04-Jun-2002All month
 
Carcassonne

A quick half hour game of Carcassonne to end the night. No expansions of any kind.

Andy seems to adopted a new tactic at Carcassonne, he doesnt seem to bother the scorers until the last few tiles. Whether this is through choice or not I dont know but he played it for the 2nd time in three games of CC. This was a very strange game, probably because we are all used to playing with the expansions but we are used to seeing plenty of finished cities by the end of the game, in this game we only saw 4 and one of those was a 2 pointer created with the last tile of the game. Andy seemed to be trying to build the road to nowhere, while Boog was attempting to tie up all his men on 1 point scorers at the end of the game whether it be city of road tile. Paul (from cloisters) and Tel (from finished cities) were the two runaway leaders by the end of the game.

Still a cracking game that can play in less then half and hour with four players.

Final Scores
Tel 65, Paul 51, Andy 37, Boog 33

Ratings / 10
Tel 8, Paul 7, Andy 7, Boog 7
 
Scores: Tel 65, Paul 51, Andy 37, Boog 33
Ratings: Tel 8, Paul 7, Andy 7, Boog 7
Winner(s): Tel

Puerto Rico

After seeing all the attention this was getting, we thought wed better give it a go. Unfortunately I hadnt had chance to read all the rules before we started. It took us about an hour to go through the rules which even for our group is excessive. In our hurry to finish the rules we missed one, so 15 mins into the first game we abandoned it as a dry run once we realised the missing rule. The rules arent actually that difficult. The aim of the game is to be in possession of the most VPs when one of the 3 end conditions occur. VPs are earnt in the form of buildings and are also gained when goods are exported. The game consists of rounds where each player selects a role to play. Selecting a role allows all players to use its ability but grants the selector an additional bonus. The roles allow the players the build plantations, build buildings, recruit colonists to man these, manufacture goods, sell goods locally for cash, export goods for VPs and collect some cash.

Since none of us had played the game before we all headed of with different strategies. Boog going after money with indigo and coffee production, Paul looking for a sugar monopoly, Tel going for the cheap building option of quarrys and Andy quickly filling his plantation. Boogs tactic of quickly building coffee production seemed to be paying dividends as he was always rolling in money, Pauls Sugar monopoly linked with no tobaco in the early game allowed him some early control over the selling of resources. Andy was also doing well at one time claiming that Pauls previous action had just won Andy the game. Tel wasnt doing so well as he couldnt seem to offload his goods with the ships and trading houses being full of the wrong sort of commodities. The end came quicker then anyone expected with the colonists running out. In the 2 turns before the end Boog had spent his huge wedge on 2 of the big bonus giving buildings and this swung the game his way bigtime. Paul and Andy were close for 2nd and 3rd with Tel trailing in last.

Unlike most games players have to beware that the best move for themselves is often an even better move for someone else. There are also a plethora of tactics that are likely to work in this game. All in all the hype was right, a tremendous game that seems on first impressions to have plenty of replay value and offers the opportunity to develop many tactics. The game itself played in about an hour. Cant wait to play it again.

Final Scores
Boog 40, Paul 29, Andy 26, Tel 21

Ratings
Boog 8, Paul 9, Andy 8, Tel 8
 
Scores: Boog 40, Paul 29, Andy 26, Tel 21
Ratings: Boog 8, Paul 9, Andy 8, Tel 8
Winner(s): Boog

Wyatt Earp

The second game of the night was another Alea game. Wyatt Earp is a Rummy derivative. Players lay melds of cards of 7 outlaws from the Wild West. The highest value of melds for each Outlaw then takes the cash on that outlaw. Sheriff cards allow for the reward to be increased and to increse the value of players melds.

Tel and Boog got off to quick starts in the first hand both getting early big melds out, but then attracted Hideout cards making the melds worthless, while Boog managed to clear his Tel didnt. This allowed Andy in and by the end of the first round he had already collect 12,000 almost half way to the finish line. The second hand was more evenly split with all of us getting a share of the cash though Paul was struggling to play cards and by the end of the game hadnt managed to match Andys first round score. The third and final hand saw Andy try to go out with a big bang plaiying all his cards at once unfortunately this included 2 sheriff cards, with is outside the law. So he was forced to wait another turn to go out, unfortuanately for the rest of us nobody could do enough to stop him, and Andy claimed the victory. Boog finished 2nd 4 points behind with Tel a further 4 points back.

