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Session Report - 6 April - "N"

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  • Richard Pardoe
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7 1:02 AM
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      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
      Nautilus.

      Neuen Entdecker
      3 player
      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
      accomplished.

      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:

      Nautilus
      3 player
      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
      enjoyed themselves.
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