[SR} GSG 6/21: Maharaja, Rumis x2, Medici, Linkity x2, Scottish Highland Whisky Race, Turn the Tide

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• ATTENDEES: (11) Mark, Zach, Berna, James, Phil, Steve, Richard, Bob, Stephanie, Jeremy, Eric-4 GAMES PLAYED: Maharaja, Rumis x2, Medici, Linkity x2, Scottish
Message 1 of 3 , Jun 23, 2005
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ATTENDEES: (11) Mark, Zach, Berna, James, Phil, Steve, Richard, Bob,
Stephanie, Jeremy, Eric-4

GAMES PLAYED: Maharaja, Rumis x2, Medici, Linkity x2, Scottish
Highland Whisky Race, Turn the Tide

It was a fine turnout for the first day of summer. And it truly was
the longest day of the year for Jet (who got fixed, and was sporting a
lampshade collar) and Bob (who will never play Turn the Tide again).
Yes, I think I got the order right for those two parenthetical
reasons. School's out, so Richard is up visiting from New Orleans
until sometime in July.

RUMIS: Phil, Zach, Stephanie, Jeremy

Jeremy was anxious to try this spatial puzzle game, which seems to be
a cross between Blokus and Pueblo. Each player has a set of 11?
block-ish pieces. In turn, each player adds a piece to the board,
with the provision that each piece after the first must touch one of
her/his pre-existing pieces. The board footprint can be one of four
types – we chose the L-shaped footprint, which has 33 spaces and
stipulates a maximum height of 4 stories. As I said, players in turn
add a piece to this 3D puzzle until they are unable to do so. Final
scores are computed by counting the number of cube faces that are
viewed from above, and subtracting 1 pt for each unplaced piece.

Stephanie started in the bend of the L-shape, Z and I started in the
long part, and Jeremy started in the short part. Jeremy and Stephanie
were the first to have pieces reach the 4-story threshold,
guaranteeing that they would score points at game-end. Z and I opted
to expand horizontally; my thinking was that I wanted to have a
greater number of piece laying options later in the game, and figured
that a stretched foundation would accommodate this strategy. A wall
soon developed, blocking Jeremy from reaching the longer part of the
L-shape. He was doomed, and finished with 4 unplaced pieces.
Stephanie had little choice late in the game but to play a piece which
setup Z for a nice placement of his T-shaped piece, whose top-story
faces gave him 3 pts. However, this was not quite enough to overcome
my diversified placements. Final scores (faces – leftover pieces)
were something like: (11-1) 10, (10 – 2) 8, (7 – 2) 5, (5 – 4) 1.
It's an interesting game, but not very forgiving if you get blocked
from the rest of the board.

MAHARAJA: James, Eric, Bob, Steve, Richard

Mike won again, what a surprise… OH WAIT! Mike wasn't even playing
(he wasn't even at this session). I don't know who won, but I suspect
it was James, as he was thumping his chest and nodding his head toward
the game's end.

MEDICI: Jeremy, Phil, Berna, Stephanie, Zach, Mark

Being that it was the beginning of the 'M' fortnight, I was actively
looking to play a game that fit this category. I lobbied for Magna
Grecia, but got spurned by comments that it was too dry. IT'S NOT
DRY!! (…if I can't play this with my gaming group, with whom *can* I
play this wonderful game…) In the end we didn't want to split into
two groups, and so we opted for this classic Knizia auction game.

