05-Mar-2002All month
 
Carcassonne

This was a very strange game. Kev who was amazingly playing his first game of Carcassone seemed to be drawing all the city tiles he needed. Steve seemed intent on building the road to nowhere as he laid road tile after road tile. Tel finished a couple of small cities and roads early on but then got over ambitious trying to build a couple of monster cities, that never finished. Paul built a couple of early cities and roads then invested heavily in Farmers. But Andy had the strangest experience. Despite getting plenty of meeple on the board early on roads, cities and cloisters, he didnt score any points or get any men back until laying his very last tile when he completed a city. Kev had built a considerable lead as we went into the final scoring, but Pauls multitude of Farmers dragged him back and won him the game. Kev comfortably held onto second with Tel, Steve and Andy fairly closely bunched at the back.

Im a huge fan of Carcassone and play it whenever possible with whoever possible. However a two player game plays vastly different to a 5 player. Where the two player version has attack and counter attack, with lots of spoiler tactics, the 5 player sees players more interested in furthering their own cause rather than spoiling other players scoring chances. The game today was as usual highly rated with Kev in his first game giving a rating of 9/10

Final Scores
Paul 56, Kev 50, Tel 44, Steve 43, Andy 40

Ratings / 10
Paul 8, Kev 9, Tel 8, Steve 8, Andy 7
 
Scores: Paul 56, Kev 50, Tel 44, Steve 43, Andy 40
Ratings: Paul 8, Kev 9, Tel 8, Steve 8, Andy 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 80, Tel 78
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 67, Tel 41
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Perudo

Scores: Paul , Andy , Tel
Ratings: Paul 7, Andy 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Tel

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal received awful scores from all of us the first time we played it, but over the 3 or 4 plays its had the ratings have steadily increased. The board is split into 12 territories, all of which contain room for 4 buildings. 1 of the territories also contains Agra allowing for a 5th building and this territory is the last to be played for. Tiles numbered 1-11 are then randomnly distributed amongst the first 11 territories with the 12 tile going to Agra. These tiles show the order that the territories will be resolved, they also contain 1 or 2 commodities that are used for scoring.

Each player starts with 6 cards. These cards contain 2 from 6 symbols Elephants, Vizier, and 4 different people. The cards are also coloured. Play goes clockwise round the table with each player having the choice of playing a card or dropping out. If they play a card it must match the colour of the cards they have already played this round. When a player decides to drop out they compare their cards with everyone still left in the auction. If they hold more of any of the 6 symbols then anyone else they have won influence in that spehere for this territory. The four people allow them to build a building on one of the 4 unoccupied sites it also wins them a token of that person, the Vizier allows them to build on any of the four sites even oif its occupied and the Elephants wins the tile and commodities on it. The 2 tokens of the same person are swapped at the end of that turn for a special card which the player can use once per territory while they hold the card.

There are 4 ways of scoring, whenever a player wins a commodity they score 1 point for each instance of that commodity they own. At the end of the turn when a player placed a building they score for any chain made. A chain is a unbroken collection of like coloured buildings along a road. It scores for the number of territories passed through minus 1. One of the special cards grants a 2 points whenever played. Some of the building sites contain bonus chits claimed by whoever builds there , these chits can either grant the player 2 points an extra card or be a commodity. Lastly, at the end of the game each player scores for the number of cards in his most common colour. **When a player builds in a territory they score 1 point for that territory however we discovered this after the game, so not suprisingly, for our group, we were playing the game wrong.**

Kev was at a disadvantage having never played the game before. Weve found that its takes at least half a game before the mechanism of the game becomes clear. Despite the rest of us having played the game before nobody was confident of knowing how to win the game. Steve got off to an early lead building a chain of buildings. By the 4th round Andy and Steve had the 4 special cards split between them. Paul was struggling, frequently withdrawing immeditaly for an extra card or having to drop out of auctions for no gain. Half way through the game he had only 1 building on the board. After a slow start, Andy was managing to get palaces on the board but couldnt manage to link them into chains. He did manage to pull off an inspired bluff at one point though, convincing Kev that he had a hand full of yellow cards after having actually played his last one. This netted him most of the goodies on offer that round. Steve maintained his lead throughout the game, due in part to him maintaining the +2 point special card for most of the game. Tel made a break from the pack in an attempt to catch Steve, by building a chain of his own and winning a couple of commodities along the way. Andy claimed the +4 point chit in Agra with Steve taking the elephants. This, and frequently playing a card to allow him to play the +2 card, had depleted Steves hand down to 2 cards of different colours hence only 1 point for the cards. Tel had 9 cards of the same colour bringing the scores to 40 to 39, Steve had managed to hang on by a single point. Paul scored 10 for the cards in his hand, more than doubling his score to 18, Andy also scored 18. Despite numerous calls of At least Im not last during the game, Kev finally came in last with 15.

When I first played Taj Mahal I hated it so much I only rated it a 3. But the game has grown on me. I still dont have much of a clue as to how to play the game properly, but at least I can now see what the game is about. The game played in 90 minutes with 5 of us, and with ratings of 8s all round everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Final Scores
Steve 40, Tel 39, Paul 18, Andy 18, Kev 15.

Ratings / 10
8s all round
 
Scores: Steve 40, Tel 39, Paul 18, Andy 18, Kev 15
Ratings: Steve 8, Tel 8, Paul 8, Andy 8, Kev 8
Winner(s): Steve