An entertaining game which suprisingly took an hour to play. Itís a shame that it only plays with 4 players as it wouldve hit the table much more had it played with more.

Final Scores
Andy 28k, Boog 24k, Tel 20k, Paul 11k.

Ratings / 10
Andy 8, Boog 8, Tel7, Paul 7
 
Scores: Andy 28, Boog 24, Tel 20, Paul 11
Ratings: Andy 8, Boog 8, Tel 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Andy


11-Jun-2002All month
 
Drakon

Scores: Boog , Kev , Andy , Tel
Ratings: Boog 8, Kev 7, Andy 9, Tel 8
Winner(s): Kev

Drakon

Another new game to the group. Drakon is a tile laying game. The players are slowly building, altering and destroying a dungeon which they are travelling round with the aim of collecting 5 gold pieces by visiting the gold producing tiles. As rules go they dont come much simpler. On a turn a player may either place a tile (from the 4 in his hand) and then draw to replace it or move his figure one tile. The tiles are square and some of the four sides on each tile will have an arrow pointing of it. For legal placement no two arrows may face each other. Most of the tiles have a symbol in the middle which denotes the action for that tile usually performed on entry, these allow for gaining gold, stealing gold, rotating, destroying and swapping tiles etc. And thatís it.

The first game lasted about 5 minutes. In our ignorance we contrived to put 4 coin gaining tile together and a quick race round this loop ensued, Kev went off on his own and did manage to prolong the game by one move by preventing Andy from winning only for Boog to claim his 5th gold immediately afterwards.

So we started a second game and this one was more cagey. Boog set off on the road to Nowhere while the rest of us stayed clumped together round the start. Things soon got interesting as some of the more intersting tiles started to hit the table. Terry lost an early lead and ended the game with only 1 coin with Boog having stolen the rest. Andy also ended the game with less coins then he once had, he however having to place most of his coins on the start square. Andy and Tel spent the last 20 minutes sacrificing their chances of winning in attempts to stop both Boog and Kev. But eventually they run out of options and couldnt stop Kev claiming the victory.

The second game was very entertaining with plenty of humorous moments and took 45 minutes to play.

Ratings / 10
1st game - Boog 7, Tel 6, Andy 6, Kev 5 (Boog won)
2nd game - Kev 7, Tel 8, Boog 8, Andy 9 (Kev won)
 
Scores: Boog , Kev , Andy , Tel
Ratings: Boog 7, Kev 5, Andy 6, Tel 6
Winner(s): Boog

Jack the Ripper

Scores: Paul 93, Tel 64
Ratings: Paul 8, Tel 8
Winner(s): Paul

Jack the Ripper

Paul and I usually catch the same train back from work in an evening. This gives us an hour of prime game playing time but in an unusual location, ie a moving train with a small table space. Hence the choice of games is a little restrictive. Also since its on the way home the idea is to relax which cuts down the choice yet more ( No brain drain games). Our regular game is Lost Cities. Within the gaming group we have played and enjoyed Wyatt Earp so when Paul picked up Jack the Ripper we thought wed try it on the train. JTR is part of the Mystery Rummy series, ie a rummy game of playing melds but with a theme and a twist.

The idea of JTR is that the players are trying to put cases together to prove the identity of the infamous serial killer. Cards are split into Evidence cards and other cards. In a turn a player draws a card, plays any number of evidence cards and may play one non-evidence card (gavel cards), then discards a card. There are 5 victims and 5 corresponding scenes of the crime. Playing a victim/scene allows the player to draw a cards from the draw/discard pile. Once a victim is in play then Evidence can be played against the suspects. An initial meld of evidence against a suspect must be made up of 3 cards, after that anyonre can play evidence or the suspect card for that suspect. There are other cards which allow special abilities including the Ripper Escapes card, once all 5 victims are in play the Ripper can escape using this card. The end of the hand can occur in 3 ways- twice through the deck, ripper escapes or someone plays out. If the Ripper escapes the player playing the cards scores 35, with only scenes and victims scoring of the played cards, otherwise all played cards are worth their face value except for the cards of the ripper - the suspect with the most evidence (or card value) - these cards are worth double. Cards let in the hand that are unplayable to existing melds are sutracted. The game plays over multiple hands until someone hits 100 points.

