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[SR] UG-X, 1/21: Die Macher, Showmanager, Wizard, Viva Pamplona, more

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  • W. Eric Martin
    Having the October Unity Games event fall through was a bummer for three reasons. First, I d miss out on seeing all the GSGers I moved away from in September,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2006
      Having the October Unity Games event fall through was a bummer for three
      reasons. First, I'd miss out on seeing all the GSGers I moved away from
      in September, not to mention all the other fine folks in UG. Second, my
      friend from NY, Craig, would make a long drive for nothing. To solve
      these problems, I hosted gaming at my house that Saturday, and we had a
      huge number of folks on hand for at least six hours of gaming.

      Thankfully, UG-X.2 went off without a hitch, and I had a fine time over
      the fifteen hours, playing numerous games with players both familiar and


      Two rounds of Showmanager started the day, with me manning the game in
      the teaching area set up by the able Phil Alberg. I was joined in the
      first game by Ye Olde Bob Sumner, Matthew Alberg, Preston, Charley, and
      one other player (Adam?). As usual, my memory has faded quickly, so many
      details are already lost. What I do remember is fairly constant
      complaining from Charley about how poor his position was behind Preston
      and the usually tight-fisted Bob spending a surprising amount on
      clearing the board in the first half of the game. Despite these
      expenses, his shows ranked near the bottom, and borrowing from them only
      further tanked his score. Charley drew extra strength from his
      complaints to land at the top in New York and one other city and in
      second place elsewhere. His 50+ points easily earned him the producer of
      the year title as everyone else was in the 30s.

      This result was repeated in the second game as the player in Charley's
      seat (Ada?) again rocked the field, scoring 50+ against scores that were
      mostly in the 30s. Ada and Craig, seated opposite each other, were both
      trying to complete Ballet for their final production and only two points
      separated them from the top of the charts at that time. I convinced
      Craig that it was unwise to tank his New York production of Wolf to pay
      for Ballet, and while my explanation proved true in the end, his Ballet
      wasn't even close to Ada's as Ada snagged three 9s from the pile of
      recycled cards.

      Kapitan Wackelpudding

      Craig and Alex scanned the teetering piles of games for interesting
      titles and grabbed this balancing and dexterity game. In general,
      players move a wooden boat from island to island, adding a good from the
      starting island to the boat's tower of objects before moving. If any
      objects fall off the boat on route, the player keeps those objects, and
      the player with the fewest objects wins once the board holds fewer than
      four items.

      I proved to be Master Die Roller in this game, and this was my route to
      victory. Five times during the game, including a run of four in a row, I
      rolled the die and didn't have to move the boat. I simply added an item
      to the stack, then ended my turn. This gave me just the slightest edge
      over everyone else; Alex and Stephanie rolled matching colors only once,
      and Jenny and Craig never matched, so everyone else was at constant risk
      while I watched.

      This proved to be my only win of the day, so while I shouldn't be proud
      of a cheap victory, I'll take it.


      Just as Kapitan W. was ending, someone announced the start of the Wizard
      tournament, so Craig and I signed on. I was seated at the five-player
      table with Nate, Chris C., and two others, while the other eight players
      divided into two tables. Nate and Chris had somewhat solid leads going
      into the final round, but the other three of us weren't too far behind.
      Bidding third in the final round, I was dealt a ridiculous hand of two
      Wizards, 13/12/11 in one suit, 12/11/two medium cards in another, 12/9
      in the third suit, and a lone 13 in the fourth suit -- a completely
      ridiculous hand, in other words. I made my six bid -- and could have
      made at least one other trick, possibly two -- and stormed past Chris
      for second place.

      In the second, concluding round of the tournament, the player order was
      Nate, Tami, Craig, Eric, Nick, and Sean, with Nick having made an 8 bid
      in his final round to trounce Dave B. and make me the designated SSG
      participant. Nick wrote the following about the final:

      "The Wizard finals themselves were not very exciting, actually...no one
      had any big hands...I think the largest bid made was a 4. Final scores
      for the Wizard tourney were:

      "Nate 260, Eric 220, Nick 200, Sean 180, Tami 180, Craig 170

      "So, obviously a very tight game, but a bit unexciting...particularly at
      the end. After looking at our cards on the last hand Eric and I both
      sighed, made low bids, and remarked that we didn't have game winning
      hands. Congratulations Nate!"

      Nate played well throughout the entire game, slowly building up a lead
      that could have chopped only through a tremendous bid a la Nick's and my
      first round. Twasn't to be.

      Die Macher

      Four of the folks on the 6am Gamers list had vowed to play Die Macher at
      UG-X.2, with Joe being the resident shark, Ray and Jim being the guys
      with half a clue (having played half a game the previous week), and me
      being the complete neophyte. Craig had read the rules as well, and he
      was number five in the quest for rule of the German government. With a
      planned start time of 3pm, we managed to start by 3:45 after a
      late-running Wizard tournament, Jim's arrival, and the conclusion of
      Ray's Mah Jong game.

      I set myself in the hole from my very first decision. The regions had
      come out with vote values of (approximately) 56, 16, 23, and 35, and I
      somehow had the idea that players would be competing for those votes,
      not winning points up to that maximum value. With that conclusion in
      mind, I decided not to compete in the initial region, using my two
      initial placements to put meeting markers in the second and fourth
      regions, a media marker in the second, and some votes in the third or
      fourth. I washed my hands of the first region, and continued to do so
      throughout the entire first round. Then the round ended, and I had no
      votes and as a result barely any income. Thus ended my quest for
      political glory.

