When Sofia and I first became friends ten years ago, we soon found that we both liked playing games. The first years had the occasional plays of Monopoly and Chess, but our gaming sessions escalated when my sisters had given me Ticket to Ride: Europe for Christmas. That was a game that suited us perfectly and not only did it introduce me to modern board games, but it also gave me an interest in railways: their history and traffic.
Five years and 365 days after we first met, it was Sofia’s birthday again, and I got the idea of making her a custom Ticket to Ride map, covering the province where she grew up: Östergötland. I had designed a TtR map before and was working with another, but differing from those was the fact that this time I regarded it more of a piece of art. The map could of course be played but it should also let Sofia remember the old days. Some of the tickets mimicked certain road trips we had done, others how she and her family had moved and travelled in the past.
Sofia played the map with me a couple of times and also with other gaming friends here in our city, but the best response came when she brought it to her parents. “Wow!” they said, played it and even kept it, to play with their own friends. For them the historical accuracy was important, as they could remember some of the long gone narrow gauge railways and I suppose they had visited every single mentioned town and village on the map.
Then Sofia told me, some months ago, that her mother wished she had her own copy. I’m not sure if it was the mother or Sofia or even myself, that combined that wish with the mother’s upcoming 70th birthday, but I soon decided that I wanted to give her her own Ticket to Ride: Östergötland.
Now I could easily have opened the files on my computer and printed another copy. It would have cost me very little time and even less money, but the gift turned out to be a project that lasted the whole winter, with two months’ work (that is, most of my spare time for that period – I actually have a job to go to five days a week, and I follow almost every World Cup race in skiing, but many hours did I spend on a Birthday Present to my friend’s mother!).
First I decided to change some tickets. The plays I had been part of or had got references from, had shown a certain part of the map becoming extremely congested, so I decided to remove some tickets from that area, replacing them with others. That took some time, deeply analyzing the pattern of existing tickets as well as trying to remove some and adding others.
Then I decided to add some flavour. I was discussing with myself if four important churches could be shown in the map’s corners. I also usually add, in a small font, the names of important places (so that they can be represented in spite of not being railway junctions or ferry ports); when I did that now, however, I soon sat with dozens of such names within only a square decimeter (= 16 sq in?) of the map. How to handle that...
…well, I could make another map, covering only that area, the plain around Lake Tåkern! I thought.
Said and done, I brought a couple of maps from my desk and shelves (I like maps, if that wasn’t obvious already), found one with a suitable scale, covered it with a thin paper and started to make a sketch. Historical railways would be the base – in one of the books I also found another railway, never heard of before – and they would be completed by ferries and fictional railways. Almost every parish of the area could be included as a junction and off I went.
I searched the web, found a free map service that suited me well (or maybe I had it bookmarked already in my browser – I like maps, etc…), used my skills in Microsoft Word and the free “Paint” and after a few days I had a map ready.
(In different threads I find that people use expensive design software, but I can assure you: when you understand what you can do with Paint and Word and any web browser, they are fully enough for wonderful work.)
Then came the tickets. I made a greyscale print of the map, laid it on the floor and listed possible tickets. For each ticket, I placed trains along the shortest path (one train per route) between its ends, and after a while I had 40 tickets, which was enough. In the hypothetical case that all tickets were to be claimed, each route would now be used more or less equally often.
In addition to this base version “Around Lake Tåkern” (Sw: Tåkern runt), I also decided that I wanted a “Big Cities” version. I called this “The Plain’s Metropolises” (Sw: Slättens metropoler), which gave some joy, as some of the metropolises have only a few hundred inhabitants…
In the end I would have 61 tickets: 40 for the base version and 41 for the variant with some overlap. To find an easy way of distinguishing the tickets, I added one or two pictures in the tickets’ corners: Vadstena Castle for the Metropolises; a view of Lake Tåkern and Mount Omberg for the base version.
The “Ticket to Ride: Tåkern runt” now being completed, the mentioned pictures, both being photos taken by me, gave me my next idea. I wanted to make the tickets of the Östergötland map more personal, giving them some extra flavour. Why couldn’t I add some imagery there? Well, I could. I included one or two pictures on them too. Every photo was taken by me, all but a few were taken at or close to the ticket’s end points. In this way I could include the receiver’s family, a specific ice cream from a trip we all remember, the tent in which I stay when I visit them every summer, the house where they lived for a decade, the church they often go to… Railway stations, the Norrköping tram, Sweden’s only dual gauge track (in a neighbouring county but this map includes county-to-county tickets inspired by the official Märklin and Switzerland maps), even a steam train and heritage railcars – the family could spend an hour or two investigating the tickets with a magnifying glass in their hands.
How was this all to be packed? When I gave Sofia the Östergötland expansion, I had colour printed the map, used adhesive tape all over the back of the map’s eight or nine parts, so that it was playable and foldable but not very elegant. The tickets (front and back, placed in one common card sleeve) were placed in a small box, after which both map and ticket box was placed in a larger box.
