[SR] MVGA Holliston 2005-11-10
- 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.
Eric, Anton, Dan, Paul H., Rich, Walt
Anton and Paul arrived at MVGA with their
ABPA tabletop baseball equipment, ready to
play a series. The TBL league that several
MVGA regulars play in is winding its way
through the final month of the season, with
some teams gearing up for the playoffs and
others preparing for next year by trading
their veterans for next year's draft picks.
Dan and Eric waited a few minutes before
starting a game of Lost Cities. Lost Cities
is a 2-player card game that many gamers
play with their spouses (and often lose!)
Eric tends to take a lot of risks in Lost
Cities, and he started off with a big score
for the first hand, starting four of the
five possible expeditions and scoring well
on all four. Dan played more carefully,
getting fewer cards on the table but taking
less risk of a big negative score.
Score after one hand: Eric 70, Dan 37
Eric's approach didn't work as well in the second hand. This
time he started all five expeditions, fishing frantically for
enough big cards to get a good score in at least one. He
didn't suffer in any of his suits, but he didn't score big,
either (he had -2 in yellow, -6 in white, 5 in blue, 3 in
green and -1 in red for a total of -1.) Dan started four
suits this time and achieved a second respectable score.
Scores after two hands: Eric 69, Dan 64
Rich came in during the second hand and watched for the rest
of the game. A game consists of three hands, and the game
plays quickly, so he didn't have long to wait. Eric again
started five expeditions as Rich rolled his eyes in dismay.
Eric did score 56 points for a yellow expedition with
two doublers and eight cards, but he took a 20-point bath
in red. Dan started three expeditions and they all
contributed positive points as he squeaked out a close win.
Final scores: Eric 70 - 1 + 30 = 99, Dan 37 + 27 + 39 = 103.
Eric's rating: 9. My wife and I have played Lost Cities many
times, and we're evenly matched. More recently I began playing
on BSW (where a hand takes only a minute or two because the
computer shuffles for you) and I was intrigued to find players
who are much, much better than I am. For a supposedly simple
game, Lost Cities has a lot of depth.
TICKET TO RIDE
(Eric, Dan, Rich)
The tabletop baseball series was chugging along, with Paul
growing more frustrated every inning as Anton's Gotham team kept
hitting home runs. We knew Walt would be along later in the
evening, but we weren't sure when. We decided to play shortish
3-player games so we'd be able to include Walt when he arrived.
Ticket to Ride is an MVGA favorite that plays well with any
number from 2 to 5 but is at its nastiest with 3. The 4- and
5-player games have many double track segments (often in two
different colors) that allow two different players to connect
the same pair of cities. In the 2- and 3-player games you may
only use one of any such pair. It can get pretty crowded with
3 players given this restriction.
We started out, as usual, with a period of card collecting. Dan
had kept two of his starting tickets while Eric and Rich both
kept all three. The first track was laid by Eric, who connected
Los Angeles - San Francisco with the help of three yellow cards.
This was a blow to Rich, who had already collected three pink
cards to build the same link as part of his plan to connect
Seattle and Los Angeles. As Rich explained later, there's only
one ticket that involves San Francisco---but unfortunately for
Rich, Eric had drawn that ticket. Eric soon drew new tickets
and kept two for a total of five. His first three tickets were
bunched together in such a way that he felt confident he could
connect some more and wanted to know which transcontinental
route would best do the job. Rich used Seattle - Portland -
Las Vegas - Los Angeles - Phoenix as a workable but less
effective alternate route.
In the mean time Dan was building across Canada in splendid
isolation. At the start of the game Dan had drawn three tickets
that didn't work very well together: Vancouver - Montreal up
north, Los Angeles - Miami down south, and Winnipeg - Houston
in the middle. He discarded the southern ticket and began work
on a "Y"-shaped track. One benefit of Dan's plan was the 30 VP
he would earn for the two 6-car routes Calgary - Winnipeg and
Winnipeg - Sault St. Marie.
Eric and Rich, on the other hand, were fated to bump heads all
through the game. Eric connected New York - Pittsburgh - Chicago
as Rich built Pittsburgh - St. Louis. Eric was hoping to build
Chicago - St. Louis - Kansas City, so he decided to grab the
St. Louis - Kansas City link before Rich could take it. Rich
retaliated by grabbing Chicago - St. Louis, the link Eric needed
to join his disconnected pieces of track. If there's going to
be grief, it might as well be spread around! This set off a
tense bit of card-drawing and track claiming as Rich and Eric
tried to connect east to west at the same time as Dan built
south down the Mississippi River to connect to Houston.
In the end, we all connected all our tickets. Eric detoured
through Nashville, while Rich finally got the red cards he
needed to complete a Salt Lake City - Denver - Oklahoma City
stretch he didn't really want to build. At this point, Eric
had finished all five tickets, so he sucked up some points and
rushed the game to its conclusion by building Duluth - Helena -
Denver as Rich went to New York via Washington DC. Dan had a
fistful of cards left at the end of the game and would have
scored quite a few points if he had been given one or two more
turns to build.
Eric 142 = 74 in track + 58 in tickets + 10 for long route
Dan_ 125 = 67 in track + 58 in tickets
Rich 116 = 64 in track + 52 in tickets
Eric's rating: 8. Ticket to Ride is equally enjoyable with
three gamers or with non-gaming family members. It's my
favorite Alan Moon game, just edging out Union Pacific for
(Eric, Dan, Rich)
We thought Walt would be arriving around 9pm, and it was ten
past eight. We couldn't afford to start a long game, so we
pulled out San Juan, a game we felt positive we could finish
in 50 minutes. Anton and Paul were still playing their
tabletop baseball series, with Paul complaining gently as
Anton kept losing baseballs in the center field bleachers.
