Three of us (Sterling, Rich and Dave) gathered at Dave's house for gaming tonight.
The nominees for first game were the Settlers Historical Scenarios, Logistico, and
Industria, and though the vote was close between the first two, the choice was
Logistico is a, well, logistics game. Pick-up-and-deliver. The board has four islands,
with roads on them, bridges between them, and water around them. Each player has
a boat to ride the waves, a truck to pound the pavement, and an airplane to ply the
skies. Objectives are to move goods from source to the demand center, for income.
But movement costs. Loading and unloading cost, too. And the more of these
actions you do, the more each adiditional action that turn can cost. Also, holding
goods on your transport from turn to turn costs as well. So players are trying to use
their transports to take goods from one place to another for the lowest cost. Prices
paid for goods increase each turn through the eighth, where it peaks, but the cost
structure remain the same. And when the game ends, the player with the most
The game started with Rich and Sterling spending money to get themselves set up.
Dave, on the other hand, played more conservatively, shipping for a profit of 2.
Generally, Dave continued his conservative play, though at times he carried goods
over turns. After the first few turns, Sterling and Rich caught up to Dave, and Dave
came back some, and scores were realy close. A brief repeat of tactics again saw
Dave pull ahead, as Sterling and Rich spent more to set themselves up. As the game
drew close to the end, Dave found himself with large distances to travel to deliver his
goods, leaving him with small profit margins. The others were able to make closer
delivery runs, spending less and keeping more. And when the final delivery was
made, Rich found himself the winner, with 85 points, to Sterling's 81 and Dave's 74.
Personal thoughts: Wow, it is quite the puzzle. Certainly not a rollicking good time,
but for me it was a really fun exercise. Still I don't think it'll come out lots -- maybe
two or three times a year.
We still had plenty of time for another, and found ourselves having to decide between
two games. A toss of the coin later and Rich was unpacking his copy of
Flaschenteufel: The Bottle Imp.
Flaschenteufel is a trick-taking card game with a twist. It's based on Robert Louis
Stevenson's short story, The Bottle Imp. The premise is that the bottle grants wishes.
But the owner can only get rid of the bottle by selling it for less than he bought it,
and if you die with the bottle in your possession, you are condemned to Hell. This
theme really shines through in the game. The deck has 37 cards, numbering from 1-
37, in three colors: red, blue, and yellow. The colors are distributed throughout the
numbers, such that the red cards are generally higher, and the yellow ones are
generally lower. The "19" is set aside, with a wooden sculpture of a bottle set upon
it, and the remainder are shuffled and dealt to the players. A player leads a card, and
the remainder must follow suit (color), or can play a card. The highest card played
regardless of color takes the trick, unless it was trumped. If it was, then the highest
trump takes the trick. Trump is not defined by a color, but rather by that card with
the bottle on it. Trump are all cards lower in rank than the card with the bottle on it.
When a trump card takes the trick, the bottle moves onto the card that took the trip,
reducing the number of trump (the "price" of the bottle). At the end of the hand, you
score by counting scoring dots on the cards you took in tricks, EXCEPT if you ended
up with the bottle at the end. In that case, you score nothing from your tricks, but
instead lose points based on a three card "imp trick" set up at the beginning of the
hand. Play for some number of turns (we played six rounds, so everyone had the
chance to deal twice), and at the end, the highest score wins.
Going in we knew it would be a kind of lopsided contest, as Sterling hadn't played
before, while Dave and Rich had. But we dealt them out and played, and sure
enough, Sterling was stuck with the bottle after the first hand, taking a sizeable
negative score of -14. Dave and Rich did roughly equally well. In the second hand
Rich was stuck with the bottle, but it was only worth -5. Sterling climbed back out of
the hole, and Dave established a big lead. Obviously, the objective was to stick with
For the remainder of the game they tried to stick Dave with the bottle. Twice they
had an opportunity, as he only had two yellow cards in each case (the 22 and the 2 in
each case), and Rich led such that Dave was forced to play the 2. Ideally this should
have stuck Dave with the bottle, but in both cases the yellow cards were distributed
such that Sterling had to play a higher yellow card that was still lower than the
current trump price, thus playing the highest trump, winning the trick and sparing
Dave of the bottle. In fact, in the six total hands, Dave never finished a hand with the
bottle, while Rich had it twice and Sterling four times. In the last hand we determined
that Sterling could have played his cards differently and perhaps stuck Dave with the
bottle, but it took a post-hand analysis to figure that out, and given the scores, it
wouldn't have mattered anyway. At the end of the six hands, Dave had won by a wide
margin, 233 to Rich's 117 to Sterling's 21.
Personal thoughts: I'm really having a ball figuring out all the nuances of this game.
I think the object is not to avoid the bottle entirely, but to try to manage the descent
of the bottle's price so that you don't get stuck with it at the end. This usually means
taking it for a while, but with a plan on how to give it back up. It definitely takes a
game or two to get the hang of it, but for me it was worth the effort.
Thanks for coming by, guys, and I look forward to the next session.