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RE: [trivalleygamers] Invitation to Play - Games - May 3 (+ Poll for games)

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  • Richard Pardoe
    ... Just befores the poll closes, we have 3 games that are a unanimous consensus of all the voters. I suspect one of these games will be the leading candidate
    Message 1 of 35 , May 1 10:27 PM
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      >http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/trivalleygamers/surveys?id=2215374

      Just befores the poll closes, we have 3 games that are a unanimous consensus
      of all the voters. I suspect one of these games will be the leading
      candidate for Wednesday night, so here are the rules if you want to prepare
      ahead of time:

      In the Shadow of the Emperor
      Rules:
      http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/7518/Im_Schatten_des_Kaisers_English.doc
      Summary:
      http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/15756/In_the_Shadow_of_the_Emperor_-_An_Ex
      planation.pdf


      Louis XIV
      Rules: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/10405/LouisXIV.pdf


      Power Grid
      Rules: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/15841/PowerGrid-Rules-v3.pdf

      Should the results change after the poll closes, I will send out another
      note.

      Game on,

      Rich
    • Richard Pardoe
      Dave and Carrie practically broke down the door getting to Rich s to play games tonight. Not knowing if anyone else might join us, we launched into a new,
      Message 35 of 35 , May 24 11:26 PM
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        Dave and Carrie practically broke down the door getting to Rich's to play
        games tonight. Not knowing if anyone else might join us, we launched into a
        new, quick game that is just hitting these shores....Um Krone und Kragen by
        Amigo. (This will be released in English by Rio Grande Games as To Crown a
        King)

        In a nutshell, the goal of the game is to roll 7 (or more) of a kind using
        dice. Like many dice games, it has the roll your dice, set aside 1 (or
        more), and reroll until your turn is complete. If that is all there was to
        the game, it would be rather uninteresting. The key difference in this game
        is that certain rolls less than the 7 of a kind gain "character cards" that
        allow players to influence subsequent die rolls. The thematic element is
        that the character cards range from the court jester to various ranks ending
        with the king and queen and players hope to win the king card (this winning
        the game).

        The influence provided by the character cards falls into two categories.
        The first general category contains the cards that add dice to your hand
        (necessary as everyone starts with 3, so will need to add more dice to even
        have a chance at rolling 7 of a kind). The other category contains the
        cards that allow you to change the die rolls. For example, points may be
        removed from one die and added to another. In this way a roll of 2-6 can be
        changed into a roll of 4-4 by taking two points from the 6 and adding it to
        the 2. Other cards allow players match previously rolled numbers and the
        like. So as the game progresses, the luck of the roll can be adjusted by
        the powers of the cards. Of course, there is still a bit of luck in what is
        rolled as better rolls will require less adjustment.

        But the supply of character cards (and their abilities) is not unlimited.
        In a 3 player game, there will be only 2 of most cards. Therefore, the
        players are in competition to get the cards and can't assume a desired card
        will always be present. In addition, there is a "court jester/charlatan"
        card that gives a modest power even if the die roll matches none of the
        other cards. So it is most likely that players won't be frustrated trying
        and trying to get desired cards. But with a limited number of cards - isn't
        the last person in turn order put at a disadvantage? No, because with each
        round, the start player moves backwards one player, so the last player will
        in essence get two turns in a row - a nice balancing feature to offset the
        turn order.

        The game plays rather quickly. Our first playing was over in about 45
        minutes - protracted only because we had to keep reviewing the cards on
        offer and what we might do with them. But as the game progressed, the game
        play was quicker and quicker. With experience, I can see this being a nice
        15-30 minute filler or lunch time game.

        As our game started, Rich managed to roll doubles with his 3 dice on the
        first roll, so stopped his turn there claiming the Bauer (Farmer) which adds
        one die (if used) at the beginning of your turn. Dave then demonstrated his
        die rolling prowess. He rolled a 6-3-1 and set aside the 6. He then rolled
        a 3-1 (yep the same as before) and was in a quandry what to try for. The
        best choice seemed to be to set aside the and hope for either a pair to
        claim the last Bauer or to claim the Handwerker (Craftsman) with a 6 as his
        total would be 15+. Davie rolled a 1. So 3 rolls and no change in dice
        over those rolls. He was left with the Hofnarr (Jester) as consolation.
        Carrie had similar luck and also was left with the Hofnarr.

