[SR] MVGA Holliston 2008-03-13
- 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. The Masons generously
stopped charging us for the space, so there
is no longer a $3.00 fee for anyone!
Anton, Rich, Eric, Scott H., Mikey, Dan, Todd
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Rich, Scott H., Mikey)
In recent weeks we've hardly needed to ask
what our first game would be, as Race for
the Galaxy is serving as our opener, our
closer and our filler in between games as
well. I don't know whether you can build
a house entirely out of mortar, but I can
easily imagine filling a Thursday evening
entirely with Race for the Galaxy! As soon
as 2 people were on hand at the Masonic
Hall, Race for the Galaxy got started, and
when our numbers swelled to 5 before we had
finished pulling the starting worlds out of
the deck, we adjusted by playing two games
instead of 1.
Mikey explained to us when he started coming that he likes to play a lot of
different games rather than the same one over and over, UNLESS the one game
is Race for the Galaxy. If you look at boardgamegeek.com you'll see that he
has already logged 239 games of it, including 176 in the last 30 days. He's
pretty good at it, too! In the 3-player game he finished on top by a hefty
Final scores: Mikey 38, Rich 32, Scott 16.
Eric's rating: 10. I've played more than 70 times myself and I'm just
starting to see how I can put cards together to form winning strategies.
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Anton, Eric, Dan, Todd)
The second game was a bit unusual in that no one managed to get a consumption
engine going---Eric led the pack with only 9 VP chips. Anton won by a nose
with a military-focused strategy; it must have been an accident that he
got that 1 VP chip for the win. I squeezed only 3 VP out of Galactic
Renaissance; I got Research Labs on the penultimate turn but couldn't scrape
together the cards to build it.
Anton 27 = 1 VP + 20 cards + 6 (Galactic Imperium)
Todd_ 26 = 6 VP + 13 cards + 7 (New Galactic Order)
Eric_ 26 = 9 VP + 14 cards + 3 (Galactic Renaissance)
Dan__ 23 = 8 VP + 11 cards + 4 (Merchant Guild)
(Rich, Scott H., Mikey)
The second game moved more slowly than the first, so Rich, Scott and Mikey
needed a game to fill in the time until the other game was over. Race for
the Galaxy is not a long game, so the filler had to be extra short, and
No Thanks! was just the right length. Sometimes you manage to put a good
set of runs together, but in this game all 3 players took some serious
damage. Rich scored the relatively high total of 47, but it was still low
enough to win by a 4 VP margin even after Scott unloaded his big stash of
chips (each worth -1 to his score in a game where the low score wins.)
Final scores: Rich 47, Scott 51, Mikey 58.
Eric's rating: 7. One of the best features of this game is the way it
seems to defy rational analysis. Of course, maybe the analyses I've seen
don't go deep enough and need to be refined...
(Eric, Mikey, Dan)
I've been looking at Saint Petersburg in my game collection for several
months now, thinking about the fact that it's time to get some more games
in. It's one of my favorite games, and now that I can no longer access BSW
with my Mac, I really miss it. Many of my friends seem to be tired of it,
but even though I've played it over 100 times face to face, I still have the
desire to play more.
This was an interesting game. None of the "big" cards came out in the early
going---the Mistress, Judge, Bank, Harbor, or other juicy upgrades. This
gave us an even game in the early going, though Eric focused more on cash
and fell behind on the scoreboard. You can't judge a game only by the scores
because some strategies are designed to catch up with a rush at the end.
The key point in this game came when two Fur Shops were revealed on the
next-to-last turn. Eric had already upgraded his only Fur Trapper to a Fur
Shop, so Mikey and Dan were the only players who could use Fur Shops. The
problem for Mikey was that he was out of money, so Dan happily paid $7 for
the two upgrades. $7 for 4 VP is a great deal, and he just managed to stay
ahead of Eric at the final scoring, even though Eric had installed the
Czarina for 12 VP and an additional noble.
Final scores: Dan 81 (7 nobles,) Eric 80 (7), Mikey 63 (6).
Eric's rating: 10. If you're looking for more games of Saint Petersburg,
just show up on Thursday night. If I'm there, I'll be happy to play.
YEAR OF THE DRAGON
(Anton, Rich, Scott H., Todd)
We tore ourselves away from Race for the Galaxy to play a new game designed
by Stefan Feld. Stefan also designed Notre Dame and is on a roll. The game
was new to several of the players, though we had played it once before at
MVGA. Eric, who has played the game a half dozen times already, helped Rich
teach the rules.
In Year of the Dragon you must deal with a succession of disasters while
scoring as many VPs as you can. The 12 disasters come out in a different
order each time, so there's variety in the play, but I particularly enjoy
the fact that you can see exactly what that order will be right from the
start. This doesn't guarantee that you'll be able to devise a perfect plan
(especially because your opponents are likely to interfere,) but it does
appeal to fans of planning games.
In this game, the two famines came out early in the game. One tension in
Year of the Dragon is the fact that you score a point each turn for every
palace, but on the other hand you need one rice token per palace when the
famine arrives. If you try to build a lot of palaces to increase your
score, you're likely to suffer mass starvation in the famines. Scott started
building palaces as soon as the second famine was over, and he had seven or
eight of them on the board by the end of the game. This, combined with a
fan lady he played early, allowed him to win by a mile.
