Thursday, July 09, 2009

July 08, 2009

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Oren (?), Bill, Abraham

Gili came with her young cousin, whose name is Oren, I think.

Bridge Troll

Jon 25, Bill 24, Nadine, Gili, Oren, Abraham

Nadine and I had played this once before with three players, but with the wrong rules. This was the first play for everyone else.

The rule we left out last time was the one where each bidder receives the bid stones of one of the other bidders and the end of the round (lowest bidder generally takes the highest bidder's stones, and so on). The designer told me that this was an important rule, and we had to play the game with it. So we did. And while it's a decent mechanic, it nearly completely eliminates any reason to not bid at all, and thus get free stones from the center.

The number of stones you get from not bidding is now not significant compared to the number you get if you bid anyway. Furthermore, now the center stones run out (since nothing is supplying the center, except a very occasional goat) and you end up taking your stones from other players. Often, the second player to pass takes the newly acquired stones from the first player to pass. It's another one of those cases where we got the rules wrong on the first play, and when we found out the right rule, we kind of liked our way better.

And there is a rules ambiguity: the rules say to take the stones from the player who has the most. But if player A has 8 stones, and player B has 7, do I take all 5 of my stones from player A, or do I alternate taking from whomever has the most after each stone, so that players A and B are both left with 5?

Onto our game.

This time I forgot a rule which I remembered last time, namely that one of the cards is face down each round. We remembered as soon as the first Seer was flipped up (the Seer being the card whose special power is to peek at the face down card).

A six player game is just a mess of chaos, which will appeal to some people. It was so confusing that I had to act as facilitator, calling out whose turn it was to act, who won the bid, and so on every single round, right up to the end of the game.

With six bidders, you have scant control over what actually happens to you during the game. You may be able to bid very high and secure a single card once, but you may also (or not) end up taking the last penalty card, depending on whether someone else drops out of the bidding or not.

As a short game, this works out fine, similarly to the chaos of the bidding in For Sale. But the game is a wee too long for me for this type of mechanic. Not very much too long; just a bit too long. We finished in about 1.5 hours. That's about an hour for most people.

And that's really what it feels like: a very long game of For Sale. If you like For Sale, you'll like this game. Our group liked it well enough as a filler game, especially since there are not too many 6 player filler games available. They all said that they would play again, especially now that they had a little more grasp of the rules. I was somewhat less enamored, but I would also play again. I think I would prefer 4 or 5 players over 6, however.

Traders of Carthage

Gili, Oren, Abraham

Gili needed another filler game, as she and Oren had to leave early. First play for Oren. I don't know the results.


Nadine 39, Jon 31, Bill 7

First play for Bill.

Nadine had some killer occupations at the beginning of the game that exempted her from needing to worry about food. There is probably a direct line between this and her win, in my opinion.

But it's hard to draw any sort of straight line in Agricola, even when there are only one or two rounds left in the game. You find yourself adding and re-adding the dozens of different possible moves, trying to figure out which one actually leaves you with the most victory points at the end. If you're prone to AP, that makes for a long game. Otherwise, you eventually go with your gut and then realize you made a colossal mess of you end game, which is what happened to me.

Bill had plowed fields and grain up the wazoo, since he got a field every time he took a grain. But that, and some final pastures, was all he had. And he starved by two food in the last harvest, anyway.

Nadine had vegetables and tons of animals, since she got an extra sheep when she took a sheep and also converted three sheep into a boar and a cattle. And got an extra wood and two food whenever she took wood. She was all ranched out on round 4 or 5, and spent the rest of her time growing her family and slaughtering her overflowing animal population.

I had early conversion to a stone house, and got some grain fields and pastures, but could never hold any animals or grains long enough to reproduce them. I ended with final grain and sowing, but no animals. I got a bunch of bonus points for improvements, however.


Abraham/Nadine 280, Jon/Bill 120

Abraham stuck around until the end of our Agricola game, and I took pity on him so we played two hands of Tichu. First play for Bill. Bill enjoyed it well enough.

In the first round, RHO went out, and then I could have gone out, but then my LHO would go out, leaving them to collect all of my partner's tricks. And he had all of our tricks. Both LHO and partner had a single card, so instead of playing my 7 card straight, I played one at a time working my way downward. And wouldn't you know? Both LHO and partner held 8s. 200 points for opps.

In the second game, Abraham bid and made his Tichu, but the only cards he scored were the Phoenix and a five, netting him 80 points to our 120.


David said...

In regards to Bridge Troll, you take the stones one-by-one from whoever has the most at the time. Both would end up with 5.

We had a few confusing moments with the game also. This specific question we resolved at the Z-Man booth at Origins.

Alf said...

Thanks for the write-up, Yehuda! There are indeed a few ambiguities with the rules for Bridge Troll (sorry about that), and boulder-drawing with a closed bridge is the main one that causes confusion. I've uploaded a list of rule clarifications to Boardgamegeek here: