DATE:   Sunday, September 1

PLACE: Casa de Pizula

Attendees:        Chris, Lisa, Matt, DaveO, Rick


  As no one else in our group had ever played Princes of Florence, and it

was the Spielfrieks game of the week, I decided that it was high-time I got

these guys on it.  This is one of my top 10 games and a lot of people

compare it to Puerto Rico, and although I can't put my finger on why, I have

to agree with them that the two games feel the same in some weird way.

Puerto Rico is the current favorite among many, but I have always thought of

Princes being the better game. 


As for our playing of it, at the beginning of the game I warned people of

the strength of the jesters and they did go for a somewhat hefty sum, but

Rick managed to score three of them by the end of the game, also getting a

couple prestige cards as well.  Rick and I were neck and neck going into the

last round but I only had one prestige card although it was worth 7 points

if I could get one more landscape (it was the most landscapes prestige

card).  Unfortunately I got cute as I put up for auction a jester thinking

someone would want to get it for some easy bonus points, however, no one was

even planning on putting on a work except for Rick and he had already bought

an enticement card.  Had I grabbed a lake or park, I could have received the

3 bonus points for an additional landscape and 7 points for the most

landscapes, instead I only got 4 points for the tie for the most landscapes.

I did however, get the two additional points for the newly acquired jester

which was probably a good thing, as Rick and I tied for the best work in the

last round with Rick getting a whopping 12 bonus points for his jesters (he

had 3 of them with a bonus card adding another 2 points for each jester). 


  He ended up with only two buildings and a couple landscapes in his

province but still managed to crush us as his prestige cards left me in the

dust.  The final scores:


Ricker - 64

DaveO - 51

Pizula - 45

Lisa - 42

Matthias 40


  Everyone enjoyed this one and I really think the Ricker and Pizula took to

it as I have; they thought that it might be a better game than Puerto Rico,

while Lisa is sticking to her guns with the Puerto Rico as the game of

choice; Matt just wanted spaghetti....


  The Ricker had to leave at this point to go get the family up at LAX; he

vowed he would return though if we'd play Chinatown.  We gladly agreed to

that and Rick split and we ate spaghetti.  The spaghetti was excellent and

before I even got to the table, Matt had eaten half a plate of it - slow

down Matthias!


  After the pasta, we chose Paparazzo, one of Friedemann Friese's older

games.  This is a weird game; it's kinda like Modern Art on 'shrooms.   Each

player has a hand of compromising photos of celebrities (don't worry,

there's no nudity for you prudes out there).  At the beginning of the round

you look at your right hand neighbor's cards as well, so you have more info

about what celebrities are in play this round (only about half the cards are

dealt out so some celebrities will be more prevalent than others).  The

object is to have the most money at the end of the round which can be

obtained by auctioning off photos and also the final reckoning at the end of

the round, where each photo is worth its market value.  Players take turns

being the auction mediator, which allows them to select a photo from the

public pool and then auction it off.  The auction is a little weird as there

first is a round to set the price of the photo in which the mediator takes

no part, and then there is a round where the mediator has first dibs on

buying the picture at the set price.  If he doesn't want it, then clockwise

around the table each player has the opportunity to buy it until someone

does purchase it.  If no one buys it then the person who ended up setting

the price in the first round has to buy it at that price.  If they don't

have enough, they have to pay a penalty at the end of the game; this adds a

bluff element that I'm sure experienced players take advantage of (we,

however, were not savvy enough to really try that).  If the mediator doesn't

buy it himself, he gets half of the proceeds, so there is great incentive

not to buy your own photo (can you say Modern Art?).  Upon buying a photo,

the buyer places the photo on the table in front of himself and then adds a

photo from his hand.  This new photo then makes the value of the

corresponding celebrity move up.  This continues until only one player has

cards in his hand or there are no more photos in the public pool which can

happen when someone who wins a photo in an auction doesn't have any more in

his hand to replenish the public pool, the size of the pool drops by one.

So if that happens four times, the public card pool will be empty.  We

actually played this twice as I screwed up the minimum bid rule the first

time we played and made it too high, thereby causing everyone to be out of

money before the game ended.  This ended up being okay as this game really

takes a play to figure out what's going on and seeing how the mechanisms

work together.  All in all, I thought this was a really cool game and I

think it will take quite a few more plays to really play this well.


