Saturday, 28 June 2014
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Thanks to Jon- who contributed all reports except the first.
Initial expansion was fairly standard with Gareth getting a stronger start. Alex and I both coveted the same system, defended by an Ancient, but I was able to move in first and Alex wisely accepted my offer to exchange ambassadors. Andy easily blasted his Ancients out of the way and stood poised to enter Gareth's territory- but decided to exchange ambassadors instead.
Andy now took out the Galactic Centre, establishing contact with me and Alex but refusing to exchange ambassadors. Both of us doubled and tripled our defences bordering Andy, while Alex exchanged ambassadors with Gareth (I had no common border with Gareth).
The game proceeded without much incident until the final turn. Both Gareth and I built Monoliths. Gareth was clearly winning by a country lightyear but he didn't have many actions available as he controlled so many systems. Alex decided to attack Andy for some glory VPs with a single interceptor- a combat which quickly escalated. Gareth having run out of action discs I pointed out to Andy that he could capture two systems from Gareth without a fight- systems worth 6 VPs total. Of course, he would get the Traitior and lose the Hydran ambassador, so only net 3 Vps. But Gareth would be losing 7 VPs. At this point Gareth claimed he actually had a disk left, but a quick count contradicted him and Andy stuck the knife in. The big fight between Alex and Andy in the middle was won by Andy
Final Scores Gareth 38 Andy 38* Philip 32 Alex 27.
*A tie! Or so we thought. But then we remembered the traitor tile: Andy 36. Gareth the winner.
There were thoughts that Dan might be turning up, so a quick filler was chosen, and what better than one of Herr Knizia’s finest. New to Paul II, and James II needed a quick reminder too.
The great thing about playing with new players is that they often bid in completely different ways, which affects how everyone then plays the game. For instance, James started off by bidding large amounts for medium-value tiles, which then gives everyone else more leeway to bid, as there is less chance of ending with the least cash.
Paul bid high for the ‘2x’ tile, but as his only other tile was a ‘2’, he wasn’t looking like achieving a particularly high score. Noel picked up the ‘-5’ scandal tile, followed by a ‘2x’, which gave him a large minus score at one stage. The pressure was then on, as everyone was low on cash, and once the third ‘2x’ came out, the game could end at any point. But it went down to the last tile, and in an incredibly close finish, Noel had just spent too much, which allowed Jon to pip James to the win.
The scores are lost to the sands of time (strangely, no-one had brought a pen), but suffice it to say, it was another classic game.
Amazingly, this game doesn’t appear to have seen the light of day at IBG since July 2012. But that stat was rectified tonight, as Dan failed to show and so the fabulous foursome stayed together to invest in some European airlines.
Noel has the most experience with this game, and showed it by quickly laying a widespread portfolio of shares, and consequently picking up the majority of points in the first round. Jon, Paul and James all had large majorities in single colours, and it was Jon that first started collecting the valuable Abacus Air shares. Noel wasn’t going to let him get away with that, and followed closely in his footsteps, resulting in a tie for these shares for the second scoring round.
As the game drew to a conclusion, all 4 players were vying for control of Abacus, but it was Jon that managed to pick up the last share which would give him the most. However, would he have time to play it into his portfolio? There were definitely less than 10 cards left in the draw pile, so the game could have ended at any moment – but it didn’t – and much like High Society, it went to the last card.
Noel had been pushing a couple of airlines very hard, nearly maxing out their points, and had been making some shrewd calculations about how to take the odd point without giving anything extra to Jon.
The game ended and the scores were tallied. Noel ‘s last minute min-maxing had paid off, and he squeaked home by a small margin from Jon, with the others a bit further back. This is a great game, and deserves to come out more often than every 4 years!
Noel 96; Jon 92; Paul 67; James 64
Paul decided to leave at this point, so the remaining threesome chose another Knizia auction classic to round the evening off. James II claimed to have only played once before “a long time ago”, and so got a rules explanation. Alex overheard this assertion and guffawed from the next table. Could mild-mannered James really be hustling Noel and Jon?
The first epoch began, and James started collecting tiles like they were going out of fashion. Noel and Jon bided their time (there’s always plenty of time in Ra, right?) planning on scooping vast quantities of tiles as the epoch progressed. Except it suddenly started progressing quicker than they had anticipated. And then ended. James had scored for most Pharaohs and several Nile tiles, as well as a pile of gold. Noel had a set of cultures. Jon had nothing, and consequently scored -2 points.
The second epoch followed the same pattern – James was apparently magicking tiles out of thin air, whilst Jon and Noel seemed to be playing the part of anti-collectors. At the end of the second epoch, Noel had a measly 6 tiles in his collection.
The third epoch barely deserves a mention. James had most of the ancient monuments of Egypt in his collection (a full set of eight different ones, and a few triple duplicates too), whereas Jon and Noel barely had 2 pyramids to rub together.
Alex gave a knowing ‘I told you so’ look, as the scores were revealed. A true hustle if ever there was one.
James 67; Noel 34; Jon 30