Halesowen Boardgamers August 2010
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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http://www.halesowenboardgamers.blogspot.com/ We meet every Wednesday evening at 19:30 in Halesowen. If you fancy joining us please contact either DaveD or myself.

This is a geeklist of the games we played in August 2010.
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1. Board Game: Chicago Express [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:461]
Board Game: Chicago Express
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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04 August 2010

This is a game that divides people at the club. There are those who can’t stand it, and there are those who think the game is a work of genius.

I think the reason it divides people is that the game’s strategies are incredibly subtle. How you win at Chicago Express is not well signposted and nor is the game very forgiving. It’s a game that rewards experience and cunning, is full of genuine player interaction, whit alliances forming and breaking throughout the game.

This game was actually a little close than the final scores suggest. Dave F was new to the game, and it was Andy S’ 2nd game, and both of them were caught out by the game ending conditions – overbidding on shares too close to the end.

Mike managed to make it work with only 2 shares to his name, concentrating on 1 company = whereas I had 1 of every share and spent most of the game messing with the auction mechanism in an attempt to get others to do my evil bidding. It nearly worked – I had a higher income than Mike so I probably should have tried & strung the game out another round and just pipped him, however hindsight is a wonderful thing.

1. Mike 66
2. Andy E 63
3. Dave F 52
4. Andy S 35

We’ve not played with the two expansions yet at the club. Can’t wait to see how they affect the game.
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2. Board Game: Medina [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:1040]
Board Game: Medina
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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04 August 2010

We played an older game that AFAIK has not been played at the club before.

Each player has 4 domes in his own colour, and numerous pieces (palaces, stables, walls, and meeples) in common colours. Each turn a player adds two pieces to the board, which creates palaces, which can be then claimed by placing one of your domes on top. You can only claim 1 palace in each of the four colours, so the trick is in judging when to claim a palace and when to pass up the opportunity in the hope of something better.

At the start everything is open, which leads to a lot of treading water. This is soon followed by a rather tense period of claiming palaces - then as pieces run out, later turns are spent trying to screw with everyone else’s palaces.

The scores at the end came as a bit of a surprise. There seemed to be a consensus towards the end that I had won due to a couple of decent but conspicuous* moves - however it appeared we misunderestimated (sic) Andy S and his modestly sized but high scoring palace in the corner.

1. Andy S 35
2. Andy E 33
= Mike 33
4. Dave F 29

I enjoyed playing this, it’s a fun game which creates a nice level of tension, without overstaying it’s welcome. Definitely glad I picked this up 2nd hand.

*I must stop playing in a bright colour (yellow) - I’m bagsying Grey from now on.
 
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3. Board Game: Twilight Imperium: Second Edition [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:3476]
Board Game: Twilight Imperium: Second Edition
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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04 August 2010

When Dave C said he was playing Twilight Imperium I thought he had no chance, remembering an 8 hour game of TI3 I had once played.

But this was TI2, not TI3, which meant a sub 3 hour game with 2 players was perfectly feasible.

DaveC managed to beat Ben in the end by reaching Imperium Rex.
 
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4. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:305]
Board Game: Saint Petersburg
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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04 August 2010

I played this at the club a couple of weeks ago http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/56482/item/1349489#item134.... Not a favourite of mine, but the speed at which it plays, pardons many of the game’s sins. For those that are interested, there’s a good implementation of this on yucata.de

This played a fair bit closer than my last game:

Steve Pe 88
Dave D 73
Colin 63
Donald 42
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5. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:60]
Board Game: Race for the Galaxy
Second in a one horse race
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Bloxham
Oxon
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We also played Race with all the expansions.

The players were the same as for Saint Petersburg.

I started off with Galactic Developers, which is a favourite of mine. Yay! Galactic Developers! Always a good start. DaveD began with Ancient Race and its associated Rare GENE windfall (dickhead). Steve Pe had Imperium Warlords, whilst Colin played, I think, his first game with Rebel Freedom Fighters, which is not a card I’ve seen played in the few games of BoW I’ve played.

In the first round, Dave did the obvious Consume-Trade to gain cards; Steve Pe and Colin went for Explore +1,+1; and I went for Develop with Interstellar Bank for one card, with another drawn into hand. This gave me +2 on Develop at the end of the first turn.

Second turn, I developed again, as did DaveD. He place Contact Specialist, which I don't think he felt did him any favours. I picked up my cards and played Terraforming Robots, giving me +1 card off Settle to add to my +2 off develop, which I took advantage of as Colin had chosen to Settle.

From this core I laid down my first production world and from then on, it was develop to take the 5 VP 4+ dev objective, settle to allow Produce/Consume X2, then wrest away Prestige control from Steve before it gained him too many points.

