[SR] MVGA Holliston 2005-09-29
- 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.
Rich, Joel, Bob, Eric, Walt, Anton
(Rich, Joel, Bob, Eric)
We started the evening off with six gamers
on hand, but Walt and Anton had arranged to
play a tabletop baseball series before they
joined the rest of us. We usually start
with a quick game so latecomers won't have
to wait too long for a chance to play, and
this week we selected San Juan. Joel
hadn't played before, but he was familiar
with Puerto Rico, so it didn't take long
to teach him.
We saw a range of strategies. Joel played
an early Chapel and buried cards assiduously,
finishing the game with 8VP for his work.
Bob played an early Smithy and laid down five
production buildings, finishing off with a
Guild Hall, and with a City Hall that was
worth only 4VP. Eric was first Governor and
led off with a Gold Mine, but the vein ran
dry as he failed to unearth a single card
throughout the game. Rich saved for an early
Library and used it to push a purple building
strategy, building a City Hall that was worth
10VP. The struggle between players who want
to craft and trade and those who want to
build makes for an interesting game. Eric
got his own Library and a Quarry and tried to
catch Rich in the building race.
As we neared the end, Eric squeezed out two monuments and
the rarely-built Triumphal Arch. Bob built his own Chapel,
but had time to bury only one card. Joel built a Guild
Hall for a few points and added a Palace for another 6VP.
Rich didn't managed to build any 6-point buildings after
his City Hall, but he didn't need any as he squeezed out
a narrow win in a close game.
Rich 33 = 23 + 10 (City Hall)
Eric 32 = 26 + 6 (Triumphal Arch)
Joel 30 = 12 + 8 (Chapel) + 4 (Guild Hall) + 6 (Palace)
Bob_ 29 = 14 + 1 (Chapel) + 10 (Guild Hall) + 4 (City Hall)
Eric's rating: 9.
(Rich, Joel, Bob, Eric)
Walt and Anton were still enmeshed in their baseball series
so we moved on two another quick card game---MVGA favorite
Wyatt Earp. We had to teach Joel the rules to this game as
well; he's been learning one great game after another in
his initial visits to MVGA.
Bob, who learned the game just a few weeks ago, started off
strong, grabbing the entire reward for one outlaw and large
shares in several others.
Scores after one hand:
Bob $12K, Eric $9K, Rich $8K, Joel $7K.
We focused on Bob during the second hand, targeting him
with a number of lowdown sneaky tricks, and this gave Rich
and Eric the chance to catch up, though Joel was not able
to grab his "fair" share in the payoffs.
Scores after two hands:
Eric $18K, Bob $17K, Rich $17K, Joel $10K.
It was hard to know who to target for the third (and
probably deciding) hand, but Rich and Bob eyed each other
warily as each played card after card on Butch Cassidy,
a notorious varmint who soon had a huge reward on his head.
When it was necessary to allow an advantage to an opponent,
we chose Joel as the trailer, hoping it wouldn't be enough
to hand him the game. Our hands were growing thin and the
tension was high. Suddenly, Bob slapped a Hideout down on
Rich's pile of Butch cards and made a successful shot.
Rich had no Wyatt Earp, so was unable to counter, and Bob
went out, winning by a landslide with the proceeds. It
hasn't taken Bob long to become a shark at this game.
Bob $30K, Eric $22K, Rich $21K, Joel $20K.
Eric's rating: 9.
(Bob, Eric, Walt)
Wyatt Earp finished just as the tabletop baseball series
finished. With 6 players we split into two groups of 3.
Walt had a newly-acquired game of Shear Panic (which sold
out before the Essen show opened this week.) Walt was in
Edinburgh for World Con, met the designers there, and
bought a copy of Shear Panic. The designers, Gordon and
Fraser Lamont of Scotland, scored a notable success last
year with their game Leapfrog, which challenges players to
arrange a one-dimensional line of frogs to their own
advantage. In Shear Panic you rearrange sheep, not frogs,
and the sheep are arranged in two dimensions. I can already
predict that the Lamonts' 2006 game will involve blocks
that one arranges in three dimensions (let's not talk about
Shear Panic involves four pairs of sheep, one pair in each
of four colors, together with a ninth, black, sheep that
belongs to no one. Each player is responsible for one pair
of sheep; in the 3-player game one of the pairs is unowned.
Each player is given a player mat showing a selection of
twelve different options and you select one option each
turn. You may use each option only once, so it's important
to plan the use of the most powerful options carefully.
In the first phase, players attempt to get their sheep next
to each other, and Eric won this phase decisively, scoring
4VP for keeping his sheep together. Bob and Walt were held
scoreless, so Eric was the early leader.
In the second phase, Roger Ram enters play, and the sheep
compete to gain positions closest to Roger. Walt gained
ground during this phase, leaving the scores Eric 14,
Walt 13, Bob 10.
In the third phase the players attempt to maneuver their
sheep next to the black sheep, and Eric once again displayed
a flair for proximity, scoring the maximum 8VP while Walt
and Bob scored just 2VP and 3VP. Once again Eric led by
a comfortable margin: Eric 22, Walt 15, Bob 13.
In the final phase, the Shearer appears. Sheep do not like
the Shearer, who relieves them of the wooly coats that
protect them against the harsh Scottish winter. The sheep
closest the the Shearer at each of the two scorings is
removed from the game, adding an additional shiver of
anxiety to the game's final stages. Eric scored well with
one sheep at the first shearing, but the other was not
seen again after it entered the shearing hut, so he would
have to compete with only one sheep to his rivals' two.
Walt and Bob knew they would have to work together if they
were to catch Eric, and they gave it their best, but fell
Final scores: Eric 29, Walt 28, Bob 28.
Eric's rating: 5. Shear Panic is extremely cut, but I didn't
get the feeling that I had much control; it seemed mostly a
guessing game with a high luck factor. I have no objection and
wouldn't mind playing again if others want to play, but I don't
think I'll seek it out.
TICKET TO RIDE
(Rich, Joel, Anton)
While 3 of us were playing Shear Panic, the other 3 decided to
take another shot at Ticket to Ride, a game Joel had played
just two weeks earlier on September 15. The 3-player game may
be the most cutthroat of the Ticket to Ride versions, since
only one of any pair of parallel routes may be built. Rich had
a master plan that involved connecting to New York, but before
he could complete his connection, Joel blocked all the
approaches, dooming Rich to the loss of a key ticket. As is
often the case, the uninvolved party (Anton) took advantage of
the strife to win the game by a comfortable margin.
Final scores: Anton 119, Rich 106, Joel 93.
Eric's rating: 8. I like the original Ticket to Ride better
than the new European version; it's cleaner.