      What's worse, I didn't win that second region either as Jim made a
      coalition (with Joe?) and I failed to team up with anyone. In fact, Jim
      shared victory in the first three regions and looked like a runaway
      winner with his only real competitor being Craig, who was racking up an
      incredible number of party members.

      I passed on the initial bidding before each round as I couldn't suss out
      the consequences of going first or making someone else go first. Clearly
      you wanted to go last in a round so that you could tally your votes last
      and land on someone else's top scoring marker, but I failed to set
      myself up to do so as I was scrabbling for money all game.

      I did place a winner in the sixth round for a not-so-impressive 12
      points, but that was a poor attempt at catching up. My party platform
      was matching up fairly well with the national board, but Jim's and
      Craig's parties both boasted a nearly identical platform, so they were
      scoring as much as I would.

      In the end, Jim won by a mere 12 points over Craig, a total that Craig
      Massey (who was observing the end of the game and mocking Joe) said was
      quite small. Ray and Joe actually tied for third place with around 250,
      while I lagged far behind with 196. Craig goofed by trying to run up
      Joe's bid for an opinion poll in the sixth region as he bid beyond what
      Joe could afford; this left him unable to bid in the seventh region, but
      Jim had 90+ thousand anyway, far beyond what anyone else could afford.

      The game has so many systems intertwined that it's hard to see exactly
      how they interact. Clearly as Jim won regions, he lost the ability to
      influence the media or use the media to protect himself from opinion
      polls, but he had plenty of money to buy the poll and sink it, so the
      loss of media didn't really hurt him.

      Now that I have a clearer understanding of how the game works, I'll be
      pushing it again soon at an all-day gaming session at my house in
      February or March. An announcement is forthcoming...

      Viva Pamplona

      After four hours of Die Macher, I took a food break, then saw Eric
      Schulz waving this Kramer race game around, looking for another player
      and someone to teach the game. I was happy to play as I enjoy the
      lightness of the game, not to mention the bullying. Chuck and Dave
      seemed to be pushed around the most, and I was rightly pegged as the
      front runner after excessive bullying and a lucky "Toro charges" card
      flip that netted me nine points.

      Unfortunately, Toro then raced past my dudes, and I was able to place
      only one in the stadium, losing me 12 points and the game. Only two
      cards out of ten could have hurt me, and the odds fell the wrong way.


      While wondering around trying to arrange a Candamir game with Phil and
      Josh, I ran across Tyler as he finished the rules for The Laser Game, as
      the box boldly declares. I offered to play, and Tyler slowly but surely
      set up my pharaoh for a blasting. My main mistake, I realized later, was
      not threatening his pieces to force him to do stuff; instead I moved
      pieces to set up attacks for future turns, but those turns involved me
      scrambling for safety, so I never had a chance.

      Electronic Catchphrase

      I gabbed for a few minutes with Pitt C., Sean Donohue, Aaron Bass, and
      Mark Noseworthy about Knucklebones and the writing industry, then we
      decided that games must be played. We chose Catchphrase, then landed
      another person to team up with Mark and Pitt. Mark gave hilariously
      inept clues multiple times, especially for Bruce Willis, and the
      Aaron/Sean/Eric team took the first round. Unfortunately, the second and
      third round were not as kind. My teammates had never heard the phrase
      "fuddy duddy" and Pitt used my rules asides to take it for his team.
      Others commented that this electronic version seemed much tougher than
      the original as it contained many obscure phrases, such as "drop the
      chalupa" another loser that I failed to communicate.


      Amid continued references to autofel-- um, practices better left to the
      imagination, I taught this simple memory game to Eric, Lucy, Jessica,
      and Pat(?). Jessica repeatedly brought the total over or under the goal
      line, and Pat had at least six stewpot numbers in hand at game's end.
      Eric S. ended up in the pot, while Lucy, Pat, and I won. Okay, so I won
      a second game at UG. This is hardly one for the books.

      Everyone else had cleared out of the Sheraton by this point, so I packed
      up numerous boxes of newly acquired games for the long trip home. Thanks
      to everyone for a fantastic day of gaming, and I'm sorry the next one
      won't appear until the fall.

      Thus we come to the third reason that the cancelled UG-X was a bummer:
      If that event had gone off as planned, UG XI would likely have followed
      in Spring 2006. Now we have several more seasons to wait. Here's hoping
      the next event spans the entire weekend...



      P.S. Amazingly enough, the games didn't end with the close of UG-X.2.
      After Craig and I drove 90 minutes to my house in Concord, we played
      Ticket to Ride: Europe, with Craig pulling out the win thanks to longest
      route -- oh, but wait, the judges are calling back a ticket because he
      didn't actually make it to Frankfurt. This two train oversight cost him
      the game.

      The following day, I taught him Caylus, my first attempt at this game
      with two players. It plays extremely well with this number and is more
      about efficiency in planning than turn order. I won by a couple dozen
      points, but I would have been surprised not to since I'd played before.
      A two-player St. Petersburg game followed, with another win by me thanks
      to some big buildings. I guess I should stick to two-player games with
      Craig if I want to win. Zing!

      W. Eric Martin - TwoWriters.net
      "And neither mathematics nor death ever makes a mistake." - Yevgeny Zamyatin
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