[SR] MVGA Holliston 2006-08-24
- 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, Rich, Anton, Bill
(Eric, Rich, Anton, Bill)
Players were slow in arriving at the
Masonic Hall this week, so it was a little
after 7pm when we pulled San Juan out of
the MVGA game locker for our first game of
the evening. Bill arrived while we were
setting up, so we found another Indigo
plantation card for him and started right
in. Bill was a little fuzzy at the start,
claiming he hadn't played for a while, but
the last time he played San Juan at MVGA
he won the game, so we knew we couldn't
Early in the course of our experience with
San Juan, Rich had mediocre results, but
he's now won five of the last six games he
has played at MVGA and we're wondering how
to stop him! Rich was first Governor and
began by building a Coffee Roaster, using
all his cards. Coffee isn't a bad build
for the first Governor, as it lets you
craft in the second round after the more
desirable roles have been taken. Eric
followed with a Carpenter, Anton a Gold
Mine and Bill a lowly Sugar Mill.
Rich played an odd hybrid strategy, adding a Prefecture to his Coffee
Mill, followed by a Market Hall and a series of monuments. Usually the
monuments accompany a purple-building strategy, but Rich didn't build
any of the big building strategy cards, making his money instead by
selling lucrative batches using the trader. Eric did pursue the purple
building strategy, augmenting the Carpenter with a Quarry, a Black Market
and an Aqueduct (to fuel the Black Market.) He would have won going away
if he could have drawn the City Hall, the Guild Hall or the Triumphal
Arch, but the only 6 building he got was the Palace, which needs another
6 building to make it effective.
Anton hit twice early on using his Gold Mine and scooped up a Library,
which he built as soon as he could. This allowed him to double the
Builder and Prospector privileges for the rest of the game. Anton laid
down two Coffee Roasters of his own to tag along with Rich's production
actions. Bill took a while to get started, but eventually managed his
own production strategy, powered by a timely Silver Mine. Bill had a lot
of production buildings, but could not get a Guild Hall, settling instead
for a relatively low-scoring City Hall. Rich and Eric failed to build any
6 buildings, and Rich decided to stop looking for one, building a cheap
12th structure to end the game while he was ahead.
Rich_ 27 = 27 for buildings
Eric_ 25 = 25 for buildings
Anton 25 = 15 for buildings + 10 for a Guild Hall
Bill_ 20 = 15 for buildings + 5 for a City Hall
Eric's rating: 8. Once you know the game, San Juan really zips along.
It avoids some of the "perfect strategy" problems of Puerto Rico because
you can only play the cards you draw.
(Eric, Rich, Anton, Bill)
During the early part of 2006, Caylus was out of print and Eric had the
only copy among the MVGA regulars. Now that the second printing is out,
more of us have purchased copies. Rich brought his copy of Caylus out to
MVGA this week and was determined to play a game. The rest of us were
willing to humor him; we had all played before, so we didn't have to take
the time to teach the rules and we were soon underway.
Many people believe the path to victory in Caylus runs down the building
favor track, but Rich and Eric shunned this track completely. Rich used
his favors almost entirely on the VP track. Eric took two shots at the
money track (he was almost broke every turn) and spent the rest on the VP
track. This led to an odd game in which the Lawyer and Architects were
ignored (except at the end for VPs.) Early in the game Anton built the
2-stone Quarry and Eric followed immediately with the Mason. This resulted
in a perfect stone building engine which generated points for both of them
almost every round. Eric managed to build two of the stone production
buildings, and Bill built the other, and these buildings were in constant
use. Rich built almost no buildings during the game, breaking the pattern
only with a single late-game Alchemist.
In some Caylus games, the Merchant's Guild is used to push the Provost back,
knocking buildings out of production, but in this game we consistently saw
one player or another place a worker near the bailiff and follow it up by
taking the Merchant's Guild to protect the placement. As a result, the
Bailiff waddled forward at a steady 2 spaces per turn, shortening the game
and forcing us to move quickly if we wanted to build in the castle.
We piled up some impressive cube piles, and suddenly there was a mad rush
to build as we realized this might be the last round. Bill and Rich took
the first two castle slots, and Anton took the third. Bill and Rich could
build just one or two houses each, and Anton could build five. Eric jumped
in with the ability to build four, and it was clear that if we all built,
we'd end the game. Eric also seized first play for the following round,
so he'd get the only castle builds if the game continued. Bill, Rich and
Anton each built to his capacity, but Eric decided he couldn't win if he
built all his houses, so he restricted himself to just one, planning to
come back next time, and built a 6-VP stone building while he waited.
On the following turn Eric filled up the castle and built a second 6-VP
stone building (our first Architect.) This was just enough to win the game.
Rich earned a nice stash of VPs on the favor track and sold two gold at the
Jeweler for 9 VP, but Eric's steady earnings from his buildings were just
enough to make up the difference. Anton and Bill also earned nicely from
their buildings, but were not able to make their efforts on the building
favor track pay rewards commensurate with the cost. Anton did complete one
blue building (the Library) in the final turn to finish ahead of Bill, who
could not complete a blue building, but the game demonstrated the fragile
nature of the building-track strategy.
Final scores: Eric 79, Rich 77, Anton 66, Bill 55.
Eric's rating: 7. Caylus is a game of thinking, and it certainly is well
constructed, but for some reason I don't enjoy it as much as some other
games. For some reason, I prefer not to see all the "clockwork" in the
games I play.
We finished Caylus at about 10pm. At this point Anton, Bill and Eric all
decided it was time to leave early, so we called it a night.