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Session Report - June 1 - "T"

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  • Richard Pardoe
    Something old and something new tonight. First, the new - we welcomed Steve tonight as he joined us for games after completing a trade with Rich. Joining us
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 1, 2005
      Something "old" and something new tonight. First, the new - we welcomed
      Steve tonight as he joined us for games after completing a trade with Rich.
      Joining us were Sterling and Dave - no that isn't the something "old" -
      rather it was a repeat playing of the first game I ever played with the
      Tri-Valley Boardgamers - Traders of Genoa. That last playing was on 29
      October 2003, so almost 2 years ago, yet I still remember the basic
      mechanics of the game and a review of the rules filled in the details....

      Traders of Genoa is not only a trading game, but a very definite trading
      game as there are deals to be had every turn and part of a turn. Players
      represent traders wandering around an 8x8 grid of Genoa. The winner of the
      game is the player with the most money. Money is earned by delivering large
      orders (3 wares) to one of the corner villas, by delivering small orders (1
      ware) to one of the other buildings, or by delivering message by having the
      movement on that turn touch the two indicated locations. In addition, the
      active (tower) player can also be induced by the other players via deals to
      move in certain directions. So each turn, the players are trying to deal
      for a favourable move location and hopefully capitalize on that location
      either by delivering goods for money or gaining items (additional orders,
      messages, special privileges).

      With 4 players, the game can last up to 8 rounds. The "up to" is key as
      should movement start in the central market-place, one round is elminated
      from the game. As a result, the game length is never fully known and may
      occur a bit more rapidly at the end than a player desires.

      The first round started with a bit of tentative trading as people tried to
      realize where their initial orders were and how they might be achieved.
      Sterling's initial strategy was to gain ownership markers to gain ownership
      of the cathedral - which would pay Sterling everytime it was used by another
      player. Steve was the first to deliver goods - a small order of pepper to
      the Post Office followed by Rich who traded salt to the Tavern and then used
      the 1:1 trade token from the Tavern to trade Linen for an ownership marker
      to claim ownership of the Post Office...This would let Rich use the building
      action to claim additional messages in future rounds.

      The next round saw the tower start in the marketplace, reducing the total
      rounds to seven max, but it was still early in the game. But not too early
      for the nice sort of cascade that this game allows. Sterling had already
      used 1 action, but possessed an additional action card. He went to the
      palace and used that marker to gain the building action at the palace. As
      he owned the restaurant, he used the just acquired building action to gain
      the 1:1 trade card from the restaurant. This was used to convert wheat to
      pepper to fulfill a small order at the palace.

      As the game developed, each player seemed to have a different speciality.
      Sterling was acquiring the privledge cards hoping for a big payout at game's
      end. Rich used messages to gain a small, but steady stream of income. Dave
      quietly moved the tower gaining income from the other players. Steve seemed
      to be hoarding metals in his play area (we will find out why later).

      In terms of the large orders, Rich sold first. Steve also tried to do so,
      but forgot that he had already used an action that turn and didn't have a
      second action to use. The coach house seemed to be a popular spot - not
      only did Dave own it, but others seemed to pay to get to it, so Dave would
      get "double income" - once from the player seeking the action and once from
      the bank for owning the building.

      In our 7th round, the tower once again started in the marketplace,
      eliminating yet another round. In fact, as it was Steve's turn (last player
      of each round), it also meant that instead of one more turn each, Steve's
      turn would indeed be the last. With the end of the game, the scores were
      tallied.

      We now understood why Steve was collecting metals - he had understood the
      privledge card as a payout of "#" of metal wares owned, not the number of
      connected buildings. Oops. And with that Steve ended at 520 ducats.

      Sterling's privledge card strategy did yield a run of 3 and a run of 4
      buildings for 160 ducats, but could only bring his total up to 630 ducats.

      Rich did manage to sell 3 large orders and quite a few messages for a total
      of 680 ducats, but it was Dave's quiet tower plays that resulted in a game
      ending total of 715 ducats and the win.

      And 3 hours after our session started, we were done. The game was fun to
      play, but a bit overly long. Part of it was due to a reserved play style.
      If we had been a bit more aggressive with deals...anyone want to buy this
      action, going in three, two, one, gone...we can probably quite a bit of time
      from the game. As we tended to think a bit about our moves, we slowed down.
      The two marketplace starts probably an additional 45-60 minutes from the
      game.

      But I enjoy this game...there is always more to do than can be done. Most
      decisions are about certain income now or a chance for a greater payout
      later (that might not occur). As each player is involved in at least part
      of the tower movement, there is relatively little downtime each turn. An
      interesting game that I enjoyed as much tonight as I did 2 years ago, I just
      hope it is quicker than 2 years before my next playing.

      So welcome and thanks Steve for joining us, I hope you can make it again in
      the near future. Until then, we can look forward to next week and games
      starting with "U" - sneak preview - it will be a smallish list.

      Rich
    • Richard Pardoe
      Hey U Yea, I m talking to U Wanna play some games? First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of fame on Mark (our fearless founder) Johnson s
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 5, 2005
        Hey "U"
        Yea, I'm talking to "U"

        Wanna play some games?

        First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of fame on Mark (our fearless
        founder) Johnson's http://boardgamestogo.com/ podcast for 4 June. Give it a
        listen if you have the time (we are towards the end) and the blog at least
        has a link to our session reports on the geek. Now I want everyone to wave
        hello to the lurker in the corner. How's Santa Clarita, Mark?

        Before we get to this week, another quick note - I will be on a business
        trip next week (15 June) and out of town again the following week (23 June).
        As much as I have some V (Volle Hütte, Viva Pamplona) and W (Wallenstein,
        Web of Power) games I wanted to play, I won't stand in the way of progress
        and be back for the ever so popular "X" week (where I have no games that
        fit). As people are responding, please think about hosting as we will need
        alternate hosts for those 2 weeks if the sessions are to continue. Maybe
        Mark Johnson can swing by to host in his JPL provided suite at the local
        Marriot.

