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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:47 pm 
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Polyhedral Underground Session Report 12/07/06 -- In which the crocodiles are well fed and Yong conquers his fear of dice long enough to destroy us all.

LOCATION: Harbinger's place

IN ATTENDANCE:
3 Harbinger
4 Auger The Great
11 Guardtroll
18 TheTodd
21 Stehl-Chao a.k.a. LRO
23 Yong No Mo
32 Eric Holdridge

HOUSEKEEPING:
I have been informed by semi-reliable sources that Guardtroll’s son, who I am still calling LRO, also has an avatar/ID on this forum site. Blame this on my stupid newbie oversight. As you can see from the list above, he has seniority as well, so if there is a round of “downsizing” LRO will be safe but Cornbread46 and I are in trouble.

Also, in an attempt to make these session reports less like essays and more like a discussion I’m going to try to throw in some discussion questions in the hopes that people may respond with their opinions. Even negative opinions on a game are informative as long as they are backed up with reasons. For me especially, being new, it helps to see what the group likes/dislikes for the future. If Yong’s tendency for tirades hasn’t offended anyone, then opinions on games played won’t either. I hope.

GAMES PLAYED: Six as described below.

Game #1 -- Samurai -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/3

Players: Harbinger, Auger The Great, TheTodd & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner: Harbinger wins the tie-breaker
Harbinger = High-hats 1 // Rice 4 // Buddhas 5
Auger = High-hats 5 // Rice 1 // Buddhas 2
TheTodd = High-hats 3 // Rice 4 // Buddhas 3
Eric = High-hats 3 // Rice 3 // Buddhas 1

The first game played while we were waiting for others to show was a 4-player game of the classic Knizia tile-laying game -- Samurai. For such an elegant and abstracted game it is very confrontational. Most of the confrontation happened between Harbinger and Auger and I while TheTodd was off on his own little island for much of the game. The end scoring is not the easiest to summarize, even though I’ve played this multiple times, but here goes. There are three types of tokens to surround and collect, High-hats, Rice paddies & Buddhas -- all nicely represented as shiny black tokens in the game. If you manage to get the most tokens in two of the three types, you win outright. After this you look at the number of each person that had the most in one of the three types. Here this ended up being Harbinger with 5 Buddhas and Auger with 5 High-Hats. From there you break ties by comparing the number of other tokens of all players tied for the highest “majority”. Here that meant that Harbinger was the winner on the tie-break with five other tokens collected to Auger’s three. There are various and sundry other tie-breakers and I think they may get even more specific from there such as eye-color breaking ties at some level, but don’t quote me on that.

QUESTION SECTION #1 -- Samurai is one of Reiner Knizia’s fabled tile-laying trilogy. Although I have read that Knizia never considered these games to be related or part of a trilogy, many BGGers continue to refer to the following three games which all came out in a span of a year or two to be his “tile-laying trilogy”: Tigris & Euphrates (1997); Samurai (1998); and Through the Desert (1998).

How many (if any) of these have you played?
What is your opinion of each (good or bad) and why?
Do you have a favorite?

Knizia is likely my favorite designer and it is sort of a travesty how many of his “classic” games I have not yet tried. On that list of never-played Knizia games is Through the Desert. Now that the FFG reprint is back in stock I may have to consider putting this in my next order. In the meantime, I see that Harbinger has it, so maybe a playing or two is warranted?

I have played Samurai now about 3-4 times and I really like it. It is on my want list, but doesn’t appear to be going OOP any time soon, so it is not urgent. The best part about this game for me is that it really appears to scale well between 2-4 players and it is not as long as T&E.

I own and like (maybe love?) T&E. This was a 2006 acquisition for me in a trade, and I have played it mostly two-player. This would be my favorite of the two I have played so far and I think Through the Desert would have a hard time beating it. Complaints about the randomness of the tile draw and the length haven’t really impacted me yet, but they may be more prevalent in 3 & 4 player games.

While we were finishing up, Yong No Mo showed up and I got to break out one of my games for the first time, and we settled on a game from Days of Wonder.