Final scores: Scott 93, Anton 77, Rich 66, Todd 62.
Eric's rating: 8. I've been enjoying Year of the Dragon a lot, and I'm
starting to mull over the possibility that I might increase my rating to '9'.
I'm not sold yet, but it's definitely on the high side of '8' already.
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Eric, Mikey, Dan)
We play Saint Petersburg quickly at MVGA, even though when you play face to
face, you need to handle the money manually. Some people have gotten so
used to the on-line version that they can't deal with paper money any more
(if they use debit cards in real life, they'll forget their arithmetic
entirely in a few more years, at least if the Visa commercials have their
way!) We needed a short game to play while Year of the Dragon finished, and
guess what? We tried another game of Race for the Galaxy!
Mikey really knows how to get the consumption engine rolling, and in this
game he snatched up a whopping 26 VP chips to beat Dan and Eric by a mile.
Dan was New Sparta, and he didn't take a single VP chip (leaving more for
Mike 49 = 26 VP + 13 cards + 10 (Merchant Guild)
Eric 29 = 3 VP + 15 cards + 7 (Galactic Federation) + 4 (Mining League)
Dan_ 27 = 0 VP + 21 cards + 6 (Galactic Imperium)
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
Mikey had to leave at this point, but Year of the Dragon was still several
turns from ending. Dan and Eric played a 2-player game with the additional
role selection cards that let each player choose two roles per turn. It
was a close game, but Dan snuck in the Mining League to win a game in which
both players took full advantage of consumption opportunities.
Dan_ 38 = 18 VP + 16 cards + 4 (Mining League)
Eric 35 = 20 VP + 15 cards
Eric's rating: 10. If you've been paying attention, you see that I don't
win this game all that often, but I still enjoy playing it.
WEB OF POWER
(Anton, Rich, Eric, Dan)
Scott and Todd had to leave as well, but it wasn't yet 10:00 and 4 of us
had some gas left in the tank. We picked out Web of Power, a long-time
MVGA favorite (I've written session reports for more than 20 games, and
I'm sure it's been played a number of times when I couldn't make it.) Dan
groaned, as he often does, because it's valuable to draw pairs and Dan
never seems to get any. Eric was chosen to be the starting player, a slot
many people dislike because you only get to place one cloister in a country
on your first move. He took the intersection in Italy. Anton had no cards
for Italy, so instead of jumping in with two pieces of his own, he was
forced to start a new country, taking a cloister in Franken. Rich joined
Anton in Franken and Dan joined Eric in Italy. Eric popped two advisors
into Italy, guaranteeing sole ownership.
Rich then made a move into France, attracting interest from Dan and Anton,
but Eric simply couldn't draw purple cards, so he built a chain in Bayern
instead, placing one and then two more houses in line to extend off his
cloister in Italy. Dan decided to forestall any attempt by Eric to gain
advisors adjacent to Italy, taking two advisors in Bayern and later adding
pairs of advisors in Franken and Schwaben. Eric finally got cards for
France and added two advisors there to Rich's two, guaranteeing a tie.
This made Burgund, where Anton had four cloisters and Eric one, a prime
target, and Anton placed one single advisor there even though he had little
hope of gaining any adjacent advisors. Rich would have dearly loved to put
two advisors in Burgund, but he didn't have the cards to do it, and Eric
gleefully put a pair of advisors in to lock the country up and leech off
Anton and Rich's advisors. This sealed the win in a game that was a lot
closer until Eric sewed up the ear of the King of Burgund.
Final scores: Eric 54, Dan 44, Anton 38, Rich 37.
Eric's rating: 9. I'm a big Michael Schacht fan, but Web of Power is
my favorite among all his games.
(Rich, Eric, Dan)
Anton has a long drive home, and he left at this point, but the 3 of us who
remained decided to play one more quick one. Wyatt Earp is another old
favorite---I've recorded 38 games at MVGA. Walt is the MVGA Wyatt Earp
champion (an honor he values lightly,) but he wasn't here this week, giving
the rest of us the opportunity to win.
Dan was chosen to play first, and he got several outlaws on the table early.
Eric played some outlaws of his own and was heading toward going out when
he drew a Hideout card. He wanted to play it on Dan, but Dan wasn't
competing with Eric for any rewards, so he played it on Rich instead. Rich
was stunned by the fact that Eric didn't go after Dan, his closest
competitor, but Eric explained that it was all about the money. Eric went
out on the next turn to take the lead.
Scores after one hand: Eric $12K, Dan $10K, Rich $5K.
In the second hand, Eric got a fist full of outlaws and played them out
vigorously, adding several photos to add to the effect. Dan was drawing a
lot of Wyatt Earp cards, but they didn't seem to be getting him the cards
he was looking for. Eric got another Hideout this time and played it on
Dan. This allowed him to take the full reward for two outlaws, and the
cash put him over $25K in just two hands. Rich made a strong comeback in
the second hand to finish in second place.
Final scores: Eric $26K, Rich $19K, Dan $16K.
Eric's rating: 9. This is a rummy-like game with a real Wild West flavor.
I've played 23 games of it at MVGA and 54 in total (many of my games have
been with my family at home.) It's clearly a game in which skillful card