I don't know what it is about Birmingham but we are 3 again this because Steve is working away.......in 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.
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.
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!