Saturday, August 01, 2015

Germantown 07/20/15


Attendance:  16

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Aubrey & Shannon Bell
  • Dave & Noreen Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Liz & Scott Percival
  • Gordon Rotter
  • Kelsey Smith
  • Howard Wagner
  • Chris Wottawa

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Ascension - Doug 69, Gordon 65, Chris 59
Istanbul - Bob 5, Howard 4, Scott 4, Liz 3
Hanging Gardens - Shannon 59, Leslie 57, Aubrey 39
Alhambra - Carol 110, Dave 106, Noreen 86, Nick 83, Kelsey 81, Jenn 51
Black Spy - Noreen 19, Kelsey 28, Carol 39, Dave 48, Jenn 91, Nick 135 (ouch)
Chinatown - Shannon 94, Aubrey 88, Leslie 85, Chris 85, Gordon 67
Taj Mahal - Bob 52, Scott 48, Howard 37, Doug 32, Liz 20

Ascension image by José Carlos de Diego on BGG.

Posted by Bob on 08/01/15.


Germatown 07/06/15


Attendance:  18

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Andrew, Dave & Noreen Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Rebecca Holte
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Cynthia Lewis
  • Rich Parker
  • Gordon Rotter
  • Kelsey Smith
  • Howard Wagner
  • Stephanie & Sammy White
  • Chris Wottawa

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Blue Moon City - Gordon 5, Doug 4, Stephanie 3
Alhambra - Kelsey 84, Dave 82, Cynthia 81, Nick 80, Noreen 55, Leslie 42
Princes of Florence - Howard 76, Carol 58, Sammy 53, Rich 48
Tichu - Noreen/Cynthia 230, Leslie/Kelsey 70
Tichu (3-handed) - Leslie 600, Noreen 420, Table 330, Cynthia 250
Web of Power - Howard 63, Carol 61, Sammy 45
Lords of Waterdeep - Chris 169, Rebecca 155, Andrew 151, Randy 137, Bob 111
Amun Re - Dave 51, Stephanie 45, Nick 42, Doug 36, Gordon 28


Lords of Waterdeep image by Kristo Vaher on BGG.

Posted by Bob on 08/01/15.


Germantown 06/29/15 - ITALY


Attendance:  16

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Aubrey & Shannon Bell
  • Barbara Colomer
  • Noreen Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Ethan Goffman
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Rich Parker
  • Laura Reinhold
  • Kelsey Smith
  • Chris Wottawa

Welcome, Barbara! Our theme for this fifth Monday of the month was Italy!

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Ave Caesar - Noreen 17, Shannon 14, Aubrey 14, Barbara 8, Leslie 6, Laura 4
Freedom (not thematic) - Lost, but freed 12 of 24 slaves.
Condottiere - Leslie/Noreen (tied), Bob, Aubrey, Shannon
Colosseum - Carol 77, Jenn 75, Kelsey 71, Chris 62, Nick 62
Zen Garden (not thematic) - Doug 7, Ethan 6, Randy 3, Rich 3
Condottiere - Bob 6, Aubrey 5, Leslie 2, Noreen 2, Shannon 1


Condottiere image by Frank Wimmer on BGG.

Posted by Bob on 08/01/15.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Germantown 06/15/15


Attendance:  9

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Nick Ferris
  • Christine Fiedler
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Rich Parker
  • Eric & Laura Reinhold
  • Kelsey Smith
With Bob and Carol out of town, a group gathered at the Wegmans cafe. Thanks to Leslie who kept track of the results.

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Bang - Sheriff Randy won
Bang - Sheriff Christine won
Ticket to Ride - Eric, 144, Laura 125, Kelsey 116 (1st time played), Rich 100
Sushi Go - Nick 39, Rich 36, Leslie 34, Christine 30, Jen 29
Kingsburg - Christine 50, Randy 49, Leslie 28
Gravwell (called at midnight) - Leslie won


Posted by Bob on 06/25/15.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Germantown 06/01/15


Attendance:  17

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Dave, Noreen & Andrew Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Ethan Goffman
  • Henry Ho
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Rich Parker
  • Eric & Laura Reinhold
  • Kelsey Smith
  • Howard Wagner
  • Chris Wottawa

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Alhambra - Howard 85, Nick 85, Kelsey 78, Eric 61, Jenn 52, Bob 32
Alhambra - Noreen 88, Leslie, Carol, Chris, Dave, Laura
Exxtra - Carol 21, Laura 20, Chris 19, Leslie 15, Dave 14, Noreen 2
Castles of Burgundy - Doug 222, Henry 218, Ethan 203, Andrew 203
Medici - Carol 112, Dave 109, Noreen 100, Chris 100, Leslie 93, Laura 93
Dragon Delta - Kelsey won, Bob, Eric, Howard, Nick, Jenn
Splendor - Ethan 15, Henry 14, Doug 11

Dragon Delta image by Gary James on BGG.


Posted by Bob on 06/13/15.

