Friday, December 12, 2008

Salzburg Christmas Market and Games

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We went to Salzburg last Tuesday to see the Christmas Market. The atmosphere was great, lovely Christmas Trees with lights everywhere the horses and carriages adding to the festive scene. Hot Gluhwein, Grostl and lots of other goodies to eat and drink. As the light faded the lights twinkled brighter and it was so nice. We got a lot presents for family and some chocolate for us (yum!).

Of course there are game shops in Salzburg so I couldn't go without just having a little look. Well, I picked up Kreta, a game I have played online quite a lot, for 10 euro. Also Thurn & Taxis, Tina likes TTR so I'm hoping she will like this one as well. I had read about Toledo in the Essen posts so snapped that up as well. Tina also saw Pingu Party, a small cardgame from Knizia, the penguins looked cute so picked that on spec. That's all my Christmas game shopping I think :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Gaming!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Advent around the Wolfgangsee

Christmas shop in St Wolfgang

At this time of year St Wolfgang and the surrounding villages are transformed into a paradise for all lovers of Christmas. Each village has a Christmas market which is alive with people drinking gluhwein, eating grostl and generally taking in the wonderful atmosphere.

Musical Nutcrackers

The ferry boats are running and you can buy a round ticket to visit all the markets, at Strobl, St Gilgan as well as St Wolfgang. It takes about 35 minutes to St Gilgen

Stall at St Gilgen

Open fires in St Gilgen take off the chill

After an hours boat ride to the other end of the lake we arrive in Strobl.

Stalls in Strobl

In Strobl there are many wood carved figures with a lovely crypt scene in the music pavilion.

Hot gluhwein and chilly weather

Nativity scene in the music pavilion

Well, I hope that gives you a taste of Advent here in the Salzkammergut, wish you could all be here!

Happy Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back from England

Been a while since my last post, had some family things to do so have been away a bit longer than we thought. When we got back there was snow laying around so and it was a bit colder than Gatwick when we left. While we was in England we went in a Lakeland store to buy some Christmas presents and I saw they were selling Army of Frogs....
....great I thought, I already have hive so that would a good addition to my collection. We played it a couple of times and it's a nice little game with a bit to it. Nice for non-gamers too, ie my sister-in-law. Now we are back in St. Wolfgang and the Advent Markets are in full swing, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The village is transformed with open fires, Christmas trees and candles, little huts everywhere selling gluwein, grostl, krapfen, handicrafts, wine, cheese and loads of other stuff. I will try and get some pics before we go back to the UK.......Oh! yes we are flying back on the 17th December to spend Christmas back in the UK. I will try and get a few posts in before that.

Happy Gaming!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Successful Games Evening

Well, I think that our first gaming session with Pauline and Stephen was a great success. We may have two more converts to the world of Eurogaming. Yesterday they made a trip into Salzburg and visited the gaming stores I had told them about and bought a bunch of games including, Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride Marklin and Carcassonne A New World. We have another session planned at their place next monday, with Ticket to Ride Europe and Settlers of Catan on table. Looking forward to it!!!

Happy Gaming!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ticket To Ride gains 2 more converts

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Our friends Stephen and Pauline came round this evening for a few drinks, nibbles and of course a game or two. They had never played anything like a eurogame so out came TtR, the definitive gateway game. I showed them a few of the games I thought might be suitable for a first time play, Thebes, Settlers of Catan and of course TtR. We decided to give TtR a try and they liked it I think right from the start, the rules are easy to get to grips with so you can start playing pretty much straight from the off. I explained that in the later stages of the game it might be good to take more tickets because you might already have the connection or part at least. Stephen went a different way, after connecting his initial routes he went for all the 6 train routes, scoring a hefty 15 points a pop.
In the end it was pretty close, Stephen closed out his last 6er to leave him with 1 train and me one route short of making two tickets and a large minus. Pauline had the longest route to get the extra 10 points, so the final scores ended like this.

