but sometimes you don't
      have the cards. Most of the early action focused on cloisters, but
      we also played the odd advisor. Ian put two advisors down early in
      Schwaben, where he scored no points but blocked scoring for three
      other players.

      Eventually someone put a cloister in Frankreich, the largest region,
      and the usual feeding frenzy ensued. Rich often like to get advisors
      in Frankreich, and he succeeded, linking to his advisors in Burgund,
      but that turned out to be the only pair he could connect. Eric took
      a third cloister in Frankreich to be the only player with the lead,
      but this was only a way to catch up, as Eric and Dan were behind at
      the first scoring.

      After his incursion into Schwaben, Ian focused entirely on cloisters,
      and as we counted up the final scores, he was well ahead on the
      scoring track. Ian and Dan got the only two cloister chains, and
      with the anemic advisor scoring, Ian held on for the win.

      Final scores:
      Ian 43, Rich 40 (15 left,) Evan 40 (14 left,) Eric 37, Dan 34.

      Eric's rating: 9. This is one of my favorite games. Some people
      dislike the 5-player game, feeling that it has too many random
      factors, but there aren't many 5-player games that will finish in
      under an hour while leaving you with the feeling that you've played
      a full game.

      Eric Brosius
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