I got a lot of good stuff cheap in the first round, and took second
place in ship size with 16 to zoom to a 10 pt lead. While Mark had
the largest ship, he was spread thinly in three commodities, and so
ended the round in second place. Berna seemed skittish to spend any
money and wound up not advancing far in the round. In the second
round, Z took one for the team, denying Jeremy the last metal he
needed to reach the 20 pt bonus. At the end of the second round we
were all within 20 pts of each other, with Jeremy slightly ahead of
me, and Z bringing up the rear. The third round was kinda goofy, with
eight cards being discarded (meaning there weren't enough commodities
to fill all ships), three of us having ship scores in the 20's, and
Mark getting squat (he only had 3 goods in his ship). I wound up
overspending a little for a 5-4-4 combination that gave me the 20pt
bonus in cloth and put me one space away from the 10pt bonus in spice
(which I eventually obtained). I spent 25 for this lot, but might
have been able to buy if for 21. I just wasn't sure if Berna would
take one for the team and lay down a Brian bid of 24, so I bid a
little higher just to make it more unappealing for her. Berna wound
up edging Stephanie for the best ship, and coupled with her 20pt bonus
in dyes made a very good comeback. However, Jeremy and I both scored
well in two commodities, and ended up tying for the win! Final scores
were something like: 97, 97, 85, 72, 70, and 69.

LINKITY: Eric, James, Steve, Richard, Bob

I got the game name right this week :-). I have no idea who one, but
it's Eric's game, so I'll guess it was him.

SCOTTISH HIGHLAND WHISKY RACE: James, Mark, Eric, Berna, Phil, Steve

The Coronas were flowing, and Eric was keen to show off his new player
aids (which are available on BGG), so we strapped on our kilts and got
ready to tussle over some home-brew. I drew first blood, scheming my
way past Eric grab the 6 malts (by way of my 2-step whisky), and then
trading in my empty bottle for 5vp on my next turn. Unfortunately, it
was all downhill for me after this. Steve and Mark bid the same
amount of malt on each of the first three turns and couldn't make much
headway. James held back, conserving malts while waiting for the
right opportunities to advance. I kept trying to get ahead of the
English soldier, and wound up spending a whole lot of malt without
anything to show for it. I did buy the +1 malt whisky, only to have
James successfully battle me for it later in the same turn. My
subsequent attempt to re-obtain the whisky on the next turn was
stymied when we both revealed the same amount of malt. Mark,
meanwhile, finally got out of Steve's shadow, and pulled off a slick
move when he used his 2-step whisky to go backwards and then sold a
bottle for 5vp. He actually pulled this off one better later in the
game, first landing on the refill bottle, then using his refilled
2-step to go backwards, and then sold his unfilled 2-step for 5vp.
James, too, seemed adept at landing on the selling spaces, and wound
up selling three bottles by game end. Everyone sold at least one
bottle, except for Steve, who seemed content to hold his whisky and
his malt (he got the 3vp bonus for finishing with the most malt).
Eric surprised everyone late in the game by racing past the English
soldier by bidding 16 malt! This put him on the end space, netting
him 8vp. James finished in second and Berna was third. But the VP
totals yielded different results: James edged Mark by a point! Final
scores were: 19, 18, 15, 14, 10, and 9.

J: 3x5, 0x2, 0vp counters, 4vp finish = 19
M: 3x5, 0x2, 3vp counters, 0vp finish = 18
E: 1x5, 1x2, 0vp counters, 8vp finish = 15
B: 1x5, 3x2, 2vp counters, 1vp finish = 14
P: 1x5, 2x2, 1vp counters, 0vp finish = 10
S: 0x5, 3x2, 0vp counters, 3vp malt = 9

Several questions arose during the game. Eric posted these on BGG,
and got a fairly quick response from the designer!

TURN THE TIDE: Richard, Stephanie, Jeremy, Bob

This is the new version of Land Unter. Jeremy posted a full session
report on BGG:

Final scores were: 9, 8, 8, and 1. Bob did *not* like this game.

LINKITY: James, Eric, Steve, Phil, Berna, Mark, Richard

This is a card game where each card has a single letter and the deck
consists of 80 cards. There are a total of three rounds. The player
with the highest score leads a card and states a word that starts with
the played letter. Then in real time, each player attempt to play a
card and state a word that somehow relates (links) to the previous
word. Players attempt to get rid of their cards, but cannot play
successive cards. The round ends as soon as one player is out of
cards. Each player receive 1 pt for each card left in their hand, and
the player with the lowest aggregate score after three rounds is the
winner. Plays may be challenged; if this happens, a vote is taken,
and if the majority reject the play then the card is taken back, the
offender draws two more cards, the stack of played cards is set aside,
and the offender starts a new batch. If the majority agree, then play
simply resumes at that point.

