Session Report - October 4 - Around the World in 80 Foolish Days
- A nice turn-out as Dave, Lawrence, and Ben all arrived at the same time to
begin our evening. We reached deep into the pile of owned but unplayed
games and pulled out a game by Michael Rieneck (was ill the day the Earth
stood still but he told us where to stand)...
Around the World in 80 Days.
There was a fair bit of buzz when this was first released 2 years ago, that
buzz seems to have died out as newer games have come to market. Well, we
decided to see what all the buzz was about back then -
There is a picturesque board showing a trip around the world from London to
Paris to....to San Francisco to New York and back to London. Connections
between various cities are by some combination of boat and/or train. The
goal is to quickest to travel around the world in 80 days or less. (Should
all the players take longer than 80 days...the winner is the first one back
to London.) The travel time (days spent moving from location to location)
is controlled by a deck of travel cards. These cards show either a boat or
a train. In addition, each card has a number from 4 to 8 which indicates how
long that boat/train journey will take. Each player starts with their token
(a Phineas Fogg Meeple or Pfeeple?) in London. The token advances by
playing the necessary transportation cards connecting the current city to
the next city. A trip from London to Paris requires a boat and a train - so
the player must play 1 boat card and 1 train card. The length of the
journey will be the sum of the numbers on the two cards.
A couple of twists can adjust this travel time. First, there is a "balloon"
available. A player then replaces one of their number cards with a balloon
flight. But as the winds can be variable, a balloon flight can last
anywhere from 1 to 6 days. You guessed, it the player rolls a die to
determine how long the flight takes. The other twist is time savings when a
leg requires 2 boats (or) 2 trains. If a player plays 2 cards with the same
value, they are not added, but rather count as a single length. In other
words, two "5" trains counts for a 5 (not 10) day journey.
The trains take from 2 to 6 days (with the average being 4). The boats take
from 4 to 8 days (with the average being 6). A typical trip around the
world will use 8 trains and 9 boats (84 days). But there is also a special
journey from Bombay to Calcutta that will be 12 days (or less if you can
manage an elephant). Adding all that up, one can see that efficiency is
necessary to complete a journey in less than 80 days. So part of the
tactics in the game is a decision to wait in a particular location to gain
better (or even necessary) cards to continue the journey.
There is one other deck of cards that has special events that are general
positive things that can happen, but does include a couple of bad events
which not only delay everyone (ie add days to their journey) but also force
everyone to discard their special events they might have been saving for a
different move. In addition, there are bonuses to be gained by being the
first and the last person to reach a city. So there are a variety of racing
pressures to deal with in the game.
Rich started with a not so quick trip (14 days) to Paris, but the use of a
ballon reduced that to 12 days. Dave followed with a much more rapid 8 day
journey. While Ben also made the journey to Paris (12 days), Lawrence
decided to stay behind.
Dave moved next to Brindisi where arriving first drew a delay (+1 day) for
all the other players. While Lawrence moved to Paris, Ben decided to stay
there. Rich played a 5 boat to Brindisi, but took a chance with a balloon
hoping to get a faster transit. No luck, he rolled a 6 and actually lost a
day relative to the boat.
Dave and Ben take a turn to gather cards while Lawrence forges ahead to
Brindisi while Rich forges ahead to Suez. But is quickly joined by
Lawrence, Ben, and Dave, so Rich takes the journey to Bombay (holding the
necessary elephant card to hopefully traipse quickly to Calcutta.)
While Lawrence stays in Suez, Ben draws a storm delay card. This not only
delays all the players, but also costs Rich his elephant. Rich decides to
take the 12 day journey rather than wait for the opportunity for the
elephant again. Dave arrives in Bombay by virtue of playing a pair of 5's -
so saves time on his trip.
Rich (having made it through the most difficult part of the map) now races
to Hong Kong in 5 days as Dave arrives in Calcutta (also taking the 12 day
route). But Ben also makes it to Calcutta as Lawrence arrives in Bombay.
While Lawrence stays in Bombay, Ben and Dave arrive in Hong Kong where Rich
is resting preparing for his next move.