Now I got a larger box but didn’t find any small ones. “Make your own!” the friends told me a Friday afternoon. So, having a tuckbox pdf from BGG as a model, I spent two hours in front of the tv (showing downhill skiing from Kvitfjell or Ga-Pa, I think), measuring card sizes with a caliper and carving out tuckboxes from two designed paper sheets, then using white glue to finish three, rather pretty card boxes.
The best, however, was still to come. The board itself… The two maps had identical sizes and I divided each into eight parts. They had the same size, save for one pixel. Earlier I had bought a 100 cm x 80 cm cardboard and from that I cut eight panels, of the same length and width as the map parts.
These I taped together, having before thoroughly studied how an official, double-sided Ticket to Ride map was constructed, because I wanted my board to be foldable.
Then it was time to fasten the maps to the board.
I used a semi-permanent spray glue and that was perfect, because for one of the maps I found tiny irregularities, places where the train spaces or locality names didn’t fit perfectly – and I wanted it to be perfect. So I had to remove all the map, then doing it all over again. But my! – wasn’t it exactly the way I wanted it to!!
It was only to put it in the box…
…add two rule sets at the bottom and a gift card on top of it, folding the whole thing in gift wrapping paper and hoping my friend’s mother would be as joyful as I was when I created it.
On Maundy Thursday the birthday present was handed over (in my absence) and I got a phone call from the donee. She was very happy with it, especially the fact that I had done a second map. Two days later it was followed by a text message: “The more I consider my new game, the more I understand what a huge work you have done!”
The same day, Easter Eve that is, the game’s B side was premiered, it turned out to be playable with no obvious flaws, the new owner had tears in her eyes (it was reported) – and I was once again fully content.
Sofia was a little jealous of her mother, but I had gone off to other projects…
Friday night, traditional café afternoon is going towards its end. I have let down my regular fika friends to meet an old student from years ago. Now, however, I enter Divine Presse Café.
There they are, eight or so, everybody in a good mood and suddenly Hanna hands me a big package.
– It’s my birthday on Sunday so I have a gift for you.
Oh, I remember! A year ago she introduced a birthday celebration tradition inspired by the hobbits: giving her friends gifts on her own birthday. Thus last January I had a cute little Lego steam locomotive but now she handed me a larger sized carton wrapped in Christmas paper with painted snow-covered spruces and little brownies.
Et voilà – Ticket to Ride United Kingdom!
It was a marvellous gift. I had had plans to buy it for myself, but as two other friends got it in December, I had postponed that decision. Now… wow! – but how could I not feel embarrassed about getting presents for her birthday?!
I gave Hanna a hug and trusted her mouth and heart when she said that giving these presents is a much appreciated joy for herself.
So, I’m even more looking forward to being able to play this map collection number 5 again. There have been two plays yet, one on each of the maps. I should be most tempted by the UK map – going to Scotland and Ireland could never be wrong – but for some reason the Pennsylvania map right now is more enticing. Might be because of its long, sweeping routes, its more obvious set collection strategy, the fascinating game mechanics of shares, or something else.
Many possibilities to play? So it should be, were only everybody in our group healthy and sound. (But hopefully they will be, soon…)
Last week had started well, with memories of two quick and very nice plays of Ticket to Ride at Sofia’s the Sunday before. (They are as ususal discussed in the Games Played section.)
It also continued nice, when on Saturday Anna and Simon invited us for another gaming night, so at eight o’clock I took my grey bicycle to join them. The bike had been repaired on Friday, ran like never before, but when I took another route than ususal and was lost among unknown streets it was Orion and Polaris that showed me the right way (which was the first time ever the stars led me – a wonderful experience in itself!).
I had brought four games, Sofia another three or four, so we were well equipped for the evening. As the oldest children were still awake, we decided on their favourite: Takenoko, where they joined the same adult player as in the woods two weeks ago.
It’s not much to say about this play, but we found an ambigious rule decision. When the weather dice was thrown and resulted in sunny weather (= 3 different actions of the available 5 can be done rather than the usual 2), we were not sure on whether the player had to decide on the three actions at the same time, or if the extra action could be taken first, before the two small tokens were placed on the other two actions.
Anyway I threw sunny weather all the time, but not one single question mark (= choose weather freely) or whatever the weather is called where I can get one of the improvement tokens. That made one or two of my goals more or less impossible to reach, but I still felt content, as a failed goal doesn’t give any negative points.
It took a while to start completing goal cards, but at a certain point of the play, they started ticking. (The pile of red cards actually was exhausted a turn or two before endgame, probably as we all thought those cards were the easiest to complete.)
The rules state that a the final turn starts when a player reaches a certain number of completed goal cards (four 4 players that number is 7). A goal cards is shown as completed at the player’s own turn and some cards really must be shown when they are completed, as the ”board” changes during play and a goal that is completed during one turn might well not be it during the next.
