La Isla – Feld, great shape board, going to be good, no doubts.
A Distant Plain, and Fire in the Lake – two GMT games and part of their counter-insurgent series (COIN). I have Andean Abyss and Cuba Libre, keen to, but yet to, play! These are beautifully produced and the themes are of huge interest to me.
Babel – an early Rosenberg and recently reprinted.
New Haven – reading Spielbox magazine has been a real treat whenever it comes through the letter box. This was at Essen last year but I didn’t see it. They like it in Spielbox and so I printed off and read the rules. Another tile-laying, area majority type thing but cleverly done. I will be getting this sometime this year!
Anyway, this week’s games, what a brilliant line up, much like the esteemed player line up: Scott, Charlotte, Dominic, Paul, Gareth II, Jon, Noel, Andy, Philip, John, John Bandettini and Mark.
Final Scores; Paul – 68, Gareth – 65, Jon – 49, Neil – 49, John - 33.
John started off with a board position all to himself on the west side, Noel set up camp in a southerly point, right next to a couple of juicy bonus point locations, and Jon began on the north edge of the board, above Noel.
The garage cards turned out to be popular, allowing players to draw 2 cards, and discard 2. However, Jon and Noel May have bought slightly too many, as on at least one occasion they were stuck with a hand of garages that then proved to be annoyingly useless. The wagon factory was also used often, allowing players to trash a train card and replace it with a train card of a value of up to 3 higher. This also became largely redundant, once Noel and Jon had bought up most of the Limited Express trains between them.
John was still building at a fair rate, but his mountain of waste was preventing him being able to buy any more valuable cards, and he was constantly a couple short of being able to pick up his desired cards.
The game was fast drawing to a conclusion, and Jon finally drew the cards that enabled him to build track into a double-station city, that he had set up earlier just far enough away from Noël the leech to allow him to keep it to himself. In the process, he ran the 4th pile of cards out, and the game ended.
The end scores were incredibly close, with Jon's final move having just pulled his score above Noel's for the victory. John had almost certainly been in the lead for almost the entire game, and with a little more experience, would probably have dumped a few more pieces of track to end the game a couple of turns earlier. But he didn't, and the rest is history.
Final Scores; Jon – 40, Noël – 37, John – 34.
"It's like Sim City in a board game" said John B. Count us in said Mark and Paul. I'd heard similar claims and although I'd had fun building cities in games before, none had quite hit the Sim City spot. And the benefit of playing it as a board game is that it'll be over in an hour (or so) - even if you want 'just one more go'... unlike its electronic cousin.
The object is to build the most attractive suburb so that you have the largest population by the end of the game. However you do need to pay for expansion, so you must manage your money too.
All players are building one suburb of the same city that everyone else is constructing, so there is some interaction, although not a huge amount. In a turn a play may select a hexagonal tile (or a longer edge piece) which they pay for and play down into their 'burb. However on playing a tile they must try to keep the right balance of earning income so that they can afford to do more stuff, and keeping their neighbourhoods attractive enough so that the people keep coming. Big points may also be won at the end of the game for 'goals', of which there are some assigned to an individual and some that are for the whole community.
Tile placement is very important as placing a factory right next to a residential district might decrease the attractiveness of the area and therefore the population might grow much more slowly (f at all). Whereas building nice residential districts next to parks and lakes would make for an extremely attractive region, although you'd probably go bankrupt before too long.
Paul started with some heavy industry, which increased his income a bit, but then ended up pasting himself into a corner and he soon found that his suburb was turning into factory city. The money started to come in, but unsurprisingly the people kept away.
Mark went residential and soon too the lead in the people stakes, although his income was average at best.
John was the first the start bringing in the really big bucks, although once Paul played a tile to double the income benefit that he'd just received he got up the maximum income and started to milk it. Mark started adding border tiles and keeping with the residential strategy.
At the end of the game, Paul was ahead as he'd used his cash to construct some very attractive areas which bought the hoards in for each of the last few turns. However he was only just ahead of John and John had sewn up many of the hefty 'goal' bonuses (like having the most airports and commercial areas) which gave him a well-earned victory.
All players claimed high enjoyment factor and John was the press ganged into playing again with others who'd had their eye on it the first time round.
Final Scores; John - 120, Paul - 97, Mark – 83
After the first round of games finished, some gamers went of the play others titles and five were left looking for something to while away the last hour on. 'Kingdom Builder' suggested one? 'That's only a four player game' was the reply. 'Not with the Nomads expansion' he was answered, and so Kingdom Builder with the Nomads expansion was laid out.
The players decided to play with only one map and one victory card from the expansion.
The regions and abilities were to play an extra settlement on a desert space, play an extra settlement on a grassland space, move an existing settlement to a space of the same type as is currently being played, and to move an existing settlement as many spaces in one direction as will allow without bumping into an obstacle, like a mountain, water, the edge of the board or another settlement (the Nomads new bit).
The victory conditions were extra points for placing next to a mountain, points for all settlements in a horizontal line and placing settlements next to other players’ settlements (the Nomads expansion).
It was noted early on that there were very few mountains on the board, and so that particular scoring mechanism was always going to be limited.
John's starting comment was that he always gets the first placement wrong. Later in the game he could be heard lamenting the same thing this time round. Paul set about capturing as many special powers as possible (with a preference for the new ones which allowed quick movement over longer distances) while concentrating on the longest horizontal line, which happened to be right at the bottom of the board. Neil was also placing down at the bottom so those two players complemented each other by laying settlements next to each other.
Final Scores; Paul - 78, Noel - 67, John - 67, Neil - 66, Jon – 55.