Final Score
Stephen 89, Colin 83, Pauline 81, Tina 80

After TtR I brought out Reiner Knizia's Spiel des Jahres winner, Keltis. This didn't go down so well, quote from Stephen 'tame'. Plus the fact that I forget a crucial rule that the game ends when the last card is taken from the face down deck....ah well, you can't win em all.

Final Score
Pauline 37, Tina 20, Stephen 18, Colin 14

As the time was getting on now I thought we could finish the evening with a little card filler, Geschenkt (No Thanks!). Rules are easy, plays quick and has a bit to it. I think they quite liked this as well, Pauline was definitely on a roll now, just look at the scores for this one.

Final Scores
Game 1 - Pauline 51, Tina 55, Colin 61, Stephen 74

Game 2 - Pauline 59, Stephen 66, Tina 84, Colin 92

Game 3 - Pauline 49, Tina 65, Colin 66, Stephen 99

Game 3 - Tina 36, Pauline 55, Colin 62, Stephen 87

All in all a good evening I think, well, Pauline and Stephen wanted to know where they could buy TtR and took down some names of other likely games. Hopefully 2 more converts the great world of Eurogaming. Can't wait to play again.

Happy Gaming!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thebes and Things

So after reading the rules and having a solo run through I finally persuaded the wife to give it a go. I had been reading on BGG how it played 2 player and quite a few couples found it an entertaining game. No such luck, Tina found it quite boring and said what have I got to do with all these cards, well that was her first impression. I know most of the time she only plays to humour me as I have no other opponents at hand. It got better as the game played out, she liked the drawing of artifacts out of the bag, and she laughed a lot when I drew a load of rubble!!
In the end she said it was OK, and she even beat me by 2 points. I think she liked Settlers better, I know Settlers is an old game but it's easy to get into and if she likes's fine with me, I'll play.
Well, Essen is almost over for another year, I didn't go, but I have been reading lots of reports, lists of what people bought and so on. Kulkmann's report is always a great read (and he has prizes), of course loads of stuff on BGG. I also found 'Obsessing about Everything' by Melissa, a good read but I don't understand all this OMG stuff, I expect it's an American thing.

Here is another misty autumn picture of St. Wolfgang for you. Our English friends are back over here for 12 days and we have actually arranged a gaming evening for next Tuesday. They seem quite interested in my game collection, but I don't think they have played anything resembling a Euro game before. I think I have a gateway game or 2 that I can tempt them's hoping anyway!!

Happy Gaming!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Day in Salzburg

Monday last we went to Salzburg for the afternoon, had some shopping to do and while we was there I thought I might as well just pop into a couple of game shops. The weather was fine as it has been for the past week and the trees looked wonderful.

There is a shop run by an english chap called, amazingly, the English Shop. They stock most things that you can't get in Austria that you miss from home. We paid him a visit and bought a few things that we needed. Then we sat in the square and had frankfurter hotdogs and beer, very nice indeed. We looked in the game stores and noted that they are already getting the Christmas toys and games out. Oh oh....I spotted Thebes, a game I had been reading about on BGG and that appealed to me quite a lot. I love games with ancient themes, Roman, Greek or Egyptian, 'you said you weren't getting any more games before christmas', says the wife. Ah...well, this is game I really would like. Oh, go on then, but this is the last one!!

So, I have been reading more about the game on the geek, about the luck and so on. I have tried a sort of run through of the rules and can't wait to play. Tina likes Egyptian stuff too, so she maybe might like to try this soon.

Happy Gaming!!
PS if you want to see more pics Austria and Salzburg go here:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More pics of Autumn in St. Wolfgang

Here are a few more pictures of the lovely scenery around where we live in St. Wolfgang. The weather has been lovely and sunny for 4 or 5 days now, almost too hot, we are going to Salzburg tomorrow so I hope it continues for at least another day.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn in St. Wolfgang


The weather here is fantastic at the moment, bright sunshine with folks in swimsuits sunbathing by the lakeside. The autumn colours make the scenery pretty spectacular as well. We went for a walk yesterday and I took the camera to record some of the autumn scenes, the cows have been brought down from the mountains so they add to the overall picture and make the scene typically 'Austrian'.
I have also been looking at the Essen threads on BGG and going a very pretty shade of green. Some of the offerings this year look pretty interesting, but I keep thinking of all the money I will be saving by not going. Well.....I keep thinking it, but it doesn't seem to be working!! I know Richard, Garry, Steve and Jo are going and hopefully I will get a report on how it was from one of them. Ah well.....I'll go and look at the lovely scenery one more time.

