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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-04-23

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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 , May 3, 2009
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      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, Rich, Todd, Dan, Anton


      ALHAMBRA
      (Paul H., Eric, Rich, Todd, Dan)

      It was another Thursday night at the
      Masonic Hall, and we had 5 players on
      hand early. Unusually, Anton wasn't
      there at 7pm, but Todd was back for
      another visit, giving us enough for
      a large-sized game. We have various
      options with 5, but we decided on
      Alhambra, a game we've played more
      than 40 times at MVGA. In the early
      days, Rich won more than half of the
      games, but things have evened out as
      the rest of us have gained experience
      and learned better play by watching
      him.

      This game started out well for Todd.
      In Alhambra you draw money cards from
      the deck until you have at least 20
      in money. Todd drew several '1's and
      wound up with a fistful of cards, as
      compared with the 4 or 5 cards most
      of us got. It didn't go very well
      for Todd after that, though, as he
      kept seeing tiles on offer that did
      not match the cards he had. He
      overpaid for a few tiles just to get
      something into his compound, but that
      drains your hand because you can't
      pick up a new money card after you
      make your purchase.

      Dan, on the other hand, was buzzing along with style. He not only got a lot
      of tiles, but he arranged them in a symmetrical formation, with 5 tiles on the
      bottom row, 3 in the middle and 1 on top. It looked like a Christmas tree, or
      as Paul put it, it was "ziggurathic" (my spell checker doesn't seem to like
      that word...) To top it off, Dan got a long stretch of wall while retaining
      options for further expansion. With his long wall, Dan was looking like the
      winner even after the first scoring.

      First scoring: Dan 18, Paul 10, Eric 6, Todd 3, Rich 3.

      In the second portion of the game Eric made an attempt to catch up, grabbing
      majorities in three colors, but he was not able to build a respectable wall,
      instead assembling several medium-sized stretches (this is not the way to win,
      folks!) Heavy sighs were coming from Todd's direction as he continued to
      struggle with his options.

      Second scoring: Dan 58, Eric 42, Rich 26, Paul 18, Todd 8.

      The final part of the game provided an opportunity for respectability for the
      rest of us as Dan continued to power ahead. Eric might have had a chance, but
      finished with only 8 wall sections connected, far short of what one should have
      at the end. Todd's problems can be seen clearly by his purchase of a single
      tower tile for 4-3-3-2-2 in yellow cards---a lot of change for a single tile!
      Rich was buying a lot of tiles but couldn't make much use of them, and he ended
      the game with 3 tiles in reserve, where they did not score. I don't remember
      a game with so many tiles in reserve. Needless to say, Rich didn't come
      anywhere near Dan in the final scoring.

      Final scores:

      Dan 120 (14 walls,) Eric 109 (8), Rich 70 (12), Paul 53 (15), Todd 47 (6).

      Eric's rating: 8. It's true that Alhambra is fairly crowded with 5 players,
      but we move along smartly and it's almost a filler at MVGA.


      GALAXY TRUCKER
      (Eric, Dan, Anton)

      Anton showed up after all, later than usual (when he comes, he's almost always
      here at the start) but ready for a game. With 6 people, we were ready to split
      into two groups of 3. A substantial subset of the group was itching to play
      Le Havre, and the rest of us decided on Galaxy Trucker, a game Walt recently
      added to the fabulous MVGA game locker. Galaxy Trucker is a real-time game
      in which you assemble space ships and then fly them through space, facing a
      number of randomly-selected hazards. Because you have only a limited time to
      build your ships, and because component availability isn't always the best,
      your ships aren't always marvels of spacecraft engineering. No matter---do
      the best with what you have. As they say, "good, fast, cheap---pick any 2."
      Of course, when it turns out you've picked "fast" and "cheap", you might not
      want to brave outer space in the resulting craft.

      Galaxy Trucker features three successive flights. As the game proceeds, you
      get to build larger ships, and you get more time in which to build, but on the
      other hand you must brave a longer string of hazards. We were a bit worried
      about Anton, who isn't always the fastest decision maker, but on the other hand
      he's a rocket scientist (really!) and this game is about building rockets. It
      came out okay, as he always had a ship ready to fly when the sand timer ran
      out.

      The game itself was a bit anti-climactic. Dan had a ship built for speed in
      the first stage of the game. He was just waiting for those "open space" cards
      so he could turn on the afterburners and pull out in front (the person who
      arrives first gets first crack at the VP events and can earn a bonus for
      finishing first.) Unfortunately there were no "open space" cards and Eric's
      heavily armed tug was able to maintain its position with the heavy use of
      batteries to power its engines.

