It was Anand's day. This was his last gaming day with us, so we let him choose all the games. He wanted to try Stephenson's Rocket again (which has since propelled to the top of his list as his number one game) and he wanted to try any "new" game he hasn't played before. Since none of us had played Carolus Magnus and Mike brought his copy, we gave that a try. Anand is a good gamer and he will be a missed presence with our group; however, he is off to better things and hopefully he will hook up with other groups in Silicon Valley.
ROLL CALL: Justin Berman, Laura Berman, Anand Daga, Mike Davis, Geoff DeWan, Brian Keenan, Phil Swim and Phil Parker
This is the third time many of us have tried to play this Knizia game. It is one of those games that at first seems over complex in its scoring mechanics, but is picked up quite quickly after repeated play. Tonight's game proved to be the most animated play of Stephenson's Rocket yet. Anand and Phil Parker were itching to play this again and Mike (who kept glancing over with curiosity from his game of Euphrat & Tigris last week) joined the game. To round it out, Laura jumped in too.
Phil Parker started out strong and consistently developed the "yellow" line NE choosing a station placement strategy (he placed four stations close by within the first few turns!). He also developed the "green" line to a lesser extent, but that line was developed further by Mike. Mike, however, focused on "red" line growth but also adopted a token grabbing strategy by maximizing his take in cloth tokens. Laura grabbed sprocket tokens while developing the "gray" line and eventually the "purple" line. Anand chose to strategically place his stations where others would be inclined to go. He also grew the various rail lines into opposing player stations to gain a majority in passenger tokens. Snatching the occasional token allowed him to also secure the majority in barrel tokens.
Soon enough in the game the merging began with Mike merging the "red" line into "purple". Anand followed shortly thereafter by merging the northbound "green" line into the expanding "purple" line. This placed the "purple" line dangerously near isolation which Anand tried to isolate in the NW, but was successfully vetoed by Mike. Next to merge was Laura's merging of "purple" into "blue". Anand followed suit by merging the "yellow" into the "mega-blue" line.
In spite of Phil Parker's late expansion of the "orange" line, the game ended when Mike merged the "gray" line into the "mega-blue" line which caused an isolation of "blue" and hence, ended the game.
Of particular interest was Phil Parker's early lead. Since he managed to establish four (4) stations connected to the "yellow" line by turn five, he was viewed as a constant threat in the game. Players denied many of his strategies throughout, especially by disallowing his merging of his three station "orange" line with any other line. In the end, all four players had EXACTLY five stations on the "mega-blue" line and split the profits of this 24 town/city empire. This game was closer in scoring than the last and was enjoyed much more by all players.
Scores: Laura 86,000£, Anand 75,000£, Phil Parker 48,000£, Mike 39,000£
Ratings: Anand 9, Laura 9, Phil Parker 9, Mike 9