[SR] MVGA Holliston 2009-05-28
- 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, Anton,
Ian, Dan, Walt, Jason, David
(Paul H., Eric, Rich, Anton)
We started the evening off with 4 on hand,
but we knew that more were going to arrive
at any moment, so we wanted something short.
Wyatt Earp is short, and even better, you
can stop at the end of any hand if more
people come in. This game was an outlaw
fest as everyone but Butch Cassidy came out
in the first few turns. Eric played a Bank
Robbery to horn in on Rich's outlaw early
in the game---Rich had 9 capture points on
him, but Eric played two outlaws and the 2
points from the Bank Robbery made 6.
Anton saw Eric pulling ahead---he was in
on nearly every outlaw---so he played a
Hideout on one of Eric's colors, and he
made the shot. Eric whipped out a Wyatt
Earp card but missed the shot. He was glad
he had a second Wyatt Earp, and he used it
to remove the Hideout while going out,
slipping past Paul and Rich to win the
hand by $1K.
At this point, 5 more gamers filed into the hall, and we ended the game after
just one hand.
Final scores: Eric $8K, Rich $7K, Paul $7K, Anton $5K.
Eric's rating: 9. I really enjoy Wyatt Earp. It has enough decisions to be
interesting and the theme really works. I need to try Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde,
another game in the Mystery Rummy series that I like, again soon.
(Eric, Ian, Dan, Jason, David)
Two of the new arrivals were Ian and his father Dan. The other two were Jason
and David, who were making their first visit to MVGA. They're relatively new
to the boardgame hobby and spotted our website and decided to try us out.
We asked whether they wanted to try a new game or one they already knew, and
they opted for a new game to start the evening. We discussed several options
and settled on Puerto Rico, a game we've played about 50 times at MVGA, but
not as often in the past year or two.
If you've played Puerto Rico a lot, it's easy to forget how complex it is.
None of the individual parts of the rules is all that complicated, but there
are a lot of parts and they interact in ways that aren't always easy to see.
Eric explained the game carefully and warned Jason and David that there'd be
some things they didn't see until after they were halfway through the game.
It turned out to be an interesting game. Dan went with the building strategy,
supported by a factory and coffee sales. Jason went with shipping, getting
up to 3 corn and 3 indigo per production cycle, but suffering from poverty
most of the way. Dan's building was impressive: in addition to the factory
he got a harbor, city hall and guild hall, but his shipping was anemic as we
kept squeezing him out of boat space. In the end Eric won by coming close to
Jason in shipping while maintaining a respectable amount of building.
Eric 61 = 35 VP + 18 building + 8 (Customs House)
Dan_ 54 = 16 VP + 25 building + 5 (City Hall) + 8 (Guild Hall)
David 47 = 25 VP + 15 building + 7 (Residence)
Jason 45 = 36 VP + 9 building
Ian_ 38 = 18 VP + 14 building + 6 (Fortress)
Eric's rating: 8. Puerto Rico used to be a '10' in my book, but some of the
interest has leaked out of it for me after nearly 100 games. It's a strong '8'
though, and I am happy to play it 4 or 5 times a year.
(Paul H., Rich, Anton, Walt)
While 5 of us played Puerto Rico the other 4 played Eurorails. Walt bought
a copy (in the small-sized box) some time ago and as a result we've played
more of the crayon rails series recently. We do need a better set of markers,
though, as the ones used for this game were troublesome and hard to see. I
will try to bring a set of china markers out next week; someone should send
me an e-mail to remind me.
The crayon rails games certainly have luck in the draw of the cards, but you
need to know how to make the most of the cards you get, and the fact that the
same players seem to show up year after year in the World Boardgaming
Championships semis and finals suggests that skill is a significant element
of the game. Rich has had a lot of success at WBC, but it was Walt who
parlayed two deliveries to Bilbao early in the game into an early upgrade and
a lead he would never relinquish. Rich came on strong at the end, but fell
short by a wide margin as Walt put it away.
Final scores: Walt $256, Rich $179, Paul and Anton less than that.
Eric's rating: 10. Eurorails and Empire Builder are my two favorite crayon
rails games. I play these games often with my wife as 2-player games, and I
play with more than 2 when I can.
(Eric, Ian, Dan, Jason, David)
Puerto Rico finished a little before Eurorails, so we selected a short game to
fill in the time while we waited for Eurorails to finish. No Thanks! is a
light but thought-provoking game of luck and nerve. David and Jason got the
idea right away. Eric started us off by taking the 35 card with 10 chips on
it, and it wasn't long before everyone had a card. Jason tried the tack of
taking a number of medium to smallish cards, hoping to string some chains
together while scooping up chips, but he wasn't able to do enough connecting
as the other players were in position to take the cards he wanted.
