5 this week. We were just about to start a 4 player Brass game, when Barbie arrived, so Dave & Ben went to play Up Front leaving the rest of us to play Brass 3 handed.
This is a game that I have played once before at MidCon last year and I remember having quite a good time with it, the game has been to the table a couple of times so far this year but this was the first time I have taken part at the club. Before disappearing to play Up Front, Dave gave a quick refresher on the rules as none of us had played more than once and then it was on into the Canal age, at the end of which the scores were very close (a spread of four I think). Both Steve and I had started badly by playing in Bolton without having looked too closely at the potential routes out in the Canal Age, which are only to the east. Steve built a link down to Manchester, whereas I, having a load of location cards in hand started up again down in Macclesfield, where I built a mill and was able to sell to the market in the midlands to get the income going. Barbie, I think had started somewhere over in the west. I thought a useful play early on was Steve taking out a £30 loan at the beginning, when the loss on the income track was not so great. I then repeated the ploy, but sold cotton on the same turn so I was left with a positive income as opposed to the negative one that Steve suffered for a couple of turns.
The position was very close at the end of the canal age (I think a spread of about 3 points), Steve had managed to build a ship yard, while I scored with my mills and 2 Iron works, Barbie did quite well from his transportation links.
Into the Rail Age and I had a lot of Industry cards, rather than the load of locations as early in the previous age, meaning I had to build out of Rochdale, where I had a presence from the Canal Age. I built a coal mine and used the coal to start a railway toward Manchester, where I was next able to build 4 out the 5 rail links in one turn.
In the end the game turned on Steve's building of 2 ship yards, while I could not do so, which at the time caused me some consternation as he was able to block me from using my Barrow card by building the rail link from Preston to Lancaster, meaning I could not get my own railway up there. I speculated after the game, that maybe the shipyards were too powerful, feeling frustrated by my lack of location cards. After the game Dave reminded me of the joker rule, where you can play 2 cards to represent any card ( a rule I had not remembered), I don't think this would have helped once Steve had played his rail line, but maybe using it very early to get into Lancaster, it might have made a difference.
One thing I did note was the downtime that seemed to occur when people were thinking about card discards. These discards have to take place because the running out of the deck is the trigger the end of the ages, but I did wonder if the game might be quickened up by working out how many rounds there should be and setting up a counter for the age ends. In this way discarding could be eliminated or at least made optional. This would of course mean that mean that the deck might be fully exhausted and I'm not sure whether this might have some unforeseen effect on the game. Anyway the scores were.
Brass 170 mins
Dave has sent me the following on the game of Up Front;
"Up Front was inconclusive; the Germans lost 4 men and the Americans lost 5. To force a win, the Germans needed to lose 6 in total and the Americans 7. So, it could have gone either way. Having said that; it was down to a straight firefight war of attrition; that was the basic scenario without the flanking fire, infiltration etc. rules in. We aim to try it again tonight; but I'll add in the cityfight rules, which is the one we played the most back in the mid 90's."
Up Front 120 mins