Games played at Epsom Games Club 22.08.13
Jim Sutherland
United Kingdom
(just) West of London
Middlesex
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Fourteen people tonight - MarkB, JimS, Andrew-00, Nick, Gordon, Paul, MarkT, AndrewB2, Russell, GrahamM, Jeff (a welcome return), Jonathon, JimF and Jack so three full tables.

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1. Board Game: Trains [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:367] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: Nick, JimS, Andrew007 and Gordon

Apart from the rules ambiguities we encountered I thought this was an enjoyable and interesting harnessing of a deck-building mechanic to a positional board game - similar ground, but different theme, was trod by 'A Few Acres of Snow'.

Gordon - 37 1st
JimS - 32 2nd
Nick - 29 3rd
Andrew007 - 22 4th

I was slow to get going on track-building, given the way my cards came out, and Jim in particular seemed to be generating a lot of coins to spend each go, so I was feeling a bit behind the pack in the early game. However, my early investment in 'Tourist Trains' (I had 4 by the end) and building of lines into 4 remote locations proved to be game winners, netting me 11 and 13 VP's respectively.

Rules clarifications (based on the AEG rule book):-

- You can choose to pass your turn and discard to the Waste Supply deck any Waste cards in your hand. This does seem to largely negate the benefit of the 'Land Fill' card except for the fact that you may be able to use the additional cards in your hand if using 'Landfill' whereas a pass action is all you can do.

- If you (p)lay a card you get its money value and then also get to use it's action - you also get the money value even if you don't use it's action. This would have made 'Tourist Train' even better for me as whenever I played it I just took the 1 VP and didn't add the 1 value to things I could buy.

- From the AEG rules I would be 95% sure that you can lay cards for value and then use them to buy more than one card, only losing the 'change' at the end of your turn.

- It doesn't cost anything to expand a station. Think we (I) were paying one to do so, You still take 1 waste.

The 'Tourist Train' card does seem very good given it provides coins and VP - far better than buying a VP building which only contributes the VP and then clogs the hand.
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2. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:17]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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(H.) Mark hadn't played before, so Jeff taught the with his usual clarity, brevity, and panache, and we were under way using the E-deck.

I thought there might be a lot of fighting for the fireplaces, ovens, and hearths, so using my Guildmaster, Dancer & Quarry I planned to eat mainly wood, reed, and clay-- yum! Mark played a very creditable first game, starting with sheep and diversifying nicely with a good all-round farm by the end. Graham (Mi) was stymied by not noticing the imminence of the third harvest, and had to take a begging card, though he rallied well afterwards building vast pastures and stocking up on grain. Andrew (B2) had, I think, planned to do a lot more baking with his Baker's Oven, but there is a lot of contention for the necessary action space in 5-player Agricola and this held him back a little. Jeff was the first to Family Growth, and got to five people while the rest of us were still on two or three-- his farm stayed nearly empty till near the end, when his riding plough gave him six fields in quick succession, and he netted 17 points with two actions in his last turn (Renovate/Fences, and Occupation:Chief)-- a late rush can be very strong in Agricola, but you need the cojones to do it, which Jeff obviously has.

Final Scores (Ratings)
Russell 50 (9)
Graham 16 (7.5)
Mark 34 (7)
Andrew 40 (8)
Jeff 45 (8)

Fortunately my slightly atypical plan meant I wasn't blocked out too much and could do more or less what I wanted: ten points from improvements and nine from bonus points was what pushed by otherwise mediocre farm up to a good score.

It was very good to play (after rules explanation) in little more than two hours for a game which is actually pretty deep and complex-- but also lots of fun!
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3. Board Game: Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:133]
James Faulkner
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey
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Jack and I arrived 7:15 to find Paul, Mark, Jon and Graham waiting for us - thanks.

I've brought Age of Empires to EGC on several past occaisons with no takers, but on arrival found Paul and Mark keen to play. However, Jon and Graham wanted to play Ora et Labora. Six was a tricky number as AoE doesn't play that well with 3, but Graham kindly agreed to join the game of Agricola leaving us with 5 and Jon agreed to give AoE a try.

