The Games We Play

The Games We Play

A repository of reports on the Wednesday night sessions of the club and anything else related to the club or boardgaming in general, which may be of interest to anyone who may be passing by.

Friday 30 March 2007

Session Summary - 28th March 2007

DD said he wouldn't get so verbose on the next update, so I decided to instead.
Following the success of the 1856 game last Sat; the four of us turned up again Weds (ie: Me, Dave D, Mike and Steve H). Where's everybody gone? I know I've been absent for some time but that's over now and I'm getting back into the mainstream.
Anyway, we decided to play Air Baron, one of Avalon Hill's last games before being sacrificed on the altar of commercialism. AB is a game of running an airline and gaining control over domestic and foreign air routes in the USA. The winner is the first to gain the largest market share in cash and overall control of the various Spokes and Hubs.

"I was robbed." This was DD's comment at the end of the game. Hm. Ultimately, AB,despite its cash, events and all the other trappings of a financial game, is actually a wargame. You spend the first part of the game establishing a power base, but it is impossible to win without doing takeovers (attacking) other players. And takeovers are a 2d6 roll with mods, highest wins; defender wins ties. You can gain favourable mods by how you've taken control of Spokes/Hubs/Foreign routes, but to stand a real chance you need to be in Fare Wars; which gives you a +2 die bonus (good on a 2d6 roll) but forgoes you any normal income whilst you are in Fare Wars. And it costs you money to attempt takeovers. And income depends a random chit draw anyway.
In some ways it's similar to Risk. You get to a stage when you go all out to try and seize control and win; but if you don't succeed then the next strongest player will try and do the same, and there is little you can do about it. As for the player in last position (me in this instance), takeovers are counterproductive to a large degree as you are usually helping the main rival of whoever you 'attack'.
Back to DD's comment. Yes, I think he was. Not detracting from Steve's eventual win, but DD must have been within a few dollars of winning, but due to the fickleness of the random turn order and by the way that losing just 1 (one!) Spoke can lose you up to 60 points on the Stock Market, meant that with just two bad die rolls, DD dropped to third place from first.

Air Baron's not a bad game; but the end game does drag on for some time and could get impossible if the last placed player played the part of Kingmaker. It is a 'bash the leader' game (but so is Kremlin.) I do suspect, however, that we've all got used to Eurogames with fixed game lengths, or 'first past the post' like Vinci (AB is 'first past the post' admittedly, but in Vinci you don't get knocked backwards for losing a battle). Good for the occasional play (and go for the Government Contract, it paid out a fortune to DD and Mike over the course of the game).

Just to add the scores:

Air Baron 140 mins
Steve H1334
Dave D2299
Dave C498

Tuesday 27 March 2007

1856 - 24 March 2007

Earlier in the year we played a 6 player game of this and later Steve suggested that he'd like to give it another try, but thought that 4 might be a better number. Mike and I were happy to agree as we are big 18XX fans, although we rarely get the chance to play, and I also thought it would be a chance for Dave C to join in, having missed the earlier game. So it was that we gathered at my place on Saturday.

We all started a public company at the beginning. Mike had the GW, I had the LPS, Dave the WGB and Steve the CPR. In the early stage of the game I was able to make some quick money with LPS and at the first opportunity I had it buy the Great Lakes Shipping Company off me at the same time putting money in my pocket and increasing the LPS revenue by using the port. During this time Mike built up the GW and I was able to link into his track allowing me to run to London for further revenue, Steve slowly started building up the CPR, while Dave was stuck in the middle without easy access to a big city and no other company close by to help in the WGB development. As we moved out of this early stage I had been able to build up enough cash to start another company (the CA) which seemed like a good combination with the LPS. Soon after Mike started the BBG and Steve took the Welland.