For the panda goal cards, however, the situation is different. If a panda card is completed on one turn, it is by definition on the next. There is also no way for the other players to see your cards and thus a completed panda card can be saved until the last turn when the player can say ”look, here is my 7th completed card, and by the way, here is the 8th (and 9th, etc)”. Actually that was exactly what I did, thus completing 8 goals…
For the third time in a row I got the emperor card, awarding me 2 bonus points. With my 8 goal cards I was sure I had the victory in my hands, but when the points were counted, Anna and I both got 36. Then, how to decide a tie? We looked in the rules… and found that points from panda cards were the decider. Ouch, I thought, I don’t have many panda cards. Actually only the single one I got from the start…
And that was it. Anna and Linnéa could celebrate a common victory. Fun for them – and I didn’t mourn either. ☺
Anna and Linnéa 36 (4+5=9)
Sofia and Aron 25
Sven 36+ (4)
Anna and Simon watched the children go to bed, Sofia wrote text messages, while I felt dizzy and had three glasses of water. Maybe it was this dizziness that made me forget the rules for 7 Wonders and, more important, completely lost my usual competence in describing rules. As the readers of this blog might remember, she had missed our last game due to the youngest’s unwillingness to go to sleep two weeks ago, so now she had to be taught the game.
Simon and Sofia did their best, but neither they nor myself remembered the strategies for the game. The only thing that had really caught, was that the green cards had given me a win in the first game.
So we played. Not as fast as last time and actually not as fun – maybe because we were more tired due to a hard week’s work and on some hands a day in the ski tracks – so I would regard this play as something of another test.
It’s quite fun to compare the results of this game to the last one. Some similarities are to be seen: Simon collected red cards and some blue while Sven went for the green and some blue. Sofia and Anna both ”split their investments”, gaining a couple of points from each colour.
Simon’s analysis was spot on: our strategy of concentrating the forces was advantageous. In the end the deciding factor actually was that Anna and Sofia bought resources from me during the last turn. Going into that I had no money, which forced me to give up both card, thus gaining 3 coins. 3 more coins from my co-players gave me the victory point that proved decisive.
Anna (Halikarnassós): 5 (red) + 4 (coins) + 0 (Wonder) + 5 (blue) + 6 (orange) + 12 (purple) + 4 (green) = 36
Simon (Olympía): 17 (red) + 8 (coins) + 10 (Wonder) + 13 (blue) + 7 (orange) + 0 (purple) + 0 (green) = 55
Sofia (Babylon): 7 (red) + 0 (coins) + 3 (Wonder) + 8 (blue) + 2 (orange) + 5 (purple) + 10 (green) = 35
Sven (Alexandria): -5 (red) + 2 (coins) + 0 (Wonder) + 31 (blue) + 0 (orange) + 0 (purple) + 28 (green) = 56
Ticket to Ride
”I want to play a Ticket to Ride,” Anna said and as Sofia had brought the original version we tried that one. Simon had never played it and probably Anna neither, and they were as I adored by the cute, small cards. We had a little discussion on what tickets were to be used (Sofia had brought the 1910 expansion too), but decided on playing the very original.
Many years ago this map was a gift from me, and soon after that Sofia started playing Ticket to Ride electronically. This made her something of an expert, especially of the American map, and during one period she won every time we played it. That was before I began logging all plays on BGG, so it’s not reflected in the ”played games” section.
I got starting tickets in the east, from Canada to Atlanta and Miami. Before I had even claimed one route (or had I one or two?), I took new tickets. Now I kept all three, as they fit nicely on the western continent, which was still more or less abandoned.
The centre part of the map became crowded, and mid way through the game, I noted there was only one connection left between east and west. Good for me then, that I had no need to join my two growing networks.
I decided on building my western network towards Phoenix along the coast and there I made a mistake. When Simon claimed San Francisco–Los Angeles, I immediately took the same route. In the next turn he of course continued to Phoenix and I was shut off.
A little drama was then created when I took the little route east from Phoenix to El Paso and Anna claimed Los Angeles–El Paso. Simon seemed desperate and that would be definite a few turns later when it turned out he had long tickets from Los Angeles, thus losing lots of points.
Yes, the end came soon. Sofia played wisely and finished it off with a couple of long routes across the map. 43 of her trains were joined in a long string: from the east to Vancouver and Seattle and back eastwards. Only an important 1 train to Portland and a completely unimportant 1 train played in the last turn, were outside of the pattern.
Simon had taken tickets twice, I had done it once, Anna once or twice. Sofia had not taken any new tickets but this day that was enough. The tickets were also big and well matched and that led to a clear victory. I failed one ticket and 11 points but Simon’s fate was worse, failing two tickets worth in all 38 points and ending one lap behind Sofia…
Sofia (yellow): 83 (routes) + 50 (3 tickets of 3) + 10 (bonus) = 143
Sven (red): 63 (routes) + 23 (4 tickets of 5) = 86
Anna (blue): 58 (routes) + 20 (4 tickets of 6) = 78
Simon (black): 46 (routes) - 3 (6 tickets of 8) = 43
It was a little after midnight and we decided that was enough, so I mounted my Crescent Grey, Sofia her Honda Blue and we both went home. Next day we all praised the decision not to stay for a round of Gang of Four, as Anna woke up ill and had needed every minute of sleep. Poor her! we thought.
