[SR] MVGA Holliston 2007-09-20
- 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: Anton, Dan, Eric, Paul H., Rich
(Dan, Eric, Rich)
Attendance was good at the Masonic Hall
this week, but Paul and Anton had arranged
to play each other in a tabletop baseball
series (the TBL has been running for over
a quarter century,) so we had just 3 of us
for other games. Puerto Rico continues to
be an MVGA favorite (we've played about 50
games of it since it came out,) and it had
been two months since our last game, so we
gave it a try.
We drew lots for seating order, as is our
custom, and Eric drew first indigo, Dan
second indigo and Rich corn. Rich loves
to play the corn shipper strategy, so this
was right up his alley. Just as you'd've
expected, Rich soon had a batch of corn
plantations, together with coffee to help
pay the bills. Dan went for the builder
plan, grabbing several quarries after Eric
took the first one to start the game.
Eric tried a mixed strategy, trying to
split his efforts between shipping and
For some reason, Eric rarely produces more than one or two of any good. He is
always lured away by the shininess of another crop type. This provides him
flexibility, but it costs him the power you can get when you ship a whole
fistful of barrels in one single action. It wasn't all that long before he
was producing all five types of goods, but to his great disappointment, Dan
and Rich managed to buy both factories before Eric could get one (Rich didn't
need a factory, but he could see that Eric would be unstoppable if he got a
factory, so he took one as a defensive maneuver.) Eric did buy a harbor, a
fine building when you can produce all types of goods, but he was always short
of cash and couldn't keep up with Dan in the building race.
Dan and Rich both bought large buildings, but though Eric took cash on a few
occasions, he never made it to the 10 doubloons he needed (he should have
passed on smaller purchases to guarantee a large building.) On the final turn
Eric had to decide whether to produce and allow Dan to ship, but he could see
that Dan would gain on him in VPs and decided not to. As it turned out, this
gave the win to Rich (who would have finished last if there had been a final
shipping turn, as there was no room for corn on the boats.) Eric turned out
to be the kingmaker, but he didn't know what the exact scores were and was
making his decision by feel.
Rich 37 = 13 VP + 18 Bldg + 6 Bonus
Eric 35 = 18 VP + 17 Bldg (2 barrels/doubloons)
Dan_ 35 = 9 VP + 20 Bldg + 6 Bonus (0 barrels/doubloons)
Eric's rating: 9. I've been playing Puerto Rico far less frequently since
it was removed from BSW, and I'm enjoying it more as I forget some of the
details about exactly how to play optimally. Life is less predictable when
you don't know which options are suboptimal!
TICKET TO RIDE
(Dan, Eric, Rich)
Paul and Anton were still engaged in their baseball series, so we chose a
second favorite, Ticket to Ride, with the new 1910 deck. This deck adds many
new destination cards to the original set, reducing the possibility that you
can predict what tickets an opponent has because you've memorized the whole
deck. In addition to the new destination cards, the 1910 expansion has a
15 VP bonus for most tickets completed and a set of train cards in a larger
size that's much easier to handle.
In some games the players draw routes that don't interfere with each other and
go about their business in splendid isolation. This wasn't one of those games.
We all seemed to have kept tickets that involved New York or its immediate
vicinity, and we were grabbing links that led west through Pittsburgh and the
other nearby cities in a frantic effort to get out. The pressure was so great
that we drew new tickets only once each, and the game raced to its conclusion.
Of course, you don't know whether your opponents have made all their tickets,
or how large those tickets may be, so you don't know how much risk to take;
this is one of the enjoyable challenges of Ticket to Ride.
When we ended the game and revealed our tickets, we saw that Eric had missed
one of his four tickets and Dan one of his five. Rich made all four of his
tickets to tie Dan for most tickets made, and he had also built the longest
route. This gave Rich a comfortable win.
Rich 140, Dan 114, Eric 71.
Eric's rating: 8. Ticket to Ride is a great gateway game, but it's also a
ton of fun when you play with experienced gamers. There's a great deal of
scope for making deductions based on the cards people draw and the routes
they claim, though you do have to watch out for bluffs. I prefer the new 1910
expansion to the other versions I've played, though I haven't played on all of
the variant maps.
(Dan, Eric, Rich)
For our final game we selected Phoenicia, the new Tom Lehmann game from JKLM
Games. We had played the game a few weeks earlier, but neither Dan nor Rich
had tried it. Phoenicia is an auction game in which players must find the
most efficient means of gaining VPs while avoiding a number of dead ends in
the process through the timely purchase of items that fix various problems.
The game is similar in many ways to the earlier game Outpost, but it's a much
faster, simpler game. One criticism of Outpost is that it can be almost
impossible to catch the leader if you fall significantly behind. Phoenicia
can also be subject to this problem, but because the action is so much faster,
by the time you realize your plight, the game is nearly over.
In this game, Rich drew a few of the low-valued '4' cards early and fell far
behind. He saw no way to catch up---as he explained, most games give you at
least a way to struggle when you're behind, but he found Phoenicia frustrating
because of the lack of visible options.
Eric was also somewhat ahead of Dan, and though Dan was not far behind, Eric's
lead wasn't one Dan could overcome.
Final scores: Eric 32, Dan 26, Rich 18.
Eric's rating: 7. Phoenicia works just fine for me, but it's not yet as much
fun as Outpost, which is one of my favorite games. I plan to keep playing it
to see how it develops. Rich hated the game because of the runaway leader
problem (or perhaps because of the runaway trailer problem.) Dan said he would
be happy to play it again.
The tabletop baseball series finished at this point, with Paul's team beating Anton's
two games to one. I left at this point and cannot report on any other games that