It was here I think that things started to go wrong as I should have kept more money in LPS while the pickings were good. When the the first 6 train was available, I found myself with a lot of money sitting idle and used it to start the CV. Having looked around I had thought that all the companies would be able to repay their loans, the WGB was vulnerable but I was able to help it to its destination before the CV bought the 6 train, so releasing the necessary funds. As it turned out the Welland could not repay and so the CGR was formed from this one company. At this point I was terribly vulnerable. I had considered folding one of my 2 companies into the CGR, but this was not possible as they had too much money to default on their loans (the CA actually had none outstanding) as a result both were left sitting on a single 4 train each which was liable to be rendered obsolete at any moment on the purchase of a Diesel and not a huge amount of cash. If this had happened I would have been destroyed, fortunately Mike who had the GW with a 6 & 4, which was making the most revenue, chose not to trade in for the diesel, instead carrying on, while seeing his share price rise. The CGR, having formed in a corner of the board without immediate access to the wider network, would take several rounds before being able to buy a diesel and the other companies, already having permanent trains were content to keep paying dividends, rather than saving for another train. I was able to use these few rounds grace to build up the LPS and CA treasuries before buying permanent trains (in the LPS case the 6 from the CV). During this time the LPS & CA share prices fell though the floor, but I was able to keep a good personal income from the CV and major minority holdings in the GW and CPR.

Once all the companies were on a stable footing the game moved to a fairly swift conclusion, during it was a case of Steve using CGR tokens to block stations limit the revenue of other companies, while I desperately tried to bypass the blocks using the combine efforts of LPS, CA and CV. The game ended about 8pm for a total playing time between 6 & 7 hours.

Scores as follows
Dave D $9486
Steve $7982
Mike $6521
Dave C $5967

If I had been Mike I think I would probably have bought the diesel and caused me much pain, but he considered that even if he had done so he would only have given the game to Steve instead and he is probably right. What I think the game does show is we could all do with a lot more practice (but how to find the time).

Session Summary - 21 March 2007

I am somewhat late posting this one, on account that I have been busier than usual (for me) in the last few days and also because of the 1856 game. It was another disappointing attendance with just 2 people. Hopefully we should have Mike, Steve H and Dave C next week and from Gordon's comment on the last post he should have moved house by then, so I look forward to seeing more of him and maybe Steve P, work always permitting. On another note I notice Luke was Geek of the week last week over on BGG and there is some interesting reading there including the explanation as to why he has been missing recently.

On to the game, admittedly I had a different opponent this week but even so it was some surprise that Steve suggested this.

Fury of Dracula 140 mins
Player Posn.
Steve H 1
Dave D 2

In many ways, this probably is best as a 2 player game, as it is basically a game of 2 sides. It really needs to get started quickly as the game length is often long. In this case, I as Dracula led the hunters on a long chase round Europe, starting in Italy, during which time they got close many times, but never quite caught me until the end. Along the way I dropped a Vampire in Cagliari, but the hunters got there just in time, not so with the one in Le Havre, which I was able to protect with enough encounters to get to maturity. Unfortunately Seward caught up with me in Alicante (in retrospect it was probably asking for it to head to and Mediterranean port from Madrid knowing that there was a hunter in the Med, but there you go). This is where the problem arose, because Seward with his pack of Dogs was essentially unbeatable and I had no chance to escape, Game Over with 4 out of 6 Vampires on the board.

I have puzzled over Dogs before, thinking surely this is so powerful as to break the game, but I have realised that I have misinterpreted the use of the word initiative on the card, due to the change in use of the word since the GW edition, so Dogs do not add 4 to the combat roll (which was called the initiative roll in the original), but only has an effect in the case of a tie when initiative numbers are compared. Oh well, still I had an enjoyable time and Steve has suggested he'd like to be Dracula next time.

Until tomorrow.

Friday 16 March 2007

Session Summary - 14 March 2007

Just the 2 of us this week and a session of very close games. I'm not realy surprised by the low attendance knowing in advance that Steve and Mike were unavailable and that Dave C would be doubtful. So it was just Matt & me.

We opened with.