But that would soon be forgotten, as then came a terrible, fearful, horrifying Monday…
Anna sent me a text message: ”We’re going to our countryside paradise for the weekend. We would appreciate if Sofia and you joined us. Playing games and being in the nature. The house lies nice and high with forests, pastures etc.”
Neither Sofia nor I had any other plans so we arrived there at half past eight on New Year’s Day. 46 hours later we had played lots and lots of games… For me it became eight plays of seven different games. While I took a walk in the forest, photographing a historical tri-point and enjoying the snow 300 metres above sea level (extremely high for being southern Sweden), the companions played some other games, many of which included the children too. The same happened when I studied rules for 7 Wonders, so it really was a crazy gaming weekend for all eight of us.
First play – Ticket to Ride: Pennsylvania (Jan 1)
It was time for a premier of the other side of the last Map expansion (in December we played the United Kingdom side, a play which I like always wrote about in the Played games section).
The play was fairly undramatic, with only a few clashes between players competing for identical or similar routes. The standings for routes thus became rather close.
Standings for routes:
Sofia (yellow): 75
Anna (blue): 68
Simon (black): 72
Sven (red): 70
As is very common in our TtR plays, I was the one who triggered the end, giving some sighs from my co-players. I had also noticed that I had used 45 cards for my 45 train carriages, with neither trains nor cards to spare. Ideal it was…
Then it was time to reveal our tickets. We have an unwritten rule, that the player who triggers the end also starts revealing his/her tickets (then proceeding clockwise). Now, though, Simon immediately started with his, breaking the principle for no obvious reason. I didn’t complain, however, as it’s nice to overtake the others from a position far behind. But…
…Simons tickets never ended. It was one ticket of 20 points or so, followed by another, and another, and… Simon had in all 14 tickets, of which only two tiny ones were failed. Some sort of perfect route from the center-left across the board through Harrisburg and then up along the right side, had given him completed tickets for free when he took new ones during the game. We had all done that, but nobody was even close to that successful. 131 points for tickets only and including the 15 points bonus for most completed tickets Simon now reached above 200 points – wow!
Standings for routes, tickets and bonus:
Sofia (yellow): 75 + 36 (5 of 7) = 111
Anna (blue): 68 + 54 (8 of 10) = 122
Simon (black): 72 + 131 (12 of 14) + 15 = 218
Sven (red): 70 + 88 (8 of 8) = 158
Points for shares remained, but everybody now knew who would win and those points were only added for academic reason, and to find out what the total sum of points would be. Interesting it might be that we all got 54-64 points for shares, which is fairly even. Just a coincidence or will it be a fact during further plays too?
Simon’s 276 points was by far a TtR record for our group. Two of us were lapped and for me it was hard to be satisfied with a second place, being 54 points from victory…
Sofia (yellow): 75 (routes) + 36 (5 of 7 tickets) + 57 (shares) = 168
Anna (blue): 68 (routes) + 54 (8 of 10 tickets) + 54 (shares) = 176
Simon (black): 72 (routes) + 131 (12 of 14 tickets) + 15 (bonus) + 58 (shares) = 276
Sven (red): 70 (routes) + 88 (8 of 8 tickets) + 64 (shares) = 222
Second play – Dominion (Jan 1)
We decided on trying one of the proposed sets of Kingdom cards. We drew lots and the decision thus fell on ”Size distortion” (why such a name?).
It wasn’t the funniest play we’ve had, so we were rather content when Simon finished the game by buying the last Cellar card (Village and Duchy had been emptied some turns before).
One reason for not liking the play very much, was that we never managed to accumulate many silvers and golds. The money was small, and the Thief cards made us lose the few silver cards to our competitors. Luck is always present in most games, but here it was more important than otherwise. We also missed cards like Mine and Remodel, while Gardens was a fresh and interesting newcomer to us.
That was the first day of the year and of the weekend and we all went to bed…
Third play – Batavia (Jan 2)
Anna’s and Simon’s children had watched the game pile and at least the three oldest (age 10, 8 and 4) had some wishes for games to be played. For some reason the 10 year old wanted to try Batavia, and on the second day we saw her joining her mum for an unbeatable team. The children’s father cooked and watched the two youngest and off we went on three hands.
This was the first time when we didn’t follow the proposed order for the hexagons but rather placed them according the official ruling – making piles of 5 where each pile had the five different countries represented.
Games are strange. We are all intelligent people, we all play games and by now we all have the same knowledge of the games’ rules and tactics. Still there are games where some exel, while others have huge troubles. For me Batavia is one of the latter…
I got my cards, moved my pawn, placed my ”treasure chests” – and was outnumbered for most of the traded goods. Sofia (joined by young Aron) on the other hand got the correct countries to trade for points and didn’t waste more than one of the investments on a goods she didn’t get points for.
Maybe I should start boycotting Batavia, as Sofia has done with chess, Stratego and K2, where she after some losses said ”never again!”.
Sofia and Aron (yellow): 68
Anna and Linnea (purple): 51
Sven (red): 43
Fourth play – Takenoko (Jan 2)
Time for another brand new game! But which one would it be?