Happy Gaming!!
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Friday, October 3, 2008

3 Games of Settlers

Well, 2 posts in two days. We actually sat down and played 3 games of basic Settlers straight off the bat today. Tina picked it up really quickly and quite enjoyed it I think. The score was 2-1 to me, but this game may actually make the table again in the future. When our English friends come over in October I think this could be the game to try them on.
The weather here is pretty depressing at the moment, rainy and cold, still at least there's no snow yet. This weekend they are bringing the cows down off the mountain and make quite a big thing of it. Bands and beer I think, and the cows have a pretty good time too!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First Post for Ages

Well.....I never realised that it was 2 months since my last post. Tut! Tut! must do better. Anyway, what have I been up to, well, we went back to the UK for a couple of weeks in September to visit family which was nice. Tina's mum is 92 and not in the best of health and my mum is 84 so it was nice to see them. We haven't been on any more trips to shows or anything and I am getting really twitchy now as it comes up to Essen 2008 and I am not going. I know all my gaming buddies from the UK plan to make the trip and I am really jealous.
I have been playing mostly online, loads of Settlers and Knights and Cities some Hacienda and Year of the Dragon. I had bought the Settlers card game ages ago in the forelorn hope that the wife would play it, but no luck, anyway I have just bought the expansion sets so that's more games that will not get played lol. I seem to be getting into a Settlers mood just lately, I must admit that when I first played it way back when I first started boardgaming, I was not all all impressed, I just didn't get the dice rolls and my first placement of towns was useless. Which of course is half the battle when trying to get a good start. So when we were in Bad Ischl shopping last Tuesday I thought I would just have a look in the one game shop they have to see what was about and I came out guessed it, Settlers of Catan, the boardgame. I definitely hope the wife will play as I have found some interesting looking 2 players rules on BGG. Well pigs might fly I suppose, but you never know.
On a more opimistic front, we have made friends with an English couple that have bought a flat out here. Both teachers, one retired, one not, they come out about 10 times a year and when they saw my boardgame collection expressed an interest in them. They both like boardgames they said, but I think that maybe not german boardgames as they didn't recognise anything in my collection. So, a chance to introduce another couple of people into the wonderful world of Eurogaming. Next time they come over (October) we have scheduled a games evening....what to play, what to play. Should it be Ticket to Ride, Settlers, Pandemic.....I don't know, still it looks promising, so fingers crossed.

That's all for now...happy gaming!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Opera in Morbisch

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On August 1 and 2nd we had a trip to Morbisch, which is Burgenland in the east of Austria. We were going to see a performance of the operetta by Ralph Benatzky 'The White Horse Inn', set in St. Wolfgang in the Salzgammergut, which is of course where we are living now. The stage is built over a lake, the biggest lake in Austria in fact, and is open air. We travelled by coach and as it rained in the afternoon we were hoping it would clear up by the evening. It did and the performance was very good, we had terrific seats and at the end there was a fantastic firework display. They are very big on fireworks in Austria, they seem to have fireworks at the drop of a hat.
The next day we stopped at a very old town called Rust, it is a big wine area and there were a lot little 'Vinotec's', where you could sample the local wines and purchase them too. Another feature of Rust is the White Storks, because of the proximity of the lake and abundant feeding grounds they build their nests on the chimneys and the town is awash with Storks roosting or on their to or from the feeding grounds. At the end of August after producing their young they fly off back to Africa.

White Storks roosting in Rust, Burgenland

I have been looking a bit at the Print and Play games on the Geek, first I printed out and mounted Pocket Civ. For my next game I tried Sword and Sail, which is found here:
A simple design concept, really nice graphics and it only took me a couple of hours to print, mount and play my first game. There seem to loads of these self produced games around, many of them on BGG. Some are obviously better than others, but some are well worth investigating, Sword and Sail is one I think.

