Session Report: BLAH III, August 2
- BLAH III: August 2, 2000
Present: Alison, David, Craig, Tamara, Andrew (host, and your humble scribe).
Played: Taj Mahal, Union Pacific, Fluxx.
We missed Jonathan, a founder member of BLAH who had a chess engagement this
Wednesday. We were glad to welcome Craig to what we hope will be his first of
many Wednesday evenings with us. Alison and David provided fine games and
clear explanations of them. And we were delighted that Tamara was healthy
enough to return to the gaming table. She thanked those present for having
signed her "Get Well" card, and I'm sure she'd want me to pass on those
thanks to those who signed at SSG on Saturday, but weren't at BLAH III. As
you will see, her return to the table was a victorious one.
This highly-rated Knizia game has been near the top of my list to learn for
some time now. Knowing that it is Alison's favorite game, I asked her to
bring it along. She did, it was the first game out, and I was not
disappointed with it. Looking back, I am disappointed with the way I played
it, but that is entirely my fault.
I started wisely enough, withdrawing from competition for the first of the
twelve provinces in order to improve my hand. But, To quote Greg Schloesser
quoting Kenny Rogers, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold
'em!" and I didn't until the game was more than half over. I got into a few
bidding wars in which I had enough elephants to be dangerous, but not enough
to win. Tamara benefited greatly from this. She had learned well from her one
previous game of Taj, and quickly became the leader of a strung-out field.
Could Craig catch her? This question remained open, at least to me, until the
very end. Then we saw that Tamara had a good finishing hand (that is, one
with a long suit) and thus was able to hold on for the win.
As for me, I never really established momentum in any of the point-scoring
elements of the game. I can understand what Tamara said after her first play
of Taj Mahal: ok, now I get it, and I want to play again.
And I certainly do want to play again. This is a fascinating combination of
card play and board play. As I have come to expect from Knizia, every turn
reminds me that "Saying yes to one thing is saying no to another." In fact,
that may well be the single sentence that best summarizes the games played at
Score: Tamara 38, Craig 35, Alison 32, Andrew 26, David 19.
Ratings: Tamara 9, Craig 10, Alison 10, Andrew 8.5, David 6.5.
At the same time that I asked Alison to bring Taj, I also asked her to bring
Union Pacific. I knew it was another of her favorites. I knew that David
rates it highly (compared with anything but Robo Rally), so adding it to the
game pile increased the chances that he would join us again. And, it was yet
another game that I wanted to learn.
Again, this is a game of hard choices. Build track for a railroad, or invest
in one or two railroads? You can't build and invest in the same turn. If you
build, you will be helping other players who invest in the railroad you
extend. If you invest, you miss opportunities, including the opportunity to
enhance your investment.
There is a lot of "luck of the draw" in this game. Yet David was winning from
the start, and had a crushing lead at the end, so I credit him with a
skill-driven victory. He beat me for major shareholder in the Union Pacific
railroad. He scored well from coming second to me in ownership of the red
railroad, which I spent many of my turns building up.
One of the things I like about this Alan Moon game involves luck, or at least
chance. You cannot be sure when scores will be counted. Do you play it safe
and invest in a railroad or two now? Or do you extend a railroad in which you
hope you will still have a point-scoring stake when scoring time arrives? It
was probably due to this element of luck that I finished behind only one of
the five players (David, of course).
Score: David 122, Andrew 90, Craig 82, Alison 79, Tamara 72.
Ratings: David 9, Andrew 8, Craig 7, Alison 10, Tamara 6.5.
At around 10:15, Craig headed home, I organized more refreshments, and the
other three agreed on Fluxx. It was a good choice of closing game. This is a
chaotic card game: even the rules are in flux. There are cards that change
the rules, cards that change the victory condition… and then there are the
really chaotic cards! When I looked at the box and saw that the game was
designed by someone called (Andrew) Looney, I thought that it was only
David won the first hand, due, he was honest enough to admit, to the luck of
the draw. But when he won the second and third hands, it was clear that luck
was not the only factor at work. Congratulations to David on following his
Union Pacific win with three consecutive victorious hands of Fluxx.
We decided to have one last hand, partly because that would mean that we had
all dealt one hand, partly (all right, mainly) so that someone other than
David would win a hand. And destiny made it so. A wildly improbably sequence
of events led to a win by Alison.
Score: David won three hands, Alison won one hand.
Ratings: David 7, Alison 8.5, Tamara 6.5, Andrew 8.
It bears pointing out that Tamara loved the game, and seemed determined to
buy it, while we were playing, but gave it a less than stellar rating after
she went winless in four hands. I, on the other hand, nobly gave this
volatile game the high rating it deserves, even though I didn't win a hand.
The session finished at about the same time as BLAH I and II, shy of the
witching hour, but by less than half an hour.
As the above results show, only Craig and I went winless, and Craig had the
excuse that he had to head home after Union Pacific. I'd like to think that
my winless state was due to my generosity as a host, rather than to my
incompetence as a gamer, but I can't be sure of that.
I'll post a revised version of this report on my web site within the next few
days. Please feel free to send comments, corrections, etc.
- AndAgainMA@... wrote:
>BLAH III: August 2, 2000Great report Andrew. We'll yet convert Craig to a UP fan!
>Present: Alison, David, Craig, Tamara, Andrew (host, and your humble scribe).
hehehe... Really it's a game with lots of luck in the draw of
stocks and track - but there is quite a bit you can do in the
meantime to plan within the framework of the game and maximize
your chances to win. Yes, you need some good cards, but during
the game you will get opportunities to advance under your own
power of choices. A very fine game!
http://www.gis.net/~dber (South Shore Gamers)