        Now for the business at hand - As we journey through the alphabet, we have
        come to "U". Who can attend for games at my house on Wednesday, 8 June
        starting at 6:30? Please RSVP so we know how many we might expect..

        Rich Pardoe


        The "U" List:
        =============

        (2-4) Um Reifenbreite
        (2-4) Up the River
        (2-6) Union Pacific
        (2-7) Under Cover (Heimlich & Co.)
        (3-4) Ursuppe (D)
        (3-6) Ursuppe - Frisch Abgeschmeckt (S)
      • David Wilson
        ... I can attend, and I ll make sure to bring Ursuppe. Oh, and I have the 5-6 player expansion as well, all mixed in, so that s coming along for the ride. By
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 5, 2005
          On Sunday, June 5, 2005, at 10:35 PM, Richard Pardoe wrote:

          > Who can attend for games at my house on Wednesday, 8 June
          > starting at 6:30? Please RSVP so we know how many we might expect..

          I can attend, and I'll make sure to bring Ursuppe. Oh, and I have the
          5-6 player expansion as well, all mixed in, so that's coming along for
          the ride.

          By the way, I'll be missing for V week as well, though I should return
          for W.

          Dave
        • Steve Oliver
          Rich, I ll be there on Wednesday. Steve
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 6, 2005
            Rich, I'll be there on Wednesday.

            Steve


            On 6/5/05, Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
            > Hey "U"
            > Yea, I'm talking to "U"
            >
            > Wanna play some games?
            >
          • Mark Johnson
            ... Great, thanks! I m glad you heard the show. Leaving TVB was one of the tough parts of my move back in 1998, but my career beckoned. I know the group went
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 6, 2005
              On 6/5/05, Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
              > First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of fame on Mark (our fearless
              > founder) Johnson's http://boardgamestogo.com/ podcast for 4 June. Give it a
              > listen if you have the time (we are towards the end) and the blog at least
              > has a link to our session reports on the geek. Now I want everyone to wave
              > hello to the lurker in the corner. How's Santa Clarita, Mark?

              Great, thanks! I'm glad you heard the show. Leaving TVB was one of the
              tough parts of my move back in 1998, but my career beckoned. I know
              the group went through some lean years for a while, but I've enjoyed
              being a lurker and seeing how energetic it is again. Sterling, you're
              the common thread from the old days to today!

              > Maybe Mark Johnson can swing by to host in his JPL provided suite at the local
              > Marriot.

              I do hope I'll have a chance to join you sometime. I could even
              provide an X game for your experiment--Xe Queo! (Recommended, too.)

              -Mark

              P.S. Sterling, did you ask me long ago to make some change to my
              website? What was that again?
            • sterlingw@comcast.net
              I haven t checked recently, but the site used to say that the TVB were not meeting anymore. I was just asking you to take that out and point people to this
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 6, 2005
                I haven't checked recently, but the site used to say that the TVB were not meeting anymore.  I was just asking you to take that out and point people to this mailing list. :)
                 
                -------------- Original message --------------
                On 6/5/05, Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
                > First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of fame on Mark (our fearless
                > founder) Johnson's http://boardgamestogo.com/ podcast for 4 June.  Give it a
                > listen if you have the time (we are towards the end) and the blog at least
                > has a link to our session reports on the geek.  Now I want everyone to wave
                > hello to the lurker in the corner.  How's Santa Clarita, Mark?

                Great, thanks! I'm glad you heard the show. Leaving TVB was one of the
                tough parts of my move back in 1998, but my career beckoned. I know
                the group went through some lean years for a while, but I've enjoyed
                being a lurker and seeing how energetic it is again. Sterling, you're
                the common thread from the old days to today!

                > Maybe Mark Johnson can swing by to host in his JPL provided suite at the local
                > Marriot.

                I do hope I'll have a chance to join you sometime. I could even
                provide an X game for your experiment--Xe Queo! (Recommended, too.)

                -Mark

                P.S. Sterling, did you ask me long ago to make some change to my
                website? What was that again?
              • sterlingw@comcast.net
                Unfortunatly, it does not look like I will make it today. ... Hey U Yea, I m talking to U Wanna play some games? First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 8, 2005
                  Unfortunatly, it does not look like I will make it today.
                   
                  -------------- Original message --------------
                  Hey "U"
                  Yea, I'm talking to "U"

                  Wanna play some games?

                  First did everyone catch our 15 seconds of fame on Mark (our fearless
                  founder) Johnson's http://boardgamestogo.com/ podcast for 4 June.  Give it a
                  listen if you have the time (we are towards the end) and the blog at least
                  has a link to our session reports on the geek.  Now I want everyone to wave
                  hello to the lurker in the corner.  How's Santa Clarita, Mark?

                  Before we get to this week, another quick note - I will be on a business
                  trip next week (15 June) and out of town again the following week (23 June).
                  As much as I have some V (Volle H�tte, Viva Pamplona) and W (Wallenstein,
                  Web of Power) games I wanted to play, I won't stand in the way of progress
                  and be back for the ever so popular "X" week (where I have no games that
                  fit).  As people are responding, please think about hosting as we will need
                  alternate hosts for those 2 weeks if the sessions are to continue.  Maybe
                  Mark Johnson can swing by to host in his JPL provided suite at the local
                  Marriot.

                  Now for the business at hand - As we journey through the alphabet, we have
                  come to "U".  Who can attend for games at my house on Wednesday, 8 June
                  starting at 6:30?  Please RSVP so we know how many we might expect..

                  Rich Pardoe


                  The "U" List:
                  =============

                  (2-4) Um Reifenbreite
                  (2-4) Up the River
                  (2-6) Union Pacific
                  (2-7) Under Cover (Heimlich & Co.)
                  (3-4) Ursuppe (D)
                  (3-6) Ursuppe - Frisch Abgeschmeckt (S)


                • Richard Pardoe
                  As I had assumed 5 players, I hadn t really studied any of the games maxing out at 4. But with Sterling unable to make it, we were down to 4 and I had quickly
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 9, 2005
                    As I had assumed 5 players, I hadn't really studied any of the games maxing
                    out at 4. But with Sterling unable to make it, we were down to 4 and I had
                    quickly studied Um Reifenbreite at lunch time. Then Steve called to say he
                    wasn't going to make it, and we were down to 3. So when Lawrence and Dave
                    arrived, we had all that we would have this evening.

