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vSOG SR: 1/2 in Westford

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  • Josh Bluestein
    Crisis on Infinite (well, two) SOGs: The first SOG session of 2006 was actually held in two different locations: Mark T. hosted a daytime SOG, and I hosted an
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2006
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      Crisis on Infinite (well, two) SOGs:

      The first SOG session of 2006 was actually held in two different
      locations: Mark T. hosted a daytime SOG, and I hosted an evening SOG.

      Since I didn't go to Mark's, I don't really know what happened there.
      Here's what happened at my place:

      In attendance were Mike (fresh from Mark's SOG), Don, Paul, Chris and
      myself.

      Mike, Don and Paul all arrived fairly close together, and we started
      the night off with a game of Big Kini, one of my recent acquisitions
      that I was anxious to give a try. This is an exploration and
      influence game. There are 18 tiles representing a network of atolls.
      In the four-player game, these tiles are arranged in a grid with the
      four player's starting tiles at opposite corners. Players can earn
      points by occupying positions of influence in the various atolls (1,
      2, or 5 depending on the position), acquiring sets of goods (3 points
      each), accumulating money (1 point per 8 'Bay Baron'), and discovering
      new atolls (2 points per discovery). The game ends after a set number
      of rounds or when all atolls have been discovered.

      During each round, each player has the opportunity to take two
      actions. Actions include proliferation (adding colonists), movement,
      earning money, elections (to gain control of an atoll), acquire goods,
      and discovery. The trick is that each action may only be selected in
      a given round a certain number of times. The first time an action is
      selected it can be performed twice. The second time it is performed a
      single time...and the third time is a single time that you have to pay
      money for. Once everyone has selected and executed their actions, the
      round ends and start player passes and you do the whole thing all over
      again.

      Our game played fairly quickly -- it ended after eight rounds when the
      last tile was discovered. Paul took the victory with (I think) 31
      points, which included 10 points for discoveries. Other scores were
      close -- I was in second with 28, Mike had 27, and Don had 26.

      The game was fun, and there was some competition, but it seemed like
      the play was really over before it got started, since discovery is not
      particularly difficult to do, is worth a good number of points, and
      hastens the game end. Paul had two atolls that produced good income
      and his high income I think was influential in giving him the
      victory. All in all, one I would play again, one I enjoyed...but it
      didn't blow me away.

      Chris joined us at this point for a game of Die Sieben Siegel. About
      which, the less said, the better. Chris won with a score of 6, and
      Don and Paul were close behind at 11. Mike and I were well back,
      although I have the distinction of claiming last place.

      Our last game before Don had to leave was Fettnapf in Sicht. I had
      heard some good things about this game, but I was wary because it has
      a memory component. The gameplay is quite simple: There is a deck of
      island cards numbered from 10 to 20. Players have a hand of three
      movement cards from a deck of cards numbered 0 to 9. Everyone gets an
      island card, which is shown to all players then hidden. Each player
      in turn plays a movement card and adds to the total. So, 4+5=9,
      9+4=13, 13+5=18...etc. The trick is that if you play to a total that
      matches the island card of another player, you take a 'stew pot'
      card. I believe that this symbolizes getting stuffed in the stew pot
      by cannibals. To make matters worse, once the total passes 30, two
      things happen: the flow reverses, and you start counting backwards,
      and the player to the right of the person who crossed 30 gets an
      additional island card. This happens again when the total falls below
      10, and so on and so forth. Eventually quite a lot of island cards
      are out there and it becomes quite difficult to remember which numbers
      are still safe. The game ends when a player takes their fourth stew
      pot card, with the winner being the person with the fewest stew pot
      cards. The game can also end when the last island card is handed
      out, but this seems fairly unlikely. In any case, the memory
      component is present but I found it delightful. For a frantic, fast
      little game, this was really enjoyable. Don ended up taking his
      fourth stew pot, leaving Chris, Paul and I to share the victory with
      two stew pots each. Mike had three, so he got slapped with a wet tuna
      (it's in the rules!).

      Don headed out and we played a game of Ark. This is a card-based area
      control game with the theme of filling up Noah's Ark with animals
      before the flood. You're trying to fill up cabins while being mindful
      of not mixing carnivores with anything they can eat, not overbalancing
      the ark, etc. The rules for placement are in some cases fairly
      complex. to the point of being fiddly...but I did enjoy the game. In
      the end, you get points based on five categories: Heavy, Slow,
      Useful, Shy and Provisions. My brontosaurus gave me top marks in
      heavy animals, and this along with some good scores elsewhere was
      enough to win me the game by a good margin (35 points, with the
      highest other score being around 28). I'd have to play this game
      again to be sure -- I found it pretty fun and challenging, but the
      rules for placement seem almost needlessly complex. I have to wonder
      if the complexity makes the game a problem to play.

      Mike went home, and Chris, Paul and I finished off with a game of
      Aloha: a push-your-luck tile-laying and area control game. On your
      turn, you essentially can keep drawing tiles until you end up with one
      you can't place properly. You can stop before that, in which case you
      get to keep all the markers you've laid that turn...but if you draw
      the wrong tile, you lose your work for the turn. I liked the game
      better with three players than I did with four, having done a
      four-player version at a previous SOG. The shapes of the islands are
      fun to watch as they form, and the decisions as to where to go and
      whether to push your luck or not are not trivial. Sadly, my score was
      just as bad as the previous time: Chris won with 21 points, Paul had
      18, and I had 8. I kept getting second place on the good
      beaches...which is worth a big fat goose egg. Another good game from
      Cwali.

      That was all for the night. Tune in next week...

      Josh
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