Into the first hand and after almost reaching the end of the first time through the deck Paul played a card forcing all victims into play and then on his next turn allowed the Ripper to escape. In the second hand Tel managed to provide Pauls prime suspect with an Alibi ( preventing him being the ripper ) and then go out with less evidence against one of his own suspects to close the gap. The next two hands were really unkind to Paul as he drew almosyt exclusively gaqvel cards both hands while Tel had a handful of evidence cards, allowing Tel to build compelling cases and take the game quite comfortably. We played a second game but didnt manage to finish as the train pulled in before we broke the 100 point barrier though Paul was almost there.

The game is perfect for out train journey, it fits on the small train tables, requires some thought but not too much, as with Lost cities the biggest decisions are often which card to discard. Definitely recommended.

Final Scores
Tel 108 Paul 51

Tel 64 Paul 93

Ratings /10
Both gave it 8
 
Scores: Tel 108, Paul 51
Ratings: Tel 8, Paul 8
Winner(s): Tel

Jack the Ripper

While waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for Kev to turn up, myself and The Boog decided to start up a game of Jack The Ripper. This was my third game within as many hours but the game was new to The Boog. However, hed recently played Wyatt Earp which shares many of the same basic mechanisms and so picked the game up very quickly. The Boog used to work in the same area in which the Ripper peddled his grisly trade, but his experience of the back alleys and hostelries of the area proved not to give any advantage in the game.

The game started slowly with each of us collecting evidence and finishing the first couple of hands about square. Things got interesting during the third hand, which hinged on a nasty choice of which of three cards to discard. With the deck almost empty, four victims on the table and a nagging suspicion that The Boog had the fifth in his hand I didnt dare discard The Ripper Escapes. That left a straight choice between discarding the alibi card for my chief suspect or a wild evidence card. I decided to go with the wild card which The Boog promptly picked up and used to meld enough evidence out of his hand to end the round.

Having been burned for 8 points by having The Ripper Escapes in my hand, I decided to discard it as quickly as possible in the next hand as my fistful of Gavel cards didnt indicate Id be going out any time soon. This play proved to be a tad sub-optimal. Little did I know that The Boog had been dealt three victims in his opening hand. The Ripper escaped almost before news of his deadly deeds had hit the broadsheets.

Despite having been told that Jack very rarely escapes, The Boog seemed determined to disprove this theory. He was within a whisker of repeating The Great Escape, again building up a set of victims very quickly. I managed to catch him in the nick of time, as the Commissioner was about to resign in The Boogs next turn which would have flushed all five victims out onto the table.

This put the scores at 92-99, so the next round was almost certain to end the game by one of us hitting the 100 points needed for victory. This hand ended extremely quickly. I was dealt a very fortunate set of cards and was able to lay nine evidence and a suspect card at the same time after about four turns to claim the round and the game.

After three games each so far of Wyatt Earp and Jack The Ripper, Ive found the latter to be by far the most interesting of the two. It plays very well with two players and seems to have more scope for clever and subtle tactics than its Wild West counterpart. Despite a couple of rounds being heavily influenced by the luck of the initial draw, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

Scores - Paul 131, Boog 85
Ratings (/10, for this session) Paul 8, Boog 8
 
Scores: Paul 131, Boog 85
Ratings: Paul 8, Boog 8
Winner(s): Paul

Medina

Myself and Oggie have both played this three times, but it was new to Steve so we launched into a rules explanation. This was slightly hampered by none of us having read, or even seen, the English rules to this game. We were taught it by a very nice chap on one of the demo stalls at Essen last year so we know the gist of it. Any situations arising outside of our mental ruleset had to be handled by the time honoured method of making it up as we go along though. We do seem to be getting quite good at convincing ourselves that we can resolve these situations by referencing the original German rules however, despite only understanding roughly one word in each sentence.

