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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-02-26

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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 , Mar 2, 2009
      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: Paul H., Eric, Anton, Rich,
      Steve, Charles, Walt

      JET SET
      (Paul H., Eric, Anton, Rich)

      It took us a little while to get started
      this week. People kept showing up as we
      were planning what to play. Before long
      we had 7 people, so we had to split up
      into two games. Eric had two new games
      in his tub o' games: Snow Tails and Jet
      Set. Snow Tails is a clever dogsled racing
      game from the Fragor Brothers, Gordon and
      Fraser Lamont. The MVGA crew has been fond
      of racing games in the past, and this one
      is likely to go over well, but we decided
      to start with Jet Set instead.

      Jet Set is a network connection and
      economic game designed by Kris Gould, who
      saw a number of games released in 2008.
      I describe it as a cross between Ticket to
      Ride and Empire Builder. It's not a train
      game; it's a plane game, but the distinction
      doesn't matter too much when you're claiming
      routes to gain VPs.

      Jet Set shares with Ticket to Ride more than the fact that it has a map as its
      game board and a collection of colorful plastic pieces for each player. The
      map shows a number of European cities, with a network of air links connecting
      them. The network is more intricate than those in Ticket to Ride, with one
      link sometimes crossing over another despite the fact that there is no direct
      relationship between the two. You have to watch carefully or you'll miss the
      best routes from one city to another.

      Jet Set also shared with Ticket to Ride a very simple turn structure, in which
      you can do just one small action each turn, and in which it takes more than one
      turn to accomplish anything. The options on each turn are:

      (1) Place your planes on the board,

      (2) Claim a flight card if you can pick up one plane from the board from each
      link along a path connecting the two cities named on the card, or

      (3) Receive income from the flight cards you've already connected.

      If you place planes on the board, you can either place them on a link no one
      has ever placed planes on before (paying to claim it,) place them on a link
      an opponent has previously claimed (paying the opponent to use the link and
      paying the bank for the planes,) or place them on ONE OR MORE links that you
      already claimed in previous turns. The "ONE OR MORE" part is only applicable
      if all the planes you are placing are being placed on links you have already
      claimed; thus, there's a time savings when you don't need to claim a new link
      or use an opponent's link.

      The flight cards come from a deck of "short" flight cards and a separate deck
      of "long" flight cards. A selection of cards is placed face up next to the
      board, and a card may be claimed by whichever player legally claims it first.
      There is also a special deck of "final" flight cards from which two cards are
      dealt to each player, face down. The short flight cards contain only two
      cities (e.g., London-Paris) and the long flight cards also contain only two
      (e.g., London-Athens,) but the final flight cards contain three cities (e.g.,
      London-Marseille-Warsaw.) To complete a final flight card, you must pick up
      planes along a route that visits all three cities IN ORDER (A-B-C or C-B-A,
      which is equivalent, but NOT B-A-C.)

      The game resembles Empire Builder in that unlike Ticket to Ride, you need to
      spend money to place those planes on the board. You start the game with a
      paltry amount of cash, and you'll have to take income a number of times if
      you are to have any hope of winning. Ideally you'll claim short flight cards
      that also fill in track that will help you later, but if this doesn't work,
      you'll have to claim short flight cards for the sole purpose of earning funds
      to finance future building.

      In our game, we started by picking up short routes, complaining loudly all the
      while about how poor the selection of routes was for our individual positions.
      We moved into the middle game, and suddenly Paul realized that he was planning
      to complete his final flight card in the order B-A-C, which is not legal. He
      felt this miscalculation had ruined his chances, but he began working to patch
      up the route and make it legal. In the meantime, Rich started aiming toward
      a pair of long flight cards, one worth 5 and the other worth 7. Anton had
      plans that, as far as I could tell, were even grander.

      Reality struck, however, as Paul laid down one of his final flight cards and
      demonstrated that he had the ability to pick up planes and claim it. Getting
      your final flight card is valuable. It is worth 10 VP when you play it, and
      after that you stop playing, instead putting a little plane worth 2 VP on the
      card each time your turn comes round. The game ends immediately when a player
      puts a fifth little plane on the card, or (alternatively) when all players
      have played their final flight cards. Paul's collection of flight cards was
      not as large as those of his opponents, but he had the earliest (and thus
      most valuable) final flight card.