Sword and Sail from BigLittle Games

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Opera and Pandemic

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The open air arena at St. Margarethen

First post for a while, the weather here has been alternately very hot, thunderstorms and like today wet and chilly. Still, I'd rather be here than working in dirty old London. On the 13th of this month we went on a 2 day trip to see 'La Traviata' at St Margarethen, which is in the east of Austria not far from Vienna. It's performed in an open air arena that was a quarry, and believe me it was pretty spectacular! We kept our fingers crossed for the weather because it had been raining earlier in the day, but our luck held. The set was amazing and the actual performance was superb and at the end there was a fantastic fireworks display.

On the boardgame front I am still playing every day on the play by web sites. At the moment I have games of In The Year of the Dragon, Tikal, Amun-Re, Kreta and In the Shadow of the Emperor on the go. A week or so ago I played 3 games of Pandemic with the wife, lost all of them. Two were on normal and one was at heroic. The last game was pretty close only one cure to get but the outbreaks got us.

In a couple of weeks we are going to another open air concert, this one is in Morbisch, which actually isn't far from St. Margarethen. This one is in the middle of a lake and it is a performance of Ralf Benatzky's 'White Horse Inn' operetta. I think we are stopping at a wine tasting on the way back so that is something to look forward to. Report to follow about that.

The group that I used to play with in Sussex, UK have got Agricola fever, I think they have played it 10 times in 2 weeks.....some going.

Happy Gaming!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

My First Games of Pandemic

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Well, my copy of Pandemic arrived this week I couldn't wait to open it and save the world. My friend Jo back in the UK had recommended it and he was right it's pretty cool. I have read a few comments that the cubes and dobbers are a bit big, well they are a tad on the large side but we had no problem with them. I had already downloaded the rules from Z-Man and had read them through and the wife decided to help out and rid the world of those nasty diseases.
You can play this game in easy, normal and heroic modes, for our first game we chose easy, just to get into the gameplay. The wife drew the researcher and I was the scientist, the ability to cure a disease with only four cards is pretty powerful. We were both feeling our way into the game when....bam!! The outbreaks just kept coming and we lost pretty decisively.

For our second game I had the scientist again and the wife had the operations expert. Now I thought this may be a pretty good combination....but we shall see. We started off pretty good and had cured the black disease before too long. But once again the game surprised us and the outbreaks came thick and fast and we ran out of cubes for the loss. We both really enjoyed the experience and will play again soon I am sure. Well, I couldn't wait and the next day I thought I would try a couple of solo plays. I played on easy again and took on two roles. First game I had the operations expert and the scientist, I am drawing these random by the way. I didn't do that bad, I had cured 3 diseases and only needed the red cure when I ran out of cards....doh!!

For my second solo play I drew the researcher and the operations expert. Well the operations expert definitely makes getting around a lot easier, and the researcher can use those research stations to hook up with the OE and pass cards. That made getting the required 5 cards of the same colour a lot easier. It was still pretty tight though and I discovered the last cure with only four cards left in the draw deck. Hay!! a win, but only on easy, I'm sure it will be a lot more challenging on normal and heroic. Can't wait to get the wife to play again and try for a co-operative win. If you get the chance and are not totally opposed to co-operation games this is definitely a winner.

Happy Gaming!!

The Scientist poised to wrap-around the board and emerge in Sydney

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Euro 2008 and New Games


Well we are just about finished with the group games in Euro 2008, here in Austria there is great interest even though Austria has just gone out of the competition. I went the Salzburg for the day last week and there was a great atmosphere there. Salzburg is one of the host cities and they have a Fanzone in one of the squares by the Cathedral (see pic), with massive screens so you can watch the games. Also loads of stands selling beer and sausage and of course plenty of football stuff as well. The place was packed with fans from all countries, especially Swedish and Greek. Of course I had to visit the game shops while we was there, I picked up the new Renier Knizia game 'Keltis', this is a multiplayer version of Lost Cities. Well, I don't think I'll ever play it multiplayer here, but the wife and I both like Lost Cities so I thought this would add a few twists and be worth getting. We played 4 games off the bat and both thought it was OK. Like the idea that you can lay your cards in ascending or descending order, gives you some more options with the cards you have in hand.

