Wednesday, October 31, 2007

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

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