                    As we reviewedd the U games, Sabrina (my 6 year old daughter) pointed out
                    that Under Cover also started with U and that she had played it. As it
                    plays very quickly, we opened with a 4 player game of Under Cover as Sabrina
                    did join us as our 4th.

                    Of the 7 detectives in the box, Mr. Gray was assigned to guard the box as
                    one needs 2 more detectives than players in the game. Cards were assigned
                    and the investigation begun. Players move any of the detectives around the
                    board hoping to score more points for their detective and fewer points for
                    other detectives without being too obvious so as to avoid being targeted to
                    the ruins (negative points) or the lower point houses. Scoring is triggered
                    when a detective ends his (or her) turn in the house with the secret files.
                    All detectives now socre points based on their current location. As the
                    identities are hidden, one does not know who is which colour. The colours
                    are revealed at game's end. But as this is a session report not a game
                    replay, so I will go ahead and refer to players as we recap the game.

                    The initial moves were tentative as after a series of 4 low rolls (1 for
                    each player) all the detectives had moved exactly 2 spaces. Lawrence and
                    Sabrina started to move their detectives forward while Dave and Rich tried
                    to disguise their identity by pushing a mix of detectives forward (notably
                    yellow which belonged to no one). Rich triggered the first scoring moving
                    the purple (Lawrence) figure to the 7 house containing the secret files.
                    The other detectives were all spread out behind so the first scoring
                    yielded:

                    Purple (Lawrence) - 7 *
                    Yellow (-) - 5
                    Red (Sabrina) - 4
                    Green (Dave) - 3
                    Blue (Rich) - 2
                    Orange (-) - 2

                    And Rich moves the Secret Files to the Ruins just for fun. This space is
                    just 4 spaces away from the last scoring space, so it should be fairly quick
                    to trigger another scoring round. The laggards of the first scoring round
                    (Dave and Rich and the unaffiliated orange) were advanced while the leader
                    was moved by Sabrina onto the ruins to penalize Lawrence 3 points for being
                    in the lead:

                    Green (Dave) - 12 (+9)
                    Yellow (-) - 10 (+5)
                    Blue (Rich) - 9 (+7)
                    Red (Sabrina) - 8 (+4)
                    Orange (-) - 8 (+6)
                    Purple (Lawrence) - 4 (Ruins = -3) *

                    Sabrina moves the files just 1 space (to the church worth 0 points), so the
                    player scramble to get their detectives into the high value buildings just
                    before the ruins, while Lawrence tries to move his purple detective back
                    into the points. Sabrina again triggers the scoring moving Dave's green
                    detective to the church:

                    Yellow (-) - 20 (+10)
                    Blue (Rich) - 19 (+10)
                    Red (Sabrina) - 16 (+ 8)
                    Orange (-) - 14 (+ 6)
                    Green (Dave) - 12 (+ 0) *
                    Purple (Lawrence) - 5 (+ 1)

                    And now the first interesting dynamic occurs...Some of the characters are
                    sitting in the high point houses and some are not, so do you move those
                    players to the low houses or do you try to increase the low pieces to higher
                    pieces. Even though we had a 15 point spread at this point, the scores
                    would collapse such that a few rounds later we had only 5 points separating
                    first from sixth. As we say after the first scoring, people tend to feel
                    safe moving up the laggards while trying not to benefit the leader. This
                    game is very much of trying to be a non-descript second or third most of the
                    game to jump into the lead at the final scoring to take the win.

                    A couple of rounds later and yellow was being left behind - it became
                    obvious as the leaders approached the 42 point winning score that no one had
                    yellow, so no one bothered to move it. Coming out of the penultimate
                    scoring round, we had:

                    Green (Dave) - 40 (+ 7)
                    Purple (Lawrence) - 40 (+ 7)
                    Red (Sabrina) - 37 (+ 5)
                    Blue (Rich) - 36 (+ 5)
                    Orange (-) - 35 (+ 6) *
                    Yellow (-) - 25 (- 3)

                    And the secret files placed onto the 1 house. A 10 point play would put any
                    of the players over the top and end the game. But this game is more than
                    just scoring points, it is always about scoring points relative to the other
                    plyaers. For example, in order for Sabrina to win, she needs to score at
                    least 6 points, but 3 more points than Lawrence or Dave. But as you can see
                    from the scoring, Sabrina is sitting 2 houses behind Dave and Lawrence, so
                    will need to push them into the ruins or beyond....Is there enough time to
                    get this done? Not really, as Dave needs only 2 more points to end the
                    game. A roll of 6 and Dave sets up the final scoring placing his character
                    on the 10 point house and jumping into the final lead.

                    Green (Dave) - 50 (+10)
                    Blue (Rich) - 46 (+10)
                    Purple (Lawrence) - 45 (+ 5)
                    Red (Sabrina) - 44 (+ 7)
                    Orange (-) - 43 (+ 7)
                    Yellow (-) - 26 (+ 1) *

                    In fact, I was surprised that Dave didn't move my blue character 1 space to
                    the -3, but by leaving me in the 10 point house, I jumped from 4th to
                    second. As noted above, the scores tend to stretch apart and then contract.
                    Ignoring yellow (which was dropped from the race), only 7 points separate
                    1st from 5th and only 6 points separate the players.

                    Looking back at the scoring, Dave and Lawrence managed to sit on the 7 point
                    house for nearly 4 rounds or half the scoring in the game...This is just too
                    much to give to any player. But they were also trailing in 4th place or so,
                    so what's the harm thought Sabrina and Rich...The harm is that they had
                    momentum as the final rounds approached. Not only that, they had 3 higher
                    point houses in front of them so could move modestly and swoop in for the
                    victory. Dave did exactly that for a well-played win. Lawrence swooped,
                    but a bit too far and found himself in the lower point (relative to the
                    others) houses so couldn't hold on.

