Session report: January 28

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• We started out with five of us at the table. Well, only four of us were of= gaming age, and Jeff needed to keep track of Max for a bit, so we wound up being
Message 1 of 1 , Jan 29, 2004
We started out with five of us at the table. Well, only four of us were of=
gaming age,
and Jeff needed to keep track of Max for a bit, so we wound up being only t=
hree. We
started by voting for the game of the evening, using a method Dave found on=
the net.
The nominees were New England, Settlers of the Stone Age, Puerto Rico, and =
Trias. In
very close voting (16-15), Settlers of the Stone Age won out. But Jeff was=
still
indisposed for a bit, so Sterling, Richard, and Dave decided to play some S=
ticheln
until Jeff became free.

Sticheln is an unusual trick-taking card game. Each hand players declare a=
misery
color  a suit whose cards they want to avoid taking. Then the hand is pla=
yed as
usual: one person leads to the trick and the rest a card to it. The twist=
is that the
first card led identifies the "lead color" for that trick, and all other co=
lors are
considered trump for that trick. Also, there is no requirement to follow s=
uit  you can
play any card at any time. You can imagine the kind of disruption to the d=
ynamics
this causes.

As it turned out, we only played one hand before Jeff became available once=
again.
This first and only hand was interesting in that out of five colors, Dave a=
nd Sterling
each declared blue as their misery color. This meant that Richard could ta=
ke tricks
using blue cards to hinder the other two from taking them. It was a learni=
ng game
for Richard, and he missed an opportunity to pile significant negative poin=
ts onto
Sterling. Sterling, on the other hand, had no problem doing it to Richard. =
Dave was
busy just trying to avoid points, and wasn't able to be as nasty as he gene=
rally likes
to be in this game :-) . At the end of the hand, Sterling finished up wit=
h 10 points,

With Max in good, non-gaming hands, Jeff joined us, and we stopped playing =
Sticheln
and started our game of Settlers of the Stone Age. It uses familiar Settle=
rs gameplay
and places it in Africa, using it to play out mankind's growth and expansio=
n across
the world. The resources are different (meat, hide, bone, flint), and the =
buildables are
different (campsites and explorers, rather than roads, settlements and citi=
es), but the
basics are there.

We used the basic setup, which put the four colors in predetermined places.=
Richard
was the first to found a campsite outside of Africa, with Jeff and Sterling=
quickly
following. Dave was a little slower out the gate, but eventually joined in=
a pretty quick start, with many progress advancements. This enabled him to=
collect
two quick exploration counters, which earned him the Exploration victory po=
ints (2 in
all), which though it is treated as, say Longest Road in base Settlers, he =
was never to
lose.

Africa gradually succumbed to desertification, rendering the campsites rema=
ining
there less and less useful. The first few desert spaces destroyed hexes wh=
ere Dave
generated much of his resources, which caused him to slow even further. Ev=
entually
some 8 hexes turned into desert, and most campsites had been moved out of A=
frica
by the end of the game.

Sterling was the first to leave Eurasia and reach the Americas across the B=
ering land
bridge. Richard, was the first to camp there, though Sterling soon did as =
well
(followed by a sabertooth). Dave was the first into Australia, but Sterlin=
g soon
followed that, and by establishing campsites in all for locales earned the =
Expansion
card, which gave him 2 victory points. Note: We misplayed a rule in this =
game.
According to the rules, page 7: "The second player of each type receives o=
ne victory
point: You may take any one of the tribe counters on the board and place i=
t in front
of you." We omitted that rule completely, which wound up omitting a race=
for that
second place, as Richard was in three but needed Australia, while Dave was =
in three
but needed the Americas. Oh well, next time.

Early on Jeff attained maximum advancement in food progress. This allowed =
his
explorers to travel long distances, but he wasn't sufficiently advanced in =
clothing to
cross the Bering land bridge into the Americas, nor in construction to trav=
el to
Australia. Dave and Richard each attained maximum advancement in one of th=
ose
two areas. This earned a victory point to the first player to do so in eac=
h area.

But as it turned out, Sterling's expansion gave him a good lead, and his th=
ree
Australian camps provided the last victory points needed to emerge victorio=
us, with
10 VPs. Richard finished with 8, Dave with 6, and Jeff with 5.
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