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Subject: Session Report rss

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Kevin Whitmore
United States
Albuquerque
New Mexico
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TNG Session Report – June 12, 2001

EDISON & CO.

I’ve owned this game for a while, and tonight Terry returned it to me, after painting the miniatures for me.  Thanks Terry!  The painted miniatures are great, as Terry took special efforts to match them to the illustrations on the playing cards.  Nice!

We began to play the standard four-player game.  But before we got too far into it, Jay Tummelson came over and strongly encouraged us to restart and play the four-player partnership game.  I’m glad we did!  By having a partner you now have twice as much chance to control the outcome.  The standard game seems to be hopelessly random.  But I should explain myself.

Edison & Co. is a game about test-driving prototype vehicles.  The test track looks like a racetrack, but this is really not a racing game.  The track is two lanes wide, and a number of circles have been cut out of the actual board.  Scoring chits are supplied which are placed in the holes.  Obviously this has been done to promote replayability, as you can make the track different every game.

All four vehicles begin on the Start Line.  This is the only space on the track where four vehicles can be at the same time.  Usually the track is two lanes wide and only a single vehicle can be in a space.  This becomes important during the play of the game.  If a vehicle cannot move its full movement allotment, it must forfeit its full move.

At the start of the game each team draws a scoring matrix card.  Rather than operating a specific car, you must move all of the vehicles during the game.  You will get the score for each vehicle and multiply it according to your teams scoring matrix.  For instance:

Pati and I had the card that tripled (x3) the score for the Green car, doubled (x2) the score for the Locomotive, scored (x1) the Red Sail car, and ignored (x0) the Balloon car.

Movement is caused by playing cards.  This is a very quirky mechanism.  Each player has an identical deck of cards.  You have six movement cards (1-6), six direction cards (four forward and two backwards), and some cards picturing two of the four vehicles (all possible combinations).  Each turn the start player is changed.  The start player lays a card.  The second player must lay a different type of card, and the third player must lay the final type of card.  Finally the fourth player, who didn’t play a card, executes the move.

Here’s an example.  I lay a card showing the Balloon car and the Locomotive.  Bob (left hand opponent) decides to lay a movement card of "4".  Pati (my partner) must either lay a forward or backwards direction card.  She lays a forward card.  Chris (right hand opponent) may now execute the movement.  He must move one of the two cars pictured, in this case either the Balloon Car or the Locomotive.  He selects which one to move and must move it forward 4 spaces.

So what’s the point of all this?  During the game there are "scoring events".  When a scoring event occurs each vehicle receives points equal to the point value of the track space they are upon.  The track is composed of spaces valued from 10 to –10.  In addition there are some oil slicks in lieu of points.  The oil slicks are interesting.  Move a vehicle over them at no risk.  But if you stop a vehicle upon an oil slick it will spin 180 degrees and face the other way!  Further, this will cause a scoring event.

This proves interesting.  You want to move vehicles that you will get low or no score for on the oil slicks to trigger scoring events, but only if your favored cars are on high value point spaces.  Scoring also occurs when a vehicle is programmed to move "2" spaces.  Since each player has one of these "2-movement" cards you are virtually guaranteed to have those four scoring events each game.  Finally, at the end of the game there is a scoring event.  Therefore you will have a minimum of five scoring events each game, and possibly more from vehicle movement ending upon oil slicks.

In some ways this feels more like a puzzle than a game.  I definitely enjoyed having a partner across the table from me.  As Chris and Jay said, it felt a bit like Bridge, especially playing defense at Bridge.  Occasionally there is a chance to force the final player (the mover) to only take a single possible move.  This can happen by setting up a movement that is impossible to complete for one of the two cars at liberty.

As you play you begin to understand which vehicles your opponents favor, and so you will want to evaluate your moves accordingly.  One unique feature for this card/board game is that the value of your remaining cards is very relative to the situation on the board, and who will be executing the movement.

In our game, it became clear that Chris and Bob favored the Red Sail Car, and that no one cared about the Balloon Car.  Pati and I favored the Green Car, and were successful in launching it into the highest scoring level of the four cars.  However, the Green car was the x2 car for Bob and Chris, while ours was the Locomotive – which scored abysmally.  Thus Bob and Chris were able to claim the victory on total points.

All in all, and I think I can speak for everyone here, we found this to be an odd game.  While thought provoking and clever, it wasn’t compelling.  I’d play this game again, but am likely not to request it.  Additionally, we all agreed the game seems only interesting if played as a partnership game.  The standard four-player game seemed far too random for you to have any hope of applying skill to it.

I liked the 4-player partnership game, and find myself wondering how it would play with your partner seated beside you...  Might have to try it.  Seems like each team would get even more control, and the scoring would become more of a set-up/assist followed by a completion.  I'd expect scores to grow, and your sense of control to improve.

Ratings:

Bob, Chris, Pati and Kevin: OK
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