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Game of the year, 2003
Recommended Card Games
It seems somehow appropriate that the first session report for ages should be on a game we haven't played for ages. In fact, this was the first time we'd played this game in over three years. Not surprisingly then, we needed a refresher. One thing we did recall is that the game can end in seconds if everyone passes in the first round. That's certainly one way to raise the number of plays per year. Being sensible gamers - yeah, right - we managed to avoid this happening.
Previously we'd played with five players, and found the game okay but nothing special. We'd suspected that it would be better with three, but hadn't put the theory to the test.
One thing we noted immediately is that it's much easier to get a set of three consecutive building permits, making it much easier to place the larger buildings. Of course that makes it easy to completely stitch somebody up by placing a park or factory across a particularly juicy spot. Steve was drawing all of the latter, much to Oggie's dismay.
Eventually though he managed to place the first shopping centre for a nice 30 points, then nestled the other one up to it a couple of turns afterwards. Despite missing out on the opportunity to place either of the churches, this was enough to give him a nice lead. Scoring was fairly even after that, as the special buildings were running out, sohe managed to carry this lead out to the end.
Well then, was it better with three players? I think so. It plays a lot more quickly, which is important as there's not much you can do during downtime. The numbers give more freedom of play, but also make it more important to watch out for big plays by your opponents. Though obviously we weren't watching out enough when we let Oggie take both shopping centres...
Scores : Oggie 139, Paul 114, Steve 101
Ratings: Oggie 8, Paul 8, Steve 8
We were joined by Steve and Chrissy for the afternoon. As we already have two Steve's in the core group, "new" Steve will be referred to as Frank from now on.
They have both played German games before, but aren't familiar with a huge number of them. They are, though, apparently quite familiar with games about Corks and so "kindly" introduced us to Corx.
The game's very simple. It consists of two corks. Each cork is tapered, with one end coloured red and the other black. Players take turns to drop the corks onto the table, and score for either of them which stand up. Truly a game you can learn in minutes, though perhaps not one which takes a lifetime to master.
You are probably familiar with Pass the Pigs. This game is like Pass the Pigs with the push-your-luck removed. Now if you take the push-your-luck out of Pass the Pigs, there's not much game left. You do the math.
Fortunately this wasn't the first game of the afternoon, otherwise Frank would have been putting his coat on.
Comment by Tel
I only missed 1 game all day. It looks like I picked the right one to miss.
Scores : Chrissy 21, Frank 20, Oggie 10, Steve 10, Paul 8
Ratings: Chrissy 6, Frank 4, Oggie 3, Steve 4, Paul 4
An old favourite, so this was an obvious choice as a 6 player game. As we had two people new to the game we played with the basic rules, ignoring the target city cards.
For a Piddinghoe gamer, there's no finer sound than gnashing of teeth and exclamations of horror. We got plenty of those today, so obviously this was a good session. Frank started the game, and managed to stitch up half the group with his first tile lay. Who would have thought that so few troll cards had been dealt out? This was to be a common theme throughout the game, with constant shouts of "not there, you idiot" and "who put that elf-cycle there?!" ringing out across the table.
And that's not taking into account the obstacle tiles. Tel was the only person brave enough to go to the cul-de-sac city. As it was in only the second round of the game he was hoping that nobody would use their obstacle to block the path. Obviously he didn't get away with that. Sadly that left him without enough cards to get back out, so he ended up stuck there at the end of the turn. Obviously that meant he attracted another obstacle in the path in the way back out.
Chrisy, one of the newcomers to the game, was giving the old hands a firm lesson. Going into the last round she was clear favourite, with only four cylinders left to pick up. These were all adjacent so it was going to take something spectacular to stop her. Plastering her route with the remaining obstacle tiles stopped her from getting them all, but left her with enough cards still in hand to win the resulting tie break and take a deserved victory.
Comment by Tel
*!%*!%%* **%%@@%%** dead end. If it hadn't been for those pesky kids I may not have come last.
Scores : Paul 19, Steve 19, Frank 19, Chrissy 19, Tel 18, Oggie 18
Ratings: Paul 8, Steve 8, Frank 8, Chrissy 9, Tel 8, Oggie 8
Fair Means or Foul
This version of the game only comes with bits for five players. Tel had made up a complete new et of action cards for six though, so we were good to go.
This game is notable for one thing in particular. Oggie tried a new tactic. In every game we have played previously, he always played the detective when in the castle. And did the same for most of this game too. As we knew he would do this, everyone else was making hay in the castle. But eventually he figured out that we'd sussed his tactic. Perhaps constantly telling him that we knew he always plays detective was a sufficient clue. And so amazingly, he played his thief a couple of times. Shock horror! There's still no point giving him the exhibit card, mind.
Paul triggered the end game by going into the end room, forcing a last exhibit by everybody. Steve is also in the "don't bother to give me an exhibit card" gang, and beat Oggie to largest exhibit by one card. This was enough to bring him level with Paul in the last room, and to take victory by a tie break.
Comment by Tel
Strange game where most of the cards up for auction were from the higher end of the alphabet. Worked well with 6 players.
Comment by Andy
Scores : Paul 30, Steve 30, Oggie 24, Tel 23, Frank 22, Chrissy 22
Ratings: Paul 8, Steve 7, Oggie 7, Tel 8, Frank 7, Chrissy 6
Another favourite with six players. Again we played an "easy" game as we had two new players, using the simplest side of each of the pillar tiles.
The monster must have been hungry today. It took him a round to get his bearings, but on the second round he ate three players. We should really know enough to watch out for the teleports by now.... This must have somewhat sated his appetite though, as he was content just to take an occasional snack after that. Unfortunately he didn't seem too interested in the bunch of adventurers hovering by the exit. Thus the game came to a rapid conclusion when two of Steve's strolled out, whistling nonchalantly.
