May 27, 2009

Participants: Jon, David K, Gili, Abraham

Night before Shavuot, Nadine is away, so low attendance expected.

Path

David+, Jon

Path is a new route planning abstract (think Metro, TransAmerica) from an Israeli publisher for two players. The board is a cloth board of 9×9 squares. Pieces are plastic (Bakelite-ish) with routes and colors.

Each tile is unique, other than the black starting tiles and the black blocking tiles. Each tile has four corners, each of which is in either green or orange. Each tile has silver or black pathways crossing from side to side, between the colored corners. All possible variations are also represented. Paths are silver; black indicates no path.

Your job is to create a path from your starting point to either of the two opposite corners.

Nine black tiles with silver paths are place on the board to start. The remaining tiles (color tiles and black blocking tiles) are drawn randomly from a bag. The center tile has four silver tiles leading into it, but a black obstruction in the middle, so cannot be used as a crossing point.

On your turn, you have four random tiles to place (think of what to do with them on your opponent’s turn). Each tile must be placed so that it continues your path from your starting tile (eventually the two players’ paths may merge), so that adjacent colors match at corners (black counts as both orange and green), and so that paths match (black to black, silver to silver).

You must continue to place all of your tiles, as long as you can. However, you may choose to place them in an order that does not let you place all of them. If you have no legal moves at the start of your turn, you may rotate or replace a tile on the board (it must still be legally placed), or you may place one of your tiles off of any black tile on the board (I doubt that this action will ever be chosen).

That’s it.

Reactions: Hard to tell after one game. The majority of our time was trying to figure out what our legal plays were. Having to match both corners and path colors is hard enough, let alone having to do that with four pieces in a row. And that’s before considering if the plays are more beneficial to yourself or your opponent. For us, it was all tactical. With players who are very experienced and can count which tiles remain in the bag, I imagine that there will be actual planning involved.

Both David and I are reasonably intelligent, and were also willing on our first game to offer advice to our opponent if we saw better moves than the ones made. It should be noted that the four tiles that your opponent will play on his turn after yours are public, and therefore also must (if taken seriously) be considered when placing your tiles.

So there is room to explore. On the one hand, it didn’t really give much of a bang. Most of the time was spent figuring out “what” you could do, not “whether” to do it. On the other hand, tile laying and route planning is one of my favorite mechanisms, so I’m happy to try it again. It’s not one of David’s so I don’t think he enjoyed it as much.

A note must be made about the rulebook: it pretty much sucked. For pete’s sake, non-English speaking designers, get your translations and rulebooks done by professionals. We ran into a number of questions that the rulebook didn’t answer or only obliquely hinted at. Like, where we could put the blocking pieces, whether a tile could be placed that adjoined your tiles but didn’t extend your path, and a number of others. We eventually figured most of them out, but on some we’re still scratching our heads.

La Citta

David 34+, Abraham 34-, Gili 28, Jon 27

We played with a random setup, and Abraham managed to snag not only a prime food location (2 spots with 5 food), but a prime mining location (2 spots with 2 mountains each). David managed as well as he did because he was somewhat of to the side, and only lost people from his dead middle city; Abraham had to fight with both me and Gili a number of times in the middle.

I thought I was doing reasonably, but David and Gili managed to kill one of my cities and I had a hard time recovering from that.

Dominion

Abraham 33, Jon 16, Gili 16, David 12?

We played with (2) Chapel, Moat, Workshop, (4) Thief, Militia, Feast, (5) Festival, Market, Library, and the guy that draws 4 and everyone draws 1.

I had never played with Chapel and was eager to abuse it. In my first game, I was way too tame in my abuse. I dropped 2 estates, but nothing else. There were a bunch of thieves walking around which discouraged me too greatly in getting silvers and golds. I took a Festival and a Militia, which did well. In the meantime, Abraham took silvers and golds, two libraries, and a few thieves of his own, and was able to clean up.

Abraham 38, Jon 34, Gili 31?, David less

I realized my mistake, and asked to play the same set again. This time I dropped estates and coppers, leaving myself only a few golds and silvers, some moats, and some festivals and one library. I did much better, but I should really have had two libraries. I might have won, then. Actually, I might have won also if Gili hadn’t militia’d me when Abraham had a library in hand (and so didn’t care) and I didn’t have a moat, or had David not ended the game right before my play.

David claims that the following is the correct strategy: buy libraries and festivals and NO treasure at all. Chapel away every single estate and treasure. Use only the Festival bonuses for buying. Every round should give you a Province, assuming that you have at least four Festivals (could pick up a militia if they run out, I guess. This strategy is immune from the thief and the militia.

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