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Session Report - April 5

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  • Richard Pardoe
    Sam, Jeff, and Dave joined Rich to play the first game of the evening - HACIENDA - a game where the players are landowners in Argentina who try to acquire land
    Message 1 of 75 , Apr 7, 2006
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      Sam, Jeff, and Dave joined Rich to play the first game of the evening -
      HACIENDA - a game where the players are landowners in Argentina who try to
      acquire land and animals to score points. Points are earned for size of
      land acquired, access to markets/water, and for haciendas. The player with
      the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

      On a turn, a player has 3 actions to do any combination of play a card, buy
      a card/item, or harvest. A player can play cards from hand to place a token
      on the gameboard. A land card allows the player to play a token to claim a
      land space; an animal card allows a player to play an animal token. Large
      chains of land tokens garner more points at scoring. Large chains of animal
      tokens (herds) are worth more money should the herd connect to a market.

      Alternatively, the player can buy additional cards either the offered face
      up cards (more expensive option) or the top card from the face-down deck
      (less expensive option). In addition to cards, the player can buy a hacienda
      which makes a land chain a bit more valuable or makes an animal chain score
      during one of the 2 scoring rounds. Finally, the player could purchase a
      water hole that can be used to score points for land and animals tokens
      adjacent to the water.

      The game length and scoring are controlled by the deck of animal cards. The
      initially draw deck is cut into two. When the first half of the draw deck
      is exhausted, intermediate scoring occurs. When the second half of the draw
      deck is exhausted, the game ends and a final scoring occurs.

      So we have a game with mechanics to generate money that is used to purchase
      items that can be used to gain points (or to generate more money). It is
      the balance of these that provides the interaction in the game as the animal
      card deck is being drawn down towards game end.

      With the rules explained, we started into the game. Using the symmetric
      (aka dogbone) board, we each started in our quadrant of the board with land
      tiles followed by animals as we each connected to nearby markets. Sam
      seemed to spider out the most with multiple herds connecting to multiple
      markets early in the game. Jeff was the first to purchase a hacienda. And
      Rich was the first to go after additional water. We all developed pretty
      unimpeded in our quarters of the board - allowing Dave and Jeff to build a
      fairly nice chain of land tiles. To stop this development, Rich was the
      first to play additonal land tiles in another area. The cards in hand
      dictated that Rich build adjacent to Dave - capping Dave's development at
      that point. Shortly after, we noted the first animal draw deck was nearing
      the end - so rather than strategic plays, the plays got more tactical for
      the expected points to be scored. Rich had the chance to trigger the
      scoring, but needed one more turn to develop a market connection. Was it
      better to score now? Or to wait one more turn and allow others another
      chance to better position themselves? Rich opted for the additional round.

      The intermediate scoring was rather close: Sam had 40, Rich had 44, Dave
      had 45, and Jeff had 46 points. Dave achieved quite a few of his points
      from money in hand. Rich had quite a few points from water connections.
      Sam and Jeff were connected to 5 markets. And all but Rich had haciendas
      for extra points.

      The second half of the game seemed to progress even faster than the first
      half as the notes are scant and before we knew it we were approaching the
      second half scoring. As the end approached - tactical play, as in
      purchasing of haciendas and water tiles again dominated as the players set
      up to maximize their scores. Interestingly, no harvesting was done in the
      game as everyone seemed to be able to connect to markets with sufficient
      frequency and number to have cash on hand.

      The final scoring was not as close as the intermediate scoring. Rich had
      103, Sam had 107, Dave had 114, and Jeff had 115 points. So while Sam and
      Rich swapped places at the back of the pack, Dave found himself staring at a
      1 point deficit to Jeff. Dave did point out that a water hole close to the
      end instead of a hacienda might have netted him the necessary additional
      point to at least tie the game.

      Reading the rules, the various mechanisms sound rather plebian. Collect
      cards to play cards to gain territory. But somehow, I like the mix of those
      mechanics in this game. There certainly are different options to explore.
      As the intermediate scoring shows, each of the players had a slightly
      different emphasis towards points. This highlights for me that the game
      quite likely has multiple paths to victory. Hacienda also plays quickly -
      even with 4 players we finished quickly, so quickly in fact, that several
      were not quite prepared for it and scrambled to maximize points in the last
      round.

      During our playing of Hacienda arrived and waited patiently (but not too
      long) for the game to end. We then tried out Tanz der Hornochsen aka 6
      Nimmt! The Boardgame. Tanz takes the game play of 6 Nimmt and places it on
      a game board. Instead of scoring for cards taken, the scoring is various
      spaces on the board.

      On the board are various rows where chits numbered 1-99 will be played.
      Each player starts with 6 random chits and 4 more are placed on the board in
      the first 4 rows. Each player will simultaneously select a chit to be
      played to the board. After all the chits are revealed, they are placed on
      the board starting with the smallest numbered chit according to a couple of
      simple rules. First, the chits are played in ascending order. Second,
      place the chit such that it has the smallest difference to the number below
      it. On the chance that the lowest number is smaller than all 4 numbers on
      the board - it is placed next to the highest number to restart that
      sequence.

      Points (which are bad in this game) are scored when one's chit reaches the
      end of a row. This closes out that row and starts the next row in the game.
      While in 6 Nimmt, points are scored based on cards collected, Tanz by virtue
      of the board allows for a larger of variety of things to happen. Some rows
      trigger "double-plays" where players must play 2 chits per turn. Other rows
      trigger "happy cows" where any points gained are now positive (instead of
      negative). I find that these twists add to the enjoyment of the game as
      there is now some strategy to playing to play to certain rows. Finally, at
      a couple of points along the scoring track an open hand is triggerered where
      the chits are played face up and the trailing player (with the most penalty
      points) plays last to at least have some attempt to control their fate that
      round.

      Another nice feature is the ability to buy additional chits (at a cost of
      penalty points) should a player decide to have more options. This
      introduces a chance to mitigate a few bad chits some hand control as one is
      not stuck with one's additional "deal".

      Unfortunately for this session report, the games does play quickly, so the
      notes were very sparse indeed recording only the final scores. Rich
      continued to show his confusion over which end of the scoring track he was
      supposed to be on and raced the front in this one early. Despite other
      valiant efforts to overtake him, Rich did win the race to the dungheap
      scoring 6o penalty points with Sam, Sheryl, Jeff, and Dave at various points
      along the track b ehind him. As Dave had the fewest penalty points -
      victory to Dave.

      As much as I like 6 Nimmt!, I find I like this game just a bit more. One
      thing I enjoyed is that the play changes over the course of a game. To boil
      it down, 6 Nimmt is essentially the same card play over and over. In Tanz,
      enough variety has been added to keep the game interesting at all phases
      making for a slightly more compelling gameplay.
    • Sam A.
      I ll be there. -Sam Richard Pardoe wrote: Shall we gather for games? I am happy to host ..... Games: Wednesday Night, ~18:30 to ~21:00
      Message 75 of 75 , Apr 12, 2006
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        I'll be there.
         
        -Sam

        Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
        Shall we gather for games?  I am happy to host .....

        Games:
        Wednesday Night, ~18:30 to ~21:00
        My house in San Ramon
        Contact me off-list if you need directions)

        Rich




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