Scores : Steve 2, Oggie 1, Chrissy 1, Tel 0, Paul 0, Frank 0
Ratings: Steve 7, Oggie 7, Chrissy 9, Tel 7, Paul 8, Frank 8
Scores : Steve 1, Tel 0
Ratings: Steve 8, Tel 9
Scores : Steve 142, Tel 25
Ratings: Steve 8, Tel 8
Perudo continues to give good service for those short slots when waiting for food, people or whatever. We had the usual situations of far fewer, or far more dice of a certain number than expected. So nothing uusual there. In fact there was only one particularly unusual thing all game - Oggie won. Oggie doesn't win Perudo.
Scores : Oggie 2, Tel 0, Paul 0, Steve 0
Ratings: Oggie 8, Tel 8, Paul 8, Steve 8
This is not a game we tend to play very often. Whilst some members of the group are big fans of it, others - or specifically other - aren't so keen. Chrissy and Frank had bought a copy for a friend though, so we though we'd teach them the rules.
The first round was all about trying to avoid negative points, some people proving better at it than others. A few monuments came out, but we didn't see a great deal of them.
Things started to hot up a little in the second round. Paul had grabbed the majority of Pharoas in the first round, and Tel seemed keen to try to out-do him in the second. Frank and Steve meanwhile were looking to the end game and beginning to build up a good base of monuments. Chrissy had been hogging the large valued sun tiles, and burned them early for some nice points.
And into the final round. Frank was obviously a ringer, fooling us with the old "so how do you play this game" routine. He was building up a very lucrative set of monuments. He looked to be hoem and dry until Steve saw a set of tiles being drawn which would earn him huge points. The problem being that we were almost at the end of the game, with Ra tiles almost reaching to the end. Would the turn get back to him to allow him to call an auction. Much to his annoyance, and everybody elses mirth, Paul drew the last Ra tile to bring the game to an end. Victory to the newcomer!
Scores : Frank 42, Paul 28, Tel 27, Steve 27, Chrissy 21
Ratings: Frank 8, Paul 7, Tel 8, Steve 8, Chrissy 7
There are certain traditions when we play games. One of them is that it's essential to announce "I've all 5 corners of the board" when you look at your cards.
However, some of us were being a bit more honest than others when we made this claim. Chrissy was being very honest. Frank and Steve were being qute honest. And Oggie was being a big fat lier. This was obviously the case because he won every single round.
Frank didn't seem too keen on the game, considering it all a bit random and down th the luck of the cards. This is a debate that's raged since the game first came out. I'm of the school of thought that there's a bit more subtlety to it. Who knows which of us is right.
Somethign else I don't know is why the European based version of this game doesn't have maps on the cards. Being a Brit, I'm not totally unfamiliar with the map of the continent. But I'd still prefer the little maps on the cards as they do make it a little easier to play.
Scores : Oggie 9, Paul 2, Tel 0, Steve -1, Frank -2, Chrissy -3
Ratings: Oggie 8, Paul 8, Tel 8, Steve 7, Frank 6, Chrissy 7
We don't play many word games, so this was an interesting change of pace.
The game has a Cthulhu theme, though it's very loosely pasted on. Players are dealt a set of cards, each with a letter. Like Scrabble, each letter is worth a number of points. In your turn, you make a word out of your card, score it, and try to roll under the words score on a D20. Watch carefully, this is where the Cthulhu bit comes in. If you fail, you lose a "sanity" point in the form of a little plastic monster. Lose five and you lose the game. Okay, Cthulhu bit over. First to hit 100 points wins the game.
And here we have a mystery. Rolling low is bad in this game. Paul is famed for rolling low. How he won, avoiding losing a life when playing an 18 point word, we'll never know. Actually, make that two mysteries. We're not sure how Steve managed to come third despite not being dealt vowels.
Chrissy and Oggie seemed to be of the impression that the goal of the game was to play rude words. This somewhat restricted their vocubulary, perhaps explaining their scores. I'm not sure what Tel was up to. No doubt he'll tell us he's a mathematician with no need for those wordy things.
Comment by Tel
I was a mathematician with no need for those wordy things.
Scores : Paul 109, Frank 89, Steve 84, Oggie 68, Chrissy 67, Tel 58
Ratings: Paul 7, Frank 7, Steve 6, Oggie 7, Chrissy 6, Tel 7
This game doesn't seem to have set the world alight, but Oggie liked it well enough to pick up a copy.
This is a difficult game to describe approaches to play due to being very tactical. So I'm not going to try to give a blow by blow account of what everyone was doing. As you can see from the scores at the end, Steve was making the best job of whatever he was doing.
I've seen more than one claim that the game has an enormous luck of the draw element. It is often the case that there are some clearly good plays which you either have the cards to take advantage of or don't. I didn't see anything during this game to give the lie to that claim. We saw scoring opportunities granting points in double figures, so clearly having the cards to take advantage of them makes a huge difference. I don't think, however, that the game will always go to whoever draws the most useful cards. There is scope for intelligent play and for making the best of whatever cards you do have.
It may be a more interesting game if the hand size was increased from four to, say, six. This would certainly increase opportunities and flatten out some of the luck. However, this would come at the cost of many, many more options to evaluate. I suspect thus that a four card hand is a deliberate compromise to avoid the game slowing to a crawl.
Scores : Steve 93, Oggie 85, Andy 72, Paul 64
Ratings: Steve 8, Oggie 8, Andy 7, Paul 7
Race for the Galaxy
Scores : Steve 32, Paul 28, Oggie 25, Andy 23
Ratings: Steve 7, Paul 8, Oggie 7, Andy 6