[SR] MVGA Holliston 2008-10-09
- 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: Eric, Steve, Rich
RACE FOR THE GALAXY
(Eric, Steve, Rich)
It turned out to be a light week at MVGA, but
we didn't know it would be a light week when
we started out. Eric and Steve dealt the cards
out for Race for the Galaxy, but Rich came in
before we could begin and we just dealt him in.
Rich got New Sparta, a world that's been
doing well at MVGA lately, Eric got Epsilon
Eridani and Steve Old Earth.
We have a traditional saying for the New Sparta player: "Consume? Consume!
I am New Sparta! I do not consume! I conquer!" And that's just how Rich
played it. He scored zero VP in consumption chips, but he settled like a wild
man and finished the game before Eric or Steve could really crank up their
produce/consume engines. Steve played Merchant Guild for a nice VP score,
and Eric finally played Free Trade Association for 6 VP on the last turn, but
it was way too late. Even though Rich's big development, the Trade League
(a common choice for the military player) only gained him 3 VP, he won by
2 VP over Steve, with Eric far behind.
Rich 30 = 0 VP + 27 cards + 3 (Trade League)
Steve 28 = 7 VP + 13 cards + 8 (Merchant Guild)
Eric 21 = 4 VP + 11 cards + 6 (Free Trade Association)
Eric's rating: 10. I've just started playing The Gathering Storm, the new Race
for the Galaxy expansion, but with or without the expansion I love playing
this game. I wouldn't mind playing it at home, but my wife isn't quite as fond
of it as I am.
(Eric, Steve, Rich)
Race for the Galaxy was over quickly, but we were still hoping for a few more
players, so we opened up another quick game. Wyatt Earp is an unofficial
member of Mike Fitzgerald's "Mystery Rummy" series, though unlike the
official members of the series it's co-designed with Richard Borg.
In the first hand Rich and Steve both got big leads in individual outlaws early.
Eric had a Hideout and had to decide which opponent to use it on. He chose
Rich, but before we knew it Steve had gone out to take a big early lead. Eric
was almost shut out as Steve went out before Eric could get started.
Scores after Hand 1: Steve 10, Rich 5, Eric 2.
In the second hand Eric was blessed with a large collection of matching outlaws
and another early Hideout to boot. This time he targeted Steve with the
Hideout and followed it up by going out almost immediately to tighten the
scores right back up. There was a lot of money by now on Belle Starr, but
she had made good use of her Hideout to escape arrest, and there was a high
price on her head going into Hand 3.
Scores after Hand 2: Eric 15, Steve 14, Rich 13.
The third hand was unusual. Steve was the first to play a set of Belle Starr cards
to the table. As he did, he remarked "I always like my women draped in cash!"
For some reason we just could not make a shot. This time Eric was dealt all
three Hideouts, and he was determined to shut down Steve's pursuit of Belle
Starr, but it was to no avail as Steve managed to fend off the Hideouts without
even having to use a Wyatt Earp card. Steve scooped up all the cash on Belle
Starr and made another quick exit to win by a mile as Rich and Eric were left
with only a few scraps.
Final scores: Steve 26, Eric 19, Rich 15.
Eric's rating: 9. I know this is a light, quick game, but the theme is perfect and
it plays quickly. It's still an MVGA favorite, although Race for the Galaxy has
been sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the "filler" space recently.
MERCHANT OF VENUS
(Eric, Steve, Rich)
It seemed relatively clear by now that no one else would be showing up, so it
was time for a "main course" game. It's always tempting to eat tapas for the
entire evening, but if we do that we'll never play the bigger games. We looked
at the games in Eric's tub o' games, and then in the fabulous MVGA game closet.
We chose Merchant of Venus, a game that's ideal for 3 players and one I've
been playing more often in the past year or so. My wife and daughter are
bigger fans of the game than I am, but we don't get to play as often since my
daughter has moved out.
It looked like a good start for Eric. He headed up to the Interstellar Biosphere
and began to build a network. Steve headed into the Cloud and had reasonable
luck there. Rich was third to play, a disadvantage, and he took the third path,
traveling to the Colony World.
As we proceeded, however, Rich started to make up ground. The obvious form
of chance in this game is in the die rolling (high rolls are usually better than
low ones,) but the locations in which the randomly situated civilizations show
up also matter. Rich discovered a chain of civilizations that allowed him to
pick up and deliver in a convenient manner. Steve had much more trouble, as
the civilizations he discovered didn't permit easy trading. Eric had a reasonable
network, but it depended on finding a suitable path through the Cloud, and this
was beyond his ability. Eric tends to be stingy about ship upgrades and was
rolling 3 dice needing either a 4 or a 6 in order to make a lucrative delivery.
He rolled three turns in a row without getting a 4 or a 6 (the chance of such a
failure is about 2.6%, so it isn't as unlikely as it seems.) On the third roll he
gave up and headed in a different direction, leaving him far behind on the race
Rich was headed to some planets that sold small cheap goods, so he decided to
upgrade to a Transport, allowing him to haul more loads. The increased
income soon paid off the cost of the upgrade and he used the greater earning
power to zoom to the victory.
Final scores: Rich (won), Steve (2nd), Eric (3rd).
Eric's rating: 7. There's no doubt that luck plays a part in this game, but
there's also plenty of skill. I tend to like games with a lot of luck and a lot of
skill, so this is the kind of game I like. At the present time I still seem to be
having some trouble making the right decisions, and that leads to frustration at
some point in the game.
WEB OF POWER
(Eric, Steve, Rich)
It was 10pm, but all 3 of us still had the energy for one short game. Eric
proposed Web of Power, a game we hadn't played for a few months. Steve learned
the game recently and is still picking up the strategies, but he's feeling more
confident now than he did at first. In the early stages of the game Eric focused
on building a strong advisor network, anchored by a safe position in Frankreich,
while Rich and Steve focused on cloisters, both gaining chains of 4 or more
cloisters in a row (Steve actually got 6 in a row.) In the second half of the game
Eric ran out of advisors and Rich built a network in eastern Europe that was
good for almost as many VPs as Eric's. Steve stayed out of the advisor game,
content to work on his scores for majorities in countries, though he was not
able to gain any new chains in the second half.
When we added up the VPs at the end, Steve had a respectable score before the
advisor scoring, but he fell quite some way behind at the end. Rich's chains
and early cloister scoring gave him a narrow victory.
Final scores: Rich 68, Eric 64, Steve 50.
Eric's rating: 9. Web of Power is well balanced. It plays in less than half
an hour but still feels like a big game. It's one of my favorites.