Tuesday, April 7, 2009

7th April 2009: The One Where I Tried Harry Wu's New Game

Trying a new format for session reports. Played a couple of games with various ones today:

The Settlers of Catan Card Game (Van 13, Me 8)

Played with the Politics and Intrigue expansion theme. I started well and for once, managed to rush to 5 settlements before Van. What cost me were the 2 Arsonist cards that Van played against me, uprooting 2 valuable red buildings and giving her the commerce advantage. Also had a few untimely hits by the brigades which Van escaped thanks to her Garrison. Van also played 2 Excommunication action cards, preventing me from assessing the 2 expansion decks available. This game can seriously be rather cut-throat but that appeals to me. Still waiting for my 1st win against Van, will be sure to pay more attention to the attack action cards the next time round.

Glory to Rome x 2 (1st game: Me 47, Van 22, Mun 13; 2nd game: Me 25(4), Van 25(3), Mun 17)

In the first game, I ran away with the game thanks to a Aqueduct (allows you to additionally add a client from hand when Patron is played) and a Basilica (In addition when playing Merchant, player may add card to vault from hand). My vault was stocked while the other 2 struggled to keep up. Ended the game by taking the last in-town site.

In the second, I managed to get up to 3 craftsman clients. Coupled with my Circus Maximus (Doubles your client actions), I had a slew of building actions. Was going to end the game by taking the last 2 in-town sites with my 6 craftsman action but drew a Catacombs thanks to my Temple (+4 max hand size) and ended the game by completing it with the special ability of my Road (use any material for stone buildings). The 3 influence points proved critical as I was unaware Van had completed her Wall (1VP for every 2 material in stockpile) and scored heavily for the bunch of materials in her stockpile. Checked the rules for the tiebreaker and apparently it boiled down to remaining cards in hand which I pipped her by 1.

Citadels (Me 26, Van 16, Mun 9)

Hadn't pulled this out for awhile which was nice since this was one of the first games I bought when I got into the hobby, plus the oldest player gets to start first! I find Citadels best with 3 as each player gets 2 roles per turn and the game doesn't drag out like it does with 5-7. We played the shorter game to 7 buildings as Mun needed to leave. I took the Assassin for the first 2 turns and avoided missing a turn throughout the game, which allowed me to rush to 7 to end the game.

Prussian Eastern Railroad (Van 734, Me 618, Marcus 574)

Marcus brought over a new Harry Wu game for us to try. I have been hearing good things about his other game, Chicago Express and thus was intrigued to have a first go at one of his games. The rules were sufficiently easy to grasp but it yet it was hard to figure out how to play it well. The difficulty playing new games with an auction element is not knowing how much to bid. In retrospect, we underbid for the railway shares, and Van who obtained the bulk of them acquired the upper hand. In addition, we allowed her to purchase shares in 7 out of the 8 railway companies which made it difficult to claw back the advantage. For whatever we tried to do in increasing railway income or triggering double dividends for certain companies, she would benefit too. 

With a fixed number of shares per company, I realized it made little sense to split up the shares 1:1:1 between us which was what we largely did. It seems like it makes more sense to buy additional shares in the company you already have a stake in unless you can force your opponent to overpay. There is some luck with the turn order mechanism but not enough that it makes the game flaky. Keen to try it again but doubt it will be something I'll be looking to own. The metagame element seems rather significant and there is some kingmaking element. Reminds me somewhat of El Grande where there can be a runaway leader issue unless everyone else works together to thwart the leader.

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