                    Personally, I enjoy Under Cover. One can play these seriously, trying to
                    deduce who has what character. Or one can play this casually with only some
                    thought about moves. As a result, I think this does work well for both
                    adults (but more as a filler) and for children. It is also a game that both
                    can play together. And it plays quickly. We were finished in less than 30
                    minutes.

                    With our gaming skills warmed up, we moved on to the main game of the
                    evening. Sabrina excused herself as it was close to her bedtime. That left
                    3 players to decide between Ursuppe, Um Reifenbreite, and Union Pacific.
                    Having just played a roll and move game, we opted to change flavour a bit
                    and play Union Pacific.

                    Union Pacific is Alan Moon's stock/train game where each turn a player
                    either develops one of the railways on the board (increasing it's value to
                    shareholders) picking up a railway share (might be any company) in the
                    process or a player invests in a company by playing shares from one's hand
                    to the table. Scoring is triggered by 4 dividend cards placed in the share
                    deck, so occurs semi-randomly.

                    Lawrence decided to start with Union Pacific stock while Dave went with
                    Miami Southern (yellow) while Rich went with Sioux Fall Royal Blue (more
                    Purple than Royal Blue. Interestingly, each player held the majority in
                    their initial company throughout the game.

                    The first dividend card popped up rather quickly. After starting with MS
                    (yellow), Dave had expanded to Denver Midland (black) and Billings Northern
                    Light (red) scoring $16 Million combined for those 3 lines. Lawrence
                    couldn't capitolize on his 2 UP shares in the first round, but did manage to
                    be the sole shareholder in Kansas City Central (brown) and with minority
                    holdings 5 other companies managed to score $14 Million. It was Rich who
                    jumped ahead as he had developed SFBR (purple) to 6 locos and was the sole
                    shareholder scoring $10 Million for that line and $8 Million for El Paso Rio
                    Grande (Green) combined with a couple of other companies for $21 Million.

                    The second dividen card followed rather quickly after the first, but some
                    changes had occurred. Lawrence had invested in BNL (red) to become the
                    majority shareholder. Seeing 3 United Mexican Railway (white) shares for
                    draw, Rich decided to invest and build a few locos - being the only
                    shareholder in UMR (white). Dave had played a single share of Empire State
                    Line (orange), but this was just before Rich played 3 shares (which he had
                    planned on doing even before Dave's move). As a result, Dave scored about
                    the same as the first round $18 Million as increases in ESL (orange) and DM
                    (black) offset the loss in BNL (red). Lawrence was the sole UP shareholder,
                    so picked up a nice $10 Million in addition to his previous holdings to net
                    $35 Million for the round. While Rich managed $10 Million for EPRG (green),
                    $7 Million for SFRB (purple), $4 Million for UMR, plus other holdings for
                    $26 Million for the round.

                    Dave was just about to play the UP stock before the dividend card was turned
                    up, so promptly played it after to avoid getting aced out of its dividend.
                    Rich continued to develop UMR and in fact had 3 additional shares in hand.
                    Rich could have played these at any time to assert his majority, but with no
                    other shares out, why play them? Similarly, for the EPRG. Out of 18
                    possible shares, Rich held the majority with 3 cards on the table and had at
                    least 3 more in hand. As the other players were developing other lines, no
                    need to play any more shares than necessary to keep the majority holding.
                    In fact, other than Dave playing UP shares to tie Lawrence, none of the
                    majorities changed when the 3rd dividend card was rapidly played. The
                    scoring this round was a bit more even. Dave and Lawrence both sahred the
                    UP lead so each gained $13 Million. Dave added majorities in MS (yellow)
                    and DM (black) worth $7 Million each with other holdings to gain $32 Million
                    for the round. Lawrence also added his majority in KCC (brown) for $7
                    Million, BNL (red) for $6 Million, and other holdings for $36 Million for
                    the round. Rich was rewarded with sole ownership of UMR (white) for $6
                    Million as well as majority holdings in SFRB (purple) for $7 Million, and
                    EPRG (green) for $11 Million for a total fo $32 Million for the round also.

                    So after 3 quick payouts, we dreaded the forth and final payout, but it
                    would be some time in coming. Dave and Lawrence launched into a bit of a UP
                    share war trying to one-up each other, but the difference in payout is only
                    $4 Million. From the 2 shares at the end of Round 3, Dave had built up to 6
                    shares while Lawrence had 7 shares. Rich was not to be denied, playing a
                    couple of shares and then deciding that 3rd place ($12 Million) was just
                    fine. Let the others fight over UP while Rich developed on the board. It
                    was the UMR (white) that got developed by Rich and all 11 trains were played
                    to the board. In this round, Dave decided to do the same with MS (yellow).
                    It was also fully developed with all 17 trains on the board. The other
                    major railway on the board was EPRG which managed to get 14 of 23 trains on
                    the board. Not as large, but perhaps large percentage wise, SFRB (purple)
                    managed to build 8 of 13 trains on the board. Dave held the majority in MS
                    and hoped it would be sufficient to help catch the leader. When the forth
                    dividend card was revealed, Rich and Lawrence both $58 Million for the round
                    while Dave did gain with $65 Million for the round.

                    Adding all the scores, the winner was Lawrence in a well-fought battle:

                    Lawrence: $143 Million
                    Rich: $137 Million
                    Dave: $133 Million

                    Note to Dave/Lawrence: I had a mistake in my notes. I had double counted
                    my EPRG dividend in Round 2 giving myself an additional (but unearned) $10
                    Million. Notes above have corrected that mistake.

                    There were some oddities in this game...One railway, Wyoming & Western
                    (gray) was never developed and shares were never played. Rich managed to
                    old the sole ownership of UMR (white) with a single share the entire game,
                    but built it up to all 11 trains. But Rich did hold 6 of the other 7 shares
                    in his hand, so knew no one could take the majority away from me.
                    Similarly, Rich held the majority of EPRG with 3 cards on the table, but
                    again, he held 7 additional share cards in his hand, enough to guarantee the
                    majority. In general, the Eastern US was not developed. ESL stayed small
                    with only 5 trains on the track. The other likely railway (Marquette Rocky
                    Road (lt. blue) was never developed past 2 trains.