      The second and third stages proceeded similarly, though the second stage did
      feature significant damage to all three spacecraft as a result of massive
      meteor swarms. We realized after the game that we should have changed the
      scoring card for the second and third stages, but we also agreed it wouldn't
      have made a difference in the final placing.

      Final scores: Eric 77, Dan 60, Anton 33.

      Eric's rating: 7. Vlaada Chvatil is an inspired designer who seems able to
      come up with different designs for various topics while maintaining a strong
      combination of theme and playability. The real-time nature of Galaxy Trucker
      is a big positive. The game is a bit too light (in my opinion) to be a true
      favorite (though I'm crazy about Through the Ages,) but it's an excellent
      change of pace that presents entirely different challenges.


      LE HAVRE
      (Paul H., Rich, Todd)

      As I mentioned above, Paul, Rich and Todd were eager to play Le Havre. Todd
      was brand-new to the game, so they taught him as they set it up. Neither Paul
      nor Rich had taught the game before, so they worked together to explain it to
      Todd. It was a little slow getting started, but the game was soon moving along
      nicely.

      One of the nice features of Le Havre is the variety in the set of available
      strategies. In this game Paul focused on getting ships started early, buying
      one ship and building two more to help feed his people. Todd took a different
      tack, pushing to buy high-value buildings, amassing the resources needed to
      build them (in particular, steel and brick) and making a number of trips to
      the construction buildings. Rich took yet a third tack, collecting coal and
      iron, converting the coal to coke (always a good goal) and then visiting the
      steel mill to convert the iron to steel. This allowed him to buy the big
      steel ships and luxury liners.

      At the end of the game, the scores were closer than I've typically seen in a
      3-player game, and Todd's score was higher than I've ever seen for a rookie
      in a 3-player game.

      Final scores:

      Rich 217 = 31 francs + 100 in buildings + 86 in ships
      Todd 201 = 35 francs + 138 in buildings + 28 in ships
      Paul 174 = 64 francs + 96 in buildings + 14 in ships

      Eric's rating: 8. The strength of Le Havre is the breadth of options. You
      never find your game totally ruined by the actions of your opponents, but you
      can find your efficiency impaired, and you must watch carefully to squeeze the
      most out of every action. I'm not sure this game is one I'll want to play 100
      times, but I've already played it 14 times and I've had a lot of fun with it.


      RACE FOR THE GALAXY
      (Eric, Dan, Anton)

      Le Havre was still a long way from the end, so the Galaxy Trucker crew looked
      for another game. Anton didn't have time for a long game, so we played some
      Race for the Galaxy. In the first hand Dan was New Sparta, and he pursued a
      plan that involved conquering a lot of small military worlds combined with an
      early play of Imperium Lords to generate card flow. Later in the game, Dan
      needed to play another development, but he kept hoping someone else would
      select the Develop action. This didn't work. We called Dan's strategy the
      "Need a Develop but don't play one" strategy. It wasn't notably successful.
      Eric bootstrapped a mini consumption strategy by playing many windfall worlds
      on Dan's Settles. The icing on the cake was a play of Terraforming Guild for
      14 VP, allowing him to win by a wide margin.

      Final scores:

      Eric [EL] 40 = 11 VP + 15 cards + 14 (Terraforming Guild)
      Anton[OE] 32 = 7 VP + 25 cards
      Dan [NS] 27 = 2 VP + 17 cards + 8 (Imperium Lords)

      Eric's rating: 10.


      RACE FOR THE GALAXY
      (Eric, Dan, Anton)

      We had the game already set up, so we played one more round before Anton had to
      leave. There wasn't much demand for the VP chips this time as we all pursued
      military in one way or another. Anton held onto the Rebel Homeworld, and this
      made the difference. Anton only managed to tie Dan for VP, even after playing
      the big bopper, but he had two more cards in hand and on worlds to squeak the
      win out on the tie breaker. Eric didn't play a 6-cost development, and this
      left him far behind the leaders.

      Final scores:

      Anton[EL] 26 = 2 VP + 18 cards + 6 (Galactic Imperium)
      Dan [NS] 26 = 0 VP + 19 cards + 7 (Alien Tech Institute)
      Eric [EL] 19 = 0 VP + 19

      Eric's rating: 10.


      Eric Brosius
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