Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wind of Change for Billygames

No this is not a review of Before the Wind, but to let you dedicated readers of Billygames (if there are any) know of a few changes coming up. First of, I am moving house, unfortunately not just down road, so I won't able to attend the Billygame sessions after next week. The plan is that we will be moving to live in Austria and taking early retirement! I'm sure I wil be able to find a few gamers out there. As for the blog, well hopefully Richard, Steve and Garry will keep the reports coming, for a start I would like to see what's been going on.

So I would like to take this opportunity to thank all you gamers that have visited the Billygamers blog and hope you will continue to do so. Next week's report will be my last and it's my choice of game......mmmm which of the tasty Essen releases will I choose?

See you next week.....happy gaming!!

30th October - Container

So here we are, the first session since Essen. Last week was cancelled due to illness, this was the first time we chance to play a new Essen game. Garry's choice and he chose Container, published by Valley Games and designed by Franz-Benno DeLonge and Thomas Ewert. The main theme of the game is container shipping, producing goods in your factories and buying goods produced by other players factories to store in your warehouses. These are then loaded onto other players freighters and shipped to a central island and put up for auction.

The overall Container layout - player boards and the central island

The game was produced in China and there have been some problems with boards warping and the resin ships being a bit smelly. I know Garry had to weight the boards down to straigthen them and gave the ships a good soapy wash to try to reduce the whiff. Anyway, once you get going the game is pretty straightforward. In your turn you have 2 actions out of a choice of 6, you can perform the same action twice with the exception of producing goods.
This is the choice you have:

1) Produce containers from your factories
2) Buy containers from other players factories to stock your warehouses
3) Buy a factory or warehouse to increase your production or storage capacity
4) Sail your ship to open sea
5) Sail your ship to the centre island and auction containers
6) Sail your ship to another players harbour and buy containers from their harbour store

Player board showing, factories, production area, warehouses and harbour storage

In the picture my ship is docked at Garry's harbour waiting to buy some containers from his harbour storage area. So far so good then, the interesting bit is the card each player is dealt at random at the beginning of the game. This shows how much each container that is on his island area is worth at game end. The cards are kept secret so you don't which colours are worth the most to each player. One colour is also only worth 5 unless you have all five colours in your area, then it's worth 10. Just one other thing to consider, whichever colour you have the most of is discarded before scoring takes place.

So what the hell do you do first? Well, both Garry and I chose to build an extra factory and produce on the first turn, Richard on the other hand built an additional warehouse and bought some of our production, providing an early target for ships. As I said the sequence of play is pretty straightforward, but contriving to get those 10 point containers on the island is another matter. It seemed as though I had taken early lead as I had a reasonable number of containers on my island base. But as the game progressed it evened out and looking at the other players containers it is quite difficult to try and work out what is their 10 pointer. The game ends when 2 colours of containers are depleted from the supply and before long there was orange gone and only 1 white left. Both Richard and myself had all five colours and then I put up 2 beige and 1 brown cube for auction, I only had 7 money so I probably knew I wouldn't be able to take them for myself. This was confirmed when Richard took out 2 loans for $20 and bid 11. Sounded good to me so I accepted his bid and took another 11 from the bank. It was Richard's turn next and he built a factory, a white one, and promptly ended the game by producing. It was the time to turn over our cards and tot up the points.

Final Scores (Containers+money+cubes in harbour- loans)
Colin 46+29+0-0 = 75
Richard 82+0+4-22 = 64
Garry 29+15+4-0 = 48

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another pic from Essen 2007

Apparently there was a strong attraction to the Valley Games stand, Jo seems to have found it particularly alluring!!

Miss Canada at the Valley Games Stand

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Essen 2007 Day 1 and I'm not there

No, I'm here at work, but the rest of the Billygamers made it OK. Just had this pic to prove it. Or to rub it in that I'm stuck back here.

Garry, Jo and Steve at wonder their smiling

Apparently the fair has only been open 3 hours and they have run out of money already! There is only one ATM outside the halls and sometimes there is a mighty queue to get money.

Queuing for money already??

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

9th October - Mississippi Queen/San Juan

I don't know what it is about Birmingham but we are 3 again this because Steve is working Birmingham! Richard is in Birmingham regularly and now Steve, ah well. Anyway it was Richard's choice and he opted for Mississippi Queen with the Black Rose expansion. This 1997 game from Goldseiber was designed by Werner Hodel won the Spiel des Jahres for that year. We had played MQ quite a while ago but had never used the Black Rose expansion.

Garry (green) moves up behind Richard (red)

This expansion adds a few hazards to the river e.g. sandbars and log jams but also coal refuelling stations, which enables you to replenish your coal stocks. And you need it too as the river is that much longer when using the expansion. And of course the Black Rose itself which is a rogue paddle steamer controlled by the player whose boat is in last place.

The Black Rose and Garry queue up Richard

There are some pretty tight spots to negotiate on the river and the Black Rose can make these a real nightmare, plenty of opportunity to foul up your opponents plans if you are in control of it. So basically each player controls a paddle steamer and the object is to be the first to dock at the end of the river. The river consists of a number of tiles, you start with the landing stage and two tiles, as soon as a player reaches the furthest tile he rolls a die to determine the direction of the next tile to be laid, left, right or straight on. The Black Rose expansion tiles are mixed in at random. You have to pick up two passengers as usual and you can decrease/increase speed by one for free then you have to use up your coal. You also get one free 60 degree turn, then it costs coal. As I said those refuelling stations do come in handy.