                    But that is not to say the game was played without mistakes. I personally
                    think it was a mistake for Dave (or) Lawrence to try to outbid on UP shares.
                    More value was likely to be had from the companies on the board than
                    fighting over the $4 Million. But then again, Dave +$4 Million and Lawrence
                    -$4 Million would have resulted in only $1 Million separating the final
                    scores. The bigger impact was the dividend card appearing right before Dave
                    got to play his UP shares.

                    Due to the length of the 4th phase (ie after the first 3 dividend cards),
                    both UMR (white) and MS (yellow) were fully developed. While the first 3
                    dividend cards did occur rather quickly, I wonder if would have been more
                    fruitful to develop one or both these lines a bit earlier to reap the
                    benefits in both the third and forth dividend scoring.

                    But that is what I like about UP. There is always the question of timing.
                    Do I increase the value of the railways (and delay investing) or do I invest
                    at the current value? The game does have a luck factor as to when the
                    dividend cards arrive. Even though we did seed the deck to spread the cards
                    out, we did hit a very assymetric distribution. But that just adds to the
                    tension of the gameplay. An enjoyable win with a close victory for
                    Lawrence.

                    Finally, with a few minutes left in the session, we tried Saboteur. I know
                    this is not a "U" game, but it does play rather nicely in about 20-30
                    minutes. Players are dwarves trying to dig a tunnel to the buried gold
                    nugget. The twist is that one of the player might be a saboteur trying to
                    prevent the other players. For 3 players, 3 dwarf cards and 1 saboteur card
                    are shuffled and dealt to the players. The card indicates that person's
                    role this round. As the extra card is not revealed, it is not automatic
                    that there is a saboteur.

                    In addition to playing "tunnel" cards depicting the freshly dug tunnel,
                    there are action cards that disable the digging equipment (pick, mine cart,
                    lantern) or repair damaged equipment. There are cards to remove previously
                    played cards, and maps that let the player peek under one of the 3 target
                    cards. Gold is found only under 1 card as the other 2 just contain rocks.
                    If the dwarves dig to the gold, they win and share in the gold. If the
                    cards are exhausted before the gold can be found, the saboteur wins.

                    In the first round, Rich was the saboteur and tried to be nonchalent about
                    his mischief. He would extend tunnels but not directly toward the goal(s).
                    He didn't damage anyone's equipment directly, but only in retaliation. But
                    as the game progressed, Dave and Lawrence both suspected Rich and not only
                    broke his pick, but smashed his lantern, and tipped over his mine cart.
                    Rich could dig no more until these items were repaired. The draw deck was
                    exhausted and players were just playing from their hands with the tunnel but
                    1 card away from the gold. Lawrence didn't have the necessary card, but did
                    repair Dave's broken lantern allowing Dave to dig to the gold for a dwarven
                    victory (but barely as each had only a couple of cards left in hand). The
                    gold discovery turned out to be rather small as Dave and Lawrences shared a
                    total of 3 gold nuggets. 2 (1+1) to Dave for discovering the gold, and 1 to
                    Lawrence for helping.

                    In the second round, Dave was the saboteur and a bit more direct than Rich
                    as he dead-ended the path to the target cards. This quickly invited a
                    flurry of broken equipment. Dave tried to retialiate, but again Lawrence
                    helped out, this time by repairing Rich's broken cart. Rich dug to the
                    gold. This one was a bit larger node as Rich managed to get 3 nuggets (2+1)
                    while sharing 1 with Lawrence. So after a quick 2 rounds, Rich was the
                    winner with 3 nuggets to Dave and Lawrences 2 each. (We thought about a 3rd
                    round as called for in the rules, but it was past the end time for the
                    session and we all had a good idea about the game.)

                    The one rule we did not utilize is that dwarves with broken equipment do NOT
                    receive any of the gold at the end. In a small-player-number game such as
                    ours, it might make sense to use this rule. It might encourage a bit of
                    doubt and suspicion about the other players. Did he break my pick because
                    he is the saboteur or because he wants all the gold? This might add an
                    interesting dynamic to the game.

                    But I can sense that the game would be fun with more players. Each round
                    lasts about 10~15 minutes, so this is easily a game that can be played over
                    lunch. An enjoyable quick game that I hope I can play again soon.

                    Well, it is late and those are my thoughts for tonight.

                    Remember, I will not be in town next week. Dave is also unavailable, so
                    unless someone steps up to volunteer to host (and send such announcement to
                    the list), we are without a host and a location for next week. I am out of
                    town the following week also, but will leave it to the group to decide if,
                    how, and when they will meet.

                    So so long for now, and I will see you all again in 3 weeks.

                    Rich
                  • Steve Oliver
                    Way to go, Dad! It s great to see your daughter enjoying games (and apparently doing pretty well, too!!). Every hobby needs people who pass along its
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 9, 2005
                      Way to go, Dad! It's great to see your daughter enjoying games (and
                      apparently doing pretty well, too!!). Every hobby needs people who
                      pass along its enjoyment to the next generation, and ours is no
                      exception. I think it's easy to assume that kids will just pick up
                      games along the way on their own, but the reality is that many gamers
                      had an adult in their lives (parent, grandparent, etc.) who got them
                      excited about games and kept them going.

                      And great session report, BTW. Sorry I had to bail out with such
                      short notice -- looks like I missed a great game!