Sofia and I had given each other a game for Christmas: she gave me 7 Wonders (which she had fallen in love with some years ago and since then asked me to buy for her) and I gave her Takenoko (which seemed nice to me).
We had both brought our new games with us and planned to study the rules. Thus I tried to study 7 Wonders, but the soon-to-be 2 year old preferred having me playing other games, like dressing a doll and throwing glistening balls, thus upholding me from advanced card games…
Sofia had better luck and introduced us to Takenoko. Simon, being a professional cook, was still busy with making food for 8 people, so again we were only three parts.
I had anticipated Takenoko to be a nice little game and wasn’t disappointed. The cute, pink inlay was a gem in its own right and the little panda and gardener mini-figures also had us all astonished by the game’s sheer looks.
During the early phases we built a lot of hexes but later on new goal cards became more interesting, as well as moving the panda and gardener. After a while goals started to be reached for us, one after the other, and finally I finished my eighth and ninth in one turn, thus ending the game.
I’m not sure why I won with such a big margin, but after the huge losses in two of the earlier three games, having only won a game that was pretty dull, it was a nice surprise to win this!
Sven: 38 +
Anna and Linnea: 22
Fifth play – 7 Wonders (Jan 2)
I took a walk in the snow and then settled in my bedroom, reading the rules for 7 Wonders. After a while the bunch sent the 4 year old up to me, finding out if I might have fallen asleep – they hadn’t seen me for an hour or so…
They had played Stax and maybe some children’s games, but now I was ready to introduce 7 Wonders. It felt complicated but turned out to be much easier than that.
Having the day before wondered how on Earth the manufacturer of Dominion can claim it takes 30 minutes to play a game that for us takes closer to an hour and a half, we were afraid this game’s 30 minutes would also be much more. It wasn’t, however, and the first play took us 40-45 minutes or so.
Usually when we meet for a gaming evening, we play when the children have gone to bed. The younger ones sleep well, while the older might refuse to follow their parents’ bedtime recommendations… This time, however, it was the youngest who didn’t want to sleep, and unfortunately this led to her mother having to sit over this play, although she could follow part of it, thus being prepared for playing it on a later occasion.
We chose different strategies, mostly based on the resources we happened to collect during the first age.
Sven (Gizah) felt unlucky with the choices of resources, as papyrus and textiles wasn’t suitable for winning military conflicts, collecting money or building orange and purple cards. They did fit for the green science cards though, where many were built for free as part of chains, and with use of money two levels of the Wonder were also built.
Sofia (Olympía) got a few high-scoring blue and purple cards, was fairly average on most colours but collected many coins from the orange marketplace and both trading posts. Two levels of the Wonder were also completed.
Simon (Alexandria) got many conflict points, medium amounts of blue, orange and purple cards, but didn’t build on his Wonder.
Anna (Éphesos) didn’t play.
During the third age it became obvious for me that I had no competitors for the green cards. I could cash in one after another, and as I had gotten buildings like School and Library earlier, I could take the new ones for free. Simon collected more red conflict cards and I felt as the worst military strategist ever.
At endgame, we tallied our points and Sofia said two or three times that it was unfair that the science symbols of the green cards could be counted twice. It’s understandable, because as I had 9 green cards, with symbols relation 2/3/4, points rushed into my account and in a pretty close race, I won narrowly.
Sven (Gizah): -4 (red) + 1 (coins) + 8 (Wonder) + 3 (blue) + 0 (orange) + 0 (purple) + 43 (green) = 51
Sofia (Olympía): 7 (red) + 6 (coins) + 3 (Wonder) + 18 (blue) + 2 (orange) + 13 (purple) + 0 (green) = 49
Simon (Alexandria): 13 (red) + 2 (coins) + 0 (Wonder) + 13 (blue) + 8 (orange) + 9 (purple) + 0 (green) = 45
This was fun; I hope we can play it again soon.
Sixth play – Takenoko (Jan 2)
When young Hilma finally was asleep, we could play another game. Having been busy with other affairs before, Simon was keen on trying Takenoko. That was fine with us, so we brought this light (in multiple meanings) game forward again.
Again it was me who finished the game. The other players sat with unfinished goal cards, but unlike Ticket to Ride (which has its similiarities to Takenoko), failed missions don’t give any negative points, and Anna’s completed cards turned out to be worth more than my. Thus Anna’s first win during this weekend.
Sven 29 +
Seventh play – Mystery of the Abbey (Jan 3)
Sunday was the day when we were all leaving the ”paradise” in the woods. The house was cleaned, a hot dog barbecue was held under the clear sky at the 3 o’clock sunset, accompanied by sleds, snow angels, and minus ten degrees. And two more plays were squeezed in.
(Anna and Linnea had played a two player Takenoko, while Sofia and Aron had experienced Stax; but as I wasn’t part of any of those games they don’t qualify for this blog.)