We play the version of San Juan, described in the rule book,
that gives the first player 5 cards, the second player 6, and
so forth, with everyone discarding down to 4 before play begins.
Eric was first Governor, and he built a Gold Mine, eliciting
groans from Dan, who finds the constant card handling required
by the Gold Mine to be a nuisance. Neither Rich nor Dan built,
and Eric felt pleased to have stolen a march on them. The Gold
Mine was a bust, however, as it paid off for Eric only once,
toward the end of the game. On the next turn things became
clearer, as Rich built a Library, giving him double privileges
for the rest of the game, and Dan built a Silver Mine. Neither
player had been able to afford these costly buildings in the
first round, but once built they offered good options. Eric
tried his best to keep up, but a Tobacco Shed was the best he
None of the players drew the cards he was hoping for. Dan
built a second Silver Mine as his third building and spent most
of the game crafting and trading (Eric and Rich saw no need to
encourage Dan by taking these roles for him!) Eric built a
Quarry and pursued a traditional purple building strategy, with
a Prefecture, a Poor House, a Carpenter a Statue, a Victory
Column, and eventually a Palace, but he never managed to draw
the City Hall or Triumphal Arch he needed to cap it off. Rich
tried to exploit his Library, but Eric kept taking the
Prospector in front of him, and Rich didn't have the cards to
make the most of the double builder discount. Dan built a
Chapel and stuffed four cards under it, but his commodity
based strategy was underpowered because it was two against
When Eric built his eleventh building, Rich passed even though
he had six cards in his hand. Eric was governor on the following
round and built again---a lousy Crane for 1 VP. Rich built the
Triumphal Arch, worth 8 VP, which was just enough to give him the
win. Rich pointed out that Eric should have known Rich had a
6-point building because Rich passed during the previous building
phase. Given this fact, Eric should have counseled in an attempt
to get a better building than a Crane---a building that might have
been worth 2 VP and allowed Eric to win on the tiebreaker.
Final scores: Rich 28, Eric 27, Dan 22.
Eric's rating: 8. San Juan isn't quite the game Puerto Rico is,
but it plays much more quickly. It takes almost no time to set
up, unlike Puerto Rico, where setup is a bit of a chore. We
finished this game in less than 25 minutes.
(Eric, Dan, Rich)
It was now 8:35 and Walt would be arriving in 25 minutes. It was
just the spot for a game of Paris Paris, a game Eric often brings
in his tub o' games. Paris Paris is a game of luck, and Rich had
poor luck in the first half dozen turns. When it was Rich's turn
to go first, there were three good tiles. When it was someone
else's turn, there was only one good tile, so Rich had to settle
for something less attractive. Even worse, Rich kept getting
picked on, and a stream of his shops headed for the bag.
Eric was next to take a fall. He flopped over four tiles and
three of them were for Pont Neuf. This meant if Eric put a shop
in Pont Neuf, Rich would add a shop of his own and Dan would
(given the position) eject Eric before he had even one turn to
enjoy it. Even worse, two of the Pont Neuf tiles were red and
one was blue, and Eric couldn't afford to leave a blue tile on
the board, because a blue grand tour would score big for Dan and
Rich. All three players placed shops at the same stop, Pont Neuf.
This is a rarity in a 3-player game. Eric's shop went into the
bag as anticipated.
Dan opened up a nice lead toward the end of the game, but we had
a feeling that Rich was top man in the bag. If you have more of
your shops put into the bag by opponents than anyone else, you
get a VP at the end for each of your shops in the bag. When the
game was over, we turned over our three secret color chips and
scored grand tours in those colors. At this point the score was
Dan 46, Eric 42, Rich 39. When we opened the bag, there were 6
of Rich's shops, compared with 4 each for Dan and Eric.
Final scores: Dan 46, Rich 45, Eric 42.
Eric's rating: 8. This game is available on BSW. I wish it
were easier to find a game.
(Eric, Anton, Rich, Dan, Walt)
The tabletop baseball series was over. Paul had previously
announced that he would not be able to stay for other games,
but Anton wanted to play at least one game with the rest of
us. We called Walt on his mobile phone, and he told us to set
a game up---he'd be at the Masonic Hall in ten minutes. Last
week we played a 3-player game of Puerto Rico with all of the
expansion buildings, and we decided to try again with 5 of us.
Eric was the first Governor in this game, and he started us off
with the usual Settler-Quarry opening. When Anton built, Rich
and Eric took Aqueducts (they had seen how well the Aqueduct
worked last week.) Dan saved up for a Tobacco Shed, so he
didn't build, and Walt built the Guest House, a building that
gives great flexibility in worker placement but used up all
For some reason people buy large Indigo and Sugar plants in
the expansion games, even if they don't get the Aqueducts they
need to make the most of them, and it happened in this game.
Rich got both large plants. Eric bought the large Indigo but
all the large Sugar mills were taken before he could get one.
This wasn't a problem for him, however, as he had Coffee going
before anyone else and got some lucrative sales in to finance
the purchase of a Storehouse and a Union Hall early enough to
ship his way to victory. The Union Hall is an explosive tool
if you can get it going, and Eric won by 13 VP. Walt suffered
as a result of his cash-poor position, which was aggravated by
his inability to make trades.
Eric's rating: 10. It was nice to play with a totally
different set of buildings. The expansion buildings are a bit
quirky, and the Union Hall may be excessively powerful, but it
was fun to deal with unfamiliar challenges.