                      Steve

                      On 6/9/05, Richard Pardoe <RPardoe@...> wrote:
                      > As I had assumed 5 players, I hadn't really studied any of the games maxing
                      > out at 4. But with Sterling unable to make it, we were down to 4 and I had
                      > quickly studied Um Reifenbreite at lunch time. Then Steve called to say he
                      > wasn't going to make it, and we were down to 3. So when Lawrence and Dave
                      > arrived, we had all that we would have this evening.
                      >
                      > As we reviewedd the U games, Sabrina (my 6 year old daughter) pointed out
                      > that Under Cover also started with U and that she had played it. As it
                      > plays very quickly, we opened with a 4 player game of Under Cover as
                      > Sabrina
                      > did join us as our 4th.
                      >
                      > Of the 7 detectives in the box, Mr. Gray was assigned to guard the box as
                      > one needs 2 more detectives than players in the game. Cards were assigned
                      > and the investigation begun. Players move any of the detectives around the
                      > board hoping to score more points for their detective and fewer points for
                      > other detectives without being too obvious so as to avoid being targeted to
                      > the ruins (negative points) or the lower point houses. Scoring is
                      > triggered
                      > when a detective ends his (or her) turn in the house with the secret files.
                      > All detectives now socre points based on their current location. As the
                      > identities are hidden, one does not know who is which colour. The colours
                      > are revealed at game's end. But as this is a session report not a game
                      > replay, so I will go ahead and refer to players as we recap the game.
                      >
                      > The initial moves were tentative as after a series of 4 low rolls (1 for
                      > each player) all the detectives had moved exactly 2 spaces. Lawrence and
                      > Sabrina started to move their detectives forward while Dave and Rich tried
                      > to disguise their identity by pushing a mix of detectives forward (notably
                      > yellow which belonged to no one). Rich triggered the first scoring moving
                      > the purple (Lawrence) figure to the 7 house containing the secret files.
                      > The other detectives were all spread out behind so the first scoring
                      > yielded:
                      >
                      > Purple (Lawrence) - 7 *
                      > Yellow (-) - 5
                      > Red (Sabrina) - 4
                      > Green (Dave) - 3
                      > Blue (Rich) - 2
                      > Orange (-) - 2
                      >
                      > And Rich moves the Secret Files to the Ruins just for fun. This space is
                      > just 4 spaces away from the last scoring space, so it should be fairly
                      > quick
                      > to trigger another scoring round. The laggards of the first scoring round
                      > (Dave and Rich and the unaffiliated orange) were advanced while the leader
                      > was moved by Sabrina onto the ruins to penalize Lawrence 3 points for being
                      > in the lead:
                      >
                      > Green (Dave) - 12 (+9)
                      > Yellow (-) - 10 (+5)
                      > Blue (Rich) - 9 (+7)
                      > Red (Sabrina) - 8 (+4)
                      > Orange (-) - 8 (+6)
                      > Purple (Lawrence) - 4 (Ruins = -3) *
                      >
                      > Sabrina moves the files just 1 space (to the church worth 0 points), so the
                      > player scramble to get their detectives into the high value buildings just
                      > before the ruins, while Lawrence tries to move his purple detective back
                      > into the points. Sabrina again triggers the scoring moving Dave's green
                      > detective to the church:
                      >
                      > Yellow (-) - 20 (+10)
                      > Blue (Rich) - 19 (+10)
                      > Red (Sabrina) - 16 (+ 8)
                      > Orange (-) - 14 (+ 6)
                      > Green (Dave) - 12 (+ 0) *
                      > Purple (Lawrence) - 5 (+ 1)
                      >
                      > And now the first interesting dynamic occurs...Some of the characters are
                      > sitting in the high point houses and some are not, so do you move those
                      > players to the low houses or do you try to increase the low pieces to
                      > higher
                      > pieces. Even though we had a 15 point spread at this point, the scores
                      > would collapse such that a few rounds later we had only 5 points separating
                      > first from sixth. As we say after the first scoring, people tend to feel
                      > safe moving up the laggards while trying not to benefit the leader. This
                      > game is very much of trying to be a non-descript second or third most of
                      > the
                      > game to jump into the lead at the final scoring to take the win.
                      >
                      > A couple of rounds later and yellow was being left behind - it became
                      > obvious as the leaders approached the 42 point winning score that no one
                      > had
                      > yellow, so no one bothered to move it. Coming out of the penultimate
                      > scoring round, we had:
                      >
                      > Green (Dave) - 40 (+ 7)
                      > Purple (Lawrence) - 40 (+ 7)
                      > Red (Sabrina) - 37 (+ 5)
                      > Blue (Rich) - 36 (+ 5)
                      > Orange (-) - 35 (+ 6) *
                      > Yellow (-) - 25 (- 3)
                      >
                      > And the secret files placed onto the 1 house. A 10 point play would put
                      > any
                      > of the players over the top and end the game. But this game is more than
                      > just scoring points, it is always about scoring points relative to the
                      > other
                      > plyaers. For example, in order for Sabrina to win, she needs to score at
                      > least 6 points, but 3 more points than Lawrence or Dave. But as you can
                      > see
                      > from the scoring, Sabrina is sitting 2 houses behind Dave and Lawrence, so
                      > will need to push them into the ruins or beyond....Is there enough time to
                      > get this done? Not really, as Dave needs only 2 more points to end the
                      > game. A roll of 6 and Dave sets up the final scoring placing his character
                      > on the 10 point house and jumping into the final lead.
                      >
                      > Green (Dave) - 50 (+10)
                      > Blue (Rich) - 46 (+10)
                      > Purple (Lawrence) - 45 (+ 5)
                      > Red (Sabrina) - 44 (+ 7)
                      > Orange (-) - 43 (+ 7)
                      > Yellow (-) - 26 (+ 1) *
                      >
                      > In fact, I was surprised that Dave didn't move my blue character 1 space to
                      > the -3, but by leaving me in the 10 point house, I jumped from 4th to
                      > second. As noted above, the scores tend to stretch apart and then
                      > contract.
                      > Ignoring yellow (which was dropped from the race), only 7 points separate
                      > 1st from 5th and only 6 points separate the players.
                      >
                      > Looking back at the scoring, Dave and Lawrence managed to sit on the 7
                      > point
                      > house for nearly 4 rounds or half the scoring in the game...This is just
                      > too
                      > much to give to any player. But they were also trailing in 4th place or so,
