Monday, May 30, 2005

Well, back home again

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Well, arrived back home on the 28th May. Had a superb break in St. Wolfgang, Austria. Walking around the lakes and visiting Salzburg. The weather we had was great, only one and half days of rain the whole fortnight. The rest of the weather was pretty much sun all the way. In Salzburg there are a couple of shops that we always visit, games shops that is. This time there was an austrian guy who spoke good english in the best one and he was very helpful. I bought Amazonas, The Tower of Babel, Jambo and the Dragon exp. for Carcassonne. About the only time my wife will play games with me is when I have her held hostage in a hotel on holiday. So we did get in a couple of games, Amazonas, Jambo and Balloon Cup. I had taken Balloon Cup with me. Fortunately the hotel had an internet connection so I could download the english rules. So hopefully you will be hearing about some of these games in future Billygames sessions. Until then, happy gaming!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Well arrived in Austria

I am typing this from the internet terminal in the hotel Franz Josef. Much to my wife's dismay they have installed internet access. So we arrived at about 10.45 on Saturday. Our journey to Stansted airport wasn't without incident as my friend who was taking us, well his car developed a problem. We limped to Gatwick airport, I know wrong airport!! This was so we could get a taxi to the correct airport, Stansted. The taxi was fast and we arrived at 4.30am, yes, am, for our 6.40am flight. The flight was on time arriving at Salzburg at 9.30am our friend Franz was waiting for us so we arrived at the hotel at 10.45. Totally frazzled we slept for about 3 hours in the afternoon. Still we are here, this is Monday and we have just done our first walk. About 3 and half hours around the lake, the weather is pretty changeable and we have had sun and a little rain but it was great. So we have planned to go to Salzburg later in the week, wednesday or thursday. The game shops beckon. I will post again when we have been to Salzburg and recount our time there. Until then happy gaming!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

No Billygames this week and I’m off on hols, yippee!

Originally uploaded by coljen.
No Billygames again this week so you’ll have to put up with a bit of my waffle. Jo had asked me a while ago if I had planned to go to Essen this year, well I hadn’t but when he mentioned it I thought maybe. Jo was going with some friends and thought he could wangle me in, but they was let down by there hotel and it looked a bit iffy. Then I found out that Garry was interested so I had a chat to him, he got some details about trains and planes which looked OK. But I had to be realistic, we had some expenses coming up this year.....could I afford to spend a chunk of dosh on a 2-3 day games junket? The answer was no, but maybe next year........
Anyway this Saturday me and the wife are off to Austria for a fortnight of walking around the lakes of the Salzkammergut. We go every year and never get tired of it. The scenery and the air are spectacular, oh, and there are a couple of good games shops in Salzburg. We stay in a village called St. Wolfgang, same hotel every year. It’s small and we have become good friends with the owner. We book direct with him now and just get a flight. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a flight from Gatwick this year which is just 30 minutes away, so we have had to go from Stansted. What a pain. That is nearly a 2 hour drive away! Luckily a good friend offered to drive us. I don’t think he realised that it would entail getting up in the middle of the night.
So if anybody from Billygames writes a session report for the 2 weeks I am away I will post them when I get back. Until then Happy Gaming!

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Tuesday 3rd May - Age of Steam/Ireland

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Tonights session was at my place, I did tell everybody that on Saturday but Richard still managed to end up at our usual venue. Still he did arrive eventually, and as there was only three of us it was a good opportunity to play Age of Steam, Ireland map.
The only differences between Ireland and normal was that you couldn’t urbanise, if you picked that option you could remove a block from the board. And if you picked the locomotive upgrade it allows you to upgrade twice instead of once during shipping blocks. The board has a number of brown cities that have 3 blocks on them at the start, you can never ship to them and they never get replenished.
This game always does my head in. How many shares do I need? First where shall I build, can I ship, what are my expenses likely to be and so on. It is a favourite game of our group and I will always play if chosen, but I can’t say I would choose it myself. As you can see from the picture Richard (red) starting building in the south, Steve (blue) in the north and myself (green) across the middle. I was getting tight on money and it looked as though I might have to go a couple of turns not taking shares at all. But I managed to get a 5 train and start shipping for five which eased my monetary concerns.
De-urbanisation and production seemed to be the most picked jobs. If you lost a block you could also seed the production chart and hope to get something back. The game was pretty tight with Richard easing into the lead with me second. But Steve was catching me fast and I shipped a yellow block for 5, giving me 4 and Steve 1. This was not ideal, but if I had left it Steve could have shipped it for all 5. We were all shipping for 4 or 5, nobody had a 6 train. The final scores had Richard the clear winner, but it was close between myself and Steve, perhaps that yellow block made the difference.

Final Scores
Richard 99, Colin 82, Steve 79

Age of Steam - Ireland

Age of Steam Ireland
Originally uploaded by coljen.
This the set up, with Steve checking the rules and Richard looking for the best routes to build. Yup, I’m taking the photo again!!!