We think the game is based around building the ancient city of Medina. Each player has an array of different coloured building blocks which can be placed within, or around, the grid representing the city. Blocks in four different colours represent the four different types of buildings. Smaller white blocks can be added to buildings to give the residents somewhere to keep their goats, with the additional benefit of increasing the size of the building. Meeples can also be placed to represent a queue of people waiting patiently in the streets. Or perhaps theyre celibrating the birth of the city with an alfresco conga. Wall pieces are used to partially surround the city. Each player has four roof tiles with which to claim a building. He can only claim one building of each of the four colours. Once a building is claimed, we believe it can only be further increased in size by adding goat sheds. Players compete for largest buildings, and score additional points for being next to walls or congoing citizens. Tiles worth 1-4 points change hands as players outbuild each other or connect buildings to walls.

Buildings do not belong to anybody until they are claimed with a roof, so the game is full of difficult decisions. Do I claim this building now or do a make it a bit bigger? But if I make it bigger, will one of my opponents claim it before I get the chance to? There is thus a chicken element and players spend much of their time trying to minimise helping their opponents instead of directly aiding themselves. This makes for a very thoughtful game. A lot of our groups games can be quite rowdy, but a typical conversation in Medina tends to go along the lines of Silence. More silence. Whos turn is it? Mine, Im thinking. More silence.

This was our first outing with three players so none of us were sure how big a building should be allowed to get before it gets capped. I was the first to crack, claiming a five point grey building. Steve seemed to be following a slightly quirky strategy of claiming six point buildings in the shape of churches. He appeared to be letting these out to families of farmers as one of the churches later became outfitted with three goat sheds. Oggie meanwhile had proclaimed his first building as the party capital of Medina and it was soon surrounded with a rowdy crowd.

Oggie seemed to be in pole position throughout the game, grabbing a couple of decent bonus tiles to supplement his partygoers. Indeed, the party must have been a good one as new people were turning up, bottles of wine in hand, to expand the throng. Soon it had snaked past two of his buildings and was about to hit a third. Unfortunately for him I managed to coax the conga line down an alley between two of my building. However, as soon as they ran out of room to dance, Steve started another party up beside Oggies new grey disco on the other side of town. I dont think Oggie was very pleased about this though as the disco had not yet opened. In fact, the building wasnt even finished yet, but the partygoers wouldnt clear the building site. He therefore ended up putting together a far smaller affair than the six floor, four bar metropolois he had originally envisioned.

Coming into the end game, we were all cagily playing fairly neutral pieces to avoid adding that vital last building piece, roof or wall too early. The decisive last battles came down to who could claim, or hold onto, the wall tile bonuses. We hit a hole in our rules knowledge when Oggie capped a building next to a wall to try to claim a tile that Steve had previously taken by connecting the same wall to one of his buildings. The tile is taken by the last person to connect one of his buildings to the wall. We werent sure if the tile could be claimed as the wall had already been built past this building to another. Not sure what the correct ruling was, we thoroughly consulted the German rules before arbitrarily deciding that wed allow it. We all thought this had cemented Oggies win, but I managed to wrest the four point wall tile from him at the death to steal victory.

As ever, this was a thoughtful experience with plenty of turn angst. I expect it to hit the table regularly now that our group has grown to the point of splitting to play two seperate games and are no longer restricting ourselves to just playing five or six player games. Though more of a tactical than a strategic battle, the decisive strategies in this session were to deprive opponents of bonus tiles and gain as many points as possible from adjacency to the conga line.

Scores - Paul 49, Oggie 47, Steve 43
Ratings (/10, for this session) - Paul 8, Oggie 7, Steve 7
 
Scores: Paul 49, Oggie 47, Steve 43
Ratings: Paul 8, Oggie 7, Steve 7
Winner(s): Paul

Puerto Rico

Second outing for Puerto Rico. Paul and Boog decided to sit it out to wait for Kev to turn up so it was Tel, Andy, Steve and Oggie. Oggie and Steve were newbies so Tel gave them a 15 min intro to the rules while Andy set it up (and that takes a while).