Germantown 05/18/15


Attendance:  15

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Dave, Noreen & Andrew Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Christine Fiedler
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Henry Ho
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Rich Parker
  • Kelsey Smith
  • Howard Wagner

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Istanbul - Bob 5, Christine 4, Doug 4, Howard 4, Henry 3
Rococo - Rich 62, Jenn 55, Andrew 50, Nick 44, Noreen 41
Ra - Doug 34, Christine 34, Henry 33, Bob 32, Howard 31
Viticulture - Randy 41, Kelsey 37, Dave 34, Carol 27, Leslie 24

Rococo image by Henk Rolleman  on BGG.

Posted by Bob on 06/13/15.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Travelling Through Tuscany: A Wine-Tasting Journey in 8 Parts

For 8 of the last 9 sessions at GCOM-Germantown, we have played Viticulture along with it's Expansion set, Tuscany. The Tuscany expansion consists of 11 mini expansions, designed at three tiers. The first two tiers are all designed to be played together, while the three on the third tier are intended to be separate. Rather than playing as the book suggests, by adding one expansion per session and restarting in a different order after you reach the third tier, we added two expansions each week, and then after all 8 tier one and two expansion were in, just played the three tier 3 one ofter the other.

Here are my thoughts on the base game, and each of the expansions.

Viticulture is a worker placement game where each game turn represents a year, and each season of that year (summer and winter) is played separately, but with the same workers (you do not get your workers back until the new year). At the start of the game, you have but three workers. Money and actions are very tight, and it costs money to get more workers and take more actions, so there is a lot of tension in the game right from the start. I thought things were a little too difficult in the base version of the game for players to get an engine going, but I think if I were to go back and play it again now, with the experience I have, I may feel differently. Still, a recommended game and one i would be happy to play again, even now when we have played it 8 times since January 1.

Tier 1 Expansions

Mamas & Papas: In the normal game everyone starts with 3 workers (one of which, the Grande, is special and allows you to go to an action site even if there are no more remaining placement spots available there), one Pinot Grape Vine Card, 3 coins, and 1 Summer Visitor Card. This expansion gives you two Mama cards and 2 Papa cards. You choose one of each type and get the items that your parents have bequeathed to you. Mamas typically give you 2 workers and three cards, often a vine, a visitor, and something else, while the Papas usually give a Grande Worker, some cash, then either more cash or a building. I think, since it takes an action to build a building that the building is almost always the better option on the papa cards, but only if it was one you were going to build soon anyway. The cards are all balanced pretty well and offer a way to guide your strategy in the early game. I rate this expansion a 10 out of 10 and consider it a must-use in future plays.

Property: In the base game, you have three vineyards in which you can plant vines. Even if you find you only use 2 of them, you still have three. With this expansion, you have the option of mortgaging one of them for a quick influx of cash, or, later in the game, you can buy one back when cash is plentiful but you need more room to plant. You have three fields, and their mortgage values are 5, 6, & 7 coins, so you have a choice of how much to get, and how much to pay back later. This is another must-use (10 out of 10) expansion for me, especially as cash is so hard to come by early on.

Patronage: This expansion introduces the Patronage card. Each player is dealt one at the beginning of the game, and it offers a spot to sell any wine worth 5 or more and earn 3 victory points (normally one must acquire an order card and sell the type(s) of wine listed exactly, in the value listed (or greater) to earn victory points. In addition, the card has listed on it an end-game condition that, should you fulfill, is worth 2 victory points. This gives another way to guide your strategy and is a nice benefit in that you can make some victory points without meeting the order cards more exacting requirements. It is not a must-use though, but it is still very good. 8 out of 10.

Advanced Visitors: There are 2 types of Visitor Cards. Summer and Winter. Each can only be played in the appropriate season. In the base game, some are good early, and some are good late in the game. With this expansion, they replace most of the cards like that and give them a choice of benefits, often one that is better early, and one that is better later on. This is a great thing, as there is a hand limit, and it hurts to have to throw away a card that was acquired with some amount of difficulty due to it not being useful yet. Must-use, 10 out of 10.

As you can see, I really liked the Tier One expansions. The next time I play Viticulture, I would rather play with all of them than play the base game alone, so much so that while I would like to play the base game one more time just to compare it mentally, I think the game without the Tier One expansions would be about 2 points lower on the BGG Scale than it would be with them. None of them are so difficult that, on their own, they would make it tough for a new player to add them to the game, though adding all 4 in a game with new players may be a bit much in the rules overload department, or would at least not give them a baseline of experience in which to make good decisions (I'm looking at you, Mamas and Papas).

Tier 2 Expansions

New Visitors: New Visitor cards are added in to the game in addition to the cards from the base game, and the changed cards, giving some new strategies and benefits. I liked all of them, didn't feel that any of them broke the game or anything like that, and if they were in the base game with new players, wouldn't be a problem. It also reduces shuffling and give more variety in what cards you can expect to see. Must-use, 10 out of 10.

Extended Board: Here is where things really get shaken up. The extended board changes the game from two worker placement seasons to four. They shuffle which season some actions are in, add in a spring and fall season, add a new mechanism for turn order, a trading spot to trade around cards/money/points/etc for other items, and a new influence map that can gain victory points at game end as well as cards and/or money during the game. This is really only for people with multiple games under their belt as you need some planning experience to be effective here. I think the added complexity is great, but it does add at least 30 minutes to the game. Recommended with players with 1-2 games under their belts, 7 out of 10 only due to the time addition.

