Game Night at the Condo
This week's pre-Thanksgiving game night was supposed to be a little bigger and a little longer than usual. It was a little of both, but our gracious host being too sick to play anything serious, and some cancellations took some of the steam out of it. As it was, we played from about 4pm to 1am. I played 4 games, had pizza, and chatted. Nothing to complain about really.
Taj Mahal: Finally got to play this face to face. The first half took over an hour. It was my first time playing on a real board, and the first time ever for the other 3 players. The real key to the game is deciding when to withdraw. If you just keep playing cards, you often find yourself either having to withdraw at a bad time because you have nothing left to play, or being the last player, wasting cards and gaining little or nothing. We let one player win the princess special card (+2) and keep it for almost the entire game. This accounted for about 16 points of the winner's score. That, plus a huge elephant take (about 20 points in goods) won the game by double the 2nd place player. I think I came in 3rd. Fantastic game. I love the random region setup, and I have no issues with the "luck of the draw" since it's really up to you when to withdraw and grab your 2 cards.
Subbuteo: Played a quick untimed round between games while waiting for the Coloretto players to finish with the "big table". There's still a lot of subtle rules I haven't made an effort to understand. If it's my ball in my own penalty box, can the goalie "pick it up"? What circumstances dictate a "back" as opposed to a "foul"? I'm starting to think more about strategic positioning. If I have 2 guys on the ball, rather than take lots of short flicks, I try to bring a 3rd guy from farther away into the play so I have more opportunities. Similarly, when I am the defender, I'll sometimes flick a guy way down the field instead of blocking in order to beef up my general defense.
Antike: My second game--this time with 5 players. In my previous game, I tried expanding immediately, which left me more behind that I would have liked. So this time, I immediately went for marble, temple on a marble city, marble, temple on a gold city (not consecutive turns). I was the Phoenecians, and in a 5p game, this location is quite remote relative to the other players. My opening was very conservative: 5 cities, 3 temples, 2 armies--very small, but profitable civilization. I took Sailing next. No one seemed to think that was odd. Then I piled up on iron, build a huge fleet, sacked a Carthaginian temple, took Monarchy, then Navigation, occupied 7 sea zones, then sacked a final temple for the win. I think the others could have conspired in the turn before to prevent or delay my win, but once you have 12 fleets and Navigation, you have so many options, the opponents have to cover quite a bit or outright attack you to reduce your strength.
Manila: My second game, first time for everyone else. I learned from my first game how valuable the Harbor Master is, so I kept pushing the bidding up. I think the lowest it went for was 16, and the highest was 34. I got the timing wrong for the first half of the game (pilots go before final roll, not after). I had 2 rounds where I got completely hosed by the rolls or the pirates, losing everything paid and gaining nothing. I don't know if the others were ganging up on me or not, since I had played before, but I lost miserably having to encumber 2 shares. I ended with 73. The winner had 193.
Taj Mahal image by garyjames