Action! Game Night - August 24th, 2009
Eric Rampson
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Illinois
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After roughly a month, the Action! Game Night crew (sans rlolar) gathered at Saul's house for some Action! All other current members were in attendance: me, Marc, not-so-newbie Collin, and Saul.

I went a little game-purchase crazy at GenCon, so we have a bunch of new games to try out. We have a rule (well, it's more of a guideline, really) about only trying one brand new to the group game a night, so we have several months of new gaming experiences to look forward to.

For this week's new game experience, I chose to bring along...
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1. Board Game: Ad Astra [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:906]
Eric Rampson
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Some of my GenCon compatriots got the chance to play my copy while I taught another contingent Agricola. They reported really liking the game and agreeing with the "Settlers-meets-Race for the Galaxy" summation that we had heard. I have been jazzed to try this one since I got back from the con and now was my chance.

I crushed everyone.

In order to level the playing field, I had sent out the PDF of the rules to the other members of the group in hopes of letting them read for themselves how the game was played and having a few days to ruminate on possible strategies. Saul claimed to have read 2 pages. Marc and Collin hadn't even opened the file.

In one turn, I managed to collect 6 Water and 6 Vegetables prior to my Build action card, which allowed me to drop my remaining three terraformers in one swoop. This netted my 12 points. I then played the final of my three scoring cards the next round, scoring terraformers, grabbing me another 12 points (3pts x 4 terraformers) plus 3 bonus points for scoring the most from that card. The following turn, with all three of my scoring cards in hand, I played two of them - I called scoring on Colonies/Factories and then Terraformers again. Even though other players outscored me on Colonies/Factories, my lead was such that they couldn't catch me before my Terraformer scoring sent me up over fifty.

For the first half of the game we had forgotten about the 10 resource card limit at the end of each round. I am pretty sure that it didn't affect my game at all (I wold grab a ton of water and vegetables then spend them that turn) but Saul and Marc declared my win "under protest" (something that happens A LOT at Action! Game Night but only, it seems, when I'm the one that wins...*shrug*). All in all, everyone dug the game and I think it will see more play.
 
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2. Board Game: Le Havre [Average Rating:7.91 Overall Rank:37]
Eric Rampson
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Marc asked to play Le Havre, claiming he wanted to try to play at least one competent game of it in his lifetime. I readily agreed, as did Saul - we love the game.

Then I realized Collin had never played before. He's a quick learner but Le Havre can be a daunting game to teach. Collin weathered my explanations admirably and, after only 20 minutes or so, we were off.

Well, Saul, Marc, and Collin were off. I sputtered right out of the gate. After the third round, I was easily able to call my last place finish. There was a short period in the mid-game where I was poising for a comeback of epic proportions but two key choices by Marc quashed that notion. I ended the game with 106 points. Collin, the Le Havre newbie, ended with 118 (on the back of an overstuffed Storehouse). Marc came in second with 126 points and Saul topped the heap with an impressive 142-ish points.

I built a total of two buildings during the game - the Fishery and the Arts Center. No one, and I mean literally, absolutely NO ONE other than me ever used the Fishery, rendering my Arts Center (which gives you 4 points anytime another player uses one of your buildings) useless. I did not make good choices. At all.

Le Havre fascinates me. I love that, unlike most games, the first moves aren't always clear but within the first few turns it becomes abundantly clear what you SHOULD have done on turn one. It also surprises me that I am a solid player in the two-player game but absolutely terrible at it with 3, 4, or 5 players.
 
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