Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tuesday 22nd February - Der Ausreisser/Im Schatten Des Kaiser

Schatten Kaiser 1
Originally uploaded by coljen.
Well, we were on for a full complement of 6..........that was before the snow!! Anyway 4 hardy souls managed to brave the artic conditions. Steve was running late so Natalie, Neil and myself had a quick game of Der Ausreisser, a nifty cycle race cardgame. Here is a brief description from BGG.

Der Ausreisser
Players are dealt 6 cards and draw a 7th before playing one or more. There are 84 speed cards showing numbers between 39 and 50, plus Spurts (+2), Headwind (-2) and Mountains. One player starts as the race leader with a yellow token, and plays a speed card. Successive players must play a card that is within 2 km/hr to stay in the Peleton (the race pack), or they must draw chips equal to the difference. So if the race leader plays a 44, you must a lay at least a 42. If you play a 40, you draw 4 chips, showing you're 4 km off the Peleton. If you play a card higher than the race leader, you take the lead, take the yellow token, and successive players must now match your tempo. If you have chips in front of you, playing higher does not get you the lead, but you pay back chips for your excess. If you keep going slower than the leader, you keep drawing chips! Headwinds must be played when drawn and you can use Spurts as you like. You play Mountain cards onto the race leader, which prevents overtaking and removes the 2 km shadow, ie you must equal or beat the tempo just to stay in touch. The race ends when the deck runs out.
The player holding the yellow token wins and scores a point, the other players lose points equal to the chips in front of them.

Admittedly, luck plays quite a large part of your strategy, you can only play the cards you draw. But its light and quick, the ideal filler. We played 2 hands before Steve turned up. First game I took an early lead, holding the yellow jersey, but gradually my high cards dried up and Natalie overtook me and held on for the finish line. In the second game I was dealt a good starting hand of high cards and never looked back really. All the cards I drew were either high cards or spurts (+2). I cruised it.

Final Scores
Game 1 - Natalie Yellow Jersey, Neil 10 minutes behind, Colin 8 minutes behind.
Game 2 - Colin Yellow Jersey, Neil 27, Natalie 13

Im Schatten Der Kaiser
It being Steve’s choice he had picked a different game for 3,4,5 or 6 players, depending on who turned up. As it was 4 out came Im Schatten Der Kaiser. Here is a very brief description from Rio Grande games.

Germany in the late middle ages! It is a time of flourishing cities, influential bishops, the powerful popes, and a pompous aristocracy. In such a volatile climate, no dynasty can remain in power for long. Several aristocratic families seek to acquire the crown of the emperor. But this decision lies in the hands of the seven elector. 2–4 imperial candidates use their knights and cities, marry their barons, and work to influence the electors. But all efforts are useless if the candidate is not elected. But, in the shadow of the properly elected emperor are always those who want to displace him.
This is a very simplified description of what is a very.....not difficult exactly......but complex game. I will not endeavour to write a fuller description of the gameplay here, if you would like to read a very good description of gameplay go here:

Again, although Natalie, Neil and myself had played this once before, Steve hadn’t played at all and the learning curve is fairly steep. The first turn, what with rules clarifications and such took almost an hour. I think this is another game destined not to finish in our alloted time. Obviously the game speeded up as we became more familiar with the game mechanisms. The gameplay is very rich, each round has 8 phases and includes buying action cards that do some very powerful things, and giving birth to continue your line. This is an original mechanism where is you have more blue action cards you get to place a noble (boy) on the gameboard, and if you have an equal or more number of pink cards, you get a daughter and you can propose to a noble of another house on the board. If they accept the noble becomes a couple (more influence) and you get 1VP. As I say, a quite interesting and influential mechanism. Steve started off being the Emperor and Neil called an election to take power on the very first turn.

Both Natalie and I considered Neil’s position to be more of a threat to us than Steve so we voted to keep the incumbent in office, and got a VP to boot. Natalie called an election on the very next turn and managed to kick Steve off the throne. We only managed to play 3 of the 5 turns so again as last week this is not a true reflection of the game, but even it was highly enjoyable. On the last turn Steve called an election to try to regain power, even though he only controlled one province. Neil and I knew that if we voted for Natalie we would be handing her the win so Steve squeaked back onto the throne by our good graces. The VP was a bonus, he he. In the end the game was very close with a 3-way tie. I think this is a game that needs to be played a couple of times to get the hang of the flow things, but all in all a gamers game with loads of decisions and opportunities for good gameplay.

Final Scores after 3 turns
Natalie 10, Steve 10, Colin 10, Neil 7
Game Rating (0-10)
Colin 8

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