Saturday, March 28, 2009

GameStorm 2009 - Part II

Slept in a little this morning, and then Jeremy and I headed back to the convention. We both wanted to play Castle For All Seasons again, and maybe Battlestar Galactica if we could. We didn't end up playing either.

Today (Friday) we played the following:

Hammer & Spike, Rick's new train game, with Rick and his mother in law Joan. I'd heard a little about this at BGDF and on his blog, and I was excited to try it. Hammer & Spike (affectionately known as Rickety Rails) is a train game where you build connections and deliver resource cubes, like Railroad Tycoon (and in fact inspired by RRT). The cool bits are that your deliveries are limited by "fuel." Your train can only go 3 cities before having to refuel. Players can build fueling depots, and you can use fuel from your own station for free, or pay an opponent $2 to fuel up at their depot, in order to move another three cities. The other neat thing about the game is that the cities (of which there are 6, the rest are towns) have a variable demand. There are 4 colors of resources, and when you deliver one to a city, the city decides it now wants a different color. On top of that, a big point-getter is a "switchyard," which can be built at a city, but not until you've delivered 1 of each colored resource to that city. The effect this has on the game is very big, and very good.

I could go on about this game, I liked it very much. I couldn't think of much to make it better - I did suggest a small change to how replenishing cubes works - (since it helps all other players, it hurts to have to pay money to do it), and we all agreed the game does not end soon enough (you play for 20 turns, when it should probably end after 15 or 16). I would happily play this again, but I don't know if I will this weekend or not. I hope Rick will send me a copy to play with Michael - who knows, maybe Tasty Minstrel Games* will want to publish it!

* more on Tasty Minstrel Games later

We went to the hospitality room and got some hot dogs for lunch, then Jeremy and I found Jennifer and we decided to play Brass. Just as I was finishing up explaining the rules to Jeremy, Rick returned from showing his prototype to some group of industry people, and he jumped in as well.

I noticed in this game that while 2 people were building Cotton Mills for early income, both of them were also building ports to ship them through instead of using the external market. For the record, the players doing so were Rick and Jennifer, each of whom had played at least once before. I shat out Coal mines like it was going out of style (Developed the first one away turn 1, then built 2 level 2 coal on turn 2). Jeremy did the same, sadly trumping one of my placements positionally. Due to this, I did not get to flip either mine before the Canal phase ended. Jeremy built a boat, and I built 3 level 2 Cotton Mills and shipped them all through the foreign market.

In the second half of the game, I got all the boat building cards, and Jeremy didn't... so we sort of swapped strategies. I ended up building *2* boats in the Rail era, and he built 1. I also built a lot of Coal and Iron, doubling up my action 2 or 3 times during the game. I don't think I built even 1 level 3 Cotton Mill, which was originally going to be my strategy - this is mostly because Rick ate up the foreign demand.

In the end, I scored 157 points while 2nd place (Jennifer) had 98. Jeremy was close behind her, and Rick was not too far back from them. I'll note that every tile Rick built in the Canal era came off the board - he didn't build any level 2 tiles at all in the first half of the game.

I continue to really like Brass. I am more experienced than my opponents were, so it follows that I was able to win, but I didn't think I was going to have that many points!

To pass some time, Jeremy and I played a little Magic variant called Magic War. It's sort of like a cross between Magic: the Gathering and War - the object is to get all of the cards from a common deck, and you don't need to pay the casting cost for anything (there are no land cards, you just assume you have infinite lands). It's fun, and not a little ridiculous :)

Finally, Rick and company invited us to play a 6 player game of Railroad Tycoon with his wife, her mom, and Candy. I had an excellent start, taking 3 or 4 shares on the first turn to secure the first delivery along with a service bounty, then soon after scoring the first 3-link delivery (3 more shares to upgrade my train). I got up to $10k and was ready to upgrade to level 4 for the 4 point bonus as soon as anyone challenged for that, and then something kinda bad happened. Rick's wife Helen built into Chicago when I didn't expect her to, but it was 4/5ths of a long rout to another city. I really wanted to build there, and worse if she finished the route I would have been cut off from a lot of stuff I thought I'd need, so I built to her destination to block her and help myself. So she used her next action to finish her track, but it cost her an extra $4k... this was just the beginning of a Big Mess in the Midwest, as Helen's mom really wanted to build into Chicago as well, and Candy was already sharing the Midwest with me. Thousands of dollars later, all that remained was a tangled mass of track. I had made Helen pay out the nose for her Boston-Toledo connection, and though I thought she might have been going for New York-Chicago (that card didn't come up) or New York-Kansas (which did), she ended up getting neither. It's possible hat my aggressive play lost me the game, though I think another major contributor was when I looked at the number of empty city markers left and saw a decent sized pile (maybe 7), so I thought the game had a couple turns to go, and I used an action to make a New City, only to find out immediately after that there were 3 or 4 empty cities on the board which hadn't been marked yet! This meant the game end was likely to trigger THIS round, and that being the case I would definitely not have wasted my time with the New City - I would have built track to some deliverable cubes, and I would have scored my 6-point Tycoon card in the process. Instead I lost by 10 points :/

I hate when that happens - when I make a significant game decision based on misinformation... especially when I specifically check on that information. I need to learn to be more careful - I should have looked at the board to see that the leftover empty city markers were accurate... those things get missed all the time.

After that game it was getting close to midnight. Jeremy and I found the Werewolf room and were waiting for that to start, but then decided we should head home and get something to eat. I had hoped to get to bed early-ish and then return to the con earlier tomorrow, but here I am now - 2 hours of Magic War and 2 more hours of Internet later... oh well - best laid plans and all that. Before we left I saw Julie and Peter and made plans with them to play Battlestar Galactica at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully we will play A Castle For All Seasons before that, and my prototypes afterwards - we'll see how that goes.


SDS said...

What about tasty minstrels??!!

Seth Jaffee said...

I forgot to mention... Chopstick Dexterity MegaChallenge 3000!

Cute, fun game where you yoink things from a bowl in real time with chopsticks!