November 10, 2015

Participants: Jon, Binyamin G, Nadine, Roman, Aaron, Elizabeth

Game night moved to Tues night due to conflict. Elizabeth and her husband are staying in my house for a few days, and she was interested in trying out a game.

Airlines

Jon (21 48) 89, Roman (15 30) 65, Binyamin G (12 26) 64, Nadine (10 19) 53

I was interested in trying this. First play for all except for Binaymin, who must have only played once or twice before. It’s a stream-lined version of Union Pacific: the card drawing of Ticket to Ride and the stock accumulation of Acquire. There are routes, but essentially no route planning. You add “routes” to airline companies to increase their value, and you try to acquire and play the stocks in the valuable airlines. Stocks are available from five face up cards or a random draw from the deck. One valuable stock can always be traded for. That’s pretty much it.

The game plays fairly well, and I fairly enjoyed it, although, as you can see I took an early lead (first and second scoring came very close together, for some reason) and toasted everyone else without much difficulty, even though they tried to attack me in the last half of the game. I did that by maintaining a lead in one strong company and second place in many other companies (all good ones, and with no challengers for second place for most of the game). Nadine seemed to be doing the right things, but all of her stocks were in worthless companies.

The problematic part is that much of our performance – outside the basic strategy – was luck based. Some of the stocks are rare, and the availability of a single card of that stock makes the difference between first and second place in the scoring. But the availability is determined randomly. If you take a useless stock from the face up cards and then a great one flips up, your LHO gets it. There is no penalty for taking it (like costing extra). I don’t know if this can be fixed.

The other problematic part is the end-game. It uses the mechanic “the end card is shuffled into the last 11 cards of the deck, and as soon as it is drawn the game ends”, without even giving people one final turn. So the end-game is spent in a boring way: you empty yourself of resources, and then you draw once and play it right away, hoping not to be unluckily caught with something in hand if your RHO draws the end-game card. I don’t particularly like this mechanic, and it could be easily fixed.

Aside from those two issues it is easy to understand and play. I just don’t know if those issues are too much bother to fix.

Biblios

Roman 7, Nadine 6, Binyamin G 4

Nadine 7, Roman 5, Binyamin G 2

Two games, I didn’t see how they went.

Parade

Aaron 27, Jon 32, Elizabeth 43

Jon 13, Elizabeth 29, Aaron 44

Scores are approximate. First plays for Elizabeth. She liked it enough after the first play to request a second play. She picked it up fairly well, better than some of the usual gamers do.

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