Saturday, January 26, 2008

Damascus 01/25/08

We had seventeen in attendance this past Friday...

  • David & Noreen Fair
  • Jason Cheng
  • Lance Slifka
  • Lance Jones
  • Doug Hoylman
  • David & Martha Briggs
  • Tim Rothenhoefer
  • John Stup
  • Dan Barnett
  • Bryan Snyder
  • Marshall Miller
  • Philippe Hebert
  • Rick & Linda Pasquale
  • Rose Byington
Kingsburg Box FrontFirst up was a 5-player session of a new Essen '07 release, Kingsburg. In this game, players roll dice, then in order from low to high, take turn claiming one of 18 characters to assist them with building their cities. You can use all your dice to choose one character, or split them up to choose multiple characters. The higher numbered characters are more generally powerful, but splitting the dice gives you more options at the low end. After three rounds of this, the city is attacked and you hope you did well enough in building to withstand the attack. You do this entire process for 5 cycles and the game ends. Whoever scored the most VP's for their buildings and roles selected wins.

All-in-all, a very decently done dice game. I wish it played a bit faster, but it was quite good as it was. In this game, David F. (39) won, followed by Lance S. (33), Jason C. (30), Doug H. (27) and Lance J. (25).

GemBlo 2-PlayerMeanwhile, some more gamers arrived, and while a couple of them setup and played another game, Marshall M. and Philippe H. played 2 games in quick succession. First was Alhambra, which Marshall won 133 to 130 (and "Dirk" the imaginary 3rd player used in 2-player Alhambra scored 87). A very close game! Next was a 2-player, 4-color version of GemBlo. They played an interesting variant of the game, in which players use all the pieces of 2 colors, and the rule for offsetting your pieces from each other applies to applies to both colors. They also played on the small 4-player area of the board. This all makes the game very difficult, as is shown by their scores, which was another victory for Marshall M., 37 to Philippe H's 42.

Tim, Martha, and David played the game of competitive casino construction, Vegas Showdown. This is one of the best games to come from the revamped Avalon Hill. In addition to the fine components, it offers excellent gameplay and some very interesting mechanisms. the game was very close, with Tim R. (64) edging out Martha B. (61) for the win, and David B. (60) very close behind.

Cathedral building seems to be a popular theme for game designers, and Pillars of the Earth is based off of the Ken Follett novel of the same name. One thing I always enjoy about the game is how closely it mirrors the events in the book. This time around, Bryan S. (53) managed the victory, with Rick P. (48) right on his heels. New player John S. (38) was not far back, followed by another first-time player, Dan B. (14 - he had to leave before the game ended.

Hansa is a game I personally find rather engaging, though some complain it is too dry and you are unable to do much planning. In this game players jointly control the movement of a trade ship around the Hanseatic League cities, where they acquire goods, build market stalls, and attempt to earn the most victory points by being more profitable than their opponents. This is a feat that Lance S. (44) managed tonight, followed by Rose B. (41) and Jason C. (39).

A quick-playing game that manages 6-players fairly well can be a challenge to find, but a group chose to give Diamant the nod tonight. A game more about luck, but with room for careful strategy, it is always fun to try and push your luck in the mines. Rick P. (43) proved to be the most adept and knowing when to stay and when to go, followed by Rose B. (32), Bryan S. (28), Noren F. (22) and Lance J. (5) and Jason C. (2) who, it appears, floundered about a bit.

We gave the Agricola Family Game a try. Unlike the regular game, this is played sans occupation and minor improvement cards. This makes the game faster, but also less volatile. It leads to some interesting play. We were playtesting a few options that may or may not make it into the upcoming Z-Man release. Some we liked, others not so much...

Scores are a bit lower in the Family game, as only the Major Improvements exist to give card points, and options are more limited. Martha B. had a very balanced farm, not scoring highly in anything, but only losing points for her 5 empty spaces. She also lost some ground by only have a 4-room clay hut and 3 family members in play. This gave her a score of 19, and 5th place.

Marshall M. lost points for insufficient plowed fields and no veggies, and scored quite low for the grain and animals, but did have more stables and fewer unused spaces to score 20 points, and 4th place.

Philippe H. had never tried a baking bread strategy before, and he found the going tough in this game. He lost points in all three animal categories, but had all of his family members in play, had a 5-room Stone house, and several Major Improvements to rack up 26 points and 3rd place.

David B. only lost points for unused spaces (3) and for never upgrading his home from the simple wooden hut he started with (though he increased it's size). He did manage 29 points and second place.

David F. lost points for insufficient plowed fields, no grain, no veggies, and 4 empty spaces, but he scored points for all 3 animal types, for both pastures and stables, for a 5-room Stone house, for 5 people, and for 4 Major Improvements, giving him 38 points and first place.

A second game of Vegas Showdown ended, this time 4-player, though Tim R. won again (with 75 this time) in the narrowest of margins over Doug H. (74), Lance S. (63) and Linda P. (58).

Whenever a newcomer shows up at Damascus, they somehow end up playing Tichu. Well, never fear, it happened again. this time with Lance J. pairing up with Noreen F. in a close victory (1185 to 815) over Rose B. and Jason C.

Our final game of the evening was another new Essen release, Hamburgum. It was also another cathedral-building game, though this time using a rondel for action selection, similar to Imperial. the game played rather smoothly and quickly after we grokked the rules. Players can spend an action to build one or more buildings (costing resources), can take goods (one per action, plus an additional good for each building of the appropriate type), can sell those goods (for higher prices if fewer buildings of that type have been built), can buy resources (for building or donating), or make donations to the neighborhood church (there are 7 of them).

The game offers a tight balancing act between taking actions now and waiting "just one turn", and many times over the game players found themselves regretting not moving further on the rondel when they had the chance. In the end, David F. (76) took first in a tight race over Tim (69 and the tiebreaker), Philippe (69) and Marshall (68). Waiting to score until you want to is a powerful option in this game, and it made for some interesting tactics. I can't wait to play this one again.

This coming Friday, February 1, is the first Friday in Feb, and we hope to see you at the center. Looking forward to a great time!

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