I managed to hinder Garry with the Black Rose but he paid me back big time when he gained control himself. Richard managed to avoid most of the obstacles and pick up his passengers without too much trouble and ran out an easy winner. Garry came in a comfortable second with me limping in third.

Final Score
Richard 1st, Garry 2nd, Colin 3rd

We still had some time left so Richard suggested a game of San Juan. This is the card version of Puerto Rico and a good game in its own right. The cards in the 110 card deck have production buildings and violet buildings as in proper PR, but you also use the cards in your hand to pay the cost of building, use cards off of the top of the deck as produced goods, going face down on your production buildings. When you trade you sell your goods for more cards off of the deck. The game ends when a player has built his 12th building. You then add up the VPs on your buildings plus any bonuses for special violet buildings.

Card layout for San Juan

The library card is generelly thought to be the most powerful card, giving you double the privilege on the job you choose. Garry and Richard both got libraries on the table, Garry had used the Councillor a lot to sift through the deck to find his I suspect. I got a Guild Hall down which gave me a 2VP bonus for every production building I had built. (I think it was a GH). In the end it was very close, Garry had a Chapel which gave him an extra 4VPs I think.

Final Scores
Garry 33, Colin 30, Richard 27

There won't be a session this tuesday because Steve, Garry, Richard and Jo are going to some convention in Germany, they assured me there would be plenty of new games to play when they got back though!

Monday, October 8, 2007

6th October - Saturday Session

Well we finally got our Saturday session after a last minute hiccup when Garry had to pull out hosting, luckily Richard stepped into the breach and we gathered at his house in Haywards Heath on Saturday morning. Garry took Steve and myself in his car and when we got there Jo had already arrived. While Steve got the Coffee going we decided what we were going to play first, Railroad Tycoon got the vote and we started to set up the huge board.

Railroad Tycoon board setup

As most of you who read this blog regularly know I am not a fan of AoS, but will happily play RT. I think it's because you can take shares whenever you like so my brain doesn't have to work out what I'm going to do so far in advance. Anyway off we went, initial position of track can be crucial in any route laying game and RT is no exception. Steve and Richard started off in the top NE corner around the NY area. Jo and Garry thought they would have a tussle around the Lexington, Cincinatti area and I started building from Washington through Richmond going south.

Garry (green) and Jo (purple) having a little tussle

Richard decided it was getting a bit crowded in NE so struck out across the mountains to Wheeling, that cost him $16,000 and it was quite early on. I continued southwith luckily no competition to speak of.

Richard (red) forging across the mountains and me (yellow) going South

I think Jo was the only one with a 5 train everybody else had a 4, I couldn't see any blocks to deliver for five, I had plenty of 4 and 3 deliveries so didn't bother. I also had the card that gave me 7pts for most money at the end of the game so I didn't want to spend on trains or track if I didn't have to.Richard managed to connect New York and Kansas CIty and collect a massive 20pts from the Major Line connection card.

The board is so big you have to stand up to see the other side
Steve, Garry, Richard and Jo study the layout

I thought it was going to be close at the end but I won by 11 points, Steve had issued the most shares with 11, I had 6, Garry 5 and Richard 6, I think, correct me if I'm wrong guys.

Final board position

Final Scores
Colin 64, Richard 53, Steve 46?, Garry 42 , Jo 42 (Garry won the tiebreak on most links)

Time for a break and pizza.......hmmmmmm pizza. Jo decided to call it a day as he had some friends coming over to his place in the play games!! The 4 remaining dedicated gamers decided to give Kampt um Rom another outing, I think we had only played once before, just after Essen last year when Richard got his Klaus Tauber signed copy (what a showoff).

The starting corner of the KuR board showing the 2 tribe types, horse and foot

I must say I like this variation of Settlers, although I still get stuffed with the dice rolls!! Basically each player controls 2 tribes, horse and foot and they start in the NE corner of the board then spread across the Roman empire like the plague, looting cities and getting the rewards. The resources in this game are wheat, ore and either horses or oxen. You have to keep building up your tribe as you lose men when looting the cities most times. After you have looted 3 different coloured cities your tribe can settle and then conquer cities. You can move where you like on the map as long as you can afford the cost.

Kampf um Rom board overview

When looting cities you sometimes get development cards or you can purchase them. These have various effects some gain you extra VPs or give you free movement over the map or loot cities that are stronger than your current army. You shouldn't rush to conquer cities but build up resources and your army while looting. Once you have settled you can only expand from that point so you have to pick your position carefully. Wagons are crucial then as you have to leave one in every city you conquer, so being on hexes that produce horses/oxen and wheat is good.

Garry has just pulled off the win in Kampf um Rom and is almost smiling

Moving the legionnaire on a 7 closes down production for that hex and you can pinch a resource from someby adjacent as usual, no hand limit though so that pleased Richard who always likes to have a handful. The game was flowing along quite nicely when Garry suddenly annouces that he has the required 10VPs for victory, those 2 face down development cards.....doh!

Final Scores
Garry 10, Richar 8, Steve 6, Colin 5

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

No tuesday session this week!!

Due to a combination of circumstances there is no session this week, that's the bad news, the good news is that Garry is hosting a Saturday session. So hopefully I will have lot to write about after that. At the moment Richard is doubtful because his TVR's fuel pump packed up in Luxembourg and he may have to go out and pick it up.