I played my tableau out pretty quickly, which was a good thing as, despite my picking up cards hand over fist, I picked up no 6? devs until the last round, and I had no real power combos, just my card-draw and Prestige advantage. By that time, however, Blaster Gem Consortium actually netted me more points than the 6 dev because of its Prestige bonus, and that's the card that finished the game.

For not having played very much, Colin's Military/Uplift strategy worked well. I've played this over a hundred times ( with BoW only 3 times ) and not once has an Uplift strategy worked for me. I tend to shy away from it now.

Steve always plays quietly, unassumingly and he scares me. I always wonder what he knows that I don't.

I always think of Dave as strong at this kind of game but, in this instance, he was hindered somewhat by his card draw. A win for me, but I had my share of good fortune.

Donald 53
Steve Pe 39
Colin 37
Dave D 33

BTW, the dickhead comment refers to my statement that Alien Race has a Rare good as opposed to a Gene good, not to Dave D's choice of consume/trade.
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6. Board Game: Coast-to-Coast Rails [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:12680]
Board Game: Coast-to-Coast Rails
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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11 August 2010

This game self-published by the designer is in the same family of games as Chicago Express - however there are more than enough differences to make it play like a completely different game.

There are at most 4 rounds. At the beginning of each round 3 shares (if still available) are auctioned in each company. Whoever wins the auction pays their bid and receives 2 shares. The 2nd highest bidder pays half their bid and receives 1 share.

After this phase, it is track building time. Each player can build 1 or 2 tracks for any company, paying cash out of their own pockets. And like Chicago Express, the value of the company goes up when it reaches new cities. If a railway makes a coast to coast route it doubles in value. This continues until everybody passes. Dividends are then paid out to each shareholder equal to the company’s position on the dividend track.

The combination of the auction mechanic and the fact that track building costs come out of your own pocket creates some interesting dynamics. Firstly it means that it is impossible to be the sole shareholder in any company, and secondly it means it’s nice to have more shares in a company than others but you don’t want too many more. Why? Because they won’t be incentivised to spend any of their own money on helping you out a lot more than it helps them.

I went down the route of not being the major shareholder in any particular share (except Brown, which couldn’t do anything), but having a decent amount of shares in most of the others. This allowed me to save cash on the track building phase, allowing others to invest money in making me slightly richer. I made the mistake though of undervaluing shares of railroads that stand a good chance of making a coast to coast route.

John 318
Andy E 271
Colin 258
Dave D 226

I thought that this was a very nice alternative to Chicago Express, more forgiving but with some interesting player dynamics. The one criticism I perhaps would give is that the last round becomes a big academic. It is possible to work out through backwards induction what the value of each share will be with a good degree of accuracy. This can lead to a situation where you’ll spend $41 to get $42 back at the end. But this is very minor compared to a game like Agricola, which gives rise to serious brain-burning on maximising your score on the last turn.
 
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7. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:99]
Board Game: Pandemic
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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11 August 2010

I’m of the opinion that less is more when it comes to co-operative games. Play them for 2-3 hours or every week and I will seriously miss the competition between players. But now and again for 45-60 mins at the end of the evening after a tricksy game - then they can be really enjoyable.

We played with the base game with four epidemic cards, which game out thick and fast. But in other regards we were quite lucky, and we managed to find cures for all diseases.

1. Dave D = Colin = John = Andy E
2. Diseases.
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8. Board Game: Cyclades [Average Rating:7.52 Overall Rank:184]
Board Game: Cyclades
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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11 August 2010

I have only played this the one time, but from what I remember the game is essentially an old-fashioned conquest game where everyone starts on their own island. To improve your lot you’ll want to move to uninhabited islands, pimp up your own islands with new buildings, and beat up your neighbours. What makes this a little different is the Euro-style auction mechanic that is dove-tailed in. You place bids on gods that give you powers such as move, attack or make use of mythical beasts to thwart your opponents. If you’re overbid you have to bid on something else in a similar fashion to Amun-Re.

1. Steve H
2. Dave F = Mike = Andy S

I’m not sure how this game went down, but in the game I played it became apparent on the last turn that I wasn’t going to win. So I amused myself by completely wiping one of my fellow losers off the board. devil Sorry Will. blush
 
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9. Board Game: The Speicherstadt [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:796]
Board Game: The Speicherstadt
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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11 August 2010

One of Stefan Feld’s 09/10 releases. After reading several reviews, it appears that I want to play his other 09/10 release Macao like I want to get a dose of crabs. But the short playing time and interesting central auction mechanic puts this in the category of games that I should try.

1. Andy S 29
2. Dave F 25
3. Steve H 24
4. Mike 16
 
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10. Board Game: World Without End [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:602]
Board Game: World Without End
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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Another outing for this extremely popular title.

