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Subject: Three Player rss

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J Castellucci
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We got in a three player game of London at the Tuesday night meetup at the Mill Valley Round Table. It was the first play for veteran gamers Paul and Kenny, and my 4th.

Kenny wanted to try and avoid taking a loan so he opted to play cards first turn and start running early. He got his city up to 8 stacks, and was troubled by poverty all game. In enthusiam to feed his Bridge, he over-built his Streetlights late-game, and wound up regretting it. Kenny got killed in the end-game, with drawing 3 cards as his best option to lose the least amount of points.

Paul was trying to avoid poverty and kept his city small an lean, and ended the game as lowest poverty with 1. Paul also worked on playing VP point cards. But, as we neared the end-game, with only 5 stacks, he couldn't do much more than reduce his poverty running, and wasn't gaining points or $. Paul was able to pay back 1 of his 4 loans.

I kept with my previous strategy of going for area control, and was able to control 8 districts (6 each for the other players). I ran pretty clean early game at around 6 stacks, then zoomed up to 9 for the C deck era. Key play was Town Houses for 7 (flipping a Hospital), then flipping again for 9. Streetlights kept my poverty managable. Another key play for me was taking 2 loans I didnt need right before building over the Bank -- that $24 came in useful over the game. I ended with 3 loans, and was only able to pay back 1, but I still think I converted the $21 (I ended with $3) into more than 14pts.


Score Tally (in VPs)

J K P
-- -- --
$ 1 15 1
Dist. 25 23 25
Under 8 8 0
Cards 27 24 38
Chips 40 10 7
Loans -14 0 -21
Poverty -2 -11 0
== == ==
85 79 50

More Observations

Three player seems to be the sweet-spot for the game -- downtime is reduced (though the game seems a tad too-long still) from four, and you have access to almost all of the cards during the game.

Sewers -- still a MvP

Paupers seem pretty inconsequential -- there are plenty of ways to get rid of them during the game, and it looks like they have two net effects -- slowing the game, and maybe dinging someone in the endgame. I think they could be removed entirely from the game (along with Workhouses, and maybe a Prison and a School).

Poverty also seems overly clunky and hard to manage -- in my 4 games, at least one player has trended to 0 poverty, so everyone has to. You can look at Sewers and compute it's value a ~5-7vp card if you have poverty, and make your choices accordingly. While I haven't played Glen More yet, it seems to have a more elegant way to counter expansion (you lose 3vp at the end of the game for every size your area is larger than the smallest player's area).

And I hate to say it, but the end game just stinks. Maybe with more plays it become's more managable, but the end game seems to spin out of control. It's been my experience that you are trying to choose the least bad option as the deck gets down to its last few cards -- I enjoy In the Year of the Dragon which is a least-painful option management game, but it seems tacked on to end of London, with one player going down in flames because of how the others manipulated the deck/display.

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Larry Levy
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Stormbull wrote:
Another key play for me was taking 2 loans I didnt need right before building over the Bank -- that $24 came in useful over the game.

I'm not quite sure that's legal. The rules say that you can take a loan "when you require additional cash". So I don't think you can take out loans just to have a cash surplus. The only reason for such a rule would be to keep players from abusing the Bank of England. However, an official ruling on this would be welcome.

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Paupers seem pretty inconsequential

I agree that it's not that hard to rid yourself of paupers. However, they give the players a little bit more to think about and, more significantly, add to the game's theme. So I think on balance they are a good addition.

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Poverty also seems overly clunky and hard to manage

London wouldn't be nearly as good as it is without poverty. It gives the game a needed extra dimension. There might be other ways of dealing with it, but I like the way it's handled in the game. And again, it adds a lot of theme to a title that's less thematic than the usual Wallace design.

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And I hate to say it, but the end game just stinks. Maybe with more plays it become's more managable, but the end game seems to spin out of control.

I haven't seen anything nearly that bad in my games. Players occasionally have no productive option on their last turn, but they take the hit and move on--I'd hardly call it spinning out of control. You obviously have to time things so that you can deal with the game ending and that includes estimating the likelihood that an opponent will end things.
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Steve Duff
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Larry Levy wrote:
Stormbull wrote:
Another key play for me was taking 2 loans I didnt need right before building over the Bank -- that $24 came in useful over the game.

I'm not quite sure that's legal. The rules say that you can take a loan "when you require additional cash".


You're correct, that move was illegal. If the situation comes up, you're allowed to take as many loans as you wish at that time to get extra cash on hand, but only if you qualify for it first.
 
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Daniel Corban
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This isn't the only game where players must learn proper timing and management of the game-end trigger. After playing this five times, I am learning how to time my last few turns so they coincide with the game end. I think if you are the one sitting there thinking "I can't do anything useful, and if I trigger the end I get screwed", then you made a mistake somewhere along the way.
 
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