                      > so what's the harm thought Sabrina and Rich...The harm is that they had
                      > momentum as the final rounds approached. Not only that, they had 3 higher
                      > point houses in front of them so could move modestly and swoop in for the
                      > victory. Dave did exactly that for a well-played win. Lawrence swooped,
                      > but a bit too far and found himself in the lower point (relative to the
                      > others) houses so couldn't hold on.
                      >
                      > Personally, I enjoy Under Cover. One can play these seriously, trying to
                      > deduce who has what character. Or one can play this casually with only
                      > some
                      > thought about moves. As a result, I think this does work well for both
                      > adults (but more as a filler) and for children. It is also a game that
                      > both
                      > can play together. And it plays quickly. We were finished in less than 30
                      > minutes.
                      >
                      > With our gaming skills warmed up, we moved on to the main game of the
                      > evening. Sabrina excused herself as it was close to her bedtime. That
                      > left
                      > 3 players to decide between Ursuppe, Um Reifenbreite, and Union Pacific.
                      > Having just played a roll and move game, we opted to change flavour a bit
                      > and play Union Pacific.
                      >
                      > Union Pacific is Alan Moon's stock/train game where each turn a player
                      > either develops one of the railways on the board (increasing it's value to
                      > shareholders) picking up a railway share (might be any company) in the
                      > process or a player invests in a company by playing shares from one's hand
                      > to the table. Scoring is triggered by 4 dividend cards placed in the share
                      > deck, so occurs semi-randomly.
                      >
                      > Lawrence decided to start with Union Pacific stock while Dave went with
                      > Miami Southern (yellow) while Rich went with Sioux Fall Royal Blue (more
                      > Purple than Royal Blue. Interestingly, each player held the majority in
                      > their initial company throughout the game.
                      >
                      > The first dividend card popped up rather quickly. After starting with MS
                      > (yellow), Dave had expanded to Denver Midland (black) and Billings Northern
                      > Light (red) scoring $16 Million combined for those 3 lines. Lawrence
                      > couldn't capitolize on his 2 UP shares in the first round, but did manage
                      > to
                      > be the sole shareholder in Kansas City Central (brown) and with minority
                      > holdings 5 other companies managed to score $14 Million. It was Rich who
                      > jumped ahead as he had developed SFBR (purple) to 6 locos and was the sole
                      > shareholder scoring $10 Million for that line and $8 Million for El Paso
                      > Rio
                      > Grande (Green) combined with a couple of other companies for $21 Million.
                      >
                      > The second dividen card followed rather quickly after the first, but some
                      > changes had occurred. Lawrence had invested in BNL (red) to become the
                      > majority shareholder. Seeing 3 United Mexican Railway (white) shares for
                      > draw, Rich decided to invest and build a few locos - being the only
                      > shareholder in UMR (white). Dave had played a single share of Empire State
                      > Line (orange), but this was just before Rich played 3 shares (which he had
                      > planned on doing even before Dave's move). As a result, Dave scored about
                      > the same as the first round $18 Million as increases in ESL (orange) and DM
                      > (black) offset the loss in BNL (red). Lawrence was the sole UP
                      > shareholder,
                      > so picked up a nice $10 Million in addition to his previous holdings to net
                      > $35 Million for the round. While Rich managed $10 Million for EPRG
                      > (green),
                      > $7 Million for SFRB (purple), $4 Million for UMR, plus other holdings for
                      > $26 Million for the round.
                      >
                      > Dave was just about to play the UP stock before the dividend card was
                      > turned
                      > up, so promptly played it after to avoid getting aced out of its dividend.
                      > Rich continued to develop UMR and in fact had 3 additional shares in hand.
                      > Rich could have played these at any time to assert his majority, but with
                      > no
                      > other shares out, why play them? Similarly, for the EPRG. Out of 18
                      > possible shares, Rich held the majority with 3 cards on the table and had
                      > at
                      > least 3 more in hand. As the other players were developing other lines, no
                      > need to play any more shares than necessary to keep the majority holding.
                      > In fact, other than Dave playing UP shares to tie Lawrence, none of the
                      > majorities changed when the 3rd dividend card was rapidly played. The
                      > scoring this round was a bit more even. Dave and Lawrence both sahred the
                      > UP lead so each gained $13 Million. Dave added majorities in MS (yellow)
                      > and DM (black) worth $7 Million each with other holdings to gain $32
                      > Million
                      > for the round. Lawrence also added his majority in KCC (brown) for $7
                      > Million, BNL (red) for $6 Million, and other holdings for $36 Million for
                      > the round. Rich was rewarded with sole ownership of UMR (white) for $6
                      > Million as well as majority holdings in SFRB (purple) for $7 Million, and
                      > EPRG (green) for $11 Million for a total fo $32 Million for the round also.
                      >
                      > So after 3 quick payouts, we dreaded the forth and final payout, but it
                      > would be some time in coming. Dave and Lawrence launched into a bit of a
                      > UP
                      > share war trying to one-up each other, but the difference in payout is only
                      > $4 Million. From the 2 shares at the end of Round 3, Dave had built up to
                      > 6
                      > shares while Lawrence had 7 shares. Rich was not to be denied, playing a
                      > couple of shares and then deciding that 3rd place ($12 Million) was just
                      > fine. Let the others fight over UP while Rich developed on the board. It
                      > was the UMR (white) that got developed by Rich and all 11 trains were
                      > played
                      > to the board. In this round, Dave decided to do the same with MS (yellow).
                      > It was also fully developed with all 17 trains on the board. The other
                      > major railway on the board was EPRG which managed to get 14 of 23 trains on
                      > the board. Not as large, but perhaps large percentage wise, SFRB (purple)
                      > managed to build 8 of 13 trains on the board. Dave held the majority in MS
                      > and hoped it would be sufficient to help catch the leader. When the forth
                      > dividend card was revealed, Rich and Lawrence both $58 Million for the
                      > round
                      > while Dave did gain with $65 Million for the round.
                      >
                      > Adding all the scores, the winner was Lawrence in a well-fought battle:
                      >
                      > Lawrence: $143 Million
                      > Rich: $137 Million
                      > Dave: $133 Million
                      >