      Eric was relieved to be able to play his final flight card just after Paul,
      but Rich and Anton had calculations to make. Rich realized it didn't make
      sense to try for his final flight card, so he simply finished the two long
      flight cards he was working on. Anton got one long card, but he miscounted
      his turns and wound up trying to complete his final flight card but running
      out of time, leaving him far behind.

      In the end, Paul's early mistake still left him within 2 VP of first place,
      while Rich's large collection of ordinary cards put him in the running. Anton
      was far behind, though one more turn would have put him back in the game.

      Final scores:

      Eric 32 = 5 1's + 3 3's + 18 (Rome - Frankfurt - Copenhagen)
      Paul 30 = 4 1's + 2 3's + 20 (Munich - Warsaw - Barcelona)
      Rich 28 = 4 1's + 4 3's + a 5 + a 7
      Anton 21 = 5 1's + 3 3's + a 7

      Eric's rating: 7. Jet Set is a tense game that clearly has been playtested
      thoroughly. There are a number of different strategies, though as in Ticket
      to Ride you need to be prepared in the event an opponent ends the game before
      you were expecting it to end. I asked the others how they would rate Jet Set.
      Anton gave it an 8, Rich a 7.5, and Paul gave it a minus 4 because the link
      geometry is too confusing.

      (Steve, Charles, Walt)

      Harry Wu designed Wabash Cannonball, an innovative railroad game with a clear
      resemblance to Martin Wallace's Early Railways Series games, but with some
      unique innovations as well, back in 2007. The game has since been re-issued
      in a far more splendid physical form under the title "Chicago Express" (a
      title that's not as evocative for rail fans, but which may be more acceptable
      to the general gaming populace.)

      Chicago Express is a game in which players buy shares in railroads at auction
      and proceed to operate those railroads for profit. All sorts of dirty tricks
      are possible, a fact that is almost a necessity if the game is going to recreate
      the pre-ICC United States railroad scene. There are also a number of critical
      early auctions in which players can put themselves out of the running if they
      bid too high or too low, something new players can easily do. It's a game that
      you need to play more than once.

      In this game, Walt and Charles bid high for shares in the initial share auction,
      leaving Steve with far more cash than they had. This allowed Steve to buy two
      discount shares early in the first round, putting him far ahead. Walt ran a
      conservative, fiscally sound railroad, and this did not prove to be the route
      to riches. Charles joined Walt in a spot far behind Steve, who won by a mile.

      Final scores:

      Steve $567, Walt $344, Charles $336.

      Eric's rating: 7. I'm happy that we have a copy at MVGA; I want to play this
      game a few more times.

      (Eric, Anton, Charles, Walt)

      We played the Saint Petersburg expansion a few weeks ago, and in accordance
      with my plan to get this game onto the MVGA table more often, in particular
      when we have two games going at once, I suggested that we choose it for one
      of the two games that would start next. I got positive feedback from some
      of the group, though Rich and Paul had no interest (no problem, as they could
      play in the other game.)

      It was a game in which none of the players had a strategy that was dramatically
      different from that of the others. Charles focused on nobles early, scoring
      almost no VPs, and Eric also pushed the income track. Walt and Anton bought
      cards that yielded VPs, opening up leads, but their income was less, promising
      a comeback by the richer players late in the game.

      On one turn most of the table was cash poor, and Eric was able to buy several
      blue cards. Suddenly he announced that he was scoring 20 VP during a blue
      phase, with $6 in income. You can catch up in a hurry when you score big
      during the blue phase. Eric was also managing to draw a lot of orange cards.
      Somehow there was almost always one orange upgrade available when his turn
      came around. Charles had the opposite experience---the orange upgrades kept
      running out on Anton's turn, just before Charles got his turn.

      In the end, Eric's blue scoring gave him a reasonable lead over the others,
      who were clustered together just before the corner of the scoreboard.

      Final scores:
      Eric 143 (9 nobles,) Walt 126 (8), Charles 120 (9), Anton 118 (7).

      Eric's rating: 10.

      (Paul, Rich, Steve)

      I left before this game finished, so all I got was the final scores. It was
      a close game.

      Rich 44, Steve 43, Paul 37.

      Eric's rating: 6.

      Eric Brosius
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