The Four Horsemen: Gathering IV Session Results
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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On Saturday on August 2nd, we decided (or stumbled upon) a list of potentially heavier and/or longer games. Paul started off the the request list with Railways of the World, followed by Ed with Imperial (continuing our ride on the rondel), and Doug requested the Amazing Space Venture. I was late, both in arriving that morning, and making my request. In fact, I suppose that I did not even make a final suggestions, but I arrived that day ready to play Tinners' Trail for the second gathering in a row! So, without further ado, on to the results!
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1. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:97] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Bradley Keen
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We started off our session with Railroad Tycoon. Paul, as usual, did an excellent job explaining the game, though he did leave out the points deduction for shares at the end of the game. BUT, I won't complain about this, since it helped to lead me to my final victory. Paul jumped off to an early points victory, yet accumulated a massive amount of debt and thus shares. Ed and Doug also sold many shares throughout the course of the game and ultimately spent many a round collected only 1 or 2 thousand dollars. I trued to manage my share holdings much more efficiently, or I stumbled upon success, and ended the game with only 11 shares. Thus, as my points accumulated with rapid speed towards the end of the game, I was able to finish with the victory!

Final Scores:
Brad 72
Paul 61
Ed 42
Doug 33

My Final Thoughts:
This was my favorite game of the day. I have not yet played many railroad games, and I was happy to finally get a game in. It was a longer game, but it did not feel long. Also, I recognized that it would be a longer game so I was not upset about this fact. I felt that I was always in control of my own destiny in the game and really enjoyed playing it. I cannot wait to get another game in, and also eagerly anticipate the Rails of the World (expansion) release by Eagle Games/FRED Distribution.
 
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2. Board Game: Imperial [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:140]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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After eating a great lunch (Chili Dogs!) we headed back to start up the next of our heavier games. I have played Imperial twice before, though you would not have been able to tell from the final outcome. In my previous two games, I had actually won by implementing a strategy of laying low and letting other people control countries. Thus, I watched and waited, taking the time to figure out which countries were doing better and then ultimately buying into them. Paul taught the game, doing a good job explaining the many concepts and mechanisms. As you will see though, my previous strategy was not effective in this game. In fact, I ended up spending about 3/4 of the game doing absolutely nothing and without the money to actually gain control of any countries. Because I became too diversified in smaller shares of countries, I lacked the control necessary to gain money and the money necessary to gain control. Paul, Ed, and Doug, on the other hand, grasped that aspect of the game, though Paul spend a good deal of the game controlling 3 or 4 countries (which is obvious when you look at the final score!). I don't have much more to say about the flow of the game, so I invite the other horsemen to chime in at this point with comments.

Final Score:
Paul 141
Ed 100
Brad 86

Final Thoughts:
Of the three rondel games, this one has always been my least favorite. My favorite is probably Antike although Hamburgum has always been close. I think that I am wary of Imperial because I feel that it tries to do too much. Or perhaps I am wary because I simply cannot handle the different parts of the game. I do not see, or I cannot grasp, the connection between conflict and investment, and I would rather play two games that focus on those particular topics instead of one game that introduces a intertwining of the two. Finally, I simply cannot walk away from a 2-3 hours game where I was only actively involved for maybe 30 minutes and say that I had a good time. I understand that it was my fault for putting myself in that situation, but I will not pretend that I had a good time playing Imperial. I have somewhat enjoyed my previous two plays of the game, but this one severely diminishes that chance that I will suggest it or even want to play it in the future.
 
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3. Board Game: Amazing Space Venture [Average Rating:5.72 Overall Rank:11691]
Bradley Keen
United States
Harrisburg
Pennsylvania
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After Imperial, we ate some pizza and after some indecision, settled on Doug's requested game, the Amazing Space Venture. Doug had played before but had not thoroughly refreshed himself on the rules, so we spent a little extra time covering that aspect before getting down to the game. At its core, it is actually very simple to play, and a nice player aid would probably help out tremendously. I have played once before, and did not particularly enjoy the experience, but I was ready to give it another go. Two hours or so later, when we finished up, I don't think that my impression of the game changed. Doug spent a great deal of the game sitting around doing nothing because he could not draw any tiles with planets to discover and I, though I discovered planet after planet and won the game, did not see but 1 or 2 environment cards the entire game.

Final Score:
Brad 67
...and sorry guys, I forgot to write down the rest of the scores

Final Thoughts:
This is not one of my favorite games. Why? Simply because it is too long. One of my favorite descriptions of a game is stolen from Tom Vasel concerning Munchkin. He said that it is "15 minutes of fun packed into 2 hours". That is how I feel about this one. The game is very very similar to another tile laying game that we are all familiar with (Carcassonne in space anyone?), and many of the core scoring mechanisms are exactly the same. I often wonder how designers can get away with this, but that is another point of discussion. This fact in itself does not make it unbearable. What bothers me is that the cards introduce way too much luck into the game without adding much theme or fun to it. This would all be okay if it lasted 30 or 45 minutes tops. But when a group of four rather quick players take 2 to 3 hours to play it, then something is wrong. And the previous time that I played it took about the same amount of time. Further, I do not see things speeding up on future plays, since the decisions (though simple and pointless) that a player has to make on each turn must occur and do, out of sheer fiddliness take time.

All that said, the first 30-60 minutes of the game are fun and if a variant were instituted that shortened the game down so that it was no longer "30 minutes of fun packed into 2-3 hours" I would probably like it a whole lot more.

Well, that was the last game of our session. It was 9 and I had to make the trip back home. I cannot wait for our next gathering, and I hope that I will be able to get two games into the request list. Perhaps Tinners' Trail and Paul seems inclined to throw in Wealth of Nations! I also made a DVD of instructions for Die Macher and I think that we will have to have a monster session sometime and knock out some of those games that we just don't want to pull out for these "shorter" sessions. Die Macher, Manifest Destiny, and Age of Steam are all beckoning.
 
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