I have always liked Mystery of the Abbey, but not everybody else do, so it was nice to hear one or two of my companions now asking specifically for it. One of the older kids joined her mother, and another miss Sofia, but I’m not sure that it was an advantage for them, having to hush the children not to reveal any secrets…
The play was rather fast, and included some interesting situations, as when Sofia got to see my hand through a Bibliotheca card, and Anna later got a similar advantage relative to Simon (who via a Scriptorium card volunteered for this fate: a strange but interesting strategy).
During the fourth mass card I was on my way to the Capitulum to claim the culprit was a Benedictine, but then Sofia went straight into my cell and I had to catch her red-handed, only to find she had a Scriptorium card to save her…
Going into the sixth card, I had only two suspects left on my sheet: Benedictine brother Berengar and Templar novice Thomas. The other 22 monks I had crossed out not on chance but being pretty sure I was right. Nobody had made any revelations but now I decided to risk it all, by entering the Capitulum on a 50/50 mission.
Maybe it was rather a 60/40 mission, because I had written more notes on Brother Berengar, discussing the odds for Sofia having it and knew it was a 2/3 chance Simon had it. Novice Thomas though, I knew nothing about. Anna hadn’t seen him, but I knew nothing more of that card’s fate. So, boldly I made an accusation against novice Thomas…
The others looked through their hands, nobody finding the card. Neither did I during an extra check, so we brought the hidden card into the daylight, and yes, I was correct.
Anna and Linnea (blue): 0
Sven (red): 4
Simon (green): 0
Sofia and Aron (yellow): 0
Eighth play – Gang of four (Jan 3)
Once upon a time it happened, I’ve been told, that one of Anna’s and Simon’s children one morning asked ”Were Sofia and Sven here yesterday? ’Cause you seemed to be in such a good mood.” Now Anna told the children that the game we usually play when they laugh the most, is Gang of Four.
We had played it six times before, with two wins for me, one each for Anna, Sofia, and Simon, while one game was tied between me and Simon. Still Sofia said after the fourth hand ”Sven, you have neer lost this game, have you?”. The Swedish saying ”Memory is selective” was obviously true.
The fourth hand was disastrous for me. Going into it, we all had 11 points or less, and my hand was a nice one, including a wonderful straight flush that I could have played early but decided to save. Then, suddenly, Anna, having 9 cards left, played a Gang of four, followed by a 5 card combination. I had 14 cards left… Ouch!
The game lasted 10 hands and although I won the last 4, that was of no use as I had already accumulated 75 points. (Anna won three hands, Simon two, Sofia one) The very last hand made me a little proud though, as it saw Simon being stuck with 15 cards, Anna with 10, and Sofia with 7. It pushed both Simon and Sofia above 100 points and gave me the second place, but 75 points was not good enough when Anna stayed on 39.
Anna -- Sven -- Simon -- Sofia
0 ------- 1 ------- 7 ------- 6
2 ------- 6 ------- 7 ------- 8
6 ------- 11 ----- 7 ------- 11
6 ------- 67 ----- 27 ----- 31
6 ------- 73 ----- 43 ----- 35
8 ------- 75 ----- 47 ----- 35
9 ------- 75 ----- 63 ----- 37
15 ----- 75 ----- 65 ----- 55
19 ----- 75 ----- 81 ----- 94
39 ----- 75 ----- 141 --- 101
By that time, the clock had reached a time where the children were tired and their mood chaotic. So, we decided to call it a day, have dinner, clean the kitchen and carry our bags out. The crazy gaming days had come to an end and I could go home to sum them up. Writing a blog post was a good thing to do. Combining it with watching the recordings of the past days’ Tour de Ski races was an even better…
Only two weeks after the last gaming night, the quartet joined again. I surprised everybody with a new Ticket to Ride map, designed during the last year and with the necessary ticket card sleeves bought in Gothenburg the same day.
The map showed the island of Gotland and was specifically designed for a shorter game with fewer train carriages. Each player started with only 20 each and playing time turned out to be short. Standard rules applied except for the locomotive spaces on ferry routes, where any three standard train cards could be used in stead of the locomotive, the reason being the high number of ferry routes on the map (thus not enough locomotives in the deck).
Three tickets were given to each player and most were kept (only Anna left one) when play begun. The routes in the Slite area soon became congested, causing the biggest troubles for Simon who sighed and grumbled more than once. Sofia also struggled in the cluttered north-central part, finally being unable to couple her main network to the southern destination of Havdhem, thus losing a 9 point ticket (and such a ticket is a large one on this map, where no tickets are worth more than 10).
My plans had to be altered when Sofia claimed Roma-Slite (a route which will probably be a vital one in many games on this map), but a detour along the east coast's long routes turned out to give many additional points and was also rather untouched byt the other players.
In the mean time Anna claimed routes from Sundre in the far south through the inland to Visby. Late in the game she also grabbed a third ticket and extended the route in the northwest to Kappelshamn. This gave her a continuous route of 18 waggons, by far the longest, giving her the 8 point bonus.
Game ended as I used my last five cards (three red and two black) to claim the southern route to Balticum. Tickets were then tallied. Anna and I had completed our 3 (sharing the second 8 points bonus), while Sofia had 2 and Simon 1.
