It looked like being just five gamers at this stage (what must Pat think?), and as all Pat's requests were for four player games we were a bit lost. In the end we grabbed something new, Andromeda.
Roger, Doug and Janet had played this a few days before, and we all rather enjoyed it. As a light family game it works quite well, but there are a couple of mechanisms in the game that will appeal to the hardened gamer.
Here's some descriptions I typed up the other day - saves me doing it again!
Not too bad, very different, doesn't really feel like any other game I can readily name. The object is to collect points via claiming trading stations on seven planets, claiming wild cards, being advanced in technology and finally, for having lots of stations on earth.
You need sets of planet cards to do anything in this game. Sets get you onto a planet, and from there more sets will give you chances at getting a trading station on that planet (the stations are worth the points, not simply having a presence on the planet). Sets also let you advance along the spaceship and technology tracks (these advances give you more power and flexibility in the game).
Each turn you are dealt back up to your hand limit (from 9 to 13 depending on your ship level). You may cash in one of your two precious transport cards to move two stations from earth to any of 7 planets, or move ALL stations from any of the planets back to earth.
Then a neat trading phase occurs where the start player plays, one at a time to which each player must respond to each card, planet cards that are up for trade. The other players cannot match the start players cards, and a bit of Res Publica appears here as you try and guess what the other players need and offer it up. The start player must take a set from another player, the others may take up their cards or trade with any remaining player. I liked this - it worked for me.
Then come the action rounds - the starting player gets three actions, the other players get two actions. Actions include:
* discard 1-3 cards and replace them off the deck.
cash in an appropriate set to advance along the spaceship or technology track.
* cash in a set to move some stations from earth to a planet (half the number in the set rounded down)
* cash in a set to attempt to establish a trading post on a planet
Cashing in "pure" sets (no wild cards) allows you to claim a wild card - these can be used for melding into subsequent sets, or held to the end of the game and used for victory points.
The trading post action is going to divide gamers (just a prediction!). The number of attempts a player gets is equal to the number of cards in the set halved and rounded down. The player covers all player's stations on a planet with some device (akin to the cloud in Ab Die Post) and whirls it around. One station will pop out the gap in the device, and if it's yours then you get a trading station (some big points in the bag). If it's another player's, then that goes back to earth and you get another attempt providing you have some attempts left. Very random, but you maximise your luck through your card play - more in a set, more chances. Wait a bit to build up a set, someone may trump in and take the juice 14 trading post off your by blind luck!
The game ends when three planets each have all their trading post slots (3) taken.
Our game saw Pat jump out to a big lead by forming the first two or three trading stations on planets. Doug was concentrating on building hand size (rockets) and powers (technology) and the others followed suit. Doug's strategy was to try and get to the vital "round up" ability quickly, hopefully earning a few wild cards along the way, then cashing all that in for extra chances on trading station attempts.
It kind of worked out that way, but your strategy (if there is any!) is very much driven by how well you come out of the trading phase. If you do not get some good stuff, you are forced to waste actions picking up new cards off the deck.
Our game closed up towards the end, and a goods odds trading station attempt by Greg didn't happen for him (poor Greg had terrible luck with the "cloud") and the suprisingly went an extra turn. Doug had a couple of attempts on the Purple planet, and the "Jupiter" like planet that would have netted an extra 10 points, but neither "hit", and Pat took the game.
Pat: 46/6/2/7 = 61
Janet: 40/1/4/8 = 53
Doug: 32/6/5/9 = 52
Roger: 24/6/12/7 = 49
Greg: 30/6/-/9 = 45
I'm giving this a 7. Some will loathe it, but for some reason it appeals to me.