[SR] MVGA Holliston 2005-04-21
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
WEB OF POWER
(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
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.
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.