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Session report for July 28

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  • Dave Wilson
    Rich and Sterling arrived at Dave s house for game night this time. We started off with an older title, Elfenland. Elfenland is a travelling game, with
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 29, 2004
      Rich and Sterling arrived at Dave's house for game night this time. We started off
      with an older title, Elfenland. Elfenland is a travelling game, with players moving from
      location to location as efficiently as possible. Travel is accomplished via
      transportation counters representing modes of transportation, placed to connect
      locations, and then matching cards to the counters in order to use those modes. The
      terrain can vary (plains, mountains, forest, desert, or even water), and some modes
      are more or less efficient in the different terrains. The game plays in four rounds,
      and each round plays as follows:

      1. Players are dealt travel cards.
      2. Players choose transportation counters by drafting from a set of face up tiles, or at
      random.
      3. Players place transportation counters on the connections one at a time.
      4. Each player, in turn, uses cards to travel with the counters to go from city to city,
      collecting their tokens.

      At the end of the game, the player who has collected the most tokens and is the
      closest to their home city wins the game.

      As it turns out, Elfenland is a favorite title of Dave's wife, Kathi, so she joined us for
      the game. In the first round it became apparent pretty soon that Dave was on his
      own. Sterling, Rich, and Kathi were all focusing more on the upper portion of the
      map, while Dave was placing his counters along the southern route. And the
      movements confirmed that. Kathi was able to get through the desert in her first turn,
      and end up in the northwest corner after picking up six tokens. Rich and Sterling
      both went north of the desert, but ended up roughly in the same spot having picked
      up five tokens each.. Dave went south, and plied the river for much of his movement,
      ending up pretty close to the others as well, ending up with seven tokens.

      In the second round, trouble struck. Rich, Sterling, and Kathi all chose to continue
      along the perimeter, and then heading for the center from the southwest corner.
      Dave laid out a course to finish up the northwest corner, and then dive through the
      desert. Sterling revealed his plan, however, to seek out that city in the center with
      only one way in and out. At the end of the transportation counter placements, Dave
      made what he felt was a logical choice, and placed a trouble counter on that one
      route. And Sterling followed by trying to hinder Dave's route into the desert. But in
      addition to that, Kathi trouble-countered his route out! As it turns out, everyone but
      Dave had planned to get in and out of that city that turn. As people executed their
      moves, Sterling, Kathi, *and* Rich went in to the city and then stayed. Dave, was able
      to get into the desert, but chose to stop before trying to get past the second trouble
      counter. In that second round Dave only collected four tokens, while the others did
      much better (Rich 6, Kathi 7, and Sterling 8). At the midpoint Sterling and Kathi were
      tied at 13, and Rich and Dave followed closely, tied at 11.

      In round three most everyone had to get out of the dead-end city. That left the route
      clear, and Dave exploited that, to get his token from there, too. He was the victim of
      the last trouble counter, as Rich added his vengeance to the others' by again trying to
      hinder Dave's route out of the desert. Rich and Kathi had a tough time out of the
      dead-end, though, because neither had a card matching the transportation counter
      Sterling used on that route. Sterling got out, but still had to abandon a token in the
      middle of the desert, due to Rich's trouble counter. So he veered south to complete
      the southern cities, getting 5. Rich went south and west, collecting 4. Kathi was hurt
      by mismatched cards and counters, so she was only able to head south to collect 3.
      And Dave, who had cards to match the counter into the dead-end city, got the token
      and then proceeded up and around the eastern edge of the desert, collecting 6.

      The last round was fairly uneventful, as all the trouble counters were played. Sterling
      and Dave both tried to play inefficient counters to block other players, but they were
      only marginally successful. Rich shot back to the northwest, through the desert.
      Kathi stayed east. Dave toured the northern mountains and went west. Sterling shot
      northward. At the end, everyone ended up at their home city. But Dave was the only
      one to have collected all 20 tokens, which made him the winner. Sterling and Kathi
      collected 19 (with Sterling breaking the tie with more cards in hand), and Rich had 18.

      With plenty of time remaining, we next decided on a card game that was new to all of
      us, Too Many Cooks. It's a game about making soup, played in five rounds, where
      each player tries to make a particular soup: pea, mushroom, french onion, or pepper,
      or to make no soup at all. Each player will have to attempt each type once in the
      game, so as the game goes on, your choice of soup gets harder.