Players: Colin, Dave D, Steve H.


1 Steve H 55.5
2 Dave D 50
3 Colin 40
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11. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:99]
Board Game: Pandemic
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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18 August.

Pandemic played, I think, without On the Brink.

Players: Colin, Dave D, Steve H. The players beat the system. Yay!
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12. Board Game: Glen More [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:353]
Board Game: Glen More
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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Dave F brought his copy of Glen More for another outing. Our second play together, but a first for Andy S and Mike.

I started reasonably well, but made a late mistake in moving a clansman to the wrong square meaning I couldn't place wheat to activate my distillery. Also got shafted on 8VPs from placing a tile, then Andy got 16VPs from consumption on the very last turn meaning he took the win. I thought Dave looked to be doing reasonably well, but he finished last.

I'm not sure Mike was all that impressed. He said it was interesting, but made some comparisons to Agricola, and didn't use the word 'fun'.

Andy 47
Donald 44
Mike 41
Dave 36

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13. Board Game: Sherlock Holmes: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.21 Overall Rank:5366]
Board Game: Sherlock Holmes: The Card Game
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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18 August

1 Dave F 47
2 Andrew S 68
3 Donald 112
4 Mike 124
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14. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:305]
Board Game: Saint Petersburg
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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25th August

I really like this game and I'm glad Andy sold me his copy, though I'm not sure I can still get hold of the expansions.

This game was played with expansions, but some cards removed. Dave D may let me know what we left out.

This was Dave F's first game, but you wouldn't know it. I was compromised initially by the draw of craftsmen then the upgrades - I was left with a ton of fur traders and no upgrade for a long time - so my income was low, but otherwise it wasn't too bad, especially in terms of aristocratic favour ... until I royally screwed myself by picking up a New Farmer because the Upgrade deck gave out all craftsmen and I thought we were in the craftsman phase, which left me no money when the cheap craftsmen came out during the very next phase. Still reeling, I then miscalulated in the following phase and left myself one rouble short to play out a library, which then stayed in my hand for a long time. I was never going to win, but I had to laugh at my ineptitude.

Dave D built up a very strong Mayoral combo and had a huge cash income. He also had a large income from craft upgrades, and finished the game with, I think, 11 distinct aristocrats. Dave F caught on very quickly and built up a respectable cashflow as well has some strong VP generation. Both he and I finished with 9 distinct aristocrats apiece. Which was nice.

Dave D 279
Dave F 253
Donald 242
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15. Board Game: Guillotine [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1195]
Board Game: Guillotine
Second in a one horse race
Scotland
Bloxham
Oxon
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25th August

We had planned to play Race for the Galaxy after Saint Petersburg, but as the latter ran to two hours, we didn't feel we had time to guarantee a finish in RftG.

This was my first play of Guillotine, both Daves having some experience of it.

It's a nice little game, very light as suits its duration, and pretty chaotic in play because of the action deck. I rather enjoyed it.



Donald 30
Dave F 27
Dave D 25
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16. Board Game: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:4614]
Board Game: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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25 August 2010

This game was on my Halesowen Boardgamers want to play wishlist. On which I stated that the game could be odd but in an interesting way. I was bang on.

The game rules themselves are relatively simple, despite some misunderstandings, however the strategies themselves are fairly opaque for three new players.

Unlike similarly themed games, GM&O is won by VPs not cash, and it's quite tricky to score VPs and managing your income.

Mike struggled as he spent quite a bit of money on getting some early VPs, which left him a little short later on. Especially as a lot of later shares offer far greater VP returns.

Still the game was quite close. I saw an opportunity for a big points grab that also triggered the end of the game and just pipped Mike:

1. Andy E 36
2. Mike 34
3. Colin 22

Not a game where any of us were left feeling "WOW amazing!", more a feeling of contemplative confusion. But then again I felt similarly after Chicago Express after the first play. Certainly warrants exploring further.
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17. Board Game: China [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:875]
Board Game: China
Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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25 August 2010

I'd not played this before. It's a fairly light and fast area control game. I only managed a limited grasp of the admittedly fairly simple rules, and muddled my way through.

Still I got fairly lucky with the cards and was just pipped by Mike on the final scoring of influence on the last region.

1. Mike 44
2. Andy E 42
3. Colin 32

Next time around I'm concentrating!
 
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Andy Evans
United Kingdom
Solihull
West Midlands
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Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level I - One small step for geek... One giant leap for geek-kind!Microbadge: Glorantha fan: Air runeMicrobadge: Glorantha fan: Motion runeMicrobadge: Glorantha fan: Mastery runeMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level II - If I have seen further, it's only by standing on the apex of other's dice.
Follow link through to September's geeklist.
 
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