Session Report - 6 April - "N"
- For such a small list of games, we had a respectable turnout. Not 4, not 5,
but 6 players gathered to play games tonight. As none of the N games really
played 6 well, we decided to split into 2 groups of 3.
Rich, Jeff, and Sterling (returning after a long vacation) settled down to
play Neuen Entdecker while Dave, Lawrence, and Carrie settled down to play
2 hours (with rules explanation)
Sterling and Rich had played the original version of Entdecker (with Dave)
back in March of last year, so we both were curious to see the changes in
the new version and how they impacted game play.
Entdecker is an exploration game by Klaus Teuber. The game board starts out
with an uncharted territory and players take turns discovering the various
islands and water ways by placing tiles on the board. Players can then
stake a claim on an island by placing a scout, fortress, or settlement on
the newly discovered land. When the island is completely discovered, it is
scored given points based on who has the best presence on the island. That
nutshell description is common to both versions.
In the new version, there are some tweaks. Exploring from remote sides of
the board now costs some gold to accomplish. The face-up (open) tiles are
available for purchase (at 4 gold per tile instead of the 1 gold per hidden
tile). This tweak prevents the constant flipping through the tiles hoping
to find that one perfect tile...now a player can just purchase it up front.
This does have a tactical implication as one can now deliberately cut-off an
island with just the right tile, but for a price of course. In addition,
some islands will have bonus points associated with them. These tiles are
seeded on the board initially (and some open-water tiles). This change has
a dramatic impact on the final map discovered. In our game, the suggested
beginner set-up resulted in what can best be described as an atoll. All the
islands were concentrated around the edge of the board with a lagoonish body
of water in the center.
The final major adjustment is that the discovery chits are now limited to 7
chits represented as jungle huts with hidden points. As islands are
discovered and the resources returned to the players, the scouts are instead
placed on one of 7 jungle trails leading from jungle huts. At the end of
the game, the player with the most scouts along a trail wins the points
hidden in the hut. Ties are broken by the player closest to the head of the
line. Now this is not a random guess as the first player on a trail can see
what is in the hut. Further more, one spot on the trail allows another
player to peek in the hut also. But other than that, there is now an
element of bluff and psychology as players try to determine where to
allocate their scouts in hopes of scoring the more valuable huts.
With a brief overview of the rules to clarify these differences, we set to
sailing the seas of discovery. The initial placements were rather close
together as we all tried to get a piece of the +5 island close to the "free"
edge of the map. While Jeff and Sterling were adjacent to each other, Rich
started a column away, but drew the appropriate land tile to ensure that his
fort would be part of this island. Further exploration through open waters
got Rich also onto the +10 island. While Rich was preparing for these
future points, Sterling and Jeff managed to score a series of small islands.
While these netted only 2 or 3 points for the island, they did allow both to
start placing scouts along the jungle trails. In fact, they had 5 scouts
placed before Rich even had 1.
With gold always going out (funding exploration, placing units on islands,
etc) and no gold coming in (with the exception of the gold mine event), it
wasn't long before we each were rolling for more gold. In New Entdecker, a
player rolls a single die whenever they have less than 4 pieces of gold.
The die indicates the amount of gold the player receives. It is the other
players who will receive that amount of gold plus 1 also. So one doesn't
want to be the person rolling the die if it can be avoided, but sometimes
one needs to spend the gold to get proper development/exploration
Initially, we all took our turns rolling the die, but Jeff soon ran into a
fleet of pirates. Not once, not twice, but thrice. Each time losing half
of his gold bringing him below 4 and requiring that he roll again next turn.
All the while, Rich and Sterling were gaining from Jeff's misfortune. In
fact, both had amassed enough gold that first Sterling and then Rich placed
their expensive settlement on the +10 island in hopes of gaining its points.
Eventually, it was Sterling who would win the points on the island which
spanned 14 tiles which combined with its +10 bonus yielded 24 points to
Sterling, 12 points to Rich, and 6 points to Jeff.
When all the land was discovered, Sterling was in the lead with 72 points to
Rich's 53 and Jeff's 46. However, when the jungle discovery points were
added, Sterling jumped further ahead to 102 points and Jeff passed Rich to
gain 71 points to Rich's 68.
Thinking about the game afterwards, I find some appeal to the jungle hut
concept. Even if an island is obviously won by a player, there is still
incentive to play scouts to the island if possible. It is these scouts that
then can be moved to the jungle trails in hopes of gaining more points.
Sterling effectively demonstrated this by having nearly all of his scouts
somewhere along the jungle trails. Sterling did have help by uncovering
quite a few friendly native event tiles also, but still, there is now
incentives to play scouts even if an island is "won" by virture of fortress'
and settlements. I think this is a good enhancement to the game.
