Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 16, 2009

Participants: Jon, Nadine, Gili, Abraham, Eitan, Emily

Eitan and Emily came back for their second night, and look to be new regulars.


Abraham 43, Nadine 23, Gili 3, Jon 1

First play for all but Abraham. I'm proud of myself for ending with a positive score.

Jamaica is a light race game. The board is a track around an island with three types of spaces: pay # food, pay # gold, or pay nothing and take a treasure (if no one else has already taken it).

Each player has a hand of cards, each of which has two actions on it, in order: first action, second action. The actions are: take gold, take food, take gunpowder, move forward, or move backward.

One player rolls two dice and then assigns them to the first and second actions. Each player then picks a card to play, and then the cards are played, starting from the die roller. The dice indicate how many resources you get (of your action is to take a resource) or how many spaces to move (if your action is to move). So, if you play a card whose first action is take gold and whose second action is move forward, and the dice were assigned as "first action 2, second action 5", you will take 2 gold and move forward 5 spaces.

You need to have the food and gold before landing on the pay food or gold spaces; otherwise you get sent back spaces to the nearest previous space you can afford. This often a Good Thing, because everyone can afford a treasure space; rather than having to match the exact movement to get to a treasure space, you can simply overshoot the space, be unable to pay for the space you landed in and all previous spaces back to the treasure space, and thus move back to the treasure space. And thus take the treasure. This makes for unintuitive game play. It also makes for a rich get richer mechanic, as players behind lose out on the treasures that the players in front can keep collecting.

Treasures are worth +victory points (most), -victory points (a few), or a special ability which may or may not help you during a game. If you land on someone else's ship, you fight by committing a number of gunpowders (like T&E) and then rolling a die and adding to the results. 1 face of the die is an instant win. Winner gets to take some of the losers resources, or one of their treasure cards, or give the loser one of their -treasure cards.

At the end of the game you score points for how close you are to finishing, each gold you have in your ship, and the treasure cards.

As it's a light to medium length game, a fair amount of luck is to be expected. In our first play, luck was unbelievably screwy, however. If the roll lets you get to the treasure when you need, your golden. Otherwise, you're not. Nadine was convinced that the game was simply unplayable. She got an early treasure, but Abe stole it and then used the treasure to steal all the rest of the treasures from the board, essentially.

Although I lost horribly, I just couldn't believe the game was so awful. For one thing, the most experienced player won by a mile. For another, it just didn't seem like there should be that much luck given the mechanics. yeah, you may have the wrong cards to take advantage of the rolls, and the dice based combat is what it is, as usual. But it sure looked like a certain amount of planning should help.

I was resolved to try it again.

Jon 38, Gili 30, Abe ?

I forget the other players' scores. We tried this again later in the evening. Abe revealed a number of tactics that help. First of all, there's the shoot forward beyond the treasure and then fall back to the treasure tactic which I mentioned above. Also, that you should play your movement cards as frequently as possible so that they will cycle through your deck and get picked again. This definitely helped my second game.

Luck played a roll again: the combination of what cards you have and what dice are rolled adds to the dice based combat to make too much luck for me. But yes, there is some control. It's nearly all tactical, but there is some. I would play it again, and I would recommend it for non-gamers. The cards, pieces, and board are all gorgeous.

Princes of Florence

Jon 66, Abraham 58, Gili 40something

It's been a while since we played this, and a much longer while since we played three-player. In three-player, even if the landscapes are all grouped together during auctioning, auctions are much less tight since there are several good options available.

However, letting me get three early Jesters was still not a good idea. I picked two more professions, some bonus cards, a single building, two landscapes, one freedom, and a prestige card (4 points, about which I consider myself lucky). My professions were all worth 20+ WV at the end of the game, and one was worth 30. Although both Gili and Abraham had 15 points each in prestige points, they were still shy of catching up.

Abraham had three builders and couldn't play his last work. Gili got her second Jester on the last round, and made a valiant attempt at best work with a WV of 28, but that's when I played my 30.

Puerto Rico

Nadine 60, Emily 57, Eitan 55

Nadine taught this to both of them in her usual strange teaching manner, and also helped them out throughout the game. it was a close game, as you can see. Nadine had 42 shipping points, while Eitan and Emily each had 25. That makes 92, so either they all went well over the last vp on the last round, or Nadine added a few extra by mistake (there are supposed to be 75).

Emily and Eitan liked it but preferred Power Grid, which they had learned last shabbat.


Abraham 39, Jon 34

We played with only 8 each of the vp cards this time, as per the rules. I kind of like it longer. Maybe 10 cards each would be about right.

Bonus actions were only Market and Spy, no Throne Room. Other important cards were Mine, Thief, and Militia. And Thief wasn't even bought, I simply said that I might buy it. He took Mine and Militia, I took Markets and Spies. Somehow, he always gets sente on the vp cards.

We were counting vp purchases, but apparently I was off by one. I thought I was going to win by a point, but I missed one of his Province purchases.

1 comment:

Nadine said...

Puerto Rico - I didn't give much advice during most of the game, but watched for obvious mistakes like Emily shipping sugar which no one else had before corn which I still had because she hadn't noticed the corn boat had a spot. We went into the last shipping round, after Eitan crafted, with one victory point left and three empty boats, so there were that many extra shipping points, around 17, Eitan had a Harbor.