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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2008-07-24

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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 , Aug 26 6:18 PM
      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.

      Roll call: Anton, Eric, Jeff, Rich, Walt,
      Steve, Paul H., Andy

      (Anton, Eric, Jeff)

      At 7pm, there were 3 players ready to start
      up a short game while we waited to see who
      else might show up. Of course, we played
      Race for the Galaxy as a filler. It's our
      all-purpose starter and ender. All I can
      say in our defense is that we haven't yet
      played it all evening, which is more than
      some groups can say!

      Many people think your home world determines your strategy in this game, but
      it's only a suggestion. Jeff started with Earth's Lost Colony, giving him a
      great start on a produce/consume strategy, but it was Anton who built up a
      network of blue production worlds. Jeff went military instead, building a
      batch of Alien worlds while ignoring consumption for the most part. Eric got
      the Galactic Federation down halfway through the game and used it to augment
      his own multi-colored consumption strategy.

      We could see it would be a close game, but when we counted the VPs we found
      that Eric and Jeff were tied at 37, with Anton just behind. We counted the
      left-over cards, which serve as tie-breakers, and Eric and Jeff had 4 cards
      each to finish in an exact tie. This was two straight ties in MVGA Race for
      the Galaxy games, as least as far as my records go; Rich and Ian had tied
      in our final game on June 26. We've now played 34 games at MVGA, and we've
      had 2 exact ties.

      Final scores:

      Eric (EE) 37 = 15 VP + 16 cards + 6 (Galactic Federation)
      Jeff (EL) 37 = 4 VP + 20 cards + 5 (New Gal Order) + 8 (Alien Tech Inst)
      Anton (OE) 33 = 11 VP + 14 cards + 8 (Free Trade Association)

      Eric's rating: 10.

      (Anton, Rich, Eric, Jeff)

      Many Euro gamers pursue the cult of the New, but we enjoy older games at MVGA
      as well. One of our favorites is Merchant of Venus, a 20-year-old Avalon Hill
      design by Richard Hamblen. It's a roll-and-move game, sure, but it gives you
      a lot of interesting choices. In Merchant of Venus, you pilot your spaceship
      around the galaxy, discovering new cultures and buying and selling goods in
      your quest to earn a fortune.

      Anton was first to play, and he headed straight into The Cloud, a dense mass
      of stars in the middle of the board that presents many options but also many
      hazards. After discovering the culture there, he moved on to establish his
      own space station at Wet Landing in a nearby system. A space station is
      costly, but it lets you and others buy and sell unlimited quantities of
      goods and/or equipment without having to spend a turn to land on a planet
      or space city. It also pays a 10% commission to the owner, regardless of
      whether it's the owner or someone else trading there. As a competing player,
      you may not want to allow your opponent that commission, but it's usually
      better than wasting a turn!

      In our game Rich, Eric and Jeff all ran into difficulties finding the right
      culture to buy our goods, and all three of us found our way into the system
      at which Anton had established his early space station. We trooped one by
      one into his airlocks to sell and buy, earning him a steady flow of income
      with our help. This got him off to a great start, and he played his hand
      well, driving steadily forward and establishing a profitable complex of
      space stations and factories. Anton declared that he had more than $2000
      in cash to claim the win while the rest of us were just entering mid game.
      As is our custom, we added to our cash the purchase price of the goods we
      had on board our ships to determine the order of finish.

      Final scores:

      Anton won ($2000+), Eric $1221, Rich $918, $840

      Eric's rating: 7. I've dropped my rating from an '8' after several games
      in a row in which the luck of the die had a larger impact than usual. Don't
      get me wrong, though; I consider '7' a good rating and plan to continue
      playing Merchant of Venus in the future.

      (Walt, Steve, Paul H., Andy)

      Attendance was high this week, with Andy visiting us for a change. Walt had
      several new games to try, and he particularly wanted to play In the Shadow
      of the Emperor, which is rated relatively highly on Boardgamegeek, but seems
      to be hard to get on the table. Andy was familiar with the game, and he
      offered to teach the group.

      This game is counter-intuitive. The theme is advancement---you earn VPs by
      placing members of your family in important positions (with the position of
      emperor being most significant.) This leads to the temptation to defend
      your positions, but you don't get VPs by defending positions, but by taking
      new ones. You'll score far more points by rotating family members over and
      over again into slots that they must give up on the very next turn than you
      will be clinging like grim death to the ones you already have.