I also felt that with the ability to purchase open tiles, there is a better
tactical feel to the game. One is not completely reliant on the luck of the
hidden tile draw. Granted it is an expensive option, but there were several
times during our game where a player made the purchase as the gain justified
the added expense.
A neat little game that I enjoyed quite well.
Meanwhile, over at the other table, Dave took the following notes:
2.5 hours (including set-up and rules explanation)
Carrie, Dave, and Lawrence gathered around the table to play Nautilus. This
was a new game for Carrie and Lawrence, while Dave had played once before, a
year and a half ago. So we had to spend a half hour or so going through the
rules, but once done, we settled in to explore the ocean depths.
Players have two different goals in Nautilus: building and operating
different research stations, and exploring the ocean floor in submarines
retrieve sea discoveries, including relics of Atlantis.
Players can purchase one station per turn, but can either sink and build
them or hold them in order to sink and build groups of stations.
The stations include residences, which puts researchers in the undersea
structure, as well as five different research stations: training,
engineering, sonar, testing, and analysis. Players use their researchers to
activate the research stations, and get victory points for them. For each
type of research station, activating at least two of them earns a victory
point, and the player with the most activated stations earns three points
rather than just one.
Players can also send their researchers out in submarines to explore the sea
floor. There are biology discoveries (different marine organisms), gold,
all worth 0, 1, or 2 VPs, plus relics of Atlantis, which earns VPs for the
players that differ based on the number of such relics each player earned.
The player who found the most, earns the most, with less for the next most,
and so on.
At the end of the game (and there are three different game ending
conditions), players total their research VPs as one sum, total their
discovery VPs as another sum, and then multiply the two sums together.
Finally, add in any remaining money, and you get the final scores, and the
highest score wins.
Everyone started by buying and holding stations, and then everyone built at
once. Dave was able to activate two stations: training and engineering,
while Carrie activated those (her own purchases, though), plus an analysis.
Lawrence, meanwhile, activated his training, sonar, and Dave's testing
station. As the early game went on, Carrie focused strongly on the training
stations, and quickly activated all four, to clinch the 3VP score. Dave
tended to focus on the engineering, with lesser effort on the sonar and the
training. Lawrence quickly activated one of everything, which enabled him
to start exploring the canyon, but he held out on that, and instead
activated subs and explored the shallower waters.
Both Carrie and Lawrence were finding treasure in their sea discoveries.
For his part, Lawrence had two analysis stations active, which netted him 4
nemos each for his two discovered treasures. Carrie also found two treasures
in this time, totalling 6 nemos for herself.
Back in the research areas, Dave pushed his engineering majority, activating
his fourth by deactivating a sub. He also gradually maxed his sonar
majority, and again finished up by deactivating a sub. Important to note,
though that to make this happen he ended up doing less exploration than the
others, and when doing so, typically drew Atlantis tiles. He got an early
lead in those, but then stalled with five discovered tiles.
Laurence decided to pursue more research stations, but discovered he was in
a bit of a bind. He had no researchers left in his holdings, but at the
same time all his subs were already out. As a result, he had no easy way of
decomissioning his subs to get researchers back in the station, so he
focused on continued research. He did finally enter the canyon, and
gathered many sea discoveries. He eventually ended the game by discovering
the last of the three big Atlantis tiles. In that last turn he discovered
two Atlantis tiles, taking him from third to first in terms of number of
Atlantis discoveries, gaining him four discovery points and knocking two off
of each of the others. We then added up our scores:
Carrie scored in all five stations, and had two majorities, for 9 research
points. She also had 8 points in discovery tokens (including 1 point for
Atlantis tokens). That multiplied to 72, and with 4 nemos remaining, her
final score was 76.
Dave scored in all five stations, and had two majorities, for 9 research
points. He earned 3 points for Atlantis tokens, but only five further
points in discoveries, totalling 8. That multiplied to 72, but his 14
remaining nemos gave him a final score of 86.
Laurence scored in all five stations, but only had one majority, for 7
research points. But he earned 5 points for his Atlantis discoveries, and
had collected at least another 10 discoveries, for a total of 15 point.
That multiplied to 105, and with his 5 remaining nemos, he finished with 110
points, which was more than enough to earn him the win!
Afterwards, there was a lot of discussion on the game. There seemed quite a
bit to think about: costs to build vs. getting your stuff out first.
Placements vs. submarine locations. Do you need to max out a research
station type to retain the majority? And so on. I think everyone involved
understood the mechanical aspects of the game fairly early on, and really