Tel again adopted the quarrying approach to the game claiming 4 quarries very early on and was the only player in tobacco. Andy also used the same tactics as last time by building the hacienda to quickly fill his Island with plantations. Oggie and Steve were producing a plenty of goods, but where Oggies were all the cheap varieties and he kept being forced to discard them and was permanently short of cash, Steve had the lucrative coffee monopoly and was constantly loaded. So for the second game running the coffee monopoly took the game, however Tels quarry tactic proved more successful this time claiming 2nd place.

I am already a huge fan of this game. After only 2 plays its obvious that there is huge potential for a variety of tactics. Despite the coffee route winning both games so far, this was due in part to the naivety of the group. I hold my hands up to probably gifting Steve the game today as on a couple of occasions I produced goods to further my own cause but gave Steve an even bigger advantage. My only two gripes about the game are its setup time ( so many pieces) and that with an ever growing games collection within the group I may not play it enough to fully understand all the intricacies and tactics but hey retirements only 30 years away.

Final Scores
Steve 35, Tel 31, Oggie 29, Andy 26

Ratings / 10
Steve 8, Tel 8, Oggie 6, Andy 6
 
Scores: Steve 35, Tel 31, Oggie 29, Andy 26
Ratings: Steve 8, Tel 8, Oggie 6, Andy 6
Winner(s): Steve


18-Jun-2002All month
 
Kingdoms

Andy and Steve turned up early so the evening started with a quick 20 minute three player game of Kingdoms. This is a tile laying game that is played over 3 identical rounds. Each player starts with a number of castles worth between 1 and 4 and a random secret tile. On his turn a player can either draw and play a tile, play his secret tile or place one of his castles. The board is a grid and at the end of the round each row and column is scored. All bar 3 of the tiles have a value of between -6 and 6 and at the end of the round these numbers are summed for each row to determine its basic value. The 3 special tiles either doubles the value of corresponding rows, splits the rows into 2 or ignores all positive values in corresponding rows. The value of the row is multiplied by the total value of a players castles for that row. At the end of each round only the 1 value castles are returned to the players the rest are discarded. Whoever has the highest total after 3 rounds wins.

Steve only placed a couple of small castles in the first round giving him a score of 9, over 40 points behind both Andy and Tel. Into the 2nd round and both Andy and Steve scored about 40 point but Tel played his big 4 point castle to score about 60 and open up a lead. Into the last round and Steve was able to play all his big castles and score over 80 points, however Tel managed to keep out of trouble and get a reasonable score, Andy however was forced to play last and had to play a castle into a row that scored lost him 20 points giving a total of 20 for the round.

The game played very quickly despite it making its first appearance. Its one of those games where the rules are very easy to learn, but determining winning tactics is going to take longer. Ill definitely look forward to playing it again.

Final Scores
Tel 178, Steve 130, Andy 121

Ratings / 10
Tel 7, Steve 6, Andy 7
 
Scores: Tel 178, Steve 130, Andy 121
Ratings: Tel 7, Steve 6, Andy 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 114, Paul 108
Ratings: Tel 8, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 95, Tel -62
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 6
Winner(s): Paul

Showmanager

Last game of the night was Showmanager. And before I start this report Id just like to say that Andy did not cheat.

Each player starts with a budget of 18k. With this money he needs to hire actors to be able to produce 4 plays. There are always 4 actors available for hire at a cost of 0, 1k, 2k and 3k. Alternatively the player may pay 2k to replace all 4 actors. Each actor is adept at playing either 1,2 or 3 of the available 18 roles, and will add towards the quality of the show. If an actor is miscast in a role, he contributes nothing towards the quality of the show. Performances made without a miscast actor recieve a bonus. Once everyone has produced the four shows the game is over and points are awarded according to the quality of the respective shows. Whoever gains the most points wins.

5 of the 6 players put the same show (Wolf) on first, only Kev was different prefering to produce the more difficult Ballet. As the players were collecting for the second show, Steve decided that he didnt like any of the actors available and seemed intent on searching the whole of Equity for the stars of his show. This of course was costing him 2k a time, but money was no object to a producer as determined as Steve. To the extent that at one point he had spent his initial allocation of 18k plus an additional 10k taken against his first production and was still missing cast members for his next production. Hence he was forced to take whatever actor came along to fill the last two roles. The final production was glittered with stars, unfortunately it was let down by a terribly miscast performance in one of the roles which prevented it from being the toast of the town. Impending bankruptcy also forced Steve to borrow heavily from the show further marring its reputation.

