[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-04-23
- 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.
Paul H., Eric, Rich, Todd, Dan, Anton
(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
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.
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.
(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
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.
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.