        While Rich could have added an extra die to roll 4, he still wanted to get
        some of the lower cards. For example, the Philosopher requires that all
        dice be even. This is easier to accomplish with 3 dice than with 4. So
        Rich held off using the Bauer for the time being and claimed the Dienstmadg
        (Farm Servant) by rolling all odd numbers.

        As the game progressed, Carrie did quite well gaining the characters that
        added dice of specific values (Handwerker, Watchmann, Jager) to her hand and
        she used these quite well to claim the cards later on that required
        straights (runs of consecutive numbers) to claim. Rich realized that he had
        been claiming the cards that rearrange the rolls, but not doing so well on
        the cards that add dice, so he switched the cards that he was targetting
        midgame to balance the powers in hand.

        Finally, it was time to make a move for the King. Rich went first rolling
        eight 4's to claim the king (and queen) to trigger the end game. Dave had
        one final turn as the round was not over which he used to claim the
        Pfandleiher (Pawn Broker). As he was the last player of the round, the
        final round started with Dave. Using the various abilities of his cards, he
        managed to roll ten 3's to claim the king from Rich. Dave built up his hand
        by rolling a few 3's early. He had the alchemist, but no low die which with
        to switch points. So Dave went through a process of introducing a numbered
        die and then rerolling eventually getting a 1 to go with two 4's. The
        alchemist allowed him to arrange the points amongst the 3 dice (-1 to each
        of the 4's and +2 to the 1) to get a few more 3's. The astronomer and
        Zauberer (magician) also added 3's to Dave's hand. When Dave was done, he
        had an impressive ten 3's to claim the king. Carrie could only roll 7 dice
        max, so had no chance. Rich then had a final chance to try to regain the
        crown.

        Using the Bauer (+1 dice to hand) and the Feldherr (+2 dice to hand), Rich
        rolled 6 dice getting 3-3-3-2-5-6. As the player with the queen need only
        tie the previous roll, Rich thought about going after the 3's, but then
        realized that he could more easily get 5's. So Rich set aside the 5. He
        then used the Edlemann (+2 to any active dice) to change the remaining dice
        to 5-5-5-4-6 and set aside those 5's. He then Philosopher to take 1 point
        from the 6 and add it to the 4 for two more 5's for a total of 6. He then
        used the Ritter (Robber) to add a die showing a 5 to the active dice and set
        it aside. He then used the Handwerker to add a die showing a 1 to the
        active dice and converted it (with the Astronomer) to a 5 (for a total of
        8). He then used the Jager to introduce a die showing a 3 to the active
        dice and then used the Dienstmadg to add 2 to the die making it a 5 also
        (for a total of 9). Finally, he used the Queen to add the tenth and final 5
        to the dice to claim the crown and win the game.

        And shows one aspect I like about this game - for a die rolling game, there
        is actually very little rolling as the game progresses as the card's powers
        can be used nicely to achieve the desired rolls. Unless we totally missed
        the rules - both Dave and I achieved our final rolls by converting our
        initial roll using just the cards. Of course, this might indicate that we
        had waited too long before going for the King and could have done so sooner,
        using a few more re-rolls and counting on a bit of luck to get the desired
        roll instead of waiting for the more certain result as we did. Carrie (who
        couldn't participate in the final round) did comment that it important to
        watch how many dice your opponents can possibly roll.

        So how do I like it? Well, I do like games with a bit of luck in them. I
        find that they tend to be a bit more social as players can't completely
        control all their actions in the game. Um Krone und Kragen fills in a nice
        niche - a light game, quickly played, with just enough thought to keep it
        interesting.

        With no other arrivals arriving, we launched into a game that Dave had
        brought with him....Stunt Academy by Krimsus Krimskrams-Kiste. Each player
        is a student at a "Stunt Academy" hoping to be at the head of the class at
        the end of 4 semesters of education. Very basically, players are drafting
        cards representing credits in one of 5 stunt disciplines (or suits if you
        prefer the non-thematic explanation). Once enough credits have been
        collected, the player can play a meld of cards to the table hoping to have
        the most credits at the end of the semester (to gain victory points).

        There are some twists to this basic mechanism that add to the gameplay.
        First, players gain only a limited number of action points each turn to
        spend on drafting cards or playing melds. Fortunately, unspent points can
        be carried from turn to turn, but not to exceed 9 points. In addition,
        players can never have more than 7 cards at any time, this further limits
        how players might draft cards. It is entirely possible that players have 7
        cards, but not enough credits in hand to play any melds. This forces the
        player to basically sit out the rest of that semester. Finally, the draft
        mechanism is interesting. 4 cards are played face up from in a row from the
        draw pile. Players are free to purchase any of the face up cards that they
        can afford. When their turn is over, any card in the 4th spot (furthest
        from the draw pile) is discarded. The remaining face-up cards slid towards
        the discard pile and empty spots filled. As a result, the available cards
        are always changing. When the draw pile is exhausted, the discard pile
        becomes the draw pile (not shuffled, so the cards are not played out in
        reverse order). When the draw pile is exhausted a second time, the semester
        ends and scoring starts.