Sven: Sverige-Hemse (8), Roma-Ronehamn (5), Sverige-Slite (5)
Simon: Bläse-Fårösund (5), Katthammarsvik-Hemse ? (-6), Fårösund-Klintehamn (-9)
Anna: Visby-Burgsvik (8), Visby-Kappelshamn (9), Visby-Havdhem (7)
Sofia: Visby-Slite (3), Roma-Baltikum (6), Slite-Havdhem (-9)
Sven (red) 13 (of 20 built)
Simon (black) 11 (of 14 built)
Anna (blue) 18 (all 18 built)
Sofia (yellow) 12 (of 16 built)
Sven (red) 30+18+8 = 56 (3 tickets of 3)
Simon (black) 17-10 = 7 (1 ticket of 3)
Anna (blue) 29+8+8+25 = 70 (3 tickets of 3)
Sofia (yellow) 21+0 = 21 (2 tickets of 3)
(Note that there is a missing point for Anna. Her three tickets were only worth 24 points, but she got 25. This doesn't alter the classification though.)
To cheer up Sofia, I had brought the Ticket to Ride Asia expansion. (Well, honestly I don't mind playing the Legendary Asia version, but I have never been content with the Team Asia...) After a little discussion about what to play after the Gotland TtR we decided on Team Asia, however. "Sven may decide what to play afterwards," it was stated.
As Sofia and Anna sat on one side of the table and Simon and I on the other, we also decided to play in those teams. Those were the same teams as on the two previous occasions, both having been won by Anna and Sofia, but now, I thought, it was time for a change.
Both teams started with about 8 tickets and off the game went. While Anna and Sofia claimed a lot of short routes in the south, Simon and I got mainly to the north. I completed two short tickets in India but the longer ones were in the deserts and along the east coast.
Longer routes means fewer turns, so when the game got close to the end, it was obvious that Sven and Simon could finish the game prematurely. That is, too early for Anna and Sofia, I thought. So, playing the last three available cards and having the own team sitting with only two train cars left, while Anna and Sofia had 19 left, felt nice.
Standings for routes only:
Sven and Simon (red): 78 points (52 waggons)
Anna and Sofia (yellow): 44 points (35 waggons)
Then the tickets were summarized. Simon had taken a ninth ticket in the last turn, unfortunately an unbuilt 7 pointer. Anna had taken new tickets twice, having her team ending with eleven tickets, but, opposite to my assumptions, all those eleven tickets were already done and made in spite of having used less than two thirds of all available waggons! This turned the standings upside down, in a previously unseen fashion. With their eleven tickets Anna and Sofia climbed a lap around the scoring table, passing Simon and me with a large margin. The only consolation was that there were no obvious mistakes done, the only reason for a loss being misfortune in the ticket draw.
Sven and Simon (red): 78+64-7 = 135 points
Anna and Sofia (yellow): 44+98+10+10 = 162 points
There was another consolation for the losing side. After having complained of always losing every game – a statement not true, at least seen in the long run – Sofia was entertained. And that was, as previously mentioned, part of the reason the game was played.
The third game (and, as it would prove, the last one) for this session was to be chosen by me and although it was a hard fought battle against "Sveriges städer", the decision fell on trying Dominion for the second time.
To select the 10 Kingdom cards, a random draw was made. Drawn were Moat, Militia, Smithy, Witch, Laboratory, Spy, Library, Bureaucrat, Remodel, and Chapel. However, as few of these gave a possibility for more than one action per turn, Chapel was put back in the box in favour of Market.
Play was rather uncomplicated and not very dramatic. Only one or two Witches was bought and only once was it used (by Anna, late in the game). Adding to the Witch's lack of influence in this game, both Sofia and Simon could counter-attack with a Moat, leading to one single minus point being awarded during the whole game.
As last time, the Market was a popular card. So were Smithy, Moat and Militia. When the Silver and Gold cards started to pile up in the decks, it became more or less a rule that anybody having the possibility to buy a 6 point Province, did so. I suppose that is not only a rule of thumb, but a symptom of clever play, but maybe it would also be an intelligent choice to now and then try a 3 point Duchy too. Let's see the next time...
Game ended when the last Province was taken. Points were counted and at least I anticipated a close race against Anna. This, however, was completely wrong and actually all four players finished at four points intervals.
I could count home another victory in this game, albeit the first one for this night, when Anna became the queen with two victories and one third place.
Last week a coworker invited me for a game night. She knew I liked the Ticket to Ride series and thought I would appreciate being the sixth player in a session of Dominant Species.
Great, I thought, this will be nice! So it was me and my colleague, her husband, her friend and the friend’s husband and brother: the six of us who met and had the typical Swedish tacos, followed by gaming.
It was almost 7 o’clock when dinner had been eaten, game prepared and rules gone through. Having read that the game would take 2-4 hours, I had booked a laundry session the same night, ending at 2 o’clock, anticipating to having time for at least an hour and a half of necessary work.
