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, Dan
(Eric, Rich, Dan)
There was a light turnout at the Masonic
Hall this week. We haven't seen Walt for
a while, and Anton wasn't able to make it
either. None of our semi-regulars showed
up, so we had to make do with 3. As we
often do at the start of the evening, we
used San Juan as a starter, since we were
still hoping for late arrivals.
Eric was chosen as first Governor, and he
took the Prospector, gaining a card. The
second player usually Builds next, but
Rich had a Library in his hand that he
couldn't afford to build, and there was
nothing else he wanted to build, so he
took the Councillor to look for better
options. Dan was happy to seize the rare
chance to Build as third player, and he
built a Library of his own, fueled by
Rich's action. Eric built a Carpenter
and Rich settled for a Tobacco Shed, not
wanting to fall too far behind. I've
gained more respect for the Carpenter in
recent games; in some ways it's better
than the Quarry, because it pushes extra
cards through your hand (almost like a
little Councillor action during the
Tobacco turned out poorly for Rich, who now had just a single card left
in his hand, the Library. To raise funds to build it, he decided to be
the Producer, loading up his Tobacco and Indigo with goods as Dan and
Eric only got indigo. Dan was happy to take the Prospector, putting
two cards in his previously empty hand, and Eric Built a Gold Mine (a
building that's not dependable, but that can pay off big,) garnering
another card for the Carpenter.
It went on like this for some time, as Rich wasn't able to build his
Library until Eric had seven cards on the table. An unbuilt card not
only frustrates you because you can't build it; it also uses up space
in your hand. Eric kept flipping Gold Mine cards, but he came up dry
half a dozen times; it's like that sometimes. Rich eventually got the
Library built and started on a monument collection by building a Victory
Column. Dan built Silver and Tobacco and Coffee and started working
with Rich on the production strategy.
Eric finally got a big break when the Gold Mine paid off for the one
and only time in the game. It was a big prize, though---a Guild Hall.
Eric had only three production buildings at this point, but he turned
to the production strategy. Both Rich and Dan would have been able to
put the Guild Hall to better use than Eric, but you have to play the
cards you draw.
Dan had a lot of cards, but never managed to come up with the 6 building
he needed to score big. He did construct a Chapel on the penultimate
turn and buried one card. Rich finally squeezed out a Triumphal Arch,
but it was worth only 4 VP as he was unable to add a Statue or Hero to
his Victory Column. Eric's lucky Guild Hall draw was the difference in
this game. Dan and Rich threw their extra cards in before we realized
there was a tie for second, so we weren't able to break the tie.
Eric 25 = 17 + 8 (Guild Hall)
Dan_ 21 = 20 + 1 (Chapel)
Rich 21 = 17 + 4 (Triumphal Arch)
Eric's rating: 8. I really enjoy San Juan, both face-to-face and on
BSW. Some of the BSW players can beat me 80% of the time, which shows
how much skill there is in the game. I'm looking forward even more to
Tom Lehmann's Race for the Galaxy, which is expected out some time in
(Eric, Rich, Dan)
Eric managed to purchase a copy of the Splotter game Bus at the WBC
auction this summer, and he's been bringing it out every week hoping
to get a game going. Splotter has published some large, complex games,
like Roads & Boats and Antiquity, and even their less ambitions games
require thought (Indonesia is a favorite,) but Bus is a much simpler
game, though it does have some unusual features. The game is said to
be especially good for 3 players, so it was an ideal time to try it.
Bus is a passenger delivery game (no surprise there!) The board
shows a road network and has spaces for houses, workplaces and pubs.
There are large orange meeples that serve as passengers; four are on
the board at the start of the game and more can arrive during play.
You lay down colored sticks along the roads to create routes, run
your bus or buses to take passengers where they want to go, and gain
a VP for each successful delivery.
Play is regulated by an action board that offers seven different
actions. You receive 20 cubes in your color at the start, and these
represent 20 actions you can take during the game (each cube gives
an action, and is used up once the action is complete.) Each turn
begins with action selection. You take turns placing cubes on the
action board; during each turn you must place at least two cubes,
but you may place as many as you wish (practically speaking.) The
game ends when only one player has cubes left at the end of a turn;
this means a game could take 10 turns, but is more likely to end
well before that as players expend more than two actions per turn.
If you spend your cubes quickly, the other players may get extra
turns at the end of the game, but if you hoard cubes for the end,
your opponents may use theirs up, leaving you with useless cubes.
The actions available are as follows:
(1) Extend your route
(2) Buy a new bus
(3) Add passengers
(4) Add buildings---houses, workplaces and/or pubs
(5) Stop time
(6) Vrroemmm! (Vroom in Dutch, I guess)---deliver passengers
(7) Choose to be first player next time
Actions (2), (5) and (7) can be chosen by only one player per turn.
Actions (1), (3) and (4) can be chosen by a number of players equal
to the number of buses in the largest fleet (with those who choose
earlier getting more chances to do the action.) Action (6) can be
chosen by everyone (after all, that's what the game is about!)
We chose Rich to be the first player and gave him the cardboard
"start bus". We seeded the board with four passengers and six
starting buildings. Then we placed our starting routes. You put
two route sticks each on the map in a sequence that is like that
used at the start of Settlers of Catan. As third player, Eric got
to place his second stick first, and this is a significant advantage
for the last player given the restrictive rules for placing routes.