I wish there was some way of recording the word linkages while
playing, but play is too fast and furious to support this aim. Both
James and Eric are insanely quick at this game! Eric won the first
round, while James won the last two rounds and took the win. I got
stuck with two J's during the second round, and focused on trying to
get rid of them instead of the other 5 or 6 cards in my hand (how many
cards do we each get, anyway?) I'm a step too slow for this game,
especially after my brain turns off at night. I played 'M' for milk,
as someone had played 'D' for drink, but Mark beat me by playing 'S'
for slurpy. My fellow gamers deemed that milk is not slurpy, so I had
to take more cards. Richard tried to play 'N' for neuro-rat (after
'R' for rat), and that was also rejected. However, I succeeded in
playing 'F' for frappe after Berna had played 'C' for cabinet (which
was in response to 'F' for file) – you gotta love RI terminology (for
those who are clueless, cabinet and frappe are both alternative names
for milkshake). This was a very fun game that I'd like to try again
when I'm more awake. Oh, and I apologize for yelling out my answers;
I guess the pressure and success of thinking got to me.

Thanks for hosting, Mark. We'll be at Mark's again next week.
NOTE: ** This will be your last opportunity to game with Berna and
James before they head to Minneapolis. **

--
Eastern MA Gaming, Unity Games 10 - TBD
http://www.unitygames.org/

"When playing a game the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is
important, not the winning."
- Reiner Knizia
• Thanks for the report, Phil, but you forgot to write anything at all about merkins. Yes, merkins. Say it with me now: Merkins! (Anyone who is in the dark as to
Message 2 of 3 , Jun 23, 2005
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Thanks for the report, Phil, but you forgot to write anything at all
about merkins. Yes, merkins. Say it with me now: Merkins!

(Anyone who is in the dark as to what a "merkin" might be is advised to
check out the second item in the following link:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,985079,00.html)

Now on to the games and some filling in of details:

> MAHARAJA: James, Eric, Bob, Steve, Richard

> Mike won again, what a surprise… OH WAIT! Mike wasn't even playing
> (he wasn't even at this session). I don't know who won, but I
> suspect it was James, as he was thumping his chest and nodding his
> head toward the game's end.

Alas, James thumped a bit too soon. I don't think he realized quite how
much money I had as I was able to build a seventh palace before anyone
else and took the win without even having to resort to the tiebreaker.

I've played Maharaja twice now, and while the planning and route
building agree with me, the ending of both games has been kind of a
downer. In the first game, everyone knew a couple of turns before it was
over that Mike would win; in the second game, I knew (if no one else
did) that I would win a couple of turns before I actually did. There's
no obvious catch-up mechanism, and once I was ahead on palaces and money
in the mid-game, there seemed to be little that others could do to hold
me back.

I'm definitely up for playing the game again, if for nothing else than
to see whether this feeling still holds.

> LINKITY: Eric, James, Steve, Richard, Bob

> I got the game name right this week. I have no idea who won, but
> it's Eric's game, so I'll guess it was him.

We played only one round, then stopped play to reassemble into different
Voltron units.

> SCOTTISH HIGHLAND WHISKY RACE: James, Mark, Eric, Berna, Phil, Steve

> <snip> Mark, meanwhile, finally got out of Steve's shadow, and pulled
> off a slic kmove when he used his 2-step whisky to go backwards and
> then sold a bottle for 5vp. He actually pulled this off one better
> later in the game, first landing on the refill bottle, then using his
> refilled 2-step to go backwards, and then sold his unfilled 2-step
> for 5vp.

But now we know that was an illegal play -- and if we had read the note
for the 2-step whisky bottle, we would have realized it then as well.
Disallowing this move would have put me and Mark in a tie, but he had
more malt, so would have come in second anyway.

I really enjoy the "I know you know" double-thinking that goes on with
choosing malt points for movement, but the game seems a little too
fiddly with all the different whiskys and other markers. I still fumble
with the explanation as there's a lot of things to fit in aside from the
basic bid/move/activate a marker. Still, I hope you guys will be up for
this again before too long.