With 3 productions in place for everyone it appeared to be a two horse race as Andy and Tel shared the top 2 spots in the 3 productions theyd put on. However Kev had put an impressive Ballet on in the richest city. Four of the producers were desperately fighting over actors that could dance to put on a Ballet while Kev was happily having a free choice of the remaining actors for Wolf. While both Andy and Tel managed to fill the ballet without miscasting anyone, their productions were filled with the dregs of the acting community. However Kevs production of Wolf opened to rave reviews and he was soon crowned top producer.

The only gripe with tonights game of Showmanager was that it took 2 hours to play, far too long for the game it is. When we played with 5 earlier in the year the game played much quicker. Now whether the game took so long because there were 6 of us or whether it was because of the number of burn em calls to clear the actors roster Im not sure, but I doubt it will hit the table again as a six player game. Howver the game is good fun and will certainly be played again with fewer players.

Final Scores
Kev 55, Tel 45, Andy 34, Oggie 33, Steve 32, Paul 22

Ratings / 10
Kev 8, Tel 6, Andy 8, Oggie 6, Steve 6, Paul 7
 
Scores: Kev 55, Tel 45, Andy 34, Oggie 33, Steve 32, Paul 22
Ratings: Kev 8, Tel 6, Andy 8, Oggie 6, Steve 6, Paul 7
Winner(s): Kev

Vabanque

We played a couple of 6 player games tonioght, Vabanque took the table first. The game of bluff, gambling and cheating. The aim of the game is to have obtained the most money after visiting 4 casino tables, by legitimate gambling or cheating. The four rounds consist of placing money of some of the 12 tables, then playing your 3 cards, moving to a table and then reaping the rewards ( or not as the case may be). Money is left on the tables after each round so the tables get more lucrative as the game goes on. The 3 cards are played face down by the tables and either do nothing, increase the value of the table or attempt to cheat the players there. When it comes to moving a piece can move upto 4 tables clockwise.

We have found that earnings in the first 2 rounds of the game are pretty inconsequential when it comes to the final tally, however the first 2 rounds do serve to identify the lucrative tables, and allow players to jostle for position. Its in the last 2 rounds that the money starts to get serious and a bit more thought is needed before placing the cards. Andy had built up a lead in the first 2 rounds and was still only just behind Steve after the third round. However the last round wasnt kind and he finished the game back in fourth with just over half of the winners total. Oggie had managed to acquire just 15k from the first 3 rounds but put that to right by winning 330k in the last round, however Steve claimed a comprehensive victory. Tels strategy of not moving from the first table failed miserably.

This is a game that seems to have slipped under the radar of most people. While its not a game full of deep and intricate tactics it does provide a very entertaining way of spending 30-40 minutes with up to 6 players. The poker chips provided do add to the atmosphere. Well recomended.

Final Scores
Steve 1050k, Kev 980k, Paul 895k, Andy 550k, Oggie 345k, Tel 140k

Ratings
Steve 8, Kev 8, Paul 8, Andy 8, Oggie 7, Tel 7
 
Scores: Steve 1050, Kev 950, Paul 895, Andy 550, Oggie 345, Tel 140
Ratings: Steve 8, Kev 8, Paul 8, Andy 8, Oggie 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Steve


20-Jun-2002All month
 
Combit

Scores: Paul 65, Tel 51
Ratings: Paul 6, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 109, Tel 63
Ratings: Paul 8, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 118, Paul 79
Ratings: Tel 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Union Pacific

Scores: Tel 116, Paul 103
Ratings: Tel 8, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel


23-Jun-2002All month
 
Carcassonne

Scores: Paul 119, Boog 73
Ratings: Paul 8, Boog 7
Winner(s): Paul

David and Goliath

An enjoyable afternoon of games was brought to a close by a few hands of David and Goliath. The trick taking game of Low takes high card High card takes rest, with scoring occuring at face value of cards won if you won no more than 2 in a colour otherwise its 1 per card won in that colour.

