Sunday, June 18

Hot Games Action! - Part 1

I went along to Beyond Monopoly again yesterday afternoon for a few hours of gaming. When I got there the place was pretty busy - there must have been over thirty people including I'd guess about 10 kids. It's nice to see the kids there, they are of course the future of the hobby.

Everyone seemed to be busy, then I noticed a guy hovering over one of the games, I introduced myself and we picked up Euphrates & Tigris a tile laying game by Reiner Knizia, set during the dawn of civilisation in what is now Iraq. While we were setting up and Wolfgang was explaining the rules, Colin and Paul asked if there was room for more so we settled down to a 4-player game. The first thing that struck me was this German version was for 2-4 players, whereas only the day before I had been thinking of buying the English version, which was only 3-4 players. Bizarre. The game was slightly complicated on the surface (we had three beginners playing and we all had difficulty remembering which tiles counted when resolving internal and external conflicts), but obviously had some subtlety hovering under the surface. I was playing fairly randomly for most of the game as I struggled to determine a decent strategy, I also failed to play either of my two disaster counters, which was probably a mistake.

Throughout the game, I was also completely short-changed of green tiles. The reason this matters is that you score independantly in each of the four colours, and your final score is the lowest of your four scores - forcing you to diversify. This was a really interesting mechanic, which I think with a little more practice I could learn to love. It's another game where you keep your scores hidden, so everyone is kept interested as they don't know whether they are still in with a chance of winning. Come the end, we were all convinced we had lost by miles, but it ended up being very close: Paul - 6, Wolfgang - 6, Me - 5, Colin - 4.

After Euphrates & Tigris we looked for another game for the four of us, and someone suggested Medici also by Reiner Knizia, about which I'd heard good things on BGG. It was the first auction game I'd played and as we were setting up Rob came over to join in so we ended up playing a 5-player game. Sadly I forgot to take a photo of medici, so you'll have to make do without one.

The game is set in Renaissance Italy, as players play as merchants shipping goods. The game is played over three turns, and during each turn players take it in turns to turn over cards describing trade goods and then auction them. You bid with your money, which is coincidentally your VPs, so not only do you have a limited supply but you want to end the game with as much as possible. There are five types of goods and the two players who have shipped the most of each type of goods so far get some money at the end of each time. In addition, there are points for having the heaviest ship during each turn. Again I was fairly lost during this game, as I had no idea what a heavy load was until the end of the first turn, and there are only three. I wasn't sure how much to pay for card combinations, and I'm sure I made a few mistakes. At the end of the first turn I was last by a fairly hefty margin, but I was lucky at the end of the second turn, since if it's your turn to draw cards and everyone else's ship is full you have to take whatever cards you draw from the deck, and I was lucky enough to draw two cards of a type I was already shipping this turn. This got me the most of that type and enough cash to get back in the game. In the end I managed to sneak second place behind Colin's comfortable lead: Colin - 122, Me - 83, Rob - 82, Paul - 75, Wolfgang - 72.

The others went to join in a game of Ca$h 'n' Gun$, which didn't sound that interesting from the explanation I got, so Paul and I played a game of Lost Cities. I'd not played it before, and Paul had just bought it so we were both up for it. It turned out to be my third Reiner Knizia game of the day, it wasn't intentional, but when someone has made so many games it's hard not to end up playing them, just through luck of the draw. Lost Cities is a card game of running archaeological digs to explore five lost cities.

I really liked this one. It's quick, it's simple and it's nicely themed. The cards are well illustrated (and the fact that each set of cards makes a larger picture of the appropriate lost city is pretty cool). Despite my appreciation of the game I really sucked at it. I couldn't keep track of my expeditions, and since each starts off worth -20, and the end of the turn always comes round much faster than you expect. I ended up regularly losing money on expeditions, and each turn Paul thrashed me. From 33-11 at the end of the first turn I ended up losing 99-27!

So, why the title? It was baking in there! It was like playing games in a sauna. Still, yet another good session of games that are new to me.

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