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[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-04-30

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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 9, 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., Steve, Eric, Rich,
      Ian, Dan, Anton

      (Paul H., Steve, Rich, Anton)

      We had all the regulars this week, plus
      Dan's son Ian, who often shows up in the
      summer (he's now at college during the
      school year and as a result can only come
      when he's home.) We were in the mood for
      something different, so we pulled out the
      copy of Eurorails that Walt recently added
      to the fabulous MVGA game locker. Rich
      and Eric are both big crayon rails fans
      (Eurorails is a member of the Empire
      Builder family, a set of games that all
      use a common set of basic rules in which
      players draw track on the board using
      colored markers and then deliver goods
      by running trains along their tracks (or
      from time to time, other people's track
      that they rent.)

      Steve hadn't played any crayon rails
      games before, so we signed him up to
      play. There were 4 others who were happy
      to play, but Eric bowed out (only Dan and
      Ian were not interested in Eurorails, and
      the game is better if you limit the
      number of players, at least while people
      are learning.)

      Eurorails is a game of judgment and efficiency, and Rich is one of the best at
      it. He won the crayon rails tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships
      one year and finished at the top table two other times, so he really knows how
      to play. Rich started with a north-south-ish route from England down to the
      French Riviera---not the ideal route on this map, but you need to play the
      cards you have and not the cards you're hoping to draw. One player built a
      line to Scandinavia. I almost never build to Scandinavia on this map, as it
      costs a bundle of money and it often seems hard to get more cards later in
      the game that use the track you've invested in.

      Not surprisingly, Rich made it to $250 million and all but one major city first.
      He was far ahead of the other three players, but it was a fairly close race
      for second place. Steve did quite well for his first game. Although this
      seems like a straightforward game, there are many little nuances that go into
      good play, and it takes practice to pick them up.

      Final scores: Rich $253, Anton $150, Paul $128, Steve $104.

      Eric's rating: 10. I'm a big crayon rails fan, and Eurorails is one of my
      two favorites in the series (the other is Empire Builder, with or without

      (Eric, Ian, Dan)

      With 4 people committed to Eurorails, a game that would take most of the
      evening, the other 3 of us reviewed our options. Eric had just obtained a
      copy of Royal Palace, a 2008 release by designer Xavier Georges. It is the
      first published game he has designed.

      Royal Palace has at its heart a 3 by 3 grid. The grid is made up of large
      cardboard tiles that are arranged in a random pattern, so that the game is
      different each time. Players place and move meeples on this grid in such a
      way as to obtain victory points (yes, it's most definitely a Euro!) Most of
      the victory points come from recruiting the nobles displayed on a large board
      that serves as a sales display (like the main board in Puerto Rico is a sales
      display) but with some geometric considerations as well (once a noble is taken,
      adjacent nobles come cheaper, and bonuses are awarded for most nobles on each
      of the four edges of the display.)

      Eric was chosen to be first player, and he placed his 10 starting meeples on
      the grid. The meeples are custom-made for this game, with wigs in the fashion
      that was popular during the reign of Louis XIV. Some people have compared
      Royal Palace to Louis XIV, but in my mind the main similarity is the theme.
      Ian and Dan then placed their meeples and we began play.

      Royal Palace is a game in which you spend resources to get more resources
      which you then convert to victory points. Many games share this feature, but
      there are quite a few types of resources in Royal Palace, and the random set-up
      makes the effectiveness of particular strategies vary from game to game. It
      often seems to be the case that you find yourself short of one or two of the
      resources, and that this hinders your plans.

      In addition to recruiting nobles, you can score points by collecting cards that
      are available for players who put meeples at the "back door" tile of the
      palace. Dan did well in this regard, gaining 10 points for VP cards, and Eric
      got 6. Ian finished the game with one unplayed card, worth only 1 VP. Ian
      scored better in other ways, but Dan's cards made the difference.

