February 12, 2003 Session Report by DaveO

We got together down in Dana Point again tonight with Tim Thomas and I starting out, joined shortly thereafter by Linda, with the Ricker bringing up the rear....please, no comments....

Scarab

  I knew what I wanted to try from the get-go as I'd been looking at this one since I bought it at Essen.  I hadn't had the chance to play it but it was explained to me at Essen and looked as if it might be a neat two player abstract (although it will take up to 4 players).  We played with the basic rules (no variants) and I found it to be okay, just not real exciting.  It's a very simple game in which players move a playing piece on a 10 by 10 grid that  is randomly populated by tiles which range in value from positive 8 to negative 8.  There are also 3 ankh tiles which have a special power; when a player gets one of these, they can drop one of their acquired tiles onto any empty space on the board; presumably a player will get rid of one of their large negative tiles that they grabbed earlier.  On a player's turn they move the playing piece either horizontally or vertically to a square containing a tile at which time they place the tile in front of them.  The next player then moves the playing piece perpendicular to the way it was just moved and repeats.  The game is over when one player cannot move due to the fact that there are no tiles in the row that they must move into.  I managed to get all three ankh tiles letting me dump some serious negativity; I finally had a chance to end the game but I had to grab a negative 7 tile to do it; I figured I was enough ahead that I could take the 7 point handicap and win, so I went for it.  Final Score - DaveO-38; TimmyT-34

Ratings
Tim - 6/10
DaveO - 6/10

Cheops

  Near the end of Scarab, Linda arrived so I started thinking about games for the three of us.  Knowing that Rick would be here shortly, I decided Cheops would be a quick little game that would fit in the schedule nicely; unfortunately we took about twice as long as we should have and Rick had nothing to do but watch the second half of the game.  He did have company though, as I was so far out of this game that I could do nothing but watch Tim and Linda jockey for position.  This is a fun little speculation game which I had only played as a 2 player game before; after playing it with 3, I think this is probably best with 4 or 5, or even 6; the more forces moving the prices, the better it seems the speculation part of this game would be.  In this game players take turns grabbing different colored jewels from the board and determining if they want to sell the jewel immediately for market value (which is usually 10) or holding onto the jewel for the whole game and taking the endgame value for it.  The endgame value is determined by the price charts of which each color has a unique chart.  Every time a jewel is sold the corresponding color's end of game price is changed to the next one on the chart.  The game is over when all of the jewels are taken from the board or two colors' price charts are on the final entry.  I spent the whole beginning of the game trying to change the endgame price by selling jewels at the market price; this was a fast ticket to nowhere as I was the only one working the market price and in the end my two opponents combined forces to stop me from tanking all of the colors' prices.  The funniest part about our game is that about 3/4 of the way through, Linda turned this into a bit of a negotiation game, convincing Tim to make a move which gave her the win.  Tim captured the final green jewel of which he had one in his possession already; the current endgame value was 10 but if he sold  it at the market, the price would have dropped to 0, meaning if he kept it he would have a total of 20 versus the 10 if he sold it, however, Linda had 4 of them, meaning she would have 40 versus 0.  However, Linda convinced Tim that 20 was better than 10 and Tim held on to it.  In the end, the 30 point swing would have been enough for Tim to win, but Linda's persuasiveness won out!  Final Scores: Linda - 325 (after some serious calculations!:*)  Tim - 310  DaveO - 220

Ratings
Linda -8/10
Tim - 6/10 (may go up after repeated playings)
DaveO - 7/10

Puerto Rico

  After patiently waiting for us to finish Cheops, Rick was given the honor of selecting the next game; he had mentioned earlier that he thought Linda might like Puerto Rico, so using his newly bestowed power, he pulled that one off the shelf, thereby also breaking our Egyptian theme we started with Scarab and Cheops.  After a change of locale from upstairs to downstairs and about 15 minutes of rules we started in.  At first I think Linda was a little overwhelmed as this is the first meaty German game she's played but by the end she seemed to be hooked.  I, on the other hand, seemed to forget any kind of strategy I ever knew about this game, AND I had Rick on my right.  In the beginning I decided to go for coffee; no sooner do I buy my roaster when Rick drafts a coffee plantation.  Rick got the office and the large trader and he was off to the races.  He didn't really worry about victory chips but instead made tons of money and had 3 quarries and bought up 3 of the large violet buildings!  He filled up his island before any of us really had a chance to start developing much and got the double bonus from the large violet buildings (each being worth 4 pts in addition to the bonus received from the conditions on the building); all in all those buildings were worth 28 points for him!  If it weren't for those bonus buildings, I'd have beaten him by 3 points!! (Did I mention that everyone else would have beaten me though?:*)  Here is the detailed scoring:

                         Ricker   TT   Linda  DaveO

Victory Chips       13       27     25        14
Building Pts          23       14      7          13
Bonus Pts            16         4      -            -
Total                   52        45    32         27

Ratings
DaveO - 9/10
Tim - 7/10 (continuing TT's rating caveat, this may go up after repeated playings)
Rick - 9/10
Linda - 8/10

Die Heisse Schlacht Am Kalten Buffet

We needed a closer at this point and I was looking for something that we could play in about 15 minutes; I decided on Die Heisse Schlacht Am Kalten Buffet which no one else had played before.  The title translates to "The Hot Battle at the Cold Buffet", and although it was at the cold buffet, there wasn't much heat to this battle in the beginning as Tim just pulled out some unbelievable rolls and got way out in front.  This Alex Randolph title is a simple yet fun dice rolling game; just the type TT loves.  You attempt to move around the game board (which is a buffet table line) grabbing disks of varying values (which are plates of food) by rolling dice.  On your turn you roll three dice, one by one, deciding if you want to roll another between rolls.  The number of spaces you move is the product of the number of dice you roll and the total of the pips on the dice you rolled, however, if your dice add up to more than 7 (before the multiplier of course), then you have to go back to the beginning of the buffet line.  This means that the farthest you can move in one turn is 21 spaces (3 dice times 7 pips), which not so coincidentally is the distance around the buffet table.  There is also a benefit in landing on other people's pieces as you then get to use them as a free ride around the table.  At the end of the game you sum up your collected disks and the highest total score is declared the winner.

As for our specific game, Rick and I couldn't make it around the buffet table at all, getting sent back to the front of the line repeatedly (although you wouldn't guess that looking at us); finally Rick had had enough and grabbed a couple dishes.  I kept starting with a "6" or I'd roll an "8" with two dice making my progress minimal.  I finally made a run at it grabbing a few high valued dishes near the end making it a little bit of a contest, but couldn't catch TimmyT.  The quote and the play of the night were both during this game though by none other than the Diceman, TimmyT - first, the play of the night - TimmyT has two dice totalling 6 and after boisterous noises from the crowd, he decides to go for it....and makes it!!!  The very next turn he rolls 3 ones and in his most sincere voice says, "Are there any more dice?"; we were ready to kill him - the hot battle had begun!  Well when the buffet line emptied the final scores were as follows - Tim - 27; DaveO - 22; Rick - 16; Linda - 14

Ratings
Linda - 6/10
DaveO - 7/10
Tim - 8/10 ("I'm a sucker for dice games")
Rick - 6/10