Game #2 -- Cleopatra and the Society of Architects –
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/22141

Players: Harbinger, Auger The Great, TheTodd, Yong No Mo & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner: TheTodd wins as the crocodiles are fed a double dinner
Harbinger = Corruption 12 & fed to the crocodiles
Auger = Corruption 5 & Talents 34
TheTodd = Corruption 5 & Talents 56
Eric = Corruption 6 & Talents 54
Yong No Mo = Corruption 12 & fed to the crocodiles

Cleopatra is basically a set collection and building game in which the players are competing to be the most valued architect building the palace for Cleopatra. You collect cards which are your resources (wood & stone & marble & lapis lazuli & workers) to build six various elements of the palace (the sphinxes; the tile mosaics in the garden; the throne and pedestal; the door frames; the column walls; and the obelisks). When you build items on the palace you are rewarded with money, which is called talents in this game. The goal of the game is twofold – the winner is the surviving player at the end with the most talents. Why won’t players survive? The first thing you check for at endgame is the amount of corruption each player has and the player or players with the most (no matter how much money they have) are thrown to Cleopatra’s crocodiles and are ineligible for the win.

Each turn you can only do two things, go to market (where you gain cards) or go to the quarry to pay your cards to build an item or items.

The twist with the market is twofold. First there are three market stalls (piles of cards) which each get a new card at the end of each players turn. This means that the market stalls will almost always have different numbers of cards in them. There are generic versions of all the resources which are worth one each and there are corrupted versions of each worth two. The other cards you can collect are special action cards in the form of character cards called “worshipers of sobek”. These give you some special action but also gain you corruption. When you gain corruption by playing a corrupt card you gain a corruption counter which you put into your cardboard bank-like little pyramid. The second twist is that some of the cards will be face-up and some will be face down. This is achieved after dealing each player a beginning hand by turning half of the cards face up and shuffling the deck that way. This was unique to me. As the cards come off the deck at the end of your turn you cannot change their face-up or face down orientation but you can choose which cards go into which market stall. This adds a nice little bit of strategy but can make things take longer. You can make a market stall more or less attractive by adding corrupted cards or “unknown” cards or scarce cards. After you pick up cards you must check your hand size as your hand limit is ten cards and when you are over you can either take one corruption and discard down to ten or keep all the cards in your hand above ten and take one corruption for each such card.

When you go to the quarry you can build as much as your cards enable you to. Many of the things you can build are straightforward and just provide you with money. Some of the items have little twists in which if you build things in certain orders or in certain ways you can gain bonus points. The mosaics (which are all 5-square tetris-y pieces which you play into a garden on the top of the box) introduce a mini-game into the mix in which you can place in the garden to cover palm trees to maximize your bonuses or to try to create a fenced off area which you can claim as a sanctuary. Each square of a sanctuary you own at the end of the game lets you discard one corruption. You each have two little Anubis statutes by which you can claim sanctuaries. You can also gain bonuses of 2 for building two items in a turn or 5 for building three items in a turn. Every time one of the six types of items available at the quarry is exhausted, Cleopatra moves forward on the main board. After five of the six item-types are complete, the game ends, so players have some control about the pace of the game. After building at the quarry you must also roll the priest dice which are blank on 5 sides but have an ankh on the sixth side. Once an ankh is rolled this die is placed onto the altar of the great priest and the remaining dice keep getting rolled until all of them show ankhs at which time there is an offering to the great priest. All players must then offer a number of talents in a blind bid – the person who bids the most talents gets to remove 3 corruption and all of the other (losing) players must gain corruption (from 1-4). All talents bid are lost back to the bank. This auction is one of the only ways (except sanctuaries created by the mosaics) to get rid of corruption.

When the end of the game is triggered everyone gains corruption counters for any corrupt cards still in their hands and loses corruption counters for any sanctuaries they have created. Then the players count up their corruption and the most corrupt architects are thrown to their deaths. In our game two players tied for being the most corrupt, Harbinger and Yong and so they both died. This was the first time that this has happened in any of the games I have played of this. TheTodd repeatedly worked the quarry multiple times each visit for good multiple build bonuses and was the winner.

QUESTION SECTION #2 – what did people think of this game?

I own the game and I enjoy the eye-candy of the over-production but this is not a “top ten” game for me. I always like rummyesque or set collection mechanics and the twists with the cards make this an enjoyable time for me. I would rank it on the lighter side of the medium weight category or even at the intersection between medium weight & light. It goes much faster with fewer players and after repeated plays.

While we were playing, Guardtroll and LRO showed up and played a two-player game in the meantime.

Game #3 -- Lord of the Rings - The Duel -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4610

Players: Guardtroll and LRO

Score/Winner: I believe the Guardtroll won, but again, don’t quote me.

This is another Lord of the Rings themed game in the two-player Kosmos series.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/ ... yer_series

This one I have not played. It appeared to be a card and hand management game centered around the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog on the bridge in the mines of Moria. I know Yong has studied the rules, so hopefully he or Guardtroll or LRO will chime in with their thoughts on this game, tell us how they felt it played, and confirm who won.

