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.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Session Summary - 5 December 2007

It was nice to see Gordon tonight and Jonathan back from Oxford for the vacation. Gordon had a new game along and we decided to give it a go. This was

Cuba 140 mins
Player Posn. Points
Steve H 1 71
Dave D 2= 57
Jonathan 2= 57
Gordon 4 54
Mike 5 49

How to describe this? Take a little Puerto Rico, Caylus, Pillars of the Earth and stir well, liberally seasoning with other ingredients from here and there. This seems to be the classic case of taking known mechanics, mixing them up and seeing what you get. I am somewhat undecided about the result, but having mentioned Puerto Rico and Caylus I will say that at this time, I find it less offensive than either of those 2.

The game is played in 16? rounds (note the more I think of this it seems wrong is it 24?), which are divided into sets 0f 4. Each player has a set of 5 identical cards indicating which action he can take and each card has a value from 1 to 5 which comes into play for determining the play order for the next set of 4 rounds (the number on the last card played by a player) and a number of votes in the assembly (parliament or whatever it's called) following the 4 rounds (the card not played). The cards are played in turn starting from the start player and have the following effects, to move the worker on your sub board and claim crops or resources in the same row and column, to visit the market and trade, to build buildings on the sub board, to activate buildings on the sub board and to place crops and goods on the ships in the harbour earning victory points. Note I'm not trying to remember which card does which or the value of the particular cards.

When all the cards have been played there is a vote where all players have votes equal to the value of the last cards they played plus any votes they buy using money (corruption is rife here) and the winner is the one with a simple majority of votes and can choose 2 of the 4 available measures to apply until the next vote. The first player in the following round is the one whose 4th card played is the one of greatest value with ties resolved in favour of the player who went latest in the last set of rounds. This makes for an interesting system of card play where, when playing cards you have to consider not only what to do, but the turn order and your voting strength. If you are late in the turn order you may want to hold a high value card until last, but for other reasons, you may need to play that card early or not play it at all because you want its votes. So there is a dilemma here.

Victory points in the game are earned in various ways such as shipping items, there are 3 ship in the harbour and the most vps are earned for placing stuff on the one about to leave, but if you wait for this, you may find that someone else has already taken the space on the ship allocated to the good you want to ship (the goods a ship will carry are preset and each carries a total of 5). Victory points are also earned by some buildings and by the secondary effects of some of the role cards. They are also earned by paying taxes, which strangely is optional, but you are then rewarded for filling the government's coffers.

As can be seen this game was comfortably won by Steve who built a building giving a extra 2 votes and was then able to control the passage of legislation for the rest of the game due to a measure that was passed forbidding the buying of votes. This particular situation is extremely powerful and it is certainly to be watched for with a view to prevent it unless of course you are the player who benefits. When Gordon indicated that money was very tight at the start I decided to take step to ensure a good supply and came to the conclusion that it was perhaps not as tight as had been suggested as there were time where it was difficult to know what to do with the stuff, although it nearly all got spent in the end and I had 1 left to tie the tie breaker with Jon.

The game suffers, it seems, from a badly translated rule book and there was discussion at several points particularly with regard to one particular building and also about the names used to describe the different kinds of goods, which seems totally illogical. Despite this, the game seems to me to be worth at least another play. Steve was greatly impressed while Mike was not, mostly seeing to find the method of determining the first play not to his taste as he seemed to spend most of the game going late in the order. I think that the problem was at several points Gordon was first player, making Mike 4th and me 5th, what would then likely happen is I would become first meaning he was 5th. he seemed to be of the opinion that starting in the middle was a disadvantage because of the way the tie break worked, but I don't see this because it seemed to be that the first player was usually determined by a value 4 card, which could be beaten by a value 5 and also once I was was first player it made Mike 5th meaning he was in pole position to be first in the next set of rounds. As I say this is an interesting mechanism and it is also probably the only original one in the game.

1 comment:

  1. Mike's thoughts - The problem for me was not just that I started 4th, but that I adopted a shipping-heavy strategy too. This means that, unless you are the only one with this strategy, you have to play the cards for this very early in the turn, and these are the 4 and 5 cards. Result : you never go first and never win Parliament. If you're the only heavy shipper the VP's make up for it, this didn't happen so I was stuffed. The lack of copies of key buildings meant I couldn't swop to a building strategy - sadly this gives the classic Puerto Rico shipping imbalance problem, but magnified.