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Session Report - 30 Mar - "M"

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  • Richard Pardoe
    Jeff, Lawrence, and Dave joined Rich at his house to play the M games. With a large selection, we actually had to resort to voting to get our first game
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 30, 2005
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      Jeff, Lawrence, and Dave joined Rich at his house to play the "M" games.
      With a large selection, we actually had to resort to voting to get our first
      game selected. Up for the vote were Monsters Ravage America, McMulti,
      Mexica, and Monkeys on the Moon. In a close selection (9, 10, 10, 11), the
      winner was Monkeys on the Moon as the other games seem to draw hot/cold
      reactions (votes).

      Monkeys on the Moon
      4 Player
      ~75 minutes

      This is at its heart an area majority control game. One is bidding for
      monkeys hoping to have a majority of those monkeys at game end. Especially
      if those monkeys have been advanced furthest along the development track and
      are worth more points at the end of the game. The twist in this game is
      that the monkey tribes (colours) are arranged in a circle. A tribe (colour)
      is allied with those next to it, but antagonistic with the tribe opposite
      it. Therefore, advancing a tribe forward (to gain favour chits) costs the
      player favour chips from its antagonist. These same chits are used to bid
      for the monkeys that one wants to have as a majority. As a result, there is
      a balancing act between which chits to get (for bidding purposes) and which
      chits to surrender (to pay the antagonists).

      There are quite a few decisions to consider on each turn. Which tribe to
      advance (each card can be applied to 1 of 3 tribes)? Which chits to give up
      in exchange (again pay to 1 of 3 tribes)? Which monkeys to bid for? Which
      ship capacity? Which ship colour? All of these come into to play and as a
      result, I can see the game having replay value as the decision tree expands
      rather quickly. As only a limited subset of all the cards is in play on any
      round, I can see the game playing through many different paths.

      Not paying carefully attention can get a player in trouble as Lawrence saw
      finding himself in mid-game with a single chit and inviting the scorn of the
      tribe (potential negative points) for not being able to pay chit back. Jeff
      also found himself unable to pay when he could launch a rocket that
      impressed the brown tribe, but there were no more chits to hand out. Dave
      also managed to get some scorn, but both Jeff and Dave managed to remove the
      scorn by launching rockets in the final round (Dave by launching at the end
      of the game.) One notable move was Rich bidding on and winning 3 monkeys in
      a single round to fill and launch his ship. But even that move was for
      naught as neither Rich nor Lawrence really captured any majorities in any of
      the colours. Dave had the majority of the top two colours while Jeff had
      the majority of the bottom 3 colours. Dave could only launch 2 full ships,
      but both were worth 3 points each. Jeff launched 3 full ships, but with a
      couple of 2 capacity ships, only managed 4 additional points.

      The final scores:

      Dave 19
      Jeff 18
      Rich 14
      Lawrence 11

      The game certainly felt a lot closer than the final scores would indicate.
      With 6 tribes offering up 1st and 2nd place points there are 12 possible
      categories to win. Looking at the scoring note, it appears that we divided
      those points rather equally. Dave did get only 2, but they were the first
      place points in the top two categories. Jeff did get 4, while Lawrence and
      Rich scored in 3 each. A bit more attention to monkey's won might have
      swung some of the points around. Similar, we all scored between 4 and 6
      points for launched Rocket Ships.

      The playing time certainly is rather quick (about an hour). We did take a
      bit longer than that as it was a first playing for 3 of us and we did have
      some rules explanation at the start.

      4 Player
      ~ 75 minutes

      With some time left, Rich brought out Meuterer (Mutineer) by Adlung-Spiele.
      This is one of Adlung's card games that really plays like a bigger board
      game. Some of the cards form the islands where the ship is sailing. Some
      of the cards are roles the non-Captain player can assume each turn. The
      balance of the cards are goods cards that can be sold at the islands for
      victory points or conflict cards used to support (or quell) a potential

      As with any game that plays big, there were a lot of rules to go through. I
      had printed out an "annotated" rule set from BGG that was full of examples.
      Of course, trying to paraphrase the rules makes the game sound much more
      complex than the game really is. Once we had played a round, the game flow
      and pace picked up considerably.

      Each round a player gets to determine what goods (if any) they wish to sell
      and which role they wish to assume. Roles can be merchant related (helping
      to sell or acquire goods) or mutiny related. Once can choose to be a
      mutineer to take over the ship (as new captain) and redirect the ship, a
      cabin's boy to help with the mutiny or a boatswain to help defend the
      captain. Victory points are shared by the captain (and boatswain) if the
      mutiny is supressed (or no mutiny occurs). Victory points are shared by the
      mutineer and cabin's boy if the mutiny is successful.

      Out of the 8 rounds, mutinies were attempted at least 5 times, but only
      successful once when Lawrence took over the ship from Jeff. But that mutiny
      was in the second half of the game, so Jeff had been doing a good job of
      paying modest wages for the boatswain and gaining victory points from the
      island's visited. Particulary as boatswain was not the same person all the
      time, so Jeff would share with Dave one round, then Rich the next, slowly
      gaining more points than either overall. Dave was particularly successful
      with selling goods having multiple goods in hand on many turns. Rich on the
      other hand always seemed to have the same 5 cards, a barrel of wine, a
      bushel of grain, a bolt of cloth, a brick of salt, and a saber (conflict
      card). With a lack of multiples, it was hard to sell anything. But Rich's
      strategy was not to get the load master (ie 3 extra goods cards), it was to
      try to get VP's by initiating a mutiny or getting wages offered by the
      Captain. It wasn't quite the right strategy, but a good learning

      The final scores:

      Jeff 40
      Dave 32
      Rich 18
      Lawrence 13

      There is a lot going on in this game and many items to juggle - which cards
      to keep in hand, which cards to play, which role to take, how to control the
      ship. I would like to play this one again also now that the overall flow is
      a bit better understood. The neat thing is that this meaty little game
      comes in a small deck of cards which is cheap to add to any order and easy
      to carry around to any gaming session. I am glad we got to play this one

      Next week "N" - which promises to have a much smaller selection, but does
      include some games I have been eager to try. I will let everyone know the
      candidates on Sunday. Until then, game on and game well,

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