Final Score

DaveO - 71

Matthias - 67

LisaLisa - 56

Pizula - 52


  Knowing that Rick would be back shortly, I brought out Basari.  I thought

it would be good to let Pizula check this out as Out of the Box will be soon

republishing this and I thought he might like it.....I was right, he did!


This was a terrible outing for me as at one point I rolled something like 5

1's in a row, never ever having a chance to get in on the 10 bonus points

for making the lap around the board.  Everyone was way out in front of me

after the first round when the airport shuttle driver, Rick, returned.  Rick

had some spaghetti and let us play one more round; I was determined to get

out of last place!  I again couldn't roll the dice worth a crap but through

some decent gem grabbing and wheeling and dealing I managed to tie up with

Pizula, but Matthias was unstoppable; he lapped the board (for the second

time in the game) AND got the majority in the most valuable gem (for the

second time).  He killed.


Final Score (2 round game)

Matthias - 75!

LisaLisa - 40

DaveO -32

Pizula - 32


  With Rick back, we played Chinatown; with this and Princes of Florence

down, we can now say that we've played every Alea release.  This one started

out as a lot of fun but about halfway through, our ADD king decided to leave

the table right in the middle of a negotiation phase.  Not only was it bad

timing but there was no explanation as to why....unfortunately, he was the

only one I could trade with as no one else had anything I was remotely

interested in.  I sat around and watched LisaLisa, the Ricker, and Matthias

wheel and deal for about 5 minutes, when LisaLisa went to go get Prince

Charming.  I was fuming by this point as it completely ruined my gaming

experience since there was literally nothing I could do.  My frustration

boiled over and I dropped f-bombs all over Pizula, kinda putting a cloud

over the game (to say the least).  We persevered onward and Pizula and I

even managed to make a trade near the end of the game to try to salvage

something.  Rick ended up being the shrewdest negotiator while I ended up on

the short end of the stick.  I learned a valuable lesson - stay the hell

away from Pizula when you play Chinatown - you never know when he's gonna

get the urge to run to his throne and read rules!  With all that said, I

really enjoyed the game (except for that one round) and I think everyone

else enjoyed it (except for my tirade).


Final Score

Ricker - 102

Matthias - 91

Pizula - 88

Lisa - 87

DaveO - 77


  Everyone at this point was pretty spent but we wanted just one more game.

I pulled out a lighter one which I hadn't tried but looked like it would be

fun (boy was I wrong), called Ex und Hopp.  This one's by Ruediger Dorn.

I've enjoyed some of his (Traders of Genoa, Emerald, and Gargon) but thought

Zauberberg was too light; well, I guess Ex und Hopp fits in the latter

category as well.  In this game there is a deck of cards which are numbered

1 to 12 in as many colors as there are players, each player being a

different color.  There are also tiles which are either positive or negative

laid out on the table.  All of the cards are shuffled together and players

are dealt a hand of 6 or so; they then take turns playing the cards onto the

tiles; when there are as many cards on a tile as there are points on the

tile (regardless of whether they're positive or negative), the tile is given

to the player corresponding to the color with the highest sum of cards.  One

twist is that instead of playing a card on to a tile, you can instead ask

for a trade; I thought this would add an interesting element to the game -

it didn't; it instead was tried about four times with terrible results, and

so was never attempted again.  The game turns into a crapfest where you just

try to whack your neighbor by playing his higher cards on the negative

tiles, and if you can manage to get one of your own, playing it on a

positive tile.  I think in most games the leader also would be getting

whacked but in our game, everyone just seemed to play the largest card they

had in their hand down and Rick's and my cards seemed to be in everyone's

hands more than anyone else's.  In fairness, we left out a few positive

tiles by accident (they were hidden under the box insert), but I think that

all they would have added to the game was 5 more minutes of hell.  The rest

of the participants were not as sour on the game as I was, but I really

don't think anyone's gonna be screaming to let this one out again.


Final Score

Lisa - 10

Matthias - 6

Pizula - 6

Ricker - -4

DaveO - -8


All in all, it was a fun time with the group learning a couple of great Alea

games, and I got a couple of surprises(one pleasant and one not:*).  It's

always a good time when you can play a couple new games, play a few

classics, and share some good food with friends, right?  Until DevilDog 2

(which is in less than 12 hours).....