Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 26, 2011

Participants: Jon, Alex, Gili, Binyamin, Shalom, Nadine, Mace

Alex is a game designer who dropped by to show us his designs, get feedback, and make some connections. Shalom came for his first time, even though he's an experienced gamer who lives in the area. Welcome to both of you.

Alex's designs range from the puzzle-like - think Rush Hour, though they are more imaginative - to the simple abstract. One of his designs was something like Go-Moku meets Abalone. Each player places a marble on the board such that it touches at least one of the other marbles and then pushes it and any other marbles in the line one space. The first to get four in a row wins. The game is for 2-4 players. We were unsure if the game was solvable for two, or a forced draw for experienced players, though we suspected it would be. Still, it's better than Abalone.


Shalom+, Nadine, Gili

Nadine won this last time, but I didn't think it was her type of game. She thinks it's entirely tactical. First play for Shalom and he won by about 10 points.

Bridgetown Races

Binyamin 6, Mace 6, Jon 5, Alex 5

First play for all of us. Carey, the designer, sent me a copy, since I had played a prototype at BGG.con 5 years ago and had liked it. The object of the game is to be the first to collect 8 different colored flags. To do this, you simply have to cross 8 different bridges containing 8 different flags using the mode of transportation that corresponds to that flag. The flags are put out randomly and the ones you need may not be available at the bridge that you need them to be.

The components are nice, but they're a little unwieldy. You place a flag that you're won on a little board on the name of the bridge, indicating that you won that flag on that bridge. However, the flags easily fell over at the slightest jostling, so we kept having to remember how they had been arranged.

As for the game, it seems to be pretty easy to get to around 5 or 6 flags, and then it's nearly impossible to get any further. if you have 6 differently colored flags on six different bridges, you need exactly the other two flags on exactly the other two bridges to win. The odds of this occurring during the random placement of the flags at the beginning of the round on the last round or two are nearly zero.

You have two possibilities to remedy this. First, one person, once during a round, can swap two flags on the bridges. Since only one person can do this, and every one else is out to make his life miserable at that point, it is unlikely to do anyone much good. Second, you can pick up a different color flag on a bridge that you already have, discarding the one that is there, and hopefully allowing you to then pick up the discarded colored flag on a bridge that you don't already have. There is a slightly more than non-zero chance that this can be done, but it's tough.

As a result, in the last one or two rounds, if you already have your five or six flags, you're unlikely to be able to do much other than prevent the other players from getting what they want. Mind you, this is from a single play experience with four players. It's possible that this is not the case with less players.

As a result, and due to not having a sensible tiebreaker rule, though I had fun counting the steps and choosing my actions, the game didn't have an interesting conclusion. I found out later that Carey has posted an interesting tiebreaker rule on BGG: it makes certain flags more valuable than other flags, which could give you something more interesting to do at the end. I would go further and simply give each flag a point value; you win instantly if you collect 8 differently colored flags, as usual, otherwise you score your flags and the highest score wins.

I intend to try again with some of the other group members.

Carson City

Binyamin 57, Mace 51, Jon 35, Nadine 31

First play for Mace. I'm guessing the last two scores.

We had played CC with 3 players, and were hoping to try with 5, but Shalom had to leave early. Still, 4 players was a world removed from 3; a lot more competition and fighting. 5 is going to be a bloodbath.

We all still like the game, but the gun supremacy, if established early by one player as Binyamin did, is too strong, even when we reduce the gun role and gun chip to "2 guns for fighting purposes, 3 for income or point calculation purposes". Still, if more than one player tries this strategy at the same time, it may balance out.

I had no ranches and one mine, but I had some good saloons (which Binyamin robbed twice). Mace had 4 ranches and associated buildings to tap them. Binyamin had only 12 (down to 6) incomes from buildings, scoring the rest from robbing and the spaces that gave bonuses for guns.

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