Dan played a quiet game, chaining the 23, 24 and 25 for a good gain in chips
while taking nothing else but two smaller cards. This was enough for a fairly
comfortable win as the rest of us finished relatively close together.
Dan 23 = 8-9, 23-25 minus 8 chips
Ian 35 = 6-7, 15, 22 minus 8 chips
Eric 35 = 20, 34-35 minus 19 chips
David 37 = 5, 11-12, 28-29 minus 7 chips
Jason 46 = 3-4, 13-14, 17-18, 26 minus 13 chips
Eric's rating: 7. No Thanks! isn't the heaviest game, but it's pleasantly
counter-intuitive. I enjoy reading the outraged comments of people who have
tried to figure it out by purely mathematical means and finished last as a
result. No Thanks!, like investment banking, is trivial given unlimited
credit, but that's something you don't have.
TICKET TO RIDE
(Paul, Rich, Jason, David)
Both games were now finished. Anton had to leave, as he usually does around
10pm, but we still had 8 gamers---enough for two games. We asked our visitors
whether they'd like to play a new game or an old one, and this time they opted
for Ticket to Ride, a game they already knew. Jason set his sights high,
taking a ton of tickets. Rich was more conservative, but he built a good line
and knew the outcome depended on whether Jason was able to complete all his
tickets. As it turned out, Jason was successful to win by 25 VP. David would
have been in the thick of it, but he failed to complete two large tickets, and
this left him out of it.
Final scores: Jason 151, Rich 126, Paul 100, David 90
Eric's rating: 8. Ticket to Ride is good clean fun. I like the regular game
more than most of the expansions, though I do enjoy the 1910 expansion.
(Eric, Ian, Dan, Walt)
You never know what you're in for when you play a Friedemann Friese game. In
the case of Freitag, you're looking at a game that is scheduled for publication
in 2013, but that Friedemann has made accessible by posting "print and play"
components on his website and encouraging people to give it a try. Eric got
a number of games in during April and recently created his own copy of the
game. It's a long wait until 2013!
Freitag is a stock market game in which you buy stocks, wait until they go up,
and sell them (if they don't go up, don't buy them, as Will Rogers said.) The
winner is not the person with the most money, but the person who ends with the
most gold stashed away in a secret bank account. It's even possible to go
bankrupt and win the game---the bankruptcy courts can't get access to your
gold. Money, of course, is a tie-breaker like in Power Grid.
Many people have tried to create a stock market game, and it's a remarkably
difficult challenge. You want the market movements to be unpredictable, but
dependent to some extent on the actions of the players. Many stock market
games are either luck-ridden or too deterministic, but this one succeeds
in creating a realistic experience---as long as you don't mind the fact that
a crash is inevitable (unlike in real life?)
The key mechanism of the game is an opaque bag into which you place colored
cubes representing shares of the companies you can invest in. Players buy and
sell shares, and in general the colors that are bought and not sold will go
into the bag, leading to stock price increases. Players may also buy gold in
lieu of buying stock. In addition to the five colors of stock, the game has
a set of black "doom cubes" that can trigger market crashes. Early in the
game, crashes are impossible, but stock sales and gold purchases add doom
cubes and increase the likelihood of crashes. Doom cubes also drive the price
of gold up, as do gold purchases (!) and the game ends when the price of gold
Players finance their activity by taking out loans, which are more and more
available as the game progresses---until suddenly they aren't. In many games
with loans you must repay your loans, but in Freitag repaying loans is folly.
They can't collect once you've fled the country! Instead, at the end of the
game, anyone who hasn't taken out the maximum number of loans that is allowed
does so, all stock is sold at the current market price, and you buy as much
gold as you can afford.
In this game, the price of blue stock dropped in the first two market
re-pricings as no blue shares were drawn from the bag. Ian then realized that
the first player to sell blue would be the only one to derive benefit from
blue shares, as they would immediately go into insolvency. He sold his blue
share and we were transported into an odd game in which there were only four
colors instead of the usual five. Dan suffered in particular because he was
stuck with two worthless blue cubes. The prices of red, yellow and purple
shot up nicely, however, and we did some buying and selling. Walt and Ian
bought gold early while Dan and Eric played the market for all they were
worth. Then Eric scored big on some stock sales and began to pile into the
gold market, driving the price up and forcing the others to try to match him.
This brought the game to a rapid conclusion (and none too soon, as the market
was in full plummet mode by the end of the game.)
Final scores: Eric 20, Walt 17, Dan 12 + $43, Ian 12 + $33.
Eric's rating: 9. It's not my usual policy to rate prototypes, but I've
already played Freitag six times and I'm really enjoying it.