        Players total up the credits in each of the disciplines that that they have
        played as melds. The player with the most points gains 5 VPs, the second
        most points 3 VPs, and the third most points, 1 VP. In addition, the player
        playing the most points in any one discipline gains 3 VPs. In the final
        (4th semester) scoring round, there is a final 2 VPs for the player who
        played the most melds in each of the 5 stunt disciplines.

        There are some other features to the game (generic skills, teachers, and
        agents) that add a few twists to the above, but for purposes of
        understanding the overall game and its goals, we can skip those for this
        session report.

        The first semester saw Dave specializing in Falls, Motorcycle Riding, and
        Fights. Carrie went for the Pyrotechnics, Stunt Driving, and Motorcyles.
        Rich went for Pyrotechnics, Motorcycles, and Fights. Totalling our credits,
        we were evenly matched at 16-16-17 - giving Rich the 5 VPs while Dave and
        Carrie each got 3 VPs. But Carrie and Dave also tied for the most points in
        a single discipline, so gained an extra VP each.

        Semester 1:
        Dave: 4 VPs
        Carrie: 4 VPs
        Rich: 5 VPs

        The second semester was all Carrie's. She managed to gain 18 credits in
        Pyrotechnics, Stunt Driving, and Falls. Dave kept pace with another 16
        credits in Falls, Pyrotechnics, and Fights. Rich slacked off gaining only
        10 credits in Motorcycles and Pyrotechnics as the round ended before Rich
        could play a 3rd meld. Carrie also gained the discipline bonus of 3 VPs.

        Semester 2:
        Dave: 7 VPs
        Carrie: 12 VPs
        Rich: 6 VPs

        But having rested and recovered from his stunt injuries, Rich was the
        student to beat in the third semester culminating with a card draft that
        exhausted the draw pile and ended the round just before Dave could play his
        final meld. Rich also gained the discipline bonus.

        Semester 3:
        Dave: 8 VPs
        Carrie: 15 VPs
        Rich: 14 VPs

        Having all had a good round, we had expected Dave to come up with a strong
        finished semester. But alas, this was not to be. Carrie and Rich tied for
        the most credits and while Dave and Rich tied for the discipline bonus.

        Semester 4:
        Dave: 12 VPs
        Carrie: 20 VPs
        Rich: 20 VPs

        Finally, we need to add in the final discipline scoring. Dave had played
        the most melds in Falls and Fights so gains 4 VPs. Carried had the most in
        Pyrotechnics and Cars so also gains 4 VPs. Rich had the most in motorcycles
        so gains 2 VPs to yield the final scores:

        Final:
        Dave: 16 VPs
        Carrie: 24 VPs
        Rich: 22 VPs

        And out battered and bruised students completed another game night. Stunt
        Academy certainly has some interesting mechanics in it. The sliding draft
        selection guarantees that a card drawn at the end of a player's turn most
        likely will not be present when the turn returns to that player. As a
        result, there is very little strategy/tactics that can take place when it is
        not your turn. I found myself just watching which cards were moving
        through, but didn't really need to consider my turn until it arrived as the
        cards would all be different. Furthermore, there is a strong luck of the
        draw aspect. Dave commented that several times he played a meld only to
        have a high credit card show up just afterwards. And if a needed card is
        turned up not on your turn and the card is gone (very likely) there is
        little to do to react. Other than playing melds (or the end of the
        semester) there is no way to discard cards from hand. So it is possible
        that a player might find themselves unable to play cards of any value as
        melds. While there are "generic skills" that can be used to achieve the
        minimum credit requirement to play a meld, the points purchased and used do
        not count for the end semester scoring. And there again, if the right cards
        aren't available to draft - the player can be stuck.

        Unlike our first game, this one did take a bit longer to play. Granted the
        rules explanation takes a bit longer and there are several things to
        remember, the 4 semesters just plays longer. I am not certain if the time
        invested in the game justifies the end, especially with the lack of control
        over the cards. For the time and effort - still prefer Strand Cup as my
        Krimsus game of choice.

        And that ends our evening. Until next week,

        Rich
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