On one table we played London, this being the first time Donald & Dave had played the game. It was all very close for the first 3 places with Steve going for a big money strategy which mostly disappeared by the end buying a few big VP buildings. I picked up some nice non flippable buildings early, but this came back to bite me later when I built out my city, not wanting to cover up the earlier cards and so ended up taking a poverty hit at the end, this was compounded by Steve ending the game 1 turn too early for me forcing me to play cards without the chance of running my city to avoid taking a bigger poverty hit. Dave F took no loans early on but later took 1 and then I forced another one on him by use of Lloyds of London, this virtually killed his game. Donald won largely by virtue of having much the most valuable boroughs even, I think, taking a hit for an unpaid loan.
Next there was time for a quick game of San Juan, although Donald left at this point. I found a Guild Hall in my opening hand and went for an all-out production strategy; unfortunately I was undone by being unable to build a couple of times and lost out to Dave's City Hall.
Over on the other table the game was 20th Century, which seems to be proving quite popular, although I was very disappointed when I played at Midcon. The theme is one that interested me, being fairly modern and technological. Unfortunately the mechanics don't seem to fit with the theme. First we have the buying of tiles to expand your region, now it seems to me that if you want to expand you would build the towns you want and then construct the transport links to fit in with your existing infrastructure, but in this case you have to bid on preselected arrangements with preconstructed railway links, which you then have to try and incorporate, added to this you will end up with ghost towns where nobody lives, why build a town if you can't populate it.
Then we come to acquiring technology which is bought with science points, this is reasonable except in some cases, like locomotives which allow you to move workers from one town to an adjacent one, but this is the 20th century by which time we have researched railways and can buy (with money) locomotives that can move vast numbers of people all over a country, another odd thing is we have apparently connected all these towns with railways lines but do not know how to build trains at the beginning. Similarly we have bridges which when researched allow you to build a single one, again by this time the research had been done and money should be spent on building them (and probably has been as there must surely be bridges on the preconstructed layouts bought previously).
Then we have spending research to prevent ecological catastrophes. Why is this auction based? If it is going to cost me X science to be successful why must I suddenly spend more just because someone else has committed to spending X+1, it would seem more reasonable if each level of catastrophe had a fixed cost for prevention that could be spent by any or all players allowing each to get the benefit.
I know that these mechanisms are there because the game works that way and obviously games are going to be abstractions to a lesser or greater extent, but in this sort of case the mechanics don't seem to have much relation to the reality. If the game weren't so dry, it wouldn't be so much of a problem but as it is this just destroys any interest I might have had.
This particular game seem to have had a fairly wide spread of scores, I think it was Andy's first game so well done for winning, I know I didn't do very well in my only game, but then I had already lost most interest sometime before the end.
Just to also note that I have now amended the sidebar to show the most played games in 2011, rather than 2010.
January 2011, Meetings 4, Games 15, Average Attendance 8.75