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