Venue: Pat’s place.
Present: Brian, Alex, Brad, Jeff, Pat, Nick, Andrew, Lindsay, Paul.
Played: Coda, The Thief of Baghdad, Vikings, Caylus, Diamant, The Thief of Baghdad (again), Colosseum, Vikings (again), Geschenkt, Taj Mahal, Don.
Pictures from two sources tonight: 1. The typical lo-res pics from my Nokia, and 2. The unexpected arrival of Lindsay, normally a Thursday night regular, who has provided some shots of a type rarely found in The Mine Shaft Gap, ie., those that feature people and games. Thanks again, Lindsay.
Coda: A pre- and during pizza warm-up for the first four to arrive.
Jeff won, Brad 2nd, then Alex and Pat.
The Thief of Baghdad: Tactiples
I add another new title to the list, courtesy of Nick again, with this Spiel des Jahres nominee. Play is quite simple and elegant as players try to get their thief pawns into various of the six palaces ahead of their opponents. In reference to last week’s dubbing of the pieces in Vikings as “viples”, we chose to call the Thief pieces “thieples” or “Diebles”. I think I prefer “thieples” of these…
For me at least, play was largely opportunistic until right near the end, when all three of us were sitting on 4 treasure chests, just below the threshold for winning. Then some of the tactical twists came into play more frequently. Pat had managed to line up three thieples in the purple palace and had occupied all but one of the guard spots with his guard pawns (”guarples”?). Guard movements by both Nick and me managed to slow him down by perhaps one turn, but the writing was on the wall and he managed to snatch victory, maybe a turn or two ahead of Nick and multiple turns ahead of me.
Thief is one of those games that even reminds me of chess, with its positioning of pieces to slowly build a position on the board and to hinder the aspirations of your opponents. Pat also drew a comparison to Blue Moon City, although suggested the latter was a little richer because of the individual effects of the played cards.
13 mins rules and setup; 53 mins game time.
Results: Pat (blue): 5. Nick (yellow): 4. Paul (green): 4.
Vikings: On the back of last week’s discovery, this title is absolutely the flavour of the moment - apparently Pat’s Thursday group played three times this week too. This session saw the blooding of Jeff and a second go for both Alex and Brian. Without looking at the score track or any other details I picked Alex as the likely winner with his well-populated islands, and importantly, clearly more fishermen than his opponents.
16 mins rules and setup; 57 mins game time.
Results: Alex (brown): 67. Brian (orange): 54. Jeff (white): 50.
Caylus: I was slightly disappointed that this was broken out on another table after I had committed to Thief of Baghdad, as in all probability I expect it will be some time before I see it surface again in this group. This was made even worse when Brad declared loudly, a mere one minute into the game, “May I make an announcement: Caylus is not my favourite game…”. I was tempted to switch with him from Thief, but stood by my original commitment.
There was some discussion of this to be a “speed Caylus” session, and at 90 minutes game time I think this is quite good, although not as fast as apparently the players had hoped. Brad was blamed…
20 mins rules and set up; 90 mins game time.
Results: Andrew (red): 80. Richard (blue): 78. Brad (black): 71.
A filler while we waited for Caylus to finish. We played the rules dubbed by Pat as the “Balls of Steel” variant. Actually, this is the way we’ve always played. The original rules apparently call for the current gems to be distributed evenly in front of all active players for them to take their own personal pot when they bail on any given round. BoS rules provide the current and common pot of gems to be distributed only to the bailing players on any given round (residues after division stay in the pot). So longer-lasting players are still better placed to pick up a bigger share, but are also more likely (compared to original rules) to finish with less, or even nothing at all.
The results here therefore suggest that Pat, the winner, has the most marshmallowy balls, while Nick, with true balls of steel, has nothing to show for them.
2 mins rules and setup; 15 mins game time.
Results: Pat (blue): 17. Alex (yellow): 16. Brian (orange), Paul (brown): 15. Jeff (green): 14. Nick (white): 0.
The Thief of Baghdad (again): Another playing of Nick’s new game to accommodate the unanticipated arrival of Lindsay on an errand, successfully talked into staying for a game or three.
14 mins rules; 39 mins game time.
Results: Nick (yellow): 5. Brian (green): 4. Lindsay (orange): 3.
Colosseum: Gladiatorial miscalculations
All newbies except me to this one, hence I became defacto game explainer. This is why rules and setup time for this blows out to 50 minutes!
Unlike previous games I’ve played of this, the Emperor’s Loge was recognised by all players as a key investment to make as early as possible. Arguably, Alex was the most successful at manipulating the nobles from their dice rolls to maximum effect, mainly for Emperor’s Medals. However, on the last turn Andrew did manage to wind up with three of them in his colosseum (one was left there from the previous turn).
Asset token collection just seems to be vicious - there aren’t enough of them! Also, I found money to be unusually tight this game; perhaps I just bid too much for some of the asset sets early in the game. A consequence of this is that I missed out on a far more valuable program in the last turn because I was short of money. Even still, I had to trade a medal for $6 in order to afford the final batch of assets. I never did check this point in the rules, but presumably if you have less than $8 you are ineligible to bid on new asset tiles, even if you are the last player.
Pic: The eventual winner surveys his cast.
An outstanding final result for Alex, but I’m just left wondering what epic productions might have been, if not for financial mis- management on the part of my producer…
50 mins rules and setup; 115 mins game time.
Results: Alex (gold): 86. Jeff (purple): 70 (+$90). Paul (green): 70 (+$73). Andrew (red): 63.
Vikings (again): Second and final game of this one for the night, and unless my notes are very wrong, an unusually long one at 90 minutes. All high scores too - did you guys play a few extra turns?!
20 mins rules; 90 mins game time.
Results: Richard (orange): 84. Pat (white): 77. Brad (black): 76.
Geschenkt: A between-games filler for the Thieves.
About 20 mins. Nick won, over Lindsay and Brian.
Taj Mahal: This was an unexpected choice, and presumably made because of its conspicuous and convenient location on Pat’s game shelf. There seemed to be some vibe about TM not being that great a game, despite Pat’s observation that this was probably the best game by Reiner K. themed in India and called Taj Mahal (ie., of all games within that genre).
8 mins rules rehash and setup; 65 mins game time.
Results: Richard (red): 52. Brad (beige): 40. Brian (brown): 36. Lindsay (grey): 32. Pat (blue): 29.
Don: Something simple and light to finish off the evening. Bid on cards to make sets, but avoid bids that end with any of the digits in your existing sets (or pay a penalty and lose your bid), and try to avoid large bids that end in digits monopolised by other players (or your entire bid goes straight into their pocket).
A very strange game of timing and calculation. Jeff wins on a tie-breaker with greatest district value sum.
7 mins rules and setup; 33 mins game time.
Results: Jeff: 12. Pat: 12. Brad: 8. Alex, Paul: 7.