> LINKITY: James, Eric, Steve, Phil, Berna, Mark, Richard

> <snip> Plays may be challenged; if this happens, a vote is taken, and
> if the majority reject the play, then the card is taken back, the
> offender draws two more cards, the stack of played cards is set
> aside,and the offender starts a new batch. If the majority agree,
> then play simply resumes at that point.

Actually we weren't playing the challenges correctly. When you played
"cabinet," I said "Hunh? How can cabinet go with milk?" but didn't
actually do that as a challenge. I should have either kept my mouth shut
or officially challenged you. In a challenge, whoever loses must draw
two cards, whether it's the person who played the card or the person
challenging the play. I straddled the line without risking anything.

We did that pretty much throughout the game, but that doesn't seem to be
a problem since the game is meant to be a quick, light entertainment
anyway. Bogging down the game with endless challenges wouldn't be much
fun. Playing the way we did -- in which a huge hue and cry went up if
something didn't seem to match -- worked just fine.

Phil, I'm in for Magna Grecia next week, whether or not anyone else
wants to play. And perhaps I should finally play Modern Art, in honor of
both "M" week and James' and Berna's final day at GSG.

Eric-4

--
W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
"To drive us mad," replied Martin.
• Regarding Maharaja, I ve also had a disappointing feeling toward the endgame sometimes, since it s often pretty obvious how they will play out. In our game on
Message 3 of 3 , Jun 24, 2005
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Regarding Maharaja, I've also had a disappointing feeling toward the
endgame sometimes, since it's often pretty obvious how they will play
out. In our game on Tuesday, I think we were in the third-to-last turn
when Phil asked how it was going and I said "I think I might win."
Then as that turn played out it became clear that you (Eric) had more
money than me and that I would not be able to catch up. In the
second-to-last turn I kinda screwed up a gamble I was trying, so I
didn't build my seventh palace, but I'm quite sure you would have had
more money than me even if I had done things differently. In the game
before that, I knew by turn 3 or 4 that Mike was unstoppable once he

I'm not sure that the issue is inherently an endgame problem. Instead
I think it goes back to fact that Maharaja seems to have a steep
one-game learning curve, and can be pretty unforgiving of early
mistakes (with, as you said, no obvious catch-up mechanism). On
Tuesday we were playing with 3 newbies, and it was clear from the
get-go that only you and I were really in contention for the win. Bob
was able to build 2 palaces in one turn because he had so much money
because we kept using his roads, but even then I didn't think he was
really in contention. So I think the endgame might be more interesting
and less predictable with 4 or 5 players who understand the game well.
(I also feel like my first couple games, in which *nobody* had played
before, were more balanced with closer finishes, or maybe I just
wasn't able to predict the endgame as well.)

Playing two characters would probably also add more chaos and less
predictability, but again, you'd need experienced players.

James

--- In Unity_Games@yahoogroups.com, "W. Eric Martin" <eric@t...> >
> > MAHARAJA: James, Eric, Bob, Steve, Richard
> > Mike won again, what a surprise OH WAIT! Mike wasn't even playing
> > (he wasn't even at this session). I don't know who won, but I
> > suspect it was James, as he was thumping his chest and nodding his
> > head toward the game's end.
>
> Alas, James thumped a bit too soon. I don't think he realized quite how
> much money I had as I was able to build a seventh palace before anyone
> else and took the win without even having to resort to the tiebreaker.
>
> I've played Maharaja twice now, and while the planning and route
> building agree with me, the ending of both games has been kind of a
> downer. In the first game, everyone knew a couple of turns before it was
> over that Mike would win; in the second game, I knew (if no one else
> did) that I would win a couple of turns before I actually did. There's
> no obvious catch-up mechanism, and once I was ahead on palaces and money
> in the mid-game, there seemed to be little that others could do to hold
> me back.
>
> I'm definitely up for playing the game again, if for nothing else than
> to see whether this feeling still holds.
>
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