After Cleopatra ended, we broke off into two groups, being at an awkward number of seven.

Game #4 -- Quicksand -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/6738

Players: Auger The Great, Guardtroll, TheTodd, Yong No Mo & Eric Holdridge
Score/Winner: Yong No Mo

Quicksand is a little box game that is part of the Fantasy Flight silver line series of games. I had never played this before but really enjoyed it. It is a little hidden identity bluffing/racing/hand management game. The game was very quick and fun. You play cards to move any of the six pawns and either race them along to the finish or get them mired in quicksand. Our game was very strange in that the green pawn (the only woman) still had not moved into the middle of the game. It seemed that everyone was choosing to discard green cards rather than play them. After awhile she did start to move and actually caught up to the pack, but it was very strange. My identity was green and this was not some grand plan of mine to psych everyone out and get them to move my pawn at the end, this was because I only drew one green card the entire game (and no wilds) so could rarely move the green pawn myself. Luckily I did have 5 out of 6 cards as quicksand at one point and got to put everyone in the quicksand at one time or another. This was not enough to slow them down though and by the end we had a bottleneck around the end space with everyone just moving what they could in the hopes of drawing the color combinations they needed to let them win the game. In the end Yong was able to pull off the win.

This is a fun little game which moves fast. It seems like it would scale well with different amounts of players and is even a game a family could enjoy. I think I will like it best with less than six so there is some doubt about which pawns represent actual players in the game. I think this doubt really increases the fun of the bluff element. I would definitely play this one again.

While we were playing Quicksand, Harbinger and LRO played a little Dracula

Game #5 -- Dracula -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/7804

Players: Harbinger and LRO
Score/Winner: No clue whatsoever. I checked my notes for this and apparently spaced this one completely.

This is another in the Kosmos two-player series and is one I own. It is basically a memory game where you place the other player’s “target” cards on the board and have the opportunity to replace them at times. At certain times when your “defenders” are revealed, battles occur between Dracula’s vampire minions and Van Helsing’s hunters using the “power” cards from your hand. You have to use all your “power” cards before you get them back, a la your power cards in LOTR: Confrontation, so there is an element of bluff available in both the management of the hand of cards that do not ever get “hidden” on the board as well as the bluff of placing and replacing cards. If Dracula finds all the victims hidden/protected by Van Helsing, Drac wins and if Van Helsing finds all of Dracula’s coffins then Van Helsing wins. I pretty much have the same opinion of this as I do of Gone Fishing from the 11/22/06 report, as I am just not fond of memory games and my wife and I played this game out pretty quickly.

QUESTION SECTION #3 –

For Harbinger or LRO – who did win and how did the game play out?
For everyone else who has played – how did you like this game?
For anyone – What is your favorite game in the Kosmos two-player line of games?

My answer for my favorite Kosmos two-player game would have to be Blue Moon. Knizia again. Even without the new decks it is a great little game which scratches the Magic itch I get from time to time without bankrupting me or sending me into a CCG-buying frenzy. But with all the decks it is simply a great game. Close runner up is Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. I don’t have the deluxe edition or whatever it is called but the base game is a cracking little game all on its own. Many of the others I’ve tried haven’t done much for me.

After Quicksand, Auger had to leave, so for the closer the remaining crew all came together for a six-player game that Yong has been talking up . . .

Game #6 -- Sharp Shooters -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1459

Players: Harbinger, Guardtroll, TheTodd, LRO, Yong No Mo & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner:
Harbinger -- 200
Guardtroll -- 540
TheTodd -- 220
LRO -- 210
Yong No Mo -- 610
Eric Holdridge -- 100

This is the dice rolling amped up version of Yahtzee which Yong reviewed on the front page of the forums. I’m pretty sure that this was the Hasbro version and plays up to six. As Yong pointed out, this was one of Games Magazine’s Games of the Year. Impressive indeed. This game is basically a dice rolling game where you are trying to fulfill little dice combination “missions” on 6 mission cards. Some of the missions will be harder than others and worth more points and some of the missions are negative missions and give you negative points. You start out with 100 chips/points.