      Andy's experience proved critical as the beginners played too much defense
      and not enough offense, though Steve was named the first emperor and gave
      Andy a run for his money.

      Final scores: Andy 28, Steve 25, Walt 20, Paul 15

      Eric's rating: 4. I've only played In the Shadow of the Emperor once, but
      I found the play mechanisms non-intuitive and irritating. I'm not fixed in
      my opinion; I recognize that a second playing might be more enjoyable than
      the first, but with so many good games around it's hard to get back to a '4'.

      (Anton, Eric, Jeff, Rich)

      We finished Merchant of Venus while In the Shadow of the Emperor was still
      chugging slowly toward its conclusion, so we filled in with another game
      of (you guessed it) Race for the Galaxy. Anton again pursued the blue world
      production strategy while Jeff went for military, but in this game Eric took
      Alpha Centauri in its preferred direction with an early Mining League. There
      are just a handful of cards that allow you to consume goods for more VPs than
      the number of goods consumed, and Mining League is one of them, allowing you
      to consume two rare goods for 3 VP. Eric got it going early and spent the
      rest of the game producing and consuming for double VPs to win a close game.

      Rich had a decent engine, but his inability to draw a useful 6-cost
      development made it impossible for him to close the gap at the end.

      Final scores:

      Eric (AC) 43 = 23 VP + 14 cards + 6 (Mining League)
      Jeff (NS) 39 = 4 VP + 23 cards + 7 (Gal Imp) + 5 (Gal Fed)
      Rich (EE) 37 = 11 VP + 26 cards
      Anton (OE) 33 = 14 VP + 12 cards + 3 (Free Trade Assoc) + 4 (New Econ)

      Hmmm. That's two games in a row in which Jeff got only 4 VP in chips!

      Eric's rating: 10.

      (Eric, Jeff, Rich, Andy)

      Anton, Steve, Paul and Walt left for the evening once In the Shadow of the
      Emperor finished, but there were still 4 people ready to continue the fun.

      For those of us who've been playing Euro games for more than 20 years, it's
      hard to believe how successful the genre has become. I'm delighted that we
      have well-established designers and publishers who turn out more good games
      than we can play. Every so often, however, we get a "dark horse" game from
      an unheralded source. One such game is Scripts & Scribes, designed by
      Steve Finn and published by Doctor Finn's Card Company. According to the
      Boardgamegeek database, the company has published only three games, all
      dated 2008. Two of the games, including Scripts & Scribes, are designed by
      Steve Finn. The other is designed by Stephen Finn, who is mostly likely the
      same guy!

      Scripts & Scribes is a drafting and auction game in which players compete to
      gain majorities in five categories (colors of cards.) The first part of the
      game uses drafting to distribute most of the cards to the players, and the
      second part uses an auction in which players can bid with the cards they
      already have in an attempt to gain the remaining cards. The process moves
      quickly once you understand it, and the rules are clear, though they take a
      while to get used to because they're different than other games you may have

      In this game, Eric spread his efforts too broadly and wound up winning none
      of the colors. Andy won one color while Rich and Jeff won two colors each.
      Each color is worth 3 VP at the start of the game, but the values can be
      tweaked up or down when players win "bishop" cards, and Jeff's colors were
      worth more at the end to give him the win.

      Final scores:
      Jeff 7 [black, green], Rich 5 [red, blue], Andy 4 [brown], Eric 0

      Eric's rating: 6. The game was interesting and I'd like to try again (it's
      short enough to play several times without feeling you've invested a lot of
      time,) but I can't tell yet what kind of decision-making it involves, so my
      rating is a '6' for now.

      (Eric, Jeff, Rich, Andy)

      It was getting late, but surely there was time for one more game of Race!
      This game was unusual in that only one of us managed to play a 6-cost
      development. Eric and Jeff struggled with ineffective space empires, but
      Andy milked the production/consumption loop like a pro to win by a mile,
      despite Rich's play of Galactic Federation ("cloud city".) At the end we
      had 59 VP chips among the 4 of us (we had to dig deep into the "last round"
      pile as we all chose Consume x 2,) but Andy had almost half of them (he's
      really good at this game and is especially adept at produce/consume.)

      Final scores:

      Andy (AC) 41 = 28 VP + 13 cards
      Rich (NS) 33 = 2 VP + 25 cards + 6 (Galactic Federation)
      Eric (EL) 30 = 16 VP + 14 cards
      Jeff (EE) 30 = 13 VP + 17 cards

      Eric's rating: 10.

      Eric Brosius
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