[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-02-05
- 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.
Eric, Rich, Dan, Paul H., Walt
(Eric, Rich, Dan, Paul)
San Juan has been a popular game at MVGA
ever since it came out in 2004, but that
changed late in 2007 with the release of
Race of the Galaxy, a similar game that
offers more options and the lure of the
"new." We didn't play a single game of
San Juan from September 2007 (just prior
to the release of Race for the Galaxy at
Essen) until January 2009. Race for the
Galaxy has even been played more often
at MVGA by a margin of 48 to 33, at
least based on my records, even though
it has been available for a much shorter
period of time. This week we started
with San Juan rather than Race for the
Galaxy, as we were in the mood for
San Juan is a game with fewer distinct strategies than Race, especially now
that the first Race expansion is available, so you usually have to pick one
and hammer away at it. In this game, Rich built a Smithy and used it to add
production buildings. Dan built a Chapel and stuffed cards under it at the
end of many rounds, ending up with 5 VP underneath. Eric started with a
purple building strategy but couldn't draw a City Hall and wound up playing
a Guild Hall worth only 6 VP, but combining that with a 6 VP Palace. Paul
was not able to find and play any of the 6 VP buildings, leaving him at the
back of the pack score-wise.
Despite Rich's more powerful Guild Hall, Eric's Palace made the difference,
giving him a 4 VP win.
Eric 30 = 18 + 6 (Guild Hall) + 6 (Palace)
Rich 26 = 16 + 10 (Guild Hall)
Dan_ 25 = 20 + 5 (Chapel)
Paul 22 = 22
Eric's rating: 8. San Juan isn't Race for the Galaxy, at least not in my
opinion, but it's a solid, enjoyable game in which victory requires solid
execution and a little bit of luck.
(Eric, Rich, Dan, Paul, Walt)
We were just finishing up San Juan when who came in but Walt, making a stop
in Holliston during a short break in his travels as a world-famous author.
Walt is the supplier-in-chief for the fabulous MVGA game locker. He keeps an
eye on the new games that come out and dips into the immense MVGA cash hoard
(ha!) to purchase a few now and then. He bought a copy of Tribune some time
back, but I hadn't had a chance to play it at MVGA until now, though I had
played it once elsewhere soon after it came out.
Tribune was designed by legendary designer Karl-Heinz Schmiel, who also
designed favorite games of mine Die Macher (in 1986) and Extrablatt (in 1991).
It puts a number of parts together in an elegant way, as all his games do,
and Tribune has the clever feature of a choice of alternate victory condition
cards, allowing players to vary the length and difficulty of the game. We
are willing to play longer games at MVGA, though it's not too often that we
play one that lasts all evening, so we chose the "Alea Iacta Est" victory
condition cards with the longer goals that require a player to obtain four
of the six possible victory conditions to win, but do not require that one of
those be a Tribune.
We waded into the first turn, buying cards and claiming stakes in the various
factions. This is a game that tends to reward claiming a faction and moving
on, since you need to accomplish multiple things to win, and excessive focus
on one item is likely to cost you opportunities in other areas. Eric was
able to grab control of two factions on the first turn, though his claim on
both was tenuous and it seemed unlikely that he'd keep either for long.
By the second turn, all the factions were in full swing. Walt got the first
tribune marker, which in itself is one of the four items needed to win under
the "Alea Iacta Est" cards. Rich had a huge string of red cards and was piling
up legions, but although that gave him one of his goals, he wasn't too far
along on getting others.
Paul followed up with a tribune collection of his own, and both Walt and Paul
also achieved the Favor of the Gods for a second victory item. Eric, after
his early prominence, plugged along quietly, visiting the victory column
location twice to take laurels and taking the Gladiators with a big stack of
orange cards, allowing him to scoop the money from the catacombs. This gave
him the victory, despite the fact that he did not take the "big ticket" items
(tribune and favor of the gods.) If the game had gone on one more turn, his
opponents would have outscored him by a mile when they also achieved their
fourth victory conditions.
Eric 4 (legions, laurels, factions, money)
Walt 3 (tribune, favor, factions)
Paul 2 (tribune, favor)
Rich 2 (legions, factions)
Eric's rating: 7. This game definitely "works," but it doesn't grab my
attention like the games I really enjoy. I won't mind playing it at MVGA,
and I'm sure I will play it now that it's in our collection.
POWER GRID [Korea]
(Eric, Rich, Dan, Paul, Walt)
Tribune finished quickly enough that we had time for another full-scale game.
We tossed several ideas around, but each one met resistance from at least one
of us. One game that never generates resistance is Power Grid, and fortunately
we have a number of different maps to provide variety. We also have both the
old and the new power plant deck, and for this evening's game we decided to
play with the new deck on the Korea map. The Korea map has separate fuel
markets for the north and the south, and you may only buy fuel at one market
each time. In addition, uranium is never available up north (or so they
claim,) so if you are trying to run a nuclear plant, you have to shop down
south or else store up fuel in a previous round.
I take detailed notes for most of our Power Grid games, but I didn't write
down more than the results of this one (I had only a small piece of paper!)
I can say, though, that the early game involved a protracted Phase 1 stall.
We stopped before anyone built to 7 cities, and no one wanted to be the first
to make the leap. Of course, building to 7 triggers Phase 2, but leaves the
person or persons who build to 7 at the end of the turn order when those new
and easily accessible cities become available. This situation is aggravated
by the fact that the longer you wait, the more cash becomes available, and
the more harmful it becomes to be at the bright end of the turn order when
the land rush starts.
Eric had bought the #33 windmill, which powers 4 cities without using fuel,
and he also had the #18 windmill, which powers 2. This allowed him to park
on 6 cities and pull in $73 in profit each turn without having to spend any
of it on fuel. The other players were also pulling in cash, but because they
had fuel bills to pay, some of them substantial, they were falling behind.
Finally we turned over the Phase 3 card, ending the stalemate, but by this
point Eric's cash advantage was great enough that he was hard to stop. We
had a round of plant buying, and Rich managed to reach 15 cities, just as
Eric did, but the cash tie-breaker wasn't very close.
After the game, the other players spent some time discussing which one of
them should have bit the bullet and pushed the game into Phase 2 to stop
Eric. I'm not sure who it should have been, but someone should have done it!
Final scores: Eric 15 + $72, Rich 15 + $30, Dan 14, Walt 13, Paul 12.
Eric's rating: 8. I'm not quite as fond of the Korea map as I am of some of
the other maps, but the split fuel market is a nice twist.