We played first to 200 points. Tel got off to a flyer in the first round after two lucky wins in the last 2 tricks, but his scoring steadily reduced as the game went on. Andy managed to win 38 of the 90 cards in the first round but still only got the fourth best score. After the second round Oggie had acquired the miserly total of 34 to be over 30 points adrift of 5th place. Boog was playing very consistently scoring over 50 in each round. Into the third round and Oggie suddenly decided to play scoring a big total however Boog was still averaging over 50. Oggie managed an even bigger total in the fourth round to break through the 200 barrier however Boog managed yet another 50+ score to take the game.

A game that always goes down well at the end of a session within the group as players are given the opportunity to screw up fellow players.

Final Scores
Boog 209, Oggie 201, Steve 179, Andy 168, Tel 157, Paul 131

Ratings / 10
7s all round
 
Scores: Boog 209, Oggie 201, Steve 179, Andy 168, Tel 157, Paul 131
Ratings: Boog 7, Oggie 7, Steve 7, Andy 7, Tel 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Boog

Drakon

Anne left early which left 6 of us. So we decided to play a 6 player game of Drakon. The tile layinbg game where players build a dungeon to explore with the aim of being the first to collect 5 gold pieces.

The game started very cagily with plenty of the dungeon built before anyone ventured forth, and with good cause as it became obvious that this game was going to be nasty. I think we all decided early on that winning was not the prime objective here, causing chaos was, oh and victimising Oggie and stealing Boogs money. A few nasty combination of tiles came and went. Everyones cash rose and fell until there were no tiles left to draw. Oggie was leading on cash but found himself in a dead end. Boog also found himself in a dead end with no tiles to play so had to pass a few turns running. Tel blew his chances of winning by playing the wrong tile at one point which meant he couldnt play any of his last 3 tiles next to his current location so was stuck in another dead end. Steve and then Tel took pity on the stuck Boog so gave him moves to the extent that he went from 1 coin and being unable to move to winning the game. Paul was the only other player with money earning potential but couldnt earn it as quickly as Boog.

We found the flaw with this game today. At one point in the game three of the players were stuck in positions where they couldnt move, if it wasnt for the fact that winning was paramount in peoples thoughts these 3 players (and eventually a fourth) would not have been anble to move again and hence frozen out of the game. In only 1 of the four cases was this down to bad play (Me) in the other three cases players were manoevered into positions they couldnt get out of. In a 20 minute game this wouldnt be an issue but Drakon can play for over an hour and being sat out for up to 30 mins hoping someone else is going to allow you back into the game is not my idea of fun. However in the spirit we played the game it was entertaining.

Final Scores
Boog 5, Paul 4, Tel 4, Andy 3, Oggie 3, Steve 2

Ratings / 10
Boog 8, Paul 7, Tel 6, Andy 7, Oggie 7, Steve 7
 
Scores: Boog 5, Tel 4, Paul 4, Oggie 3, Andy 3, Steve 2
Ratings: Boog 8, Tel 6, Paul 7, Oggie 7, Andy 7, Steve 7
Winner(s): Boog

Kingdoms

Scores: Paul 178, Anne 155, Boog 143
Ratings: Paul 8, Anne 8, Boog 8
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Steve 43, Tel 42
Ratings: Steve 8, Tel 7
Winner(s): Steve

Mississippi Queen

Anne requested that we play a game of Mississippi Queen. 4 of us took part in the passenger steamboat race down the twisting Mississippi.

3 of the first 4 passenger stops transpired to be behind islands on the wrong side of the river for the next bend, this didnt stop everyone except Anne picking up an early passenger. Andy then set to trailblaze the river only to be undone by a vicious right hand bend which Andys captain was obviously not expecting. This left Tel to lead the way while Steve and Anne were both picking up passengers. Since he was unsure where the river was likely to take him Tel was unable to build up too much speed. Neither Steve nor Anne had this problem as they could see more of the river from behind and both managed to achieve reasonable speeds. Steve had obviously navigated the river before and was confident to cruise down the middle of the river, whereas Anne, the novice to the river, seemed determined to use all the river, veering from riverbank to riverbank. Tel and Andy were forced to slow down to pick up the last 2 passengers on the river, unfortunately Anne was also banking on picking one of these passengers up and steamed straight past the rest of the waiting passengers. By the time she realised there were not enough passengers left it was too late for her to about turn, so she decided to continue to the end much to the annoyance of the passengers on the riverbank.