Monday, May 2, 2005

Saturday 30th April - Games Day hosted by Garry

TTR Europe
Originally uploaded by coljen.
Well we finally made it to Garry's for a whole days gaming. In attendance were Steve, Jo, Richard, Garry and myself. After everybody had arrived we had a load of games, many more than we could possibly play in one day. So, what to play first, Richard had purchased TTR Europe the day before and everybody wanted to give that a try first. Steve was the only one to have played before, but as we had all played TTR, we zoomed through the rules and off we went. We started at around 11.30. I had a bit of luck as 2 of my short routes branched off of my long route,nice! I concentrated on completing the long route first. A bit of a gamble as everybody can pretty well see where you are going. But most of it was double routes with only a couple of singles. And I always had the stations!! Anyway in the end I didn't need them and managed to complete it easily. You can see from the final pic that my routes were pretty much together, I am yellow. Whereas Steve's were fragmented quite a lot, and Richard's, Garry's and Jo's were all linked.
The tunnels and ferries give the game another dimension. Those tunnels especially, you have to have back-up cards or risk not completing it. Of course that gives the other players a chance to jump in and block you. I really enjoyed the game, better than vanilla TTR I think. Of course the result may have coloured my opinion. lol. I just pipped Richard to the win with the help of the longest route card. This took around 2 hours.

Final Scores
Colin 116, Richard 110, Jo 106, Steve 87, Garry 56

All in all we had a great day, thanks to Garry for hosting and Sally for putting up with some game geeks taking over her house.

Final board for TTR Europe

TTR Europe Final Board
Originally uploaded by coljen.
This is the final board position. The colours are yellow (Colin), Red (Richard), Black (Jo), Green (Garry) and Blue (Steve).
Everybody had sussed out that the rail system in England is rubbish as nobody went anywhere near it.

Oltremare mid game

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Here you can see Richard saying this is the tiniest board I have ever seen! Or is making a dive for that packet of chocolate biscuits.

Garry and Steve contemplate Oltremare

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Garry now produced some salad and quiche to keep us going into the afternoon. While we was eating we decided that Oltremare was to be our second game. This game had been produced for Essen 2004 in a limited edition and had sold out pretty quickly having had a good buzz from gamers in general. Winning Moves obviously had realised they had a winner and quickly reprinted it. We had two virgin copies, Garry's and Jo's. We made a start after I had run through the rules. This is really a card game, with the small board just to keep score and track your ship. The trading element is a bit like Settlers, aka, anybody got any wood, I have wheat sort of thing. This a brief description from BGG.

Each player is a Venetian merchant sailing along the Mediterranean sea. Everyone tryes to increase both his own wealth and prestige to become the Best Merchant of Venice
On his turn the player can to play some cards from the hand in order to perform some actions. Actions allow you to gain Ducati (the currency of Venice), to draw cards or to move your ship on the map (where you can collect bonus). There is also a pirate action that is really a bad one! Cards also represent Goods (corn, wine, spices, silk ...) that are loaded on the cargo of the ship. More cards of the same Good you group, more Ducati you will gain at the end of the game. The cards you are playing will also influence your next turn, so choose very well your strategy!
Because of you are a merchant you can trade Goods for other Goods or for Ducati points.
If you want to win you have to be a wise merchant in your trades, you have to choose your right cards to perform the best actions (in accord to your active bonus) and you have to achive the greater cargo on your ship!

I think that we all decided that the buzz from Essen had been justified. A good little game with some interesting mechanisms. I seemed to collecting an awful lot of pirate cards compared to the others. But I also had some good sets going into my cargo stack. Ah well, I can live with pirates. In the end the scores were pretty close, I managed to sneak the win (tricksy hobbit) from Richard again, pirates an all.

Final Scores
Colin 53, Richard 50, Garry 39, Steve 34, Jo 33


Originally uploaded by coljen.
Boomtown is another card game. The theme is Wild West Mines and Saloons and stuff. Here is the BGG description.
In Boomtown, you start as a gold digger and try to end as a tycoon.
To do this, you must first buy the best mining concessions, hoping to find gold veins. You can also try to become the Mayor of Whiskey River or San Narciso, in order to get a small cut on concessions sales, or build a saloon where lucky prospectors will spend their nuggets in moonshine whisky. If business is really bad, you can still rely on bank or stagecoach hold-ups to reestablish you. A well placed stick of dynamite can also solve some minor problems.

Boomtown is game with auctions, dice, and some fun and nasty action cards to play on your fellow gold diggers.

Not too taxing a game, but quite fun nonetheless, Jo wasn't particularly keen on this one. I thought it fun blowing up players mines though. Knowing when to bid high for the right card is crucial. The scores were pretty close, except for Richard. Obviously not cut out as a miner.

Final Scores
Garry 75, Colin 71, Steve 62, Jo 62, Richard 46

Steve explaining the rules to Boomtown

Boomtown Rules
Originally uploaded by coljen.
Steve ran through the rules quickly before we started. Garry, Steve and I had played before, Jo and Richard are virgin miners so to speak.

We finished of our day with a game of Geschenkt. This little card game is a nice one to finish off with. Jo in particular liked this more than Boomtown. Do you take the card or let it go round again and hope to get more chips? A quick little filler.

Final Scores
Richard 66, Colin 45, Garry 44, Steve 22, Jo 22

By the way, lowest wins!!!