Date: May 7, 2003
Attendees: Rick, DaveO, and Tim
Rick and Tim headed over to Gaming Mecca, also known as DaveO's place.
Gamemaster DaveO was feeling fatigued from several late nights in a row
(perhaps crafting and perfecting game strategies until the wee hours...).
Meanwhile, Tim stayed away from his usual six Mountain Dews, opting instead
for the new 10 calorie Minute Maid limonado, which may have led to a slump,
especially when Stephenson's Rocket hit the table. Rick was in top form,
and he demonstrated his gaming acumen from the get go.
We started with Daytona 500. Tim knew it must be good since Rick was
in the midst of bidding for it on Ebay. The game is played over the course
of three races, with monetary prizes awarded depending upon the positions
your cars finish, and features a simple card-based system of movement. Each
player is dealt a hand of cards prior to each race. The cards show anywhere
from one to six colors with a number inside, with each color corresponding
to one of the six cars. When a card is played, that player moves each car
the number of spaces on the card. After examining their hands, the players
bid on the six cars, so in our game we each owned two. With your car you
also receive a turbo booster card of your color, which really comes in handy
when you need that burst of speed. During the race, if you're car is
directly behind another car that just moved, you get to use the streaming
effect and move forward one space, which can really make a difference in a
Rick won the first race and never had to look in his rearview mirror
the rest of the game. DaveO was still close after the first race, with Tim
in a distant third. DaveO made a gallant effort to overtake The Ricker in
the second and third rounds, and Tim realized it's probably a good idea not
to use your booster on the second or third lap of the race! Despite DaveO's
best efforts, Rick made his lead hold up and crossed the finish line first.
The final scores were:
Rick-$1.2 million (auto racing is lucrative), DaveO-$1.04 million, and Tim
Ratings: DaveO-7, Rick-8, Tim-8
Later that weekend, Tim decided to place a bid on Ebay himself!
After that great starting game, Tim read off some of the games on his
"most want to try" list. Of those games, Capitol seemed like a good choice
for three players and hit the table highly recommended by both DaveO and
Rick. In Capitol you are constructing buildings in nine different areas of
ancient Rome, with three colors each spanning three of the areas. Points
are awarded to the players with the most buildings in an area, determined by
the total number of blocks placed. Your hand consists of numbered building
cards, which enable you to place wooden blocks in front of you or make
existing blocks taller, roof cards to cap your buildings, and placement
cards so you can put them on the board. One of the placement constraints is
that you can only place buildings of equal size or one block taller in a
given area, which becomes especially intense later in the game. During his
turn a player can use one of his cards, discard, or pass. Once you pass
you're finished for that round. After all players have passed, you use your
remaining cards in the auction for special bonuses for the area of your
choice, including fountains, the ability to draw extra cards, and double
points. Capitol combines auctions, building, a bit of the bluff (had to
toss that in...) and, above all, resource management. As with many of the
best German games, there are many agonizing strategic choices to be made.
Once again, Rick proved to make the best agonizing strategic choices.
He won the auction for the ability to draw extra cards and wisely parlayed
that advantage into further expansion. Again, DaveO made a run but came up
a little short while Tim finished a ways back. The final scores were:
Rick-56, DaveO-48, Tim-34
Ratings: DaveO-8, Rick-7, Tim 7.5
Some strategies that may help include accumulating extra cards at the
start particularly by winning the first auction for the special card a la
The Ricker. Also, grabbing empty spaces with one-story buildings can often
be a source of cheap victory points. Lastly, a small investment in an area
with more than one fountain can be another good quick way to score. Then
you can use the rest of your buildings to better use.
After Capitol, Tim again read over his list and we narrowed the choice
down to Traumfabrik or Stephenson's Rocket, Reiner Knizia's highly regarded
train game featuring no luck whatsoever. We chose the latter, where players
battle over control of seven different railroad companies, buying shares and
expanding the rail lines. The shares can also be used to veto your
opponents proposed extension of that particular rail line. Once again, Rick
vaulted to an early lead and this time continued to extend his dominance.
DaveO tried earnestly to foil Rick's plans, to no avail, and the lack of Dew
clearly showed its effects on Tim, as he seemed dazed and confused
throughout. In the end, the scoreboard read:
Rick-86, Tim-60, DaveO-54
Ratings: DaveO-10, Rick-10, Tim-?
Time was running short, but we needed to get one more game in,
especially so DaveO and Tim could have one more chance against Rick. DaveO
brought out Drahtseilakt, a balancing game from Herr Knizia. You are dealt
a hand of numbered cards which you use to acquire red and blue sticks. A
deck of cards is placed face-down in the middle of the table. The top card
is turned over and shows a number. Each player then simultaneously plays
one of their cards. The high card receives that number of blue sticks, with
the red sticks awarded to the low card. The blue and red sticks cancel each
other out, with the goal being to achieve perfect balance and score zero.
You go through all the cards in the middle deck each round, for a total of
three rounds. I bet you can guess who won...here are the results:
Rick-8, Tim-13, DaveO-21
Ratings: DaveO-7, Rick-6, Tim-8
A four game sweep by The Ricker! Will his streak continue? Will a
Kniziathon happen soon? Will Tim start drining Dew again? All these
questions and more are sure to be answered in the upcoming weeks.