Steve capitalised on his time at speed 5 by storming past the 2 leaders as they slowed to pick up their last passengers, and after some heavy braking arrived safely at the end of the river a turn ahead of Tel who finished a turn ahead of Andy with Anne bringing up the rear, a passenger short.

Another entertaining game of MQ that played in about 1 hour with Steve maintaining his 100% record.

Ratings / 10
7s all round
 
Scores: Anne , Steve , Andy , Tel
Ratings: Anne 7, Steve 7, Andy 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Steve

Royal Turf

Scores: Oggie 3050, Boog 3000, Paul 2900
Ratings: Oggie 8, Boog 8, Paul 8
Winner(s): Oggie

Union Pacific

After shuffling the groups, 4 of us sat down for a game of Union Pacific. Tel had played a demo game earlier in the week to learn the rules, so explained them to the rest. The board is a map of the USA, with railtracks connecting the big cities. Each section of track is 1 of the 4 types of track and can accommodate between 1 and 4 trains. 10 rail companies are competing to use the track. Each starts in a different city and from these starting coities they are trying to expand out to cover as much of the board as possible. Each player starts with a hand of 3 track cards, 4 random shares from the 10 companies and 1 Union Pacific share. 1 of the four share cards is played in front of the players as their initial investment. On a turn the players draw a piece of track and then can either play a piece of track or lay some shares. To lay a piece of track the players play a track card and then select a train from a company that can utilise that sort of track placing it on a coresponding track on the board, extending that companies network, the player then draws a share card either from the four face up cards or the draw pile. Alternatively the player can lay share cards from his hand, either as many of 1 share as he likes or 1 share from each of 2 companies.

Distributed within the share deck are 4 dividend cards. These trigger scoring phases, with the fourth one additionally ending the game. Once a dividend card appears each of the 10 companies pays out to the 2 largest shareholders, depending on how many track sections the companies have built. Union Pacific doesnt build tracks but the players get increasing payouts for UP shares in each dividend payout phase. Whoever has the most cash at the end of the game wins.

The first dividend came out when everyone expected and hence most players had their available shares down on the table, so there was an even split of money. The second dividend was then quite late, so there was plenty of attack and counter attacks as people jostled for position in the companies, however it did arrive a round early for both Steve and Oggie as both had shares ready to lay. Tel still had exclusive ownership of a couple of companies, which gave him a slight lead but it was still very close. The third dividend was very late arriving with only 12 share cards left. During this time Oggie and Steve who were battling for ownership of the red track had managed to build a monster company, Andy who still had exclusive rights to white was quite happily extending this line until Steve managed to match his investment. Tel managed to extend Brown to its limits and had a reasonable yellow network, and still had exclusive right to their profits however he only had a token investment in Union Pacific, Oggie was the big player in UP shares. Again the payouts were quite tight but with Tel having a slight advantage. A couple of shares were laid before the final payout, Andy managing to break Tels monopoly of both brown and yellow. In the final tally Tel lost some ground due to his low UP investment but just managed to hold on to the win, with Andy and Oggie very close behind, Steve was 9 points adrift in 4th.

An extremely close game that went down to the wire. The game does borrow from Acquire, with plenty of similarities, but it is a game in its own rights and one I will be playing again. The game played in about 90 mins.

Final Scores
Tel 125, Andy 123, Oggie 122, Steve 113

Ratings / 10
Tel 8, Andy 7, Oggie 8, Steve 8
 
Scores: Tel 125, Andy 123, Oggie 122, Steve 113
Ratings: Tel 8, Andy 7, Oggie 8, Steve 8
Winner(s): Tel


25-Jun-2002All month
 
Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 224, Paul 207
Ratings: Tel 8, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel

Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 85, Tel 33
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul


28-Jun-2002All month
 
Lost Cities

Scores: Paul 107, Tel 92
Ratings: Paul 7, Tel 7
Winner(s): Paul

Lost Cities

Scores: Tel 101, Paul 73
Ratings: Tel 7, Paul 7
Winner(s): Tel