A gaming buddy of mine in the UK had recommended 'Pandemic' I checked it out on BGG and thought it sounded pretty cool. The cooperation gameplay would be good I thought for just the 2 of us. Well I couldn't find it in any european shops, bricks or online so I ordered it from Shire Games in England. Took a week to arrive but the wait was worth it, we played a couple of games yesterday on easy and lost both. Once to outbreaks and once we ran out of cubes. Looking forward to playing again, which is always a good sign. Still playing on the web at MabiWeb and, and enjoying all the games there, especially Kreta.

Happy Gaming!!!

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Lotus Cars and Play By Web

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Well the weather here is really hot, 32C, and has been for a few days. Lots of tourists now although my Austrian friends tell me it gets worst in July and August. Last week there was a Lotus Car rally in the town centre. Lots of very flashy sports cars that I could never afford or would want to.

Lotus Sports Cars looking very....well, sporty

There is a hotel in St. Wolfgang called the Scaleria which has won the award for the best Event Hotel in all of Austria. They are always having conventions and promotions there and to celebrate their award they had a Red Bull bi-plane doing acrobatics over the lake.

Having a severe dearth of live opponents here I have been looking at other ways to scratch the boardgame itch and have found a couple of sites where I can play boardgames by web. These are Michael Schacht's site at

and MabiWeb which is at

At Michael's site there are two games, Patrician and Hansa, and at MabiWeb there is a bigger selection, including Samurai, Shadow of the Emperor, Mykerinos and Kreta.
I have enjoyed playing there, even had a game with Michael Schacht himself and he was very friendly and helpful. If you fancy going there for a game look me up, my user name is 'dogger' on the Michael Schacht site and 'coljen' on MabiWeb, I would be happy to play you. I know the biggest online boardgame playing site is BSW, but the interface is a bit daunting and the games are realtime and I don't think the wife will relish me sitting in front of the computer playing boardgames all day. I think I will take the plunge for the odd game, I really like Notre Dame and they have that on there. Anyway I hope you are all getting plenty of gaming in.

Happy Gaming!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Picnic by the Lake

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Last week the weather here was lovely, sunshine all the way. The place is starting to wake up after the winter season, the flowers are all in bloom in the meadows, the ferry boats have started cruising around the lake and the little train that wends its way up the Schafberg mountain is chuffing once again.
Last wednesday it was a lovely day so we decided to take a picnic across to the nature reserve on the other side of the lake. Boarding the ferry boat which is just a few minutes walk from our apartment it takes only 15 minutes to get to the other side. Then a lovely 30 minute walk through meadows filled with spring flowers brings us to the nature reserve. This is an area with picnic tables, pedalos on the lake, swimming and water skiing all available. We spent a lovely hour or so having a leisurely lunch, with local cheese and fruit and of course some cold beer!
Then another pleasant hours stroll along to the end of the lake and the village of Strobl. This is a lazy village with lovely restaurants and bars and of course all the watersports available here as well. We caught the ferry back to St. Wolfgang to round off our day....very pleasant indeed. No boardgames in sight for the day but there's always another one!!!

Happy Gaming!!

