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SOG SR: 10/31 in Westford

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  • Josh Bluestein
    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
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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      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
      Netherlands.

      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
      lucky.

      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
      sometime.

      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
      plan.

      Josh
    • Phil Alberg
      ... 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
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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        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.

        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
        new...

        - Phil
        ...who is responsible for the lone session report and player aids for
        this game on BGG...

        --
        Eastern MA Gaming
        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
      • Josh Bluestein
        ... Is that so? I thought I had checked that pretty thoroughly, but I guess I missed it. I don t think it would have mattered in our game (except to widen
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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          > From: Phil Alberg <palberg@...>
          > 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.

          Is that so? I thought I had checked that pretty thoroughly, but I
          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...

          Josh
        • W. Eric Martin
          ... Why am I not surprised to hear this? Phil s a complete Winsome slut. Phil, I should have the new Age of Steam maps at LT and plan to be there early
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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            > - Phil
            > ...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.

            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.

            Eric

            --
            W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
            "And neither mathematics nor death ever makes a mistake." - Yevgeny Zamyatin
          • Phil Alberg
            ... Wh-whaddaya mean? I don t have THAT many Winsome titles: Dutch InterCity, Pampas Railroads, Transsib, Mine, New England Railways, and AoS (if you want to
            Message 5 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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              On 11/1/05, W. Eric Martin <eric@...> wrote:
              > > - Phil
              > > ...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.

              Wh-whaddaya mean? I don't have THAT many Winsome titles: Dutch
              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!

              >
              > 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.

              Cool Beans! I'll be toting a couple of new titles (Beowulf, Glory to
              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.

              - Phil

              --
              Eastern MA Gaming
              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
            • Richard Spoonts
              ... Why is that? Because he might chatter you to death? Richard __________________________________ Yahoo! FareChase: Search multiple travel sites in one
              Message 6 of 6 , Nov 1, 2005
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                --- Josh Bluestein <josh@...> wrote:

                >
                > 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.

                Why is that? Because he might chatter you to death?

                Richard




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