SOG SR: 10/31 in Westford
- We had five spooky people in spooky Westford for a spooky night of
spooky games...well, in truth, we played one spooky game, and most of
the crew isn't all that spooky, although I don't think I'd like to be
stuck in an elevator with Evan.
Don and Evan were first to arrive, and we started off with a
three-person game of Finstere Flure (Fearsome Floors). Our monster
for the evening was the terrifying Eyeball Monster, late of the
Residents (or so it would appear). Don was new to the game, but did
quite well, getting two of his crew out of the dungeon and a third
quite close before I manage to win the game with my third person.
This game plays pretty quickly with three, and is actually fun.
Although the game is still amusing with more players, I think this is
another one that's better with fewer players -- a crowded board isn't
really *that* exciting.
Chris and Jeff F. showed up and I proposed Dutch Intercity, a Winsome
train game that I've wanted to play again. This was slightly
motivated by the fact that I finally bought a sheet of plexiglass and
some wet-erase markers, making the whole 'you draw on the board'
family of games a bit easier to manage.
Dutch Intercity is a game about the privatization of the railroads in
the Netherlands...well, really, it's a game about buying stock and
building track. The board has five starting spurs for five different
railroads, and then 20 available routes between cities in the
Each round, players get to offer shares of stock to be sold at
auction. The shares come from the pool of unowned stock, and money
spent to buy the shares goes into the treasury of the company whose
stock is being purchased. The majority shareholder in any company is
the director and is in charge of all decisions for that company. The
stock offering round lasts at least as long as it takes for each
player to offer a share of stock, and then continues until at least
one player has spent all of their money. This round-ending mechanic
creates some very weird dynamics, which definitely tripped me up
during the course of the game.
Once the stock offer phase is over, the director of each company gets
to choose one section of track to be built. Track must connect, and
there's a strong incentive to select track that will extend your route
(dividends are paid out according to the longest non-looping
non-branching route). There can be competition over track sections,
which is resolved by a blind auction, but otherwise companies get to
build the track they select.
Dividends are then paid out -- each share you hold is worth $1 times
the length of the longest route the company has. So they generally
start out being worth $2, but can increase to $5 or $6 if you're
Turn order is then rearranged based on the amount of money each player
has -- most money goes first, least money goes last. At first glance,
this seems like a catch-up mechanism, but it's not clear to me that
going late in the turn order provides any real advantage, unless you
can convince other players to spend most all of their money and let
you buy up stock for cheap.
At the end of the game, companies are valued and all value and
trasuries are distributed to stockholders.
Don concentrated on the Green railroad, and for most of the game was
the sole stockholder in that company. I chased Blue but quickly lost
control to Chris and then Evan (it's worth noting that control of a
company is not essential to victory -- it allows you to choose how
track is built and how much is paid for it in case of a conflict, but
there's no bonus payout for being a director -- just what you get for
holding the stock). Jeff chased Red, Evan chased Yellow, Chris also
chased Black. I felt like a little yappy dog biting the heels of
everyone else, trying to get into a company enough to control it
(never did manage it after the first turn, though).
When the smoke cleared, Chris was the winner with Don close behind.
Evan was third, Jeff was fourth and I was a distant fifth. Chris
managed to succeed by buying a bunch of cheap stock early, and also
having several rounds in which he managed to pick up more than one
share. I made a big mistake about halfway through the game and let a
round end without me having purchased a single share, and my score was
pathetically small as a result.
The game is pretty good, I think. Like most Winsome games, the bits
are not of great quality, but they are quite functional and the
gameplay seems to work well. I have two issues, one being the dynamic
with the end of the Stock Offer round, and the other being the turn
ordering putting most money in front, but I'm not really sure whether
these are problems with the game or just issues which introduce tricky
elements into the strategy. This is about my third time playing it,
but my first in over five years. So I'd be happy to do it again
Don headed home at this point, and we played a game of ad acta. This
is the filing game -- you have seven files distributed around the four
desks corresponding to the four players, and you're trying to get your
files processed and stuck into file cabinets. The issue is
complicated by the fact that you can't reorder the files in people's
inboxes, and different files are worth different amounts of points
based on which file cabinet they end up in. This makes timing
everything a little complicated, and the people late in the turn order
have a much better view of what is going to happen.