Special Workers: This is really 11 different mini expansions in one. In the base game, and with all but a few combinations of parents you start with 3 workers and can gain only 3 more. With this expansion you can spend an extra coin when gaining a worker to gain one of 2 different special workers (chosen at random for that game) that, when you place them, give an extra ability. This ranges from bumping another worker out of a spot you needed, to getting a card if you place this worker last, to placing in a future season. Some of the powers of these workers were so clearly valuable that everyone took them in the games they were available, while others only had slight or conditional benefits, that favored certain strategic paths. I liked the variety, but wouldn't feel remiss if this were not included in a game. Moderate recommendation, 6 out of 10.

Structures: In the base game, there are buildings you can construct that give you benefits, allowing you to plant more valuable grapes, store and age more valuable wines, collect more visitors, get more money when giving a wine tasting, etc. This expansion adds cards that add even more types of buildings with a wider variety of effects. After playing several games with them, it felt like many of the card costs and benefits simply did not align. Many cards gave great benefits and were easy to build, while some were much harder to build and the benefits were not as readily useful. You must already be using the Extended Board expansion above to use this expansion. Slight recommendation, 4 out of 10.

Tier Two offered a more mixed bag. The New Visitors could easily be used in any game, and should be, I think. The Extended Board is needed for all the Tier 3 Expansions, and I like the Influence Map and the Turn Order Changes offer some variety but the added complexity lengthens the game. The Special Workers and Structures are both just OK.

Tier 3 Expansions

Mafia: The least complex of the Tier Three expansions, it basically involved blind trading of cards hoping to get the highest valued, or at least not the lowest valued, at the end of the game. Didn't do much for me. Not recommended, 2 out of 10

Formaggio: Adds cheese-making to the game. In addition to all the steps in making wine, it adds steps to produce, store, and sell cheeses. The biggest problem I found was that, while it looked like it could be lucrative, it involved a second path to points that required to ignore the wine-making path, at least to some degree. That made it seem to daunting and no one pursued it much in our game. I would like to try it again before rendering final judgement (as if any of my thoughts here were final), but I am in no great hurry to do so. Slight recommendation, 3 out of 10, maybe going higher with more plays.

Arboriculture: Adds apple growing/selling, tomato sauce production, and olive oil to the game. In contrast to the Formaggio Expansion, the path to making these generate Victory Points was integrated into the path to making victory points via Wine Production. That made it seem more viable, and more a true part of the game that everyone would make use of. Highly Recommended, 8 out of 10.

Thanks for reading, and if you are interested in playing Viticulture/Tuscany, please save a seat for me, I really enjoy this game.

-Dave









Thursday, May 21, 2015

Germantown 05/04/15


Attendance:  16

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Dave, Noreen & Andrew Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Christine Fiedler
  • Henry Ho
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Rich Parker
  • Eric & Laura Reinhold
  • Howard Wagner
  • Chris Wottawa

Games Played (scores in order of place):

Toss It In the Trash - Nick 0, Laura -2, Chris -7, Eric -12
California Gold - Howard 12, Doug 10, Henry 10, Rich 7, Bob 7
AquaSphere - Christine 76, Laura 76, Nick 74
No Thanks - Bob 29, Howard 33, Henry 41, Doug 84
Castles of Burgundy - Chris 214, Eric 205, Noreen 156
Viticulture/Tuscany - Dave 41, Leslie 32, Carol 25, Randy 24, Andrew 17


AquaSphere image by Andreas Resch on BGG.

Posted by Bob on 05/21/2015.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Germantown 04/20/15


Attendance:  16

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Paul Czarnota
  • Andrew & Dave Fair
  • Nick Ferris
  • Christine Fiedler
  • Jennifer Glinzak
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Rebecca Holte
  • Bob & Carol Jones
  • Rich Parker
  • Eric & Laura Reinhold
  • Gordon Rotter
  • Chris Wottawa
Games Played (scores in order of place):

Istanbul - Gordon 5, Paul 4, Bob 4, Rebecca 3, Henry 2
Shadows over Camelot - Knights won (Nick, Jenn, Rich, Chris, Eric, Laura). Christine (first time playing) was the Traitor
Uptown - Paul 1, Bob 3, Henry 3
Splendor - Henry 15, Bob 8, Christine 4, Paul 0
Viticulture - Kelsey 28, Dave 28, Randy 26, Andrew 24, Leslie 16, Carol 12

Uptown image by Ender Wiggins on BGG.


Posted by Bob on 05/17/15.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Germantown 04/06/15


Attendance:  7

  • Leslie Barkley
  • Christine Fiedler
  • Henry Ho
  • Randy Hoffman
  • Doug Hoylman
  • Bill Salvatore
  • Alf Schupe

The Jones family was out of town so seven stalwarts met at the Wegmans cafe.

No scores were kept, but games played were:

Castles of Burgundy (twice)
Timeline
Bruges


Posted by Bob on 05/12/15.