On to the game:

Paul - started raking in the money early with some merchants, a trading post purchase and sending soldiers with discoveries. He then purchased the building giving him $10 per turn too. Early into Stage II he had enough money for 3 buildings.
Mark - picked up the early building giving him his own spot on the colonist ship and he started flooding the new world.
James - was picking up a missionary each turn (!) and after a first turn Merchant Ship decided to turn his attention to trade goods for income.
Jack - got off to a slow start, but picked up a matching set of Sugar trade goods that kept him afloat money-wise.
Jon - Jon's approach was quite balanced compared to the rest of us

At the end of Age I, Mark scored heaviest in the New World.

In Age II,
Jack - sent soldiers on a discovery of Canada and raked in a fistful of dollars which jump-started his game. Privateers and a Rum Distillery then further boosted his coffers. And with a couple more Merchant Ships he started to get even richer than Paul. However, apart from the Caribbean he was virtually absent from therest of the New World.
Paul - started sending troops to the New World (causing Mark some losses). However, he seemed to stall a little after what looked a good start.
James - picked up a Cathedral late on with the plan of converting lots of locals to British Citizens. He also managed to get a good trade income flowing.
Jon - always seemed to have enough money due to getting a merchant each turn and also by now having lots of trading goods. He also picked up a soldier generating building (which he used to good effect against James)
Mark - Mark's economy was non-existant and with Jack's privateers he couldn't seem to buy another building. He tried to earn some extra VPs and money via discoveries.

At the end of Age II, somehow Mark again scored heaviest despite being shot at. Jack at this stage only had 4 points compared to Mark's 34. Mark correctly foretold that there was no way he would retain his lead as he could not purchase any of the big VP buildings.

Age III,
Jack - used his University to get first and third pick of the capitol buildings. A Factory ($30/turn) followed by Wealth (1VP per end game $5) suddenly thrust him into surprise contention. Jack ended the game with more money than the bank - his last turn income alone was $70. Never seen this before.
James - started sending super-missionaries to whatever destinations contained the least soldiers, but the soldiers (especially Jons) kept following him. He picked up a couple of very valuable (to him) VP buildings - one giving 1 VP per trade good and the other rewarding presence in lots of territories.
Paul - Paul bought the tile giving him 2VPs per soldier in the New World but on the last turn was late in turn order and there was not a good building for him left - he nabbed the Navy tile from Jack which would have gained Jack 16VP but did nothing for Paul.
Jon - like Mark now had a colonist ship spot to himself ansd was sending more soldiers overseas. He picked up the Population VP tile.
Mark - struggled. He never managed to get enough money together to get an Age III building.

Final Scores:
James 109
Jack 89 (50 points coming from Capitol Buildings and less than 10 from the New World!)
Paul 74
Jon 74
Mark 68

Had to drag Jack away from the TV to come along to EGC, so was happy when he said, on the way home, how much he had enjoyed the game.
Didn't take ratings but mine would be an 8.
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4. Board Game: Shark [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1777]
Gordon Watson
United Kingdom
Banstead
Surrey - United Kingdom
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Played by: JimS, Andrew007, Nick, Gordon

Nick was cajoled into playing another game with dice - for a simple game there were a few rule hiccoughs but we blundered on through - still not convinced that you gain income for placing a piece if it does not increase the share price - but I'm no expert.

Nick went out into an early lead and then was able to 'hedge' and cover any moves into whichever stock to secure an easy win. There were no significant takeovers and therefore no significant price crashes. Also one of the stocks was a non-starter from the off. Of the 3 plays I've had of Shark this was the least dynamic/interesting. Not sure if this was just the way the dice went or the result of a slight rule skew.

JimS - 343 - 2nd
Nick - 448 - 1st
Andrew007 - 334 - 3rd
Gordon - I took part as well 113 - 4th -

Previously rated this a bit higher but this iteration didn't quite fly as well.
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5. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:391]
Russell D
United Kingdom
Ewell
Surrey
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At the club, games like No Thanks are usually played just for a hand or two at the start of the evening, or when there's just fifteen minutes to go before we wrap. But, as has been said a few times recently, these games really come into their own when you have time to play a few hands. So we found this evening when we played five rounds of No Thanks to finish off. This gave time for the 'meta-game' to build up, and for plenty of laughs.

Final Scores (Ratings)
Russell 130 (7.5)
Graham 217 (7)
Mark 149 (8)
Andrew 187 (8)
Jeff 183 (8)
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