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


  1. Thanks for that Dave, saves me the bother. I've added the scores and changed the title to fit in with the other posts (me being picky). I've also updated the stats pages for March, the average attendance this month was 3.5 note must do better.

    Regards the game, I actually finished second and I stand by what I said about being robbed, although it has to be said I probably did benefit from a bit of luck with the profit chits. It's funny that you should compare the game to Risk, becuase I was thinking the same thing when I got home. The big difference is that in Risk if you lose a battle, you can carry on attacking if you have enough armies (in this case read money). I had two chance to finish the game before Steve did, in both cases I had a net die roll bonus, but was stopped due to losing the first roll. In the second case I could have just carried on using the Risk rule for about another 20 or so rolls.

  2. Overall I enjoyed it, but am really in no rush to play again soon. It took a while to get interesting, and then it was down to outrageous fortune shaping the game, and when that means you can go backwards as well as stay static, things can get very frustrating. Having more chits on the board than any other player, but then not having a single pay-out from them in 3 1/2 turns, stuffed any chance of me winning.

  3. I enjoyed it,despite repeating my skill at 18xx (I'm going to give up playing games with money in). I have to say, I would have enjoyed it slightly more if the room hadn't been so cold; I got home with my feet in an advanced stage of hypothermia

  4. PS: it's worth pointing out that the target value to win was $320