      Final scores:

      Dan_ 74 = 56 nobles + 10 cards + 8 edges
      Ian_ 71 = 60 nobles + 1 card + 10 edges
      Eric 70 = 56 nobles + 6 cards + 8 edges

      Eric's rating: 7. The rating '7' is the broadest of my ratings. I buy a few
      of the games that I rate '7' and pass over others. Royal Palace is unusual
      enough that I wanted to play it several times, and I was able to obtain it at
      a good price, so I have it in my tub o' games for now.

      (Eric, Ian, Dan)

      The Eurorails game was still a long way from finishing, so Eric pulled another
      game out of his tub. Lokomotive Werks is a Winsome publication by designer
      Dieter Danziger (who also designed Union vs. Central, among other games.)

      Lokomotive Werks is an economic engine game with a huge player-order effect.
      The players who start the turn with less money get to sell trains first, and
      if they get it right, they can effectively exhaust much of the demand for the
      players who go later in the turn (the ones who were richer.) It's tricky to
      get this right, but when it smacks you between the eyes, you won't soon forget
      the lesson.

      Lokomotive Werks has been out for a while, but it has received attention
      recently as a result of the similarities some people see with Martin Wallace's
      new game Automobile. I find the similarities fairly noticeable, and after
      playing Automobile I gained a new interest in playing Lokomotive Werks.
      Automobile is due to be published soon, and I'm sure I'll play it once it is
      out, but I can play Lokomotive Werks right now.

      It was the first time playing this game for Ian and Dan, and Eric pushed and
      pulled on the turn order lever to squeeze his opponents out of the odd sale
      here and there. Eric developed many new types of train, and this gave him
      the flexibility he needed to sell everything he produced. Dan and Ian dueled
      neck and neck the whole way (as a father and son should,) and Dan just eked
      past Ian for 2nd place.

      Final scores: Eric $342, Dan $238, Ian $236.

      Eric's rating: 8. My rating has wobbled back and forth between '7' and '8'
      as I continue to play Lokomotive Werks, but it's currently on the high side.
      For now I'm suspecting that the "bad luck" and "runaway leader" problems I
      have seen are largely due to naive play. It's possible that I'm wrong, but
      this game is high on my "want to play" list right now.

      (Eric, Ian, Dan)

      Eurorails was almost, but not quite done, so we played a game of Race for the
      Galaxy while we waited. None of us was happy with his cards, as Dan tried to
      produce and consume (with limited success,) Ian set up a conquering machine
      but couldn't get the military worlds he needed, and Eric grabbed a few VPs by
      settling windfall worlds and consuming the goods on Old Earth. Eventually
      Eric found Terraforming Guild to put the game away.

      Final scores:

      Eric [OE] 43 = 5 VP + 13 cards + 10 (Terraforming) + 9 (New Economy) + 6 goals
      Ian_ [NS] 39 = 2 VP + 15 cards + 7 (Imperium Lords) + 12 (SETI) + 3 goals
      Dan_ [DA] 32 = 9 VP + 10 cards + 4 (Galactic Genome) + 9 goals

      Eric's rating: 10.

      (Eric, Rich, Ian, Dan)

      Eurorails finished. Paul, Steve and Anton left, but Rich hung around for one
      more game of Race for the Galaxy. This time Eric got the big Produce/Consume
      engine going, but Ian scooped up a whopping 19 VP for goals to win by a mile.
      Dan, uh, played too.

      Final scores:

      Ian_ [EE] 50 = 6 VP + 15 cards + 10 (SETI) + 19 goals
      Eric [DA] 35 = 17 VP + 10 cards + 5 (Galactic Renaissance) + 3 goals
      Rich [SC] 30 = 0 VP + 15 cards + 8 (Gal Fed) + 5 (Gal Imp) + 2 (Alien Tech)
      Dan_ [DA] 18 = 3 VP + 15 cards

      Eric's rating: 10.

      Eric Brosius
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