Session Report - Wednesday -2 May
- Lawrence and Dave arrived for games tonight. After a roundabout discussion
of what to play (and what not to play), we decided to give Yspahan a try.
Yspahan is one of the latest games that tries to marry multiple means of
converting resources into victory points. Players can gain camels, gold, or
goods. The camels and gold can be used to make buildings (granting special
powers). The buildings themselves yield victory points as more are built.
The goods can be used to occupy fixed areas (called souks) on the board.
Larger areas that are harder to reach worth more points than smaller areas
that are easy to reach. In addition, the points can be moved to a "caravan"
again yielding points both for being early in the caravan or having goods
"high" in the caravan. Finally, there are cards that grant certain powers
or can be used as resource.
The game will last 21 turns with scoring at the end of every 7th turn - so
in thematic terms - the game lasts 3 weeks, with the scoring at week's end.
The unique feature to this game is the unique resource generation method.
Nine dice are rolled and the die sorted by pips (all the 1s gathered
together, all the 2s, 3s, etc.) These die are then assigned to a "tower"
board with 6 slots. The lowest pip goes in the lowest slot, the highest pip
in the highest slot. The remaining dice are then stacked in ascending pip
order from the lowest slot. As a result, the lower slots are more likely to
generate resources then the higher slots. This makes the areas/resources
for the higher slots harder to reach and more valuable.
With the rules explanation done, we launched into our first game. Before
the first scoring, Rich focused on gaining cards and building a couple of
buildings. Lawrence focused on capturing territories, while Dave also
captured territories and moved a few goods to the Caravan. At the end of
the first week:
Dave had 9 points from his territories (souks) and 4 from the caravan: 13
Lawrence has 8 points in souks: 8
Rich: 0 (hoping to have a strong foundation for the later rounds)
In the second week, Rich started to gain territories and also move goods the
Caravan. Lawrence continued to focus on souks (capturing 3). Dave
continued in both souks and caravan points. Rich and Dave also continued to
complete buildings and gaining the initial victory points for having at
least 3 buildings completed. At the end of the second week:
Dave: 10 points in souks and 6 from the caravan: 47
Lawrence: 6+4+8 in souks and 2 from the caravan: 29
Rich: 7 from souks and 8 from the caravan: 31
The third week saw Dave move into the souks as well as gain goods in the
highest line of the caravan. Rich managed to get into only a few souks but
filled the caravan to trigger scoring as well as emptying it of goods. Dave
and Rich also completed the last building gaining the full VPs from
building. Lawrence played a bit of catch up with some souks and only a
couple of buildings built. At the end of the third week (and the end of the
Dave: 28 points in souks (helped by +2 bonus for each of them): 100
Lawrence: 11 points in souks and 2 from the caravan: 46
Rich: 3 in souks: 69
So while Rich was able to gain points after the first round, to gain second
place, Dave was the most consistent and balance builder and generator of
victory points. Finally, as is our tradition, we missed a rule in our first
playing. In this case - it was using the caravan for 4 players (3 rows of 4
camels each). Our 3 player game should have used only 3 camels per row.
This would have reduced the caravan points and likely emptied it sometime in
the second week allowing for different scoring going into the last week.
But the initial comments from Lawrence and Dave was that the game felt very
abstract despite the thematic elements drawn on the game. Personally, I can
see this game following an arc a bit like St. Petersburg. It will be
interesting to play a few games to see how best to manage the resource
stream. But once a working pattern is identified, the game will probably
settle on the luck of the die roll (card draw in St. Petersburg) making is a
bit more of a luck-fest than a skill-fest. There is a download one could
get (play against AI players) that is probably good to learn the mechanics,
but reports are already suggesting that the AI doesn't utilize the caravan
point mechanism, so is easily beating that way.
After Yspahan, we then opted for Wyatt Earp - the non-Mystery Rummy, Mystery
Rummy game. As players can share in the rewards for capturing criminals,
this is a rummy with some nice twists that also works very well with three
The first round saw some modest sharing of rewards, but the key was
Lawrence's sole capture of Butch Cassidy allowing Lawrence to take an early
lead ($10,000 to Dave's $7,000 and Rich's $3,000). With money left on many
outlaws, the next round was quite generous. Rich had a sole capture of Wes
Hardin. Dave did the same with Billy the Kid and Bob Dalton. Lawrence
captured Jesse with a nice carry-over from the first round. As a result,
Dave and Lawrence were tied with $20,000 each while Rich continued to trail
The final round saw Dave lead with 8 points against Butch Cassidy who had
not been captured the previous round and was getting more reward money
added. Rich joined in with a single wanted card and a Stagecoach robbery,
but was still too far behind to share with Dave. Dave increased his lead
with a Fastest Gun (11-3). Rich added another wanted (11-5) and a bank
robbery (11-7) to finally pull into at least sharing the pot. As Lawrence
had also played a Butch wanted, we both tried to put Dave's card into a
"hideout" but either couldn't make the required shot or Dave countered with
a Wyatt Earp card. The final nail in the coffen was Dave's use of a Most
Wanted card to steal one of Rich's wanted cards for an 13-5 lead and sole
capture of Butch (and $9,000). Rich had hoped to play Fastest Gun to remove
Dave's resulting in a 6 point swing, but realized after the fact that he
should have used Wyatt Earp to pull the card from the discard pile. Hope I
remember that the next time I play the game...which isn't all that often.
But with the last round conviningly won by Dave, it was a minor exercise to
find the points:
And with that our evening of games came to an end. Until next week,
- --- 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