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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2006-03-23

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  • brosiuse
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2006
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      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.


      Roll call:
      Rich, Anton, Dan, Walt, Eric


      EL GRANDE
      (Rich, Anton, Dan, Walt, Eric)

      El Grande is one of our favorite games at
      MVGA, though we don't get to play it as
      often as we like because it requires
      exactly 5 for a good game and it's fairly
      long. With 5 regulars on hand for the
      first time in quite some time, we took the
      opportunity to fit a game into our schedule.
      Walt suggested trying an expansion, as he
      always does when we have a veteran crew for
      El Grande. We told him we'd be willing to
      try it if the expansion weren't in German,
      as we always do when Walt makes this
      suggestion.

      Rich started off to an early lead. Everyone knows Rich
      is our best El Grande player (he's a whiz at any game
      that involves cube placement,) so we watched him all
      through the game. Eric made up some ground with his own
      scoring play, and Anton wasn't too far behind. Walt and
      Dan didn't get into positive territory for a while and
      were soon playing from behind.

      In the second or third round, the card that sends your
      opponents' caballeros back to the provinces appeared, and
      Anton slapped down his #13 card. We thought he'd take that
      card, but he surprised us all and let Walt take it instead.
      El Grande has a natural rhythm; you go early one turn and
      take a strong card, and then you go later in the next turn
      to rebuild your stock of caballeros. The "caballeros go
      home" card ruins that rhythm and can be a bad break for a
      player who has built up a supply. Eric was fortunate in
      that he had no caballeros to banish when Walt played the
      card, and he rode that break to a slim lead after three
      rounds:

      Scoring #1: Eric 56, Rich 53, Anton 39, Dan 36, Walt 34

      In the middle rounds Rich moved the lucrative scoreboard
      (the one that pays 8 VP for first) into Catalonia, where
      Rich's Grande was situated. Rich scored that bonus twice
      before Eric moved his Grande to Catalonia, together with
      a big batch of caballeros. We all tend to react strongly
      to Rich's moves in this game---perhaps we over-react---but
      Eric widened his lead with another Catalonian scoring to
      lead by 7 VP after six rounds:

      Scoring #2: Eric 79, Rich 72, Anton 62, Dan 58, Walt 54

      As the game wore on, people continued to re-arrange Rich's
      cubes in nasty ways, often dumping them in Eric's regions
      in such a way as to hurt Rich without hurting Eric. It
      was looking like Eric's game, but there was a surprise
      left. In the last part of the game Anton got a pile of
      cubes into the northern tier of provinces---Aragon, Basque
      Country and New Castille--- for several lucrative scoring
      chances. Eric even let Anton have the opportunity to
      play the "score all 5 regions" card for 14 VP, reasoning
      that Eric would pick up enough ground on Rich to put the
      game away. He was surprised to find Anton coming up on
      the outside to win by a nose!

      Final scores:

      Anton 117, Eric 116, Rich 104, Dan 102, Walt 88.

      Eric's rating: 10. El Grande is a great game. Every time
      I play, I wonder why I've waited so long to get it out
      again.


      TICKET TO RIDE
      (Rich, Anton, Dan, Walt, Eric)

      Ticket to Ride is an excellent "gateway game" for getting
      new people into the hobby, but it's a fine game for gamers
      as well. We've played it quite a bit at MVGA, and it's at
      its most competitive with 3 or 5 players, since the board
      is the most crowded with these numbers. It's easy to place
      track to cut your opponents off, but you can waste valuable
      time and cost yourself the win while you're trying to hurt
      someone else.

      This game began with the usual card-collecting spree, though
      Eric took two new tickets on his first turn (his two original
      ones were those irritating middle-of the country runs that
      are hard to build and don't pay well.) Rich laid down one
      lone train between Portland and Seattle to preserve his
      connection, and Eric connected Houston and New Orleans, both
      of which were endpoints for tickets he held. Of course, he
      also knew that this could get in the way of the player who
      had the Miami-Los Angeles ticket, and that turned out to be
      Anton.

      Dan began work on a network of track in the west, while Walt
      waited for quite some time to lay his first train (he started
      out slowly in both of the evening's games.) Once Walt got
      going, however, he chained track sections together one after
      the other, including several loops in the East North Central
      part of the country. Rich worked his way with some pain into
      the east, making it to Nashville by a circuitous route, and
      Eric seemed bent on building two separate networks, one in
      the Great Plains and the other in the Southeast.

      Before we knew it, Walt was down to his last few trains. This
      left Eric without enough time to connect his two sections, and
      he took a 19 VP penalty for unconnected tickets to finish far
      behind the others. Anton's score also showed the effects of
      the detour around Houston, and Dan was stuck with an unfilled
      ticket, but Walt's long route with several 6-train sections took
      the victory by a comfortable margin.

      Final scores:

      Walt 125 = 76 (track) + 39 (tickets) + 10 (longest route)
      Dan_ 110 = 67 (track) + 52 (tickets) - 9 (unfilled tickets)
      Rich 110 = 67 (track) + 43 (tickets)
      Anton 91 = 58 (track) + 33 (tickets)
      Eric_ 63 = 60 (track) + 22 (tickets) - 19 (unfilled tickets)

      Eric's rating: 8. I believe this is my favorite Alan Moon
      game, though I've rated a number of his designs as '8's. It
      accommodates a wide range of experience levels and works well
      with 2 to 5 players.


      Eric Brosius
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