Ben stays in Hong Kong again while Dave moves to Yokohama. Rich also moves
to Yokohama, but catches a connection (allowing another move) to San
Francisco using a balloon reduces an 8 day ship transit to 2 days for a nice
bit of time savings. Lawrence finally makes the trek to Calcutta.
Rich then plays a 3/3 to cross the United States into New York in 3 days.
While Dave is delayed in Hong Kong, Ben arrives in Hong Kong while Lawrence
arrives in Yokohama. Rich has but a single card and needs 3 (2 boats and a
train) to make it to London. Rich buys two cards with the last of his money
and draws the necessary cards to arrive in London after 92 days.
Now the pressure to finish the race is on the other players as a day will be
added to their times for each turn they are still racing to London. Dave is
in the best position as he is still under 80 days, but needs to cross the
United States and the Pacific Ocean quickly and efficiently to stay under 80
days. Ben arrives next in London (95 days) while Dave struggles to make it
to London. Lawrence is still stuck in Yokohama. Dave does make it to
London, but not less than 80 days. So Rich (by virtue of arriving first) is
Dave appeared to be trying to optimize his moves and achieve the goal in 80
days or less. Rich on the other hand seemed to have the right cards at
every stop so just charged to London as quickly as possible - making it in
about average time. Comments around the table were that we all enjoyed it,
but no one really "sensed" what had happened in the game. By that, I mean -
Dave was at a loss to understand why despite trying to be careful with his
moves he ended up so far away from completing the journey near 80 days. As
a result this might be a game that needs to be played a few times to gain an
appreciation for the timing and flow of the game.
With some time left, Rich brought out Foppen - a trick-tacking game by
Friedemann Friese. As with other trick taking games, one is trying to get
rid of cards in hand, the twist in this game - the player of the "worst"
card is the fool (Foppen) and sits out the next round. The worst card is
generally the lowest card played. At the end of a round (when 1 player is
out of cards), the player(s) void of cards score +10 points. All others
(with cards in hand) score negative points equal to cards in hand.
The first round saw a lot of green (the most common card colour) played. In
fact, the first 5 hands were all green leads. But we all managed to get rid
of cards reasonably well. Dave voided his hand first while Rich and Ben had
just 1 card each left.
Rich: - 2
Ben : - 1
But things got ugly (or interesting) in the next round. Ben and Dave seemed
to match cards while Rich and Lawrence kept trading the fool as they would
alternate playing the low card of the trick. This let Ben and Dave both
empty their hands while Rich and Lawrence held handfuls of cards.
Dave: +10 = +20
Rich: -20 = -22
Lawr: -10 = -25
Ben : +10 = + 9
The next round saw more of the same, but it was Ben's turn to have a handful
of cards at the end of the round. Dave again managed to empty his hand, but
played the low card in the final trick. This gained him the "Foppen" and
had the nasty side-effect of nullifying his positive points for the round.
Dave: + 0 = +20
Rich: -11 = -33
Lawr: - 1 = -26
Ben : -33 = -24
Rich and Lawrence finally got into the swing of things with the final (for
our game) round. Lawrence managed to empty his hand. Rich had a few cards
left. Dave again emptied his hand, but again had the Foppen at game's end
(not that that mattered in terms of points lead).
Dave: + 0 = +20
Rich: - 3 = -35
Lawr: +10 = -16
Ben : -16 = -40
An interesting little game. Plays relatively quickly and next time think I
would like to use the suggestions of 2 rounds per person to help spread out
the distribution of the cards just a bit. An interesting point I am trying
to grasp with the game is why play low cards at all (other than to empty
one's hand). At the end of the round, cards count their value in points
(encouraging one to play higher cards if possible). Furthermore, playing
low cards is how one ends up with the Foppen at the end of that trick. But
there must be some tactics around that as evidenced by my score relative to
the others. Certainly in the second round (when Lawrence and I were trading
the Foppen), I just couldn't capture the lead so perhaps that is part of the
strategy I had overlooked - the need to manage high and low cards throughout
the round. An interesting game I would like to visit again.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Richard Pardoe" <RPardoe@...>
>I'll be there.
> Late and rushed to send this out...but games will be same time, same