With a bit of time left, Rich brought out Seismic - a game based on building roads in an earthquake prone area. The basic game is one of laying routes and claiming them for end game scoring. The twist is that some of the tiles are "earthquakes" that will remove tiles connected to the central start tile. The tiles themselves have a variety of road patterns on them - some a single road, others with 2 or even 3 roads connecting various edges of the hexagonal tile. In addition, some tiles have additional cities with a number of connections (1 to 6). A road will only be scored if it starts and ends at a city. Incomplete roads are worth nothing at game's end.
To add some variety to the game - the 6 earthquakes are mixed with 6 simple tiles (2 straights, 2 gentle (120°) curves, 2 tight (60°) curves) and 6 tiles are removed from the game. Therefore, the number and magnitude of earthquakes will vary in each game. The remaining 6 tiles are then mixed with the rest of the tiles to form a draw pile (but we just used a cloth bag as it was easier). The start tile (San Andreas - a city w/ 6 road connections) is placed on the table. Three tiles are turned face up and play begins. A player chooses one of the three face up tiles to connect to the road network. If desired, they can place a road crew on one of road sections on the just played tile to claim that road as their own. That ends their turn and the next player begins by turning another tile face up to once again have a choice of three possible road tiles.
Should an earthquake be drawn, tiles will be removed from the network. The earthquake strikes along the longest of the 6 rows of tiles emanating from the start (San Andreas) tile. The magnitude of the earthquake (1~6) dictates how many tiles are removed.
As we started the game, we drew the M5.0 earthquake as one of the initial start tiles. Per the rules, this was discarded and replaced, so we survived at least one earthquake as it wouldn't occur. Kern went for an early, quick build strategy connecting drawn cities almost immediately to San Andreas to gain San Andreas's 6 points. But these roadways were also on one of the possible fault lines so were at risk should an earthquake be drawn. But such would not happen. Kern managed to help direct some of the building in another direction making that the longest row for when an Earthquake struck. In fact, as the network developed, a lot of the building was in one of the "hexants" between the spokes coming from San Andreas as those tiles would be safe and unaffected by any earthquake.
Our road network was fairly developed when the first earthquake struck (M6.0 - the big one). Kern's quick scores were protected as the earthquake radiated away from those points taking out 6 tiles impacting a open roads along the way - meaning that most of the roads were yet to be closed and worth points.
Dave W was working on a longish connection and had in hand the tile to close the road, but it would have meant sharing the road points with Kern, so he opted not to do so. A wise choice as a 4-city emerged with let Dave W score his points on his section while given Kern a few points for his connection on the other side.
As the hextant was being built out - Dave managed to draw the other 6 city (worth 6 points if connected) and managed to make a few roadways to that city. Rich tried to tie in also, but Dave helped Rich out by attaching a straight road to Rich's road sending him away from the city and needing to work a bit more to try to connect back. (Rich did call this a Metro move as it was reminiscent of the type of connections that can be made in that game also.)
As the game neared its conclusion - the smallest earthquake struck (M1.0) which removed a 6 connection tile next to San Andreas. But as Dave W draws the last tile from the bag - it is the 3-straight 6 connection tile and it fits right back in the damaged spot with the added bonus of joining Dave W's road not to 4 City, but to San Andreas itself.
With all the tiles played, we removed markers on incomplete roads and set about scoring the remaining roads:
Rich: 8+ 6+ 7+13+12 = 46
Kern: 7+ 8+ 9+ 9 = 33
Dave W: 10+10+ 6+16+ 9 = 51
Dave: 9+11+ 9+10+14+13 = 66
So Dave pulls out the win with an impressive (or so it seemed to us) 6 completed roads.
For a first play, we did enjoy the tension of when (if) earthquakes might strike. The careful reader will have noticed that only 2 earthquakes struck our game. Three were removed during the tile removal phase and another during the initial face-up tile set up phase. So in the end, we worried a bit about a minor threat. Of course, none of us had studied any sort of tile distributions. We were aware how many cities remained, but studying the developer's website afterwards (http://games.bezier.com/seismic.html) I also see that each city tile is a unique layout. Therefore, we should keep track not only of what cities are missing but also their likely layout as we can then avoid hoping for a city that is already on the board. The same can probably be extended to a bit more knowledge of the tile distribution also.
I did like this game and look forward to trying it out again. I remember well that my enjoyment of Carcassonne increased once I had learned the tile distributions so could make a better choice about tile plays knowing the types of tiles that were remaining. Making those intelligent choices will be key to network games like Seismic.
Speaking of Carcassonne, there are obious similarities to the roads in Carcassonne, but I like what Seismis offers. The Hexagonal tiles offer more options for connection as does the draw 1 from 3 tile choice mechanism. The earthquakes (and their variety) add a nice tension to the placement decisions, but still one that can be strategized around. A game that I hope I will be able to play again soon.