Looking back to St. Wolfgang from the Nature Reserve

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A day trip to Salzburg


Last thursday (24th) we went to Salzburg on the post bus, a pleasant journey taking about 90 minutes. The day was fairly hot which was significant because the main reason for going was to visit one of Austria's main department stores and that was situated on the outskirts and we planned to walk. I looked at a map and thought it would take about 20 minutes, in fact it took 40 minutes. When we arrived the first thing we did was look for the English Shop, we had found this on the net a few days ago and wanted to buy a few essential things you can't buy in Austria. For instance, Branston pickle, Daddy's Sauce, Marmite and Custard powder.
Well, we found it alright, it is run by Chris and Simon Clee, and it is a veritable Alladin's Cave of goodies. Chris was in attendence and was very helpful and we had a great chat. As we had a specific purpose for visiting Salzburg there was no time to visit the game stores this time, in the picture you see me in one of the best, obviously taken at another time. We finally made it to Leiner's (the dept. store), luckily they had a nice restaurant and cold beer waiting. After a nice lunch we spent a very profitable (but expensive) couple of hours browsing around. They have practically everything you need for the home on four floors. When we returned to the centre of Salzburg to get the bus home we took a tram ride, a bit easier on the feet!!
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Eating out at College


Yesterday we were invited to have lunch at a Cooking School on the lake. The name of the school is Ferienhort and the building is very impressive. It was a navy school before the 2nd World War, then it became a college for cookery. Every so often the students cook a wonderful 4 course meal and if you are lucky you can go and be served by the students. It is good training for them and they performed really well for us. The food was very good and it included four courses and wine and beer included for 10 euros. Definitely needed to go for a long walk afterwards to get those calories off.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Summer is Coming


First post for a while. Haven't played a lot of games lately, mainly because we have been back to England for a couple of weeks to visit family and such. Still have things to do in the flat, looking for some bits of furniture to store stuff that we still have in cardboard boxes in the spare bedroom. Still, the weather is looking up and the little steam train that wends its way up to the Schafberg mountain has woken up from its long winter sleep has made several trips up ferrying supplies to the restaurant that is at the top, ready for the summer season. We can see the train as it goes past from our balcony, lovely to see steam again rather than all these anonymous diesel and electric trains we have in the UK.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Snow and Games


This is a scene not far from us, very picturesque, but everywhere you look it's like that. The snow has all gone now, but apparently there is more on the way. Had another game of Pillars of the Earth the other day, followed it up with a game of Mystery Rummy: Jekyl and Hyde. Tina likes that one and wiped the floor with me :)

We seem to be settling into a some sort of routine here, the pace of life is very different compared to the UK. I suppose it makes a difference that I don't have to get up for work at 6.00am every morning! We are coming back to the UK at the end of March for a couple of weeks to see family so I probably won't post during that time.

Anyway.....Happy Gaming!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We finally get registered as residents of Austria


Well we went to Gmunden yesterday, bus to Bad Ischl then train to Gmunden then a little tram to take you to the centre by the lake. We had to go the district headquarters of the authorities to register for residency. This took about 2 hours, but we finally got the piece of paper that said that we can stay in Austria. Then we had a nice lunch in a restaurant overlooking the lake....lovely.
Today is a bit different, this was the view from the balcony this morning. It had been snowing all night and it is about 6 inches thick, good job we decided to go yesterday!
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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Some more gameplay and a trip to Bad Ischl

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As you can see from the picture we got to play Arkadia. I had read the rules beforehand and Tina picked it up pretty quickly. Basically you use the cards in your hand to build buildings or place your workers on the board during your go. When a building is completely surrounded with other buildings or workers the player who completed the move takes the coloured seal that is on the building then any player with a worker adjacent gets a seal as well. You then have to build a section of the castle. Each castle section has a coloured seal on it so depending on which piece you build you can influence the value of the seals. Each player has 4 banners which you can use at the end of your turn. If you play one of these you get 2 more workers from the pool and can cash any seals you have won for gold. Most gold at the end wins
I like the game, plays well, doesn't take too long, has nice components (apart from the banners and player screens which are a bit flimsy) and has some good strategy to it.

Then on Friday we went to Bad Ischl, takes 40 minutes on the bus. The main reason for the trip is that we have to register for residency within 3 months of arriving in Austria, and to do that you have to go to Gmunden. Well, we wanted to do the trip on our own this time so had to check out the train times from Bad Ischl. Looks pretty straightforward really so we are going next Dienstag, sorry Tuesday. You have to take all the relevant documents with you, health insurance, passport, tenancy agreement and so on and hope that they say yes!!

Keep you posted.....happy gaming!