Monday, 20 April 2009

Ben kicks ass at ticket to ride AGAIN

We played ticket to ride, original US version and Ben beat both Tom and myself twice. The first game saw Ben use his knowledge and experience to great effect winning well. However the second game become a lot more contentious as the tickets seen and other small issues had a much greater impact on the game. Tom was edged out of around New York and as a result lost 17 or 18 points instead of getting them a swing of close to 40 points which would have seen him win. In addition he made me double back and lose out on longest trail by one train, which would have won me the game. Ben took tickets in his last go and got a 19 point route he had already completed and I took tickets 5 times and only saw one ticket with a score greater than 9 points. Victory however was still Bens despite a lot of soar grapes. It was a fun game but was supplemented by the distraction of the all English champions league football.

Matt, James, Rich and Pete played traders of Genoa which Mr Bond won. As I left they where beginning to play race for the galaxy, result unknown….ish.

“thems are fighting words”

Puerto Rico Crazy

The evening started as all do with a few japes and jabs and look at what games had been brought. Pete had brought down the ever ‘popular’ race for the galaxy, Le havre and Puerto rico. We where surveying the possible turnout amidst phone updates from stragglers whilst debating the various pros and cons of said games and Jimmy reclusly pipe in with “I’m undefeated at Puerto Rico in this group”……The gauntlet had not only been thrown down but gathered back up and slapped around the face of all present. We said RIGHT THEN Puerto Rico it is. Pete and Rich where eager knowing the game and fancy there chance to take Jimmys ‘crown’ Matt (a superb Puerto player) was hesitant having most experience playing it two player. If anything I was expecting to be last as playing games others know well is an opportunity to lose that I would rather avoid. We joked about the possibility of playing Puerto on two tables simultaneously and Matt eagerly looked in his bag…….NO, that and Kogge where the only two games he had not bought down this week. His bagged bulged with disappointment. We sat expectant for the late arrivals and when Adam (Dans brother) appeared with ‘Race for the Galaxy’ in his hands we feared the worst but wait….Dan had brought Puerto Rico so the corn frenzy could begin.

We drew lots using playing cards (black or red), dividing two tables into equal five player groups. Then drew lots again for seating positions. I was on the south table with Luke minor, James, Matt and Pete whilst Adam, Tarn, Dan, Jimmy and Rich played North. We hoped to play two games and have the best two scores from each table + one wild entry play against each other whilst the other five formed a losers table of no hope and despair. And so it was with Jimmy winning North on a coffee strategy his undefeated crown still firm, Rich came second and Adam 3rd. On south we had two newbie and despite Pete’s pleads they frequently chose what they wanted. A shipping strategy works best when it is a symbiotic relationship. If two players together take it in turns to produce and ship both will benefit. If only one player tries this they are doomed to failure. Having a shipping strategy is difficult therefore as its level of success is dependant on others, unlike some other strategies. But that is the beauty of Puerto Rico, different paths to victory and choices have ripples. James and Luke both focused more on maximising good production and shipping those goods and as a result both got good victory points this way.

The south tables winners of Luke and Matt joined Jimmy and Rich and after much procrastination so did Pete. Lots where drawn and the seating order was exactly the same as our last game!!! With Matt playing first followed by Pete and Me playing last (to the right of Mr Bond) I streamlined my approach and became more shipping focused and started as early as possible. Had the game gone on two more rounds Rich would no doubt have won, Jimmy was also close but his engine was slightly inferior to Riches. Luke won the game and Matt was way of the pace having been squeezed out. Much of Puerto is about timing. Seating position is key but you cant dictate the strategies of your neighbours either. If the player to your left constantly chooses build you are last to select buildings, If the player to your right constantly chooses it you are always second. This can have a big impact. Its expected that over time these things even out, I think in today’s case they really didn’t for Matt as he frequently found himself disadvantaged.

So in the end I was the king of Puerto and I believe Dan was my bitch, although we didn’t play together. Jimmy was finally defeated like a glorious dragon slaine by the sword of justice and might all power to the workers (not slaves).

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

April fools not present

With no Jack, Luke or Hal it must mean that Easter is upon us and the 'pressure' of the UEA is getting to much for our virgin friends. But not to fear as we managed to enjoy ourselves "out of spite".

Last Tuesday Jimmy, Luke, Punk Rich and Pete played 'A castle for all seasons'. A four play simultaneous action/card selection euro. We started with the basic game which Luke won and then after much deliberation played again with the 'winter rules' involving random interaction cards which Jimmy won. The game was popular with Jimmy and Pete seamed to like it. Rich was unconvinced and Luke was disgusted having lost. The game should play quiet quickly (although we tried to string it out) and for the most part it flowed well. Players each have an identical set of cards which they simulaneously choose from. then each reveal at the same time. Some cards interact with each other and some benefit from other players doing certain things with there turn. The interaction can therefore be high and players who act in isolation will find themselves the victim of clever card selection by there oponants. I actually feel the game has a lot of depth that I would prefer to develop further. But then I would say that wouldnt I.

Mark, Matt and Ben played Yspahan twice. Mark won the first game and Matt the second. Yspahan is an Ystari game and plays in about 40 to 60 minutes. Players role a large set of dice and assign what they role to privileges. Then each player clockwise gets to have an action equal to the number of dice assigned to that action. Once an action is chosen the dice are removed and subsequent players have less choices. The game can be subject to freaky luck conditions but is a fun euro.