What’s that, you ask? If you start out with 100 chips how could Eric’s score only have been 100? I’m so sorry you asked that. It was because I sat in clockwise order after LRO who put some bad dice-rollin’ mojo on me. I think I scored the majority of the negative missions, so every positive mission I was able to achieve was wiped out. I did quite abysmally. There is really not much strategy discussion to be had here, but this was a good closer, and there are some fun anecdotes. Despite the fact that Harbinger spent more time at the computer than at the table during the playing of this game, he still managed to outscore me. This game does not have a lot of rules, but apparently a major one is for the dice to hit the backstop or you must roll again. The dice must also stay in the rolling area or you must roll again. There was MUCH rolling again. There were times where we went around the table like 6 times waiting for someone to roll the final number that was still needed on a card. It seemed like clockwork that the last person to roll on each card was Guardtroll, who had an uncanny knack for rolling well and for finishing off cards. However, it was Yong, so long rumored to be in the doghouse with the gods of dice who was redeemed in their eyes and allowed to be triumphant this day. His huge score of 610 made him the clear winner and may have cured him of his fear of dice. This playing may have given others at the table a fear of Sharp Shooters however, but don’t quote me on that.

I actually kid Sharp Shooters. It was a great time of night for a less brain-burning closer as I was getting tired, and this game -- despite my poor showing -- was fun and even suspenseful in its way. For what Yong said he paid for it, it has already earned its keep. In any event, now that Yong has somehow transferred his cursed luck with dice to me, he may be well nigh unstoppable. Time will tell.

That’s all for now, hope to see some of you tomorrow night!


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 7:53 pm 
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Polyhedral Underground Master
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nice reeport too bad i missed it....drat ..been wanting to try cleopatra for a while now......good on ya once again eric...

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 9:34 pm 
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Good Report, again I commend you.
Answers to your questions:

Quote:
How many (if any) of these have you played?
What is your opinion of each (good or bad) and why?
Do you have a favorite?


I own and have played all of them. I like each, but especially T&E and Samurai, with Samurai edging out T&E by a bit due to it's faster playing time and ease of teaching new players. T&E is much heavier and thus needs many playings to 'get' it.



Quote:
QUESTION SECTION #2 – what did people think of this game (Cleopatra)?

I like it. It is light, but cool. I screwed up a couple times and am eager to redeam myself.

Drakula- I won this game, by finding all five of Drakula's coffins. This was pretty close as far as hit points lost, but LRO just could find any victims. It was prety good despite kind of rushing it.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 10:25 pm 
[quote="Eric Holdridge"] If Yong’s tendency for tirades hasn’t offended anyone, then opinions on games played won’t either. I hope.

Through the Desert (1998).

I own and like (maybe love?) T&E.

While we were finishing up, Yong No Mo showed up and I got to break out one of my games for the first time, and we settled on a game from Days of Wonder. Cleopatra.

Yong No Mo = Corruption 12 & fed to the crocodiles

In our game two players tied for being the most corrupt, Harbinger and Yong and so they both died. This was the first time that this has happened in any of the games I have played of this.

QUESTION SECTION #2 – what did people think of this game?

Close runner up is Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation.
After Quicksand, Auger had to leave, so for the closer the remaining crew all came together for a six-player game that Yong has been talking up . . .
quote]

I'll try to contain myself from my triad tendencies, but don't piss me off man! Just kidding. Go ahead and try.

I played Through the Desert and liked it and think my family would like it. I played at Oshcon and was beaten severely. Humbling.

T&E are on my list of games to try. No opinion.

Being as corrupt as I was in Cleopatra, I would play it again. 1st play. I bit the big one. Screwed up my share. I believe I was the entree and Harb was dessert.

I just played LOR: The Confrontation with my 8 yr. old for the 1st time tonight. We read over the rules and played. I took out most of her good guys and she slipped Frodo in by flanking me, sacrificing my heavy hitter with Borimir, and running around my Nazgul for the win. I never saw it coming. Excuse the spelling of the guys. I have a feeling this will be another cut throat game in the family.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 5:15 am 
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LOR: the confrontation is high up on my to buy list....cut throat family fun is right up our alley....

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:59 am 
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Cornbread46 wrote:
nice reeport too bad i missed it....drat ..been wanting to try cleopatra for a while now......good on ya once again eric...


Thanks CB!

As for Cleopatra, I'll bring it tonight as well, but I don't know if Auger will want to play again. I think he was the victim of some bad card draws last time.

His house -- his rules!

But I will continue to bring it along in the future, so I'm sure you'll get a chance to play it!

Hope to see you tonight!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:27 am 
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Polyhedral Underground Master
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Location: Stuck in the mud at the Rocketville paintball field.
What type of gamer are you?: RPG
I would never miss one if I had a choice... especially since somebody is writing these detailed session reports and rugging it in how much fun I miss.....j/k..... but yeah... since it is about 45 seconds drive from my house... if I hit the one light.... I should be there no problem....

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