Sunday, October 04, 2009

Game Night

(Slowly but surely getting caught up here) Friday, Sept 25, 2009 - Gamer's Inn.
We started out this Friday night with my new copy of Martin Wallace's Steel Driver. This feels something like a cross between Chicago Express and I'm not sure what. There are five rounds of bidding for a company stock. Each turn the stock price starts at zero and you earn only whatever value you can eak out that round using your investment to "capitalize" that company (or companies if you can get your hands on more than one share that round). After 5 rounds, there is a final company payout to each shareholder. The value of the company being determined by picking up goods connected to the various company's track and getting the most sets of different goods. Overall, it is a shorter investment game with a couple subtleties (and a bit more fidliness than needed). This evening the game had Greg Chandra (new), Dan Brugman, Noah Antwiller, me, Steve Bauer, and Greg Perschbacher. In the second round, I elected to get shut out and went into the third round with the ability to get anything I wanted (I got two shares). This was not the way to go and it took me out of the game. Not to say it isn't a valid strategy, because the eventual winner (Greg C) did the same later in the game. Greg Chandra took 4 of 5 shares in one company to made a killing with it. Final scores: Greg C-1050, Steve-800, Greg P-550, Noah-900, me-770, Dan-?.
After that brutal mess, we farted around figuring out what to play and I got Bobby Warren to pull out Pandemic with the On the Brink! expansion for Noah, Greg C and I to try. As the Archivist, Epidemiologist, Scientist, and Researcher, we beat the game! It helped that we didn't have the first bad card for a number of turns.
I've been trying to get a number of my un-played games played recently, so after saving the world, I pulled out Thurn and Taxis and asked Bobby to explain. I've had this 2006 Spiel winner for a couple years now and just finally tore the shrink off it. I found it an interesting play and actually a bit deeper than I thought it was going to be. Though it isn't heavy nor anything crazy special, it was interesting and I'd certainly play it again if asked (especially with the un-opened copy of the expansion I have on my shelf ;) ). Noah had one gamble/mistake that cost him a lot and we all finished well behind Bobby. Final scores: Me-19, Noah-16, Greg-20, Bobby-27.
Greg wandered off to try something else or go home, so we were joined by newcomer James Smyth for a game of Taluva. This is underplayed in my collection and one of my favorites. This was the first shot I've had at playing it with four and was good as expected. I got too aggressive near the end and setup Noah for the win on the last tile.
Dion Garner then came over to our table for a game of Smarty Party! I don't remember what his other choice was, but Dion is terrible at trivia games (seriously terrible). This game seemed to go very quickly and Bobby took the win.
Bobby took off, so Noah, Dion, and I finished the night playing Wyatt Earp. It has been a while since I last played, so I needed to hear the rules refresher and off we went. The first round was nothing special, but I scored a bazillion points in the second round. Dion and Noah caught me though near the end. I was finally able to win, beating Noah and Dion by $1000 - a very close game.

6 comments:

sourwyrm said...

"and a bit more fidliness than needed" - sounds like Wallace. Is there a small amount of chance too?

Charles Hasegawa said...

Surprisingly, no. The game is entirely driven by the player's actions. In fact, the companies have no set start point, so referencing them makes no sense (unlike the static starting locations of Chicago Express).

sourwyrm said...

How does it compare?

Charles Hasegawa said...

Since you know CE, I'll explain SD.
6 companies and 5 shares each. Everyone gets the same amount of "bidding cubes" each round to buy shares. The cubes you spend go to the company to build track. Each company's value is zero at the start of EACH round. At the end of the round, you earn the value of that company (which increases from building track). Previous stock from each round has no bearing until the last round. After 5 turns, there is a final round of picking up good cubes from the board. the player in control of the company (most shares) does the picking. The goal is to make sets of different cubes. This determines the final value of the company and each share is paid out at the final value.

There are plays that can be made to hose a company (cut offs), but in general it isn't always easy or optimal to do it. It also isn't easy to tell who a company "belongs" to. Because of the limited cubes you get each round and everyone gets the same, you don't want to waste your investment hurting someone else that round - it seriously impacts your score. Maybe it is more subtle than CE (which is pretty subtle itself). Maybe it is just different - I just like CE better.

sourwyrm said...

How long is the game?

Charles Hasegawa said...

90 minutes sounds about right. There are a fixed number of shares and I'd guess that roughly the same amount of track gets built regardless of the number of players. The auctions are what takes the longest, so it could be faster with less, but I doubt it is significantly different between 3 and 6 players. The game length should also be fairly similar unlike the variability in CE