The first turn went all right, taking less than half an hour. Of the six players, two were new to the game, two had once played half the game, while two had played it thrice. That is, no experts but everyone was used to playing games so a probable playing time would be in the upper part of the 2-4 hours interval, I supposed. However, this turned out to be a kind of gaming I had never met before…
Being new to a game, means that the knowledge of your best possible moves is very thin. You don’t expect to find the perfect play and must take chances. All right, sometimes you find an uncertainty when it comes to the rules and must ask your opponents before you take your turn. It inevitably also becomes so, that you at some point or another see a certain situation and say something like ”Am I correct, that if I place this pawn here, this must mean that … ”.
This night’s players though, they talked all the time, over and over. The longer the game continued, the stronger the urge became to discuss, talk, threat and beg. People tried to convince each other that player A had to be taken care of as s/he was in an advantageous position, or discussed why player B had placed an action pawn on a certain spot. Then player C after her turn tried to explain the reason for a move and the outcomes that some time before had been possible or probable, as well as its wanted outcomes and why they failed…
Over and over and over again. I think some of the last turns must have taken more than an hour each.
I also found that some of the language didn’t fit to my way of playing or, actually, socializing. When there were, within the two couples, repeated complaints stating ”you will sleep on the couch” and ”you are not the father of my child”, I was quite bored. And when cunts and poop and similar vocabulary were used around the table, I felt uncomfortable. This wasn’t the kind of language I usually meet, when I spend time with my regular friends playing games or having tea at the town’s Cultural House.
Play ended at 2.22, when it had continued for close to seven and a half hours. The following minutes was a continuous effort trying not to slate the playing and language style too much, but rather praising the tacos, thank for tea and cake, and stating it had been an evening with an interesting game.
Then I finally went home, postponed any thoughts of doing the laundry, and put myself to bed at 3 o’clock.
Having left Chalmers Uiversity of Technology on a Saturday 9 days ago, enjoying the feeling of having managed an exam in thermodynamics (the fourth and hopefully last of the physics course I took last year), I took the tram to my friendly regional gamestore. Buying myself a game, I thought, were to be a just right reward.
For many years I’ve had my eyes on the Dominion deck-building game. Six years ago I played it and found it really entertaining. That, of course, was only a little taste of the game, but I got to the conclusion that my more regular playing partners probably would be more into the classic interpretation of the concept ”board game”. Hence I haven’t bought myself any Dominion. Now, however, I have found that my gaming friends actually can be amused by more unusual games. Moreover, they accept games where the English language play at least some role. So, I felt that I had nothing to lose; would it turn out that I have nobody to play Dominion with right now, I can lean back and look at it at its shelf, where it awaits future adventures.
Sofia and I had been invited to a ”game night” at some friends’ house and as it would be my first visit there, I thought of bringing some gift. What would then be better than a game? Especially as I in my FRGS the Love Letter gem was standing on the shelf and a closer look revelaed to me that the main character Princess Annette shared names with the evening’s hostess. SEK 85 was also a great price and I could head home.
After a shrimp soup which was edible (and that’s good grades coming from a soup-sceptic like me), we sat down with wonderful chocolate, tea and Love Letter. Rules were pretty easy and straightforward and the four of us soon started chasing the tiny, red tokens, four of which would give victory.
Sofia jump started to 2 tokens, Anders also got 2, Anette won her 1st while I, playing as tactic as is possible in a light game, was the only player without. That pattern continued and soon Sofia had gotten her 3rd and 4th. That was of course nice for her but I had also liked the Love Letter experience, and then a loss doesn’t matter at all, actually.
I had brought a couple of other games, as the TtR expansion Southeast Sweden (which the four of us had played once before), Gang of Four, and Sveriges städer, but as the other wanted to play a real board game the decision fell on Mystery of the Abbey.
It turned out to be a strange Abbey experience. We went through the different rooms, asked questions, found out and drew conclusions. There were a couple of revelations, and when I had decided on an accusation I headed for the capitulum, was beaten by somebody else who accused the same monk – and immediately the accusation was turned down by the abbott as the suspect card was shown by another player.
Some turns later we found out that everybody had crossed out all monks but the cuplrit’s card was still put under the game board (we actually checked to be sure). We made a consensual decision to end the game and when Brother Fortune thus was revealed as the culprit, it became obvious that somebody had at some point given a false clue, leading us all to finish at negative points, which is somewhat unique. We could maybe have decided to call it a shared win between those two who only had –2 points but it was never formally stated and I think that was a fair ending, as nobody could have felt herself to be a true winner.
Winners we all were, in a way, as we had played two nice games. Sofia and I left the hostes, went home – and I crashed in my bed for the first time in years without reading before fallen asleep…
When another of my interests in the civil society often only makes me sad and leads to hard words and misunderstandings, it's nice to enter BoardGameGeek and find a different climate. Here people are nice and nothing here reminds me of this evening's discussions in said other field...
Quite the opposite actually, as the friends I play games with have the same view on the issue. No depressing discussions arise during a session of Ticket to Ride or other nice games!
I went to Göteborg the other day and bought sleeves for my Ticket to Ride train cards. Does this make me some sort serious gamer now...?