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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2006-11-30

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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 , Dec 2, 2006
      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:
      Eric, Rich, Dan

      SAN JUAN
      (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
      Builder phase.)

      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.

      Final scores:

      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

      Final scores:

      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.

      Eric Brosius
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