My first face-to-face gaming of 2008.
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Last Sunday, I hosted a gaming session for the day. I managed to squeeze in 4 games (4pl Before the Wind, 4pl & 5pl Caylus, and 2pl St Pete) before calling it a night. (It felt good for me; I won all four games. Yes, I like to toot my own horn.)

As expected, that was my last face-to-face gaming for 2007. I did get some play on BSW between then and yesterday (I played 5 straight 2pl games of St Pete, and somehow went 5-0. I also got into a number of Caylus games; at this point, I no longer consider myself a major threat to winning online.)

Finally, yesterday was the first EPGS meeting of 2008, so I got to get back to true 'social' gaming (though I'm still ├╝bercompetitive about winning). Normally I don't bother, but today I felt like sharing.

Here, then, is my first day's gaming of 2008.
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1. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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Usually I'm one of the first people to arrive at the club, but I made a resolution to myself to spend part of my Saturday mornings with my wife and kid when she takes him to a play area while she works out. Thus, I got to the mall about a half-hour later than usual ... so (of course) the place is already jam-packed. Fortunately for me, I was able to get into a game.

And boy, did I pick a good one.

I have heard so many great things about Agricola that I was eager to try it, and I almost always prefer the max number of players for a first game. I got it, playing against another Mike, Curt, Dave (who I often game against at meetings), and Rodney (the owner of the game). [This is all I need to know about Agricola: Rodney is a man who rarely plays the same game twice in a year, much less twice in the same day! He played two games of this during the course of the day.]

Usually I frown upon mechanisms that unbalance the game from the start (like the 14 occupation and improvement cards you begin with), but here I greatly appreciate the replayability and diverse strategies that come with the setup. In my game, I played cards that gave me extra clay, extra grain, instant renovations, and bonuses for certain fence-builds. It wasn't nearly enough, as I finished a distant 4th (37-34-32-31-29), but I greatly enjoyed the experience, and do see myself getting the English version when it eventually comes out.

NOTE 1: I have heard about the dreaded length of game, and I prefer games that wrap up in two hours or less. And this game does have a lot of fiddliness when it comes to restocking cards. For all that, we wrapped up in about 2 1/2 hours, even with two newbies (myself, and the other Mike).

NOTE 2: The other newbie (Mike) is the guy who won the game. I guess I was the 'other Mike', after all.
 
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2. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:418]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Of the other 'regulars' in my personal gaming clique, Matt was in an epic-type space game (I forget the name) when I walked in, but his game wrapped up not too long after my game. Alex, meanwhile, got into a game of Goa (and won, of course). Once all our games were up, we (and Dave, from my last game) were ready for some 4pl action.

We started with Cuba, another new game that I am a big fan of.

For the second straight game, I got to go first. Unlike Agricola (where I had no idea what I was doing, and started with less food), here I eagerly accepted going first, playing tactically to score 8 points on a boat as my second action. Matt (to my left) went for the sugar/rum strategy (which worked well, as nearly every boat in the game had two spots for rum). Dave, to Matt's left, went for a tobacco/cigar strategy. Alex, starting 4th, went for water early, combined with the golf course and '+2 votes' building. (The former didn't work out quite so well, as the water subsidy didn't appear until the last turn. The Corruption Act was much better for him, as he basically owned the 2nd half of the game in terms of the bills and laws.) I decided to ignore 'strategy' altogether, playing strictly for points whenever I saw I could get them.

Among the buildings I got good use out of: the '4 coin' and '1 VP' buildings, which went into the same column as the warehouse, and the 'switch boats' building, which I used to stem the tide of rum but otherwise didn't get much actual use from.

I probably would have won, had I not grossly overspent for the bribe in the third round. I paid 9 for the bribe (everyone else paid zero), and in retrospect, didn't get much from that. Later, going first on the last turn, I paid for commodities to load onto the 3-boat for 12 points: I was a few coins short of getting just one more item to get all 15. I ended up 2nd, losing to Alex by a point .

I said it before, and I'll say it again: this is a pure 'tactics' game. Strategy is virtually completely irrelevant.
 
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3. Board Game: Blue Moon City [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:495]
Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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Our next game (same players) was Blue Moon City, a Knizia game that I had never played. I was OK with it, though it's not a game I see myself playing much after yesterday. I got two of the first three spots in the obelisk, but never got a third. Dave had a seemingly endless supply of crystals by the end, and got his 4th spot in with two spots to go (i.e., a 4-3-2-2 finish).

Those dragons sure like to hop around the board.
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4. Board Game: Cloud 9 [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1648]
Mike K
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A quick game followed, as Dave couldn't stay too much longer. On the second turn, Alex bailed on the '9' spot when everyone else went down. Later own, everyone but Alex bailed on the '9', while he made that one AND the '12' (the latter with a 'Wild'), scoring 15. He went on to win comfortably. (I think I was caught for 2nd, but honestly, I don't care enough to strain my brain.)
 
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5. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:135]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
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By now it was about 6 PM. With Dave done, the rest of us got together with a father-son group (Chris and Phil) for a game of Ra.

Usually I don't go for Niles, but I got four early (along with the only flood in the first epoch), got to 8 by the middle round, scored my Niles every round (along with a Civ each time), got 7 different monuments, and finished with a respectable 41 points. It wasn't quite enough: I tied Matt with 41 (and beat him on the tie-break), but lost to Phil, who scored 44 points with some Niles of his own, +5 for his Civs at the end, and 10 for his monuments. (I hurt myself by taking the -2 for Pharaohs each round.)
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6. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:107]
Mike K
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Fairless Hills
Pennsylvania
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By 7 PM, Matt graciously excused himself so the rest of us could get in one last game of Goa. (If I recall, I actually won the last 4pl game of Goa I played against Alex, which happens roughly once in a Blue Moon City game.)

Sitting to his left and starting with the flag, I was able to get the double-nutmeg plantation relatively cheap on the first auction. I went for Quilon for the first action, getting a 1 and 2 (miss). The other three did likewise: two got a 1 and 2, and the third got a 1 and 3 (though they all succeeded; two of them got additional colonists during the auction). With the deck stacked in my favor, and with 3 colonists in my hand after missing my first shot, I gambled on Cochin to get the clove I desperately needed. (Some may recall that I tried the same thing at Euroquest, failing my second try but somehow bouncing back to win anyway.) This time I scored the double-3 and got my clove. By the end of round two, I'm the first to be churning out two cards at a time.

I quickly get to Level 4 of the card track, but Phil beats me to Level 5. I also go down on spices (the default strategy for Goa, it seems), though Alex has long since gotton to near the bottom of that track. While Chris's 'even-build' strategy leaves him behind, the rest of us are neck-and-neck by near the end.

It came down to the card draw at the end. I had four cards ('two-pair'), and one last action. I debated whether to draw one to get the 'full house', or discard a pair and draw three (and try for the '3-of-a-kind') I chose the former, missed, and lost by two to Alex (who actually completed a 'full house' with an action to spare; his taxing that round meant that, had I gotten my 'full house', we would have tied for the win.

I suppose, looking back, it was just as well that we couldn't organize a poker night for the evening. It wasn't my night for poker, or winning (three 2nds, no wins in 6 chances).


At least I won a 3pl BSW game of Settlers (tons of '5' and '6' rolls, and I had ore on both with a 3-1 port), but I'm still frustrated over losing internet connection during a 3pl Caylus game where I really felt I was winning; 5 minutes after I get back on, the others were long gone.

Well, there's always two weeks from now.
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