Great Wall of China 30 mins
Dave D1=27

We played this once before last September with 5 players, the problem being that all were new to the game and it took longer than expected, leaving people hurrying to get buses. The general view was that the game had potential and I have been intending to get it out again since, but getting round to it. On this playing the game seems pretty good with 2, although perhaps 3 might be better. I think 5 may be too many. In this game the bulk of the cards were played in a titanic battle for 2 wall sections in the middle of the game. Matt had taken an early lead by taking a high tile at the beginning, but I was able to pull this back by taking both tiles on one of the final wall sections, while the other was tied meaning no one got the tiles.

San Juan 35 mins
Dave D1=41

We don't see many ties at San Juan, which probably explains why I forgot the tie breaker (number of cards) that may have resolved this. 2 opposite strategies were in play, Matt with Guild Hall and production buildings with a palace, while I had Triumphal Arch with 2 monuments, City Hall and a 4 point Chapel.

Industrial Waste 45 mins
Dave D181

This did not last anything like the 4 player game, the other week, but Matt was able to max the innovation tracks, while I was one innovation short of doing the same. I was able to produce 2 orders on the final turn, enabling me to win with a large amount of money to cancel out the loan which I took out earlier and never got round to paying back.

Hopefully a better turn out next week, I gather Steve should be available.

Saturday 10 March 2007

Session Summary - 7 March 2007

6 people this week. It was good to see Dave C and condolences were offered on the recent death of his mother. He seemed on good form and the whole evening seemed to me most enjoyable with much banter passing back and forth across the table with all players participating. I think this was partly due to the choice of game, which to my mind lends itself to this.

Citadels 80 mins
Steve H228
Dave C326
Richard B420
Dave D519
Citadels 80 mins
Steve H132
Richard B227
Dave D325
Dave C423

It is a long time since Citadels has been played at the club, the last time being April 2005 and that is far too long to my mind. The first game went down well and it was suggested that we play again with nobody objecting. Many players will point at different things that went on on the games. Here are a few of my recollections. Mike won the first, but got absolutely clobbered in the second. Julian suffered form being killed or thieved from at unfortunate moments as did I in the first game, but I think he lost his chance of finishing the second game a turn earlier and so possibly winning, by being killed on that turn. I think Dave lost the first game when I stole all his money on the final round. I got off to a great start in the second game able to amass as many points with 3 buildings on the table as I scored in total in the first, but things slowed to a crawl at that point. Steve was strong in both games particularly in the second when he was able to set up a monstrous money creating engine using purple buildings.

I think a good time was had by all.

See you Wednesday.

Saturday 3 March 2007

Session Summary - 28 February 2007

There were only 5 of us this week making the average attendance for February of 7 this being inflated by the junior attendance in half term week.

We were joined early on by one of the organisers of the UK Games Expo which is taking place in Birmingham in June. I am ashamed to say that I have forgotten his name, but I gather that he knew Steve from Stourbridge Wargamers so maybe Steve can supply the information. We spent a bit of time discussing our plans for the event and what the idea was.

Following this we introduced Jason to:

Power Grid 120 mins
Player Posn. Points
Steve H 1 16
Dave D 2 15
Mike 3 14+
Jason 4 14
Julian 5 13

Steve is on a roll with Power Grid at the moment and it continued with this game, where it was apparent, a fair way from the end that he was the likely winner. The game was unusual in that a lot of the high value plants came out very early and part way through when the 25 plant was up, I decided that I desperately needed it, worried that as good a plant would not turn up following. The next 8 or 9 (or something like that plant to come up) were all higher numbers, this run culminating in the 30 dropping into Steve's lap at cost price before inevitably the plants in the teens all started appearing. At this point, just as the game had entered Step 2, I found myself in the position of having plant 32 and still it was a lower value than anyone else's highest. The game entered step 3 for the final turn, which allowed us to catch Steve up on capacity, but the purchase prices of the plants meant we couldn't get the cities on the board. Julian, sitting on 4,4,5 capacities was faced with an unfortunate selection when it came his turn to choose a plant on the final turn. Jason, I think suffered from a common first game problem in not realising the importance of capacity increase.

I have updated the files on the stats pages, the most played game of the month was Munchkin, a bot of an aberration due to half term.

See you Wednesday

Dave D