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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weekday Gaming - 11 September 2012

First gaming with my regular gaming group after reaching Singapore. This was a weekday gaming arranged because the usual Friday group cannot convene on friday. I brought along Milestones and Urbania but did not manage to get Urbania played. Here are the games we played:

I arrived later than the rest and they have just started to play On the underground so I was lucky I could join in.
So this is a pretty old game which in the beginning may remind people of Ticket to Ride. Gameplay wise, during your turn,, you will flip over some cards (1 or 2 depending on the previous turn). If there is a yellow station, then the Passenger pawn (there will only be 1 on the board) will attempt to go to that station first. The passenger pawn will then go to the nearest white station. If there is no yellow station, then the passenger pawn will skip the first step and just proceed to the nearest white station. However the passenger will only move at the end of your turn, thus during your turn, you have 4 actions where you can do either laying of tracks OR obtaining branch tokens. Thus now you know where the passenger pawn is likely to travel, during your turn you want to lay tracks in such a way that the passenger pawn will use your tracks and thus score you points. There are other ways to score points as well while you lay tracks and by far the most lucrative seems to be connecting to certain stations OR creating a loop using your tracks. For a 4 player game, we each had 2 colors of tracks to lay. The game ends when there are no more new station cards to reveal and the player with the most points will win the game. 
It is a easy to teach and learn game with a lot of tactical moves rather than strategic. Quite fun.

Final scoring was pretty close!
I tried this in GENCON 2012 thanks to Stephen from Stronghold games but have previously ordered it from Germany. As requested, I brought it along and broke it out for a game. It is a Medium weight Euro game with a lot of surprising depth.It is surprisingly easy to teach and get into but there is a certain amount of luck which will ensure replayability. The unique parts of the game I feel are the player's personal rondel as well as the scoring map. Each player will have a player mat where you choose 2 locations during your turn. There will be workers on your player mat and how you place these workers will be important because of 3 things. Firstly, when you collect a resource, if you have not previously passed a worker of the same resource, then you get to collect resource of that worker and all previous workers of the same type which you have not passed. If arranged properly, this will enable you to collect a lot of resources. Secondly, when you arrive at the village location, you will get a coin if your workers are arranged in ascending order. The coin is very useful because 2 coins can be traded in for any good. Finally, at the castle where you have to pay the king tax, you will need to block of 1 of your workers (means he is no longer functioning). Having proper placement will ensure that you cater for this when it comes. The castle location is mandatory so this serves to ensure that you will attempt to buy workers sometimes during your game. At the end of the game, there will be a bonus 5 points for the player with the majority of each worker type. This can be quite a lot and often will determine the winner if its a tight close game.
There can be quite a bit of Analysis paralysis (yours truly had quite a bit) but if you plan ahead you can pretty much make your move quickly. While there is some strategic planning for sure, I feel a lot has to do with tactical planning because if you are very observant of your other player's mats, you can see what they can potentially do and thus position yourself to take advantage. 
The winner had only 2 workers left at the end of the game (and throughout most of the game) and we did not guard him initially when he could supply to the markets and score points and allowed him to pull ahead quickly. Fun game and all players had good things to say about this. Great buy! 

To end off the night, we played MONEY from Reiner Knizia. I had this on my iphone/ipad for sometime but did not really read the rules and was losing more often than not. After 2 games of this now I know how to play it well. It has a silent auction aspect in the beginning and then each player, depending on descending order of the value of the money bid, will get to select a lot from the table. The lot can be from the 2 (that is refilled from the draw stack) or any player's bid (including his/her own). Each round, all players will bid and collect a lot. The game ends when there is no more cards left to refill the center lots. Players then count the sets they have collected. If they have 3 of a kind (usually the $20 and $30 notes), then they add $100 to that currency. If a currency reaches a total of $200, then you add the full value of that currency to your final tally. Otherwise, you deduct $100 from that currency (minimum 0) and add that to your tally. The player with the best score wins the game. There is no exchange rate for the game btw so all currencies are equal :)
I lost horribly in the first game but won by a lot in the 2nd game. Interesting filler game and easy to play. Scoring wise seems a little convoluted but after a few rounds should be easy to pick up.

A great end to a good weekday session of gaming. We may end up doing this a few more times as compared to our friday long sessions. Lets see how it goes! I still have many of my new loot to go through! :D 

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