      To play, after cards are dealt and each player simultaneously chooses their soup,
      ingredients are played to fill the pot. They can be peas, mushrooms, french onions,
      or peppers. You must play the ingredient that was led to the pot, unless you are out
      of that ingredient, in which case you can play anything, or unless a pepper is played,
      after which anyone can play anything for that pot. Each card has a value (0-5,10),
      and as cards are added, the values are added. Each non-pepper ingredient also has a
      "Boil Over" card, which resets the pot value to 0, though the cards don't go away.
      Once the pot value reaches or exceeds 10, the player who played that card gets the
      pot. The hand ends when one player has to play a card but has no more in his hand,
      at which point the hand is scored. If you played a pea soup card, then you score 1
      point for each pea card (regardless of the card's value), and -1 point for each pepper
      card (because pepper spoils the taste). A mushroom soup or a french onion soup
      scores similarly. A pepper soup scores 1 point for each pepper card, and -1 for each
      boullion (which are 0-point cards in the other three ingredients). And a no soup bid
      earns 5 points, but then loses a point for each card taken in play. Each player is
      given five points to start the game, and after five rounds, the player with the most
      points wins.

      Everyone started out just feeling out the game, playing normal soups. Dave and Rich
      wound up taking only one trick each, but neither of them wound up getting
      ingredients for their soup, and scored nothing. But Sterling scored the big trick,
      which boiled over at least twice, and contained more peppers than his ingredient. As
      a result, he scored -3 for the hand.

      Sterling decided to try for no soup in the second hand, but wound up getting stuck
      with one trick with five cards. So he scored a zero. Dave and Rich were able to take
      advantage of Sterling's dodging the other tricks to collect some nice ingredients for
      their soup, scoring 8 and 6, respectively.

      Dave was next to try for no soup in the third hand, and Rich tried for a pepper soup.
      By a miscalculation Dave took the first trick, worth four cards, but managed to get
      nothing more, and so scored 1. Rich also didn't score many, as most of the peppers
      were held until the end, and the round ended before that trick was taken. But Sterling
      collected massive amounts of french onions, as well as a pepper or two, and brought
      in 8 points to catch up to the others.

      Round four, and Rich's turn for no soup. He had the hand built for it, apparently, as
      he was able to completely dodge the tricks, and score 5 points. Dave and Sterling
      both took in their share of tricks, but Dave, trying for a pepper soup, collected some
      boullion with his peppers, scoring only 2 points, while Sterling had 6. Going into the
      last round, Rich now has 17 points, while Dave and Sterling were tied at 16.

      Everyone wanted soup, and Sterling wanted peppers in the final round. But Dave
      wanted mushroom soup, and had a hand built for a mushroom soup. He ended up
      collecting bunches of mushrooms, totalling 9 points, and while the others also scored
      positive, it wasn't enough to pull Dave back to the pack. Dave won with a final score
      of 25, to Sterling's 21 and Rich's 20.

      With a little time left, we dove into one last game, Space Beans. Space Beans is a
      game of collecting and harvesting beans, designed by the maker of Bohnanza. But
      there is no trading in this game. Instead, players play their beans into fields, and
      then pass their entire hand to the right! Each player has two fields, one face up and
      one face down. Each field must be of uniform color (but the two fields can differ from
      each other). When you play to the board, you can only play one color on your turn.
      As a result, you are often faced with the choice of playing to add to your field and
      then passing good cards to your neighbor, or harvesting so you can play cards that
      would help them too much, and perhaps damaging your position in the process.
      During your turn you may also draw cards from the deck, but they could just as
      easily help your neighbor as yourself.

      Scoring is done at harvest time. The bean cards each have a number. When you
      harvest, you may keep a card as a trophy provided that its number is equal to the
      number of cards harvested. Otherwise, the beans are lost for nothing. The game
      ends when someone reaches 30 points in trophy cards, at which point all fields still
      remaining are harvested, and the player with the most points wins.

      At first it was tough, as everyone lost a field without compensation. Dave was the
      first to convert to a trophy, but it was only 3 points. Rich next got 7 with his, and
      Sterling a 2. Fairly quickly people harvested to get to the teens, and then the stall hit.
      People were dumping fields left and right. Sterling was playing cards two and three
      at a time to start new fields, but each time he had to dump an old one without
      earning a trophy.

      Eventually things started coming around, and Rich and Sterling started earning more
      trophies. When the scores were in the low (Dave) to mid-20s, Sterling, over the
      course of two turns, was able to harvest three fields for trophies, putting his score at
      33 points and ending the game. Dave and Rich were able to gain trophies from fields
      they had on the table (8 and 5 points, respectively), but it wasn't enough to top
      Sterling's 33. Second place went to Dave with 30 points (thanks to the two 4-point
      trophies on the table at game end), and then Rich with 29.

      Great session, gang! I look forward to next time.
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