Saturday, 23 January 2010

Rail Baron

Last night, Robert and Lenora invited us over to Robert's place for supper and to watch Alice. Well the PVR was screwed up so instead we played Rail Baron, a game by Avalon Hill from 1977.

Rail Baron is a roll and move game to some extent, as you move your train from one randomly generated location to another. After completing your trip, you get paid and you get the opportunity to purchase either an upgraded train or a track.

Every turn you move along a track that is not owned by anyone except you, you must pay a usage rate of 1000/turn. If the track is owned by another player you must pay them 5,000/turn you are on their track.

End game is when there are no tracks to be purchased and the cost of travelling on someone else's track doubles to 10,000.

Well the way the game broke out Brenda and Robert both got big payouts (and half decent dice rolls) and I got poor rolls (Lenora ditched us for a better offer)... They were buying all the big tracks and I was left buying the 4-15K tracks. When the end game arrived I was in the worst position financially, but had the most tracks, and owned most of the cheap tracks in the SE.

When you reach 200,000 you have the option of "declaring", which allows you to race for home. When you get there, if you still have over 200K, you win the game. Robert declared first and raced for home, unfortunately, Brenda had the fastest train in the game and caught him (which cost him 50,000). I steadily built up my funds and was at 228,000 when I declared. I made it home on my next turn, winning the game.

Brenda was 20,000 short but was heading home to complete a trip, if she would have made it home (on her next turn) the turn after that would have given her the win. Robert was still making a delivery and then was planning on declaring.

I found the game interesting, but I am not sure how often I would play it.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Canal Mania

Tuesday night Bruce was unable to make it, so instead of playing three player Commands & Colors, we played Canal Mania, a game where you build canals based on contracts you select. It is between Ticket to Ride and Steam with regards to complexity and decision making, and as such, I feel it is a fairly light game.

Darren and John were both new to the game, and I have a vast knowledge of 3 games, but we set at it with a will. I explained the rules, dealt out the engineers and away we went. I started with the oldest engineer so I went first, and drafted the contract for the lower left corner. I am unsure why, but I seem to select that corner every time. John selected a Manchester route so was in the upper left, with Darrren selecting the route right beside me.

One of my complaints of the game is that the areas selected are the left side of the board, so you are always on the left side of the board, if that makes sense.

One of the things I like about it is that you are always forced to make choices (do I change engineers or get contracts? Do I draw or build?). These are things I like, the constraints and the difficulty in building and the added feature of delivering goods as well, makes this a challenge.

It was a very close game for the most part, but in opne turn I finished two routes, scoring 22 points and putting me perilously close to 70 (game end score). Darren had to use my canal to deliver goods and I was one point away from starting the end game.

When I started it, I had no track to build, and quickly just delivered goods. The game took about 2 hours, including rules, and was enjoyed by everyone. The final scores were John - 88, Darren - 75 and John - 74

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Steamin' Tuesday!

or Steam on Tuesday...

Last night was the weekly Wednesday night game at Darren's place, except we have switched to Tuesdays. This week, following our new system of 2 player games one week (last week was Twilight Struggle) and Wallace games the next, we played the Mayfair train game Steam.

Steam is part of the Age of Steam game family because it does share certain elements with both Age of Steam and Railroad Tycoon. I consider Railroad Tycoon as the friendlier game and Age of Steam the game that wants to knife you in the alley...

Steam started off as close race with me pulling out to an early revenue lead and Bruce plummetting to -8 revenue deficit. This was not to last. I developed in the Southwest corner on the US map (the NE USA map), Bruce at the top with Ottawa, Darren was in the Boston - Hartford area and John was caught between Darren and I.

Darren took control of the game about turn 5 and never looked back, as John was forced to use Darren's tracks in places to ship goods. Darren's margin of victory was the amount of delivery John did on his tracks. We finished the game in about 2.5 hours, as we had two new players and John and I each had one play.

Final scores were: Darren 35, Bruce 32, John 30, the other John 27.

Whenever I play Steam or Age of Steam, I always finish the game smiling. I find this game so enjoyable that I could play it more often then I do.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

A Day at the Races!

Last night I hosted my annual January meetup group event A Day at the Races! I had a poor turnout this year with several last minute cancellations but I still had a total of 6 jockeys ready to put on their silks and race for the finish line! Except we did not play any horse racing games...

The first game on the agenda was Jamaica, a light hearted filler that we decided to play 4 player until the laggards showed up. This game is based on being a pirate and racing around Jamaica, and since we were already wearing silks, it seemed a natural fit.

Tom rocketed out to an early lead but was soon shot full of holes by the blackguards John and Bruce, losing his treasure and his food. John took over the lead shortly thereafter and never looked back, I lead from that point forward until the very end, being chased and shot at twice by the villainous Tom. The game took about 45 minutes and by then the final two players were there, so we decided to play a six player game. Everyone liked the game and they really liked the graphics as it is a very pretty game.

That game was Giro d'Italia: the Game, a bike racing game that is a branded reprint of Leader 1. This is David's game and he brought it along because he always wants to play it, not that I blame him, it is a good game.

The track had only one hill and several rises but was mostly flat so everyone, but David, who took a leader, took a rouleur, as they do better on flats than anyone else. The peloton went two rounds around the table before David decided to break away from the pack, a decision that would cost him later, as almost immediately he fell and was pulled back into the peloton.

Bruce, Brenda, Jay and Tom broke away next but they only stayed slightly ahead of the peloton for until the race was about 2/3rds over. Brenda decided to break away from the breakaway group and poured it on, this forced Bruce and Tom (who had been providing a wind break for everyone) to break with her, along with the rest. David and I decided to go along or risk being left behind. This meant I had to change bikes as the one I was using looked something like this:
We all gave chase and Jay and I caught Brenda on the last turn before the sprint to the finish, David ran out of energy and was pulled back into the peloton, while Tom and Bruce fell off the pace. Brenda, Jay and I all finished one turn ahead of Tom and Bruce and David finished in the Peloton. The final order of finish was: John, Jay, Brenda, Tom, Bruce and David. The commentary surrounding this game was "I really like this game" and "That was alot of fun".

The third and final game we played was that classic, Fearsome Floors. It was decided David looked most like the monster, so he went first. It is tough to describe the game as it is a series of ups and downs. First you fall down, then you get eaten up...

We raced around randomly, and everyone tried to hose each other (which is the way it should be played) and I was in position to win my third game in a row when Brenda and Jay teamed up to get two of my guys eaten by Furunkulus, knocking me out of the winners circle. Bruce squeezed out the win when Furunkulus's movement card was a Kill One which allowed two of Bruce's guys to waltz in. There was some discussion about whether this was a race game, but I think it is, so I include it.

We played three games last night and of the three, three had played Jamaica, two had played Giro d'Italia, and three had played Fearsome Floors. This means several players were taught new games (always a good thing) which means that there is a better chance of getting them out more often.