November 12, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, David K

Small groups are ok if they’re good friends and quality gamers. Still, I wouldn’t mind the group growing again.

Agricola

Nadine 35, David 34, Jon 27, Gili 21

Fourth play for me, second play for everyone else. David loves the game. Gili likes it, but requested that we play something else next week. Nadine also loves the game, although she’s still clinging to the idea that Puerto Rico must be better, somehow.

For my part, I do think that Puerto Rico is better, but only once you add variable buildings. Why? It’s a little shorter, a little more elegant, and I simply like Puerto Rico’s role mechanics better than Agricola’s placement mechanics.

Furthermore, I’m still a little bothered by the “2 points for this, 2 points for that” aspect that takes up the last few rounds of the game. One other thing that kinda bothered me, although I am willing to accept it as part of the design, is the imbalance of the Occupations and Minor Improvements, as well as how often you simply can’t play a Minor Improvement when you are allowed to (Start Player and Family Growth).

I’ve tossed about a few ideas on how to rectify all these issues for me, without seriously destroying the nature of the game, and my current idea is to add Prestige cards ala Princes of Florence. The idea: whenever you are allowed to play a Minor Improvement, you can instead opt to draw a Prestige card. Prestige cards give you 4 points at the end of the game for most sheep, most stables, most food, etc…, or 3 points if you’re tied.

This allows you to make somewhat more interesting decisions at the end of the game, and also give you something to do when you can’t play a Minor Improvement.

In our game, I built a strong base in the first two stages, but forgot entirely to ensure an adequate food supply. As a result, the remainder of the game I was scrambling for food while Nadine and David pulled ahead. David got the first family expansion, while Nadine has a card that let her take family expansion even when somebody else had, which was huge.

Nadine also had synergistic cards that gave her tons of stuff for planting and sowing. She didn’t build her home much, ending with only 3 wooden rooms, but she ended with 4 points in fields, grain, vegetables, and so on, which was as much as David’s full stone house. Her additional bonus point gave her the victory.

Gili and I were shy in all sorts of areas, and Gili also never got her house fully expanded or her fifth worker.

Mexica

David+, Jon, Nadine-

I played this once at the last BGG.con and loved it. I taught it to Nadine and David.

It’s definitely in the family of Tikal and so on, which unfortunately is not really the type of game that either David or Nadine likes a lot. Especially later in the evening. And they both suffer from a bit of AP, which can drag the game out a bit. Otherwise, it looks like the game should move fairly quickly, quicker than Tikal.

This time around we also ran into a few game design problems which I didn’t notice during my first play. We’re not thrilled with the way the turn ordering works, in that the first seated player can never respond if someone else finishes the game. Unless we read that wrong, it seems that the game always ends with the player who went last, not with the player to the right of the one who ends the game. Which is a problem, especially if you can’t use your accumulated action tokens.

The second was the accumulated action tokens, which isn’t broken, but makes for silly game play. The rules seem to indicate that you can take two per round, but can accumulate as many as you want and use them all in one turn. I would change this to being able to hold no more than two at a time.

I still very much enjoyed the game, but David wasn’t sure and Nadine said it wasn’t her type. It’s always frustrating to bring home a game and not get a good response, but that’s the way it goes. Maybe others in the group will like it more.

We all finished pretty close to each other, David 8 points more than me, and me 8 points more than Nadine. We got a rule wrong about building districts around the center sacred area.

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