Unfortunately for Eric, he didn't clearly see how important it was
to connect to a railway station (where new passengers arrive,) and
as a result he never managed to connect to a station, hamstringing
him throughout the game.
The game started slowly. During the first turn, time moved from
night to day and passengers wanted to go to work. There were only
two workplaces on the board, both already populated, so there was
little scope for movement. Rich extended his route (we all had one
bus fleets so only one of us got to choose action (1).) Eric added
a bus, and this allowed more passengers to enter the game at the
railway station (it's not clear Eric was helping himself.) Rich and
Dan put new shops on the board. No vrooming took place.
Rich had a plan in this game. He worked to wall off a section of
the board around "his" railway station, and he placed buildings in
pairs, so his route ran through some intersections that specialized
in pubs, some that specialized in houses, and so forth. This turned
out to be a winning strategy, at least in a game of beginners. Dan
played a strategy somewhat like Rich's, but Rich seemed to be a step
ahead. Eric trailed far behind, with a line that went nowhere and
no exclusive intersections. Eric chose the "stop time" action once,
making the day last for an extra turn instead of allowing evening to
fall. This cost him a VP, but prevented Dan and Rich from gaining
more VPs by delivering passengers to pubs. Eric would have fallen
even further behind, but Dan missed a passenger delivery opportunity
and Eric grabbed the passenger Dan had spurned and delivered him
instead (+1 VP for Eric and -1 VP for Dan.)
Rich was using more actions per turn than Dan, and Dan was using more
than Eric. This wasn't surprising, because Rich's firm was more
successful. By the time Rich was down to three cubes, he tried to
pass after using just one, but we reminded him that you must take at
least two actions per turn. This meant Rich had just one action for
the final turn (not surprisingly, he chose to Vroom,) but it was
plenty as he won by a wide margin. Dan had a good line, but he just
wasn't able to gain access to as many passengers as Rich (Eric's line
competed with Dan's more than with Rich's, and this may have been the
Final scores: Rich 11, Dan 7, Eric 7 - 1 = 6.
Eric's rating: 6. There's a lot to Bus, but I spent most of the
game in a fog, seeing what I should do only after someone else took
the action that foiled my plans. I may very well enjoy it more the
second time. The game took just over 2 hours (at MVGA, we "play fast,
make mistakes) and is a good fit into that time frame.
(Eric, Rich, Dan)
Rich chose our first game, and Eric chose our second game, so we gave
Dan the opportunity to choose the last one. Rich went to the fabulous
MVGA game locker and picked out some possibilities. Dan went for the
glowing orange box of Goa. We've played Goa quite a few times at MVGA,
but Eric has shied away from it as a game that just doesn't fascinate
him as it does others. Rich is especially fond of Goa; he was the GM
for Goa at the World Boardgaming Championships in 2005 and 2006.
Three-player Goa is noticeably different from the 4-player game. In
the 3-player game, if one player runs low on cash, the others can
lowball each other during the auctions. Eric was perpetually short of
cash in this game, so Dan and Rich were able to buy some tiles more
cheaply than usual.
Eric was selected as first player, and he collected a nice payoff for
the flag. He then paid handsomely for a tile that awarded a colonist
each turn and bought his own "colonist, ship, action" tile when Dan's
bid seemed too low, using up his money.
Rich bought the "4 ducats every turn" tile, making him the richest
player through most of the game. There were few plantations sold; we
seemed to shy away from them when choosing items to auction. In fact,
Eric bought only one all game, a double ginger. Instead, he went in
for colonization in a big way. Eric chose to found a '6' colony and
drew---two 3 cards! He had 5 colonists, but didn't have to use any.
Then he went for an '8' colony and drew---two more 3 cards! At the
cost of just 2 colonists, he had two colonies working. The tile that
gives a colonist a turn was churning out colonists almost faster than
he could use them. Rich and Dan both struck out in attempts to found
colonies (both seemed to have the "1 and a 2" draw down to a science.)
Rich went for the expedition strategy, pushing his marker down that
track, while Dan focused on harvest. Eric's colonies allowed him to
pursue both strategies at once, and in fact, he collected two of the
four expedition cards in these columns. He used the expedition card
action freely and drew very well, getting a "harvest whatever you
choose" card five times (!) and using it to good effect with his
ability to harvest 4, 6 and soon 8 items.
Rich was complaining about the low bids his tiles attracted (often
just 4 or 5,) but that was because Eric was out of cash most of the
game (he only pushed the money track once, to get the extra action,
and never took money.) Dan didn't need to bid high to get Rich's
items, because he knew Rich didn't want to spend the money himself.
We played Goa quickly; it was over in no more than an hour. I don't
mind the game at all if it finished in an hour. At the end I managed
to squeak past Rich on the strength of a huge amount of good luck; he
played the better game, but suffered from poor card draws. Rich did
score 10 VPs for expedition cards at the end, something Eric could
have tried for, but didn't, but it wasn't quite enough to close the
Adv Col Exp $ Tiles Total
--- --- --- --- --- ---
Eric 35 10 4 3 52
Rich 28 6 10 3 1 48
Dan 32 6 1 0 39
Eric's rating: 6. Goa is a well constructed game, and I've had pretty
good success with it, but for some reason it just doesn't seem like a
lot of fun to play. I don't mind playing it, and I was happy to give
Dan and Rich a chance to play it, but I'd never ask for it myself.