Saturday, May 05, 2007

Game things I learnt playing games yesterday

Some people can push their luck much more than others

In Gopher It! there are three sorts of food cards you can draw. Each one has one, two or three food items. You can draw up to four cards, however if you draw two of the same type of food consecutively you turn is immediately over and you have to discard any cards you picked up that turn. If you get no repeats, or stop before you do, you can put the food in your larder. If you get exactly six of items of one sort of food, you empty your larder for a Gopher Trophy. The first person to three trophies is the winner.

I was playing this with Daughter the Younger and she was consistently picking up four cards and very rarely getting a repeat card. It seemed like about half the time I was getting a repeat as my second card, the other half of the time it was usually the third of fourth card that was the repeat.

Thus Daughter the Younger won her first trophy and I still have a completely empty larder. Play continues, she continues to blitz through and I continue to pick up duplicates. Second trophy is awarded and my larder is sill empty. As she starts heading towards her third trophy and game, I actually pick up four cards with out a consecutive pair and for the first time all game, I had something in my larder. This was to be the full extent of it though, the one and only time all game I got to pick up and keep some cards as Daughter the Younger stormed on to get her third trophy and the game.

I didn’t think I was pushing my luck much, certainly not compared to the four year sitting next to me, or maybe my luck was just saving itself for later in the day.

Later on I headed over to EuroGamesFest. I arrived the same time as Jonathan, so we played Battle Line waiting for the seven or eight player game of Diamant to finish. I had a two good two card combos to start with in my initial cards, so decided to play those, hoping for the gaps to be filled as I drew new cards. Hardly what you would call a strategy, but it worked. I ended up completely three straight flushes and two three of kinds for wins compared to Jonathan’s one victory. The strange thing was I was concentrating on getting the three of a kinds and the straight flushes just appeared in my hand.

Don’t assume that an area is closed for scoring (especially on your first game)

Next up was Himalaya. Scoring is by religious influence, political influence and economic influence (how many yaks you have). As you deliver goods to fulfil orders you gain a reward of any two of the three influences. The political influence is an area of control of a region bordered by the settlement or temple where you fulfilled your order. I remember looking at a region, see that orders had been fulfilled at all the surrounding habitations and thinking that the region was now closed and my majority influence was safe. Later in a smack my head against the wall moment, I realised that orders could be fulfilled in the same habitation more than once in the game and thus my closed region was open for competition again.

The end game scoring is interesting. First off, the player with the lowest religious influence is eliminated and all of his or her pieces are removed. Then the remaining player with the lowest political influence is eliminated. Then with the remaining players it is all about the yaks. I survived a tie breaker on the political influence to get through the yak round where I was comfortably ahead.

Maintain your balance and pay attention to pre-requisites

After a break for dinner (Malaysian) we played Vegas Showdown (thank you Secret Santa). This was my second play and a first for everyone else. You need to keep your population and dollars balanced and increasing to maximise revenue to enable you to afford to construct new parts of your casino, but you also need to keep your eye on the fame points which are the victory points at the end of the game. I started early on slots to maximise my dollars, and then later acquiring some catering and lounge areas to increase the population and thus increase my overall revenue. When the biggest and best gaming room feature became available I was all ready to start a bidding war for it when I realised three things. One – I didn’t have the pre-requisite for it, Two – Even if I waited for the pre-requisite and bought that as well, I didn’t have room to place them both without a major renovation and Three – the game would probably end before the pre-requisite was available for me to purchase. I then wisely left gaming room feature to Kim and concentrated on balancing my dollars and population and grabbing some extra fame points.

Mergers help keep the money flowing

We finished off the day with a game of Acquire. I started a little company over in a corner and then a nice expensive company was started in the middle of the board and I managed over the next few turns to wrestle control of it and waited for the merger(s). And waited, and waited and waited and waited. Nobody wanted to merge anything. There were two other companies right next to the middle one but I couldn’t merge them. Everyone else kept expanding my little company to the extent it was soon unmergable and yet still the middle company was there, unmerged. By this stage I had run out of money. I had one tile that could make a merge, but it was two companies that I had no shares at all in, so it hardly seemed worth it. That seemed to be the way of the game, people either didn’t want to merge companies or only had options to merge companies that they had no interest in at all and thus didn’t merge them. We even had a couple of rounds where nobody bought shares because we were all out of money. Eventually the mergers finally started, but not before three companies were too big to be merged. Admittedly I don’t have a lot of games of this under my belt, Melissa claims it doesn’t have enough tanks to be interesting to play, but it did seem a strange game to me. I have the “new” Avalon Hill edition, all the other players normally play with the old bookcase version, so they were a little weirded out by the change of company names and the three dimensional nature of this edition.

Mmm meeples taste like…

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