My game started off very slowly, with me missing the mark with most of
my files, getting them dropped in the wrong cabinet for minimal
points. Jeff, Evan and Chris were all doing fairly well, getting the
big points, and enjoying forcing my files into low-scoring cabinets.
Things were looking pretty bad for me, and I confess that I may well
have proclaimed my total losingness once or twice during the course of
the game. And, to be fair, at the start of the last turn of the game
(with one cabinet unscored), I had a score of 13, with Jeff, Evan and
Chris all up between 20 and 23.
Things took a turn for the better, however, when I realized that I was
going to get two high-scoring files in the last cabinet. Evan was
worried about Jeff, who was looking to file a high-scoring file, but
he figured out that he could change the order of the outboxes with a
special card and cause the cabinet to fill up before Jeff's file got
filed. In the end, this move cost Jeff 8 points, which would have
given him the win by a wide margin. I was fortunate to have all of my
files filed, so I kept my score of 25, while everyone else had to lose
between two and three points. Evan came out ahead of Jeff, but only
with a score of 24. Jeff was at 22, and Chris was at 20.
This is a very fun game, and I think that the special cards (which we
played with this time) added to the enjoyment (although admittedly
also to the amount of thinking required). Chris properly identified
the fact that the random sorting of the initial files can give an
advantage to one player or the other, although I think he made an
unfair analogy to another *much* more random game in the process.
It's clear that there's a random factor involved, but given that
there's no randomness after the initial setup, you have a lot of
opportunity for strategic play. For example, I ended the game with a
huge inbox -- but since none of them were my files, I wasn't
particularly motivated to work on them. Nobody else wanted to spend
their action points on my inbox, so the inbox languished and
grew...such is the life of a bureaucrat. This ultimately hurt the
other players far more than it hurt me...
We next played a quick game of Exxtra, with Evan once again making a
strong play for the win. However, Chris won this one with some very
skillful doubles rolling.
Our last real game of the night was Was Sticht?, a very odd little
trick-taking card game. In this game, the dealer lays out the entire
deck and players take turns drafting cards. The trick is that only
the dealer knows what is trump, but after each set of four he has to
give a hint, telling other players who would have won that trick had
it been played as a trick. So players can eventually deduce the trump
values and tune their hands accordingly. Once all cards are in
players' hands, the trump is revealed for standard trick-taking play.
Each player has a set of five chits with instructions on them, such
things as "No tricks", "Last trick", "No Blue cards", "Most tricks",
etc. Once everyone has their cards, all players except the dealer
select one of their chits to play for -- if they satisfy the
requirements of the chit, they get to discard it. The game is won by
the first player to discard his last chit. (The dealer can also
discard a chit, but only if he forces another player to fail and
satisfies that condition instead.
After a slow start, I managed to get down to a single chit. Chris had
one left as well, Jeff had two, and Evan had three. Chris won handily
by avoiding taking any tricks for his last chit.
We closed the night out, for some reason, with a game of Frantic
Frankfurt. This is a speed game, which, in general, I detest. It's
sort of like multiplayer solitaire. Each player has an arrangement of
10 cards laid out in front of them, and you start four piles of cards
in the middle of the table. The rules for playing cards are very
simple: same color cards, you can play a higher on a lower. different
colored cards, you can play an odd on an even. That's it! The first
person to get rid of all ten of their cards wins the round, and
everyone else has to add to their stock of cards. Game ends when one
player is out of cards. This was Evan, who managed to play with
blinding speed (probably those young reflexes, or something).
After playing a full game of it finally, I have to say that, well, I
still don't like these sorts of games, but this wasn't as bad as I
thought it would be. This could be because the game only took about
10 minutes, and I can do just about anything for 10 minutes.
Anyway, that was it for the night!