                      > Note to Dave/Lawrence: I had a mistake in my notes. I had double counted
                      > my EPRG dividend in Round 2 giving myself an additional (but unearned) $10
                      > Million. Notes above have corrected that mistake.
                      >
                      > There were some oddities in this game...One railway, Wyoming & Western
                      > (gray) was never developed and shares were never played. Rich managed to
                      > old the sole ownership of UMR (white) with a single share the entire game,
                      > but built it up to all 11 trains. But Rich did hold 6 of the other 7
                      > shares
                      > in his hand, so knew no one could take the majority away from me.
                      > Similarly, Rich held the majority of EPRG with 3 cards on the table, but
                      > again, he held 7 additional share cards in his hand, enough to guarantee
                      > the
                      > majority. In general, the Eastern US was not developed. ESL stayed small
                      > with only 5 trains on the track. The other likely railway (Marquette Rocky
                      > Road (lt. blue) was never developed past 2 trains.
                      >
                      > But that is not to say the game was played without mistakes. I personally
                      > think it was a mistake for Dave (or) Lawrence to try to outbid on UP
                      > shares.
                      > More value was likely to be had from the companies on the board than
                      > fighting over the $4 Million. But then again, Dave +$4 Million and
                      > Lawrence
                      > -$4 Million would have resulted in only $1 Million separating the final
                      > scores. The bigger impact was the dividend card appearing right before
                      > Dave
                      > got to play his UP shares.
                      >
                      > Due to the length of the 4th phase (ie after the first 3 dividend cards),
                      > both UMR (white) and MS (yellow) were fully developed. While the first 3
                      > dividend cards did occur rather quickly, I wonder if would have been more
                      > fruitful to develop one or both these lines a bit earlier to reap the
                      > benefits in both the third and forth dividend scoring.
                      >
                      > But that is what I like about UP. There is always the question of timing.
                      > Do I increase the value of the railways (and delay investing) or do I
                      > invest
                      > at the current value? The game does have a luck factor as to when the
                      > dividend cards arrive. Even though we did seed the deck to spread the
                      > cards
                      > out, we did hit a very assymetric distribution. But that just adds to the
                      > tension of the gameplay. An enjoyable win with a close victory for
                      > Lawrence.
                      >
                      > Finally, with a few minutes left in the session, we tried Saboteur. I know
                      > this is not a "U" game, but it does play rather nicely in about 20-30
                      > minutes. Players are dwarves trying to dig a tunnel to the buried gold
                      > nugget. The twist is that one of the player might be a saboteur trying to
                      > prevent the other players. For 3 players, 3 dwarf cards and 1 saboteur
                      > card
                      > are shuffled and dealt to the players. The card indicates that person's
                      > role this round. As the extra card is not revealed, it is not automatic
                      > that there is a saboteur.
                      >
                      > In addition to playing "tunnel" cards depicting the freshly dug tunnel,
                      > there are action cards that disable the digging equipment (pick, mine cart,
                      > lantern) or repair damaged equipment. There are cards to remove previously
                      > played cards, and maps that let the player peek under one of the 3 target
                      > cards. Gold is found only under 1 card as the other 2 just contain rocks.
                      > If the dwarves dig to the gold, they win and share in the gold. If the
                      > cards are exhausted before the gold can be found, the saboteur wins.
                      >
                      > In the first round, Rich was the saboteur and tried to be nonchalent about
                      > his mischief. He would extend tunnels but not directly toward the goal(s).
                      > He didn't damage anyone's equipment directly, but only in retaliation. But
                      > as the game progressed, Dave and Lawrence both suspected Rich and not only
                      > broke his pick, but smashed his lantern, and tipped over his mine cart.
                      > Rich could dig no more until these items were repaired. The draw deck was
                      > exhausted and players were just playing from their hands with the tunnel
                      > but
                      > 1 card away from the gold. Lawrence didn't have the necessary card, but
                      > did
                      > repair Dave's broken lantern allowing Dave to dig to the gold for a dwarven
                      > victory (but barely as each had only a couple of cards left in hand). The
                      > gold discovery turned out to be rather small as Dave and Lawrences shared a
                      > total of 3 gold nuggets. 2 (1+1) to Dave for discovering the gold, and 1
                      > to
                      > Lawrence for helping.
                      >
                      > In the second round, Dave was the saboteur and a bit more direct than Rich
                      > as he dead-ended the path to the target cards. This quickly invited a
                      > flurry of broken equipment. Dave tried to retialiate, but again Lawrence
                      > helped out, this time by repairing Rich's broken cart. Rich dug to the
                      > gold. This one was a bit larger node as Rich managed to get 3 nuggets
                      > (2+1)
                      > while sharing 1 with Lawrence. So after a quick 2 rounds, Rich was the
                      > winner with 3 nuggets to Dave and Lawrences 2 each. (We thought about a
                      > 3rd
                      > round as called for in the rules, but it was past the end time for the
                      > session and we all had a good idea about the game.)
                      >
                      > The one rule we did not utilize is that dwarves with broken equipment do
                      > NOT
                      > receive any of the gold at the end. In a small-player-number game such as
                      > ours, it might make sense to use this rule. It might encourage a bit of
                      > doubt and suspicion about the other players. Did he break my pick because
                      > he is the saboteur or because he wants all the gold? This might add an
                      > interesting dynamic to the game.
                      >
                      > But I can sense that the game would be fun with more players. Each round
                      > lasts about 10~15 minutes, so this is easily a game that can be played over
                      > lunch. An enjoyable quick game that I hope I can play again soon.
                      >
                      > Well, it is late and those are my thoughts for tonight.
                      >
                      > Remember, I will not be in town next week. Dave is also unavailable, so
                      > unless someone steps up to volunteer to host (and send such announcement to
                      > the list), we are without a host and a location for next week. I am out of
                      > town the following week also, but will leave it to the group to decide if,
                      > how, and when they will meet.
                      >
                      > So so long for now, and I will see you all again in 3 weeks.
                      >
                      > Rich
                      >
                      >
                      >
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