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Subject: First time being a Headsman for 5p rss

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T.W. Man
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For those who read my earlier Power Grid session report, this should be
familiar:

At work, we regularly (once every other month or so) have a small game evening after work. Since I work for a consulting company where most of us work on site at our customer's location, we don't see each other very often. This is a very excellent way to keep in touch in a different setting. The game evening is always after work hours on a Friday, pizzas being delivered at around six. Play time is usually limited to around midnight, since most of us have had a long week already. Also, the traffic involved into getting to our gaming location is tiring. Despite all that, we usually manage to get around 8 to 10 people together. Not too shabby for an informal evening of play!

After we wrapped up our game of Power Grid, I had just about enough energy left for one more, simple game. I brought Guillotine with me and haven't had the opportunity to play it yet, so this seemed like a perfect time to do so.

The game is explained in about five minutes. In the game, we play the role of headsmen who are keen to collect the finest heads in the French revolution, including our dearest Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. The game itself is a card game, with a line of twelve nobles being laid in front of a guillotine. Players are dealt 5 action cards and the game starts with the player with the longest neck.

Players take turns and in one turn, a player:
- may play an action card
- must collect the next head
- must draw an action card
Play continues until all nobles are collected after which a day ends. Game ends at the end of the third day.

Action cards manipulate the line of nobles, the cards in hand, added bonus points for certain nobles, etc.

The game itself is fairly easy. Decisions are straightforward with few longer term issues involved, especially with as many as five players. By the time of your next turn, things have changed so much, you can't really base your plans on it. So play revolves around trying to get the best noble in the line with your current action cards or screwing one of your opponents. There is quite a lot of tit-for-tat involved, which is perfectly fine with this kind of game.

Some nobles combine to get more bonus points (e.g. the Count and Countess get bonus points if you're able to collect both heads) so some nobles are worth more to one headsmen than others.

Since it the first play for all of us and it was the end of the evening, nobody was really concentrated. There were some laughs, trying to shove a "bad" noble (with penalty points) to someone else or making people discard action cards. In the end, it seemed like the one with the best luck outscored the rest of us heavily (something like 25+ points, while the rest of us didn't manage to get past 20 and myself getting no more than 12).

Our verdict? A good end of the game evening, kind of fun, but play would be better if quicker. This was largely due to the large amount of text on the cards; since I own a German version, it made for slow play. I did hand out German to English translations of all cards (Thanks BGG!) but that helped only a little. I expect the game to be a lot smoother with repeat playings. My other game group might also play faster, as with other games they tend to use downtime to think and refresh their memory.

Any lessons learned for first time players?
- It's a quick filler: don't treat it as a complex game!
- Try and read your Action cards on other people's turn. Keep the game flowing!
- Get the game in a language you're comfortable with. It keeps the game flowing!
 
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