Next week will once again be in Westford, barring changes to the
- On 11/1/05, Josh Bluestein <josh@...> wrote:
> Chris and Jeff F. showed up and I proposed Dutch Intercity,Not quite. At the end of the game, each director gets the remainder
> Don concentrated on the Green railroad, and for most of the game was
> the sole stockholder in that company. I chased Blue but quickly lost
> control to Chris and then Evan (it's worth noting that control of a
> company is not essential to victory -- it allows you to choose how
> track is built and how much is paid for it in case of a conflict, but
> there's no bonus payout for being a director -- just what you get for
> holding the stock).
of cash that does not get dispersed to stockholders. For example, if
the red line has a total value of $87 and only 8 shares had been sold,
then each share is worth $10, and the remaining $7 goes to the
director. This could provide the margin of victory in a close game.
I wouldn't mind playing this one again. I'll toss it into my tote for
this weekend, although I doubt it'll come out as it's not shiny or
...who is responsible for the lone session report and player aids for
this game on BGG...
Eastern MA Gaming
"When playing a game the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is
important, not the winning."
- Reiner Knizia
> From: Phil Alberg <palberg@...>Is that so? I thought I had checked that pretty thoroughly, but I
> On 11/1/05, Josh Bluestein <josh@...> wrote:
> > Chris and Jeff F. showed up and I proposed Dutch Intercity,
> > Don concentrated on the Green railroad, and for most of the game was
> > the sole stockholder in that company. I chased Blue but quickly lost
> > control to Chris and then Evan (it's worth noting that control of a
> > company is not essential to victory -- it allows you to choose how
> > track is built and how much is paid for it in case of a conflict, but
> > there's no bonus payout for being a director -- just what you get for
> > holding the stock).
> Not quite. At the end of the game, each director gets the remainder
> of cash that does not get dispersed to stockholders. For example,
> if the red line has a total value of $87 and only 8 shares had been
> sold, then each share is worth $10, and the remaining $7 goes to the
> director. This could provide the margin of victory in a close game.
guess I missed it. I don't think it would have mattered in our game
(except to widen the margin between me and everyone else), but Chris
and Don were pretty close...
> - PhilWhy am I not surprised to hear this? Phil's a complete Winsome slut.
> ...who is responsible for the lone session report and player aids for
> this game on BGG...
Phil, I should have the new Age of Steam maps at LT and plan to be there
early Saturday. I'll have the usual other stuff as well (Fifth Avenue,
Big Shot) and a brand new copy of Jenseits von Theben.
W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
"And neither mathematics nor death ever makes a mistake." - Yevgeny Zamyatin
- On 11/1/05, W. Eric Martin <eric@...> wrote:
> > - PhilWh-whaddaya mean? I don't have THAT many Winsome titles: Dutch
> > ...who is responsible for the lone session report and player aids for
> > this game on BGG...
> Why am I not surprised to hear this? Phil's a complete Winsome slut.
InterCity, Pampas Railroads, Transsib, Mine, New England Railways, and
AoS (if you want to count their trademark on the box bottom). That
only makes me a Winsome whore, *not* a slut. Sheesh!
>Cool Beans! I'll be toting a couple of new titles (Beowulf, Glory to
> Phil, I should have the new Age of Steam maps at LT and plan to be there
> early Saturday. I'll have the usual other stuff as well (Fifth Avenue,
> Big Shot) and a brand new copy of Jenseits von Theben.
Rome) as well as some older titles (Magna Grecia, Santiago, Reef
Encounter, Ys). I'll also be bringing Was Sticht -- hopefully someone
can teach this one to me. I'll be there Friday and Saturday.
Eastern MA Gaming
"When playing a game the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is
important, not the winning."
- Reiner Knizia
- --- Josh Bluestein <josh@...> wrote:
>Why is that? Because he might chatter you to death?
> We had five spooky people in spooky Westford for a
> spooky night of
> spooky games...well, in truth, we played one spooky
> game, and most of
> the crew isn't all that spooky, although I don't
> think I'd like to be
> stuck in an elevator with Evan.
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