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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:32 pm 
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Polyhedral Underground Session Report 12/21/06 -- Where investments in outhouses don’t manage to pay off and the Lion dominates the delta of Mesopotamia

LOCATION: Harbinger's place

IN ATTENDANCE:
3 Harbinger
23 Yong No Mo
29 Cornbread46
32 Eric Holdridge

HOUSEKEEPING: (whining/on) Yes, I know I haven’t done any report for the Gameapalooza yet, and that I am running late with this one, but the Gameapalooza is special and as long as I get something done before the next one then I am okay right? (whining/off).

That reminds me, this New Year’s Significant Other thing doesn’t count as the next one does it? If so, I am in trouble. Maybe I can outsource the session reports to India. I hear that’s all the rage amongst the cold and callous business types.

Even worse, by the logic of “get-it-done-before-the-next-one” the next regular game day is tonight, so I better get this done before I leave! No in-depths today, just a quick and dirty recitation of the attendance and the games played. Please keep in mind that “quick and dirty” sounds a lot more interesting than it actually will be. You are forewarned.

GAMES PLAYED: Four different titles and five plays as described below.

Game #1 – Tigris & Euphrates -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/42

Players: Harbinger, Yong No Mo, Cornbread46 & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner: The Lion Dynasty of Harbinger wins with the most/least of 6.

Harbinger pulled out another in the Knizia tile-laying “trilogy” (see Samurai & Through the Desert) to teach Yong. Harbinger was the Lion, Yong the Archer and I was the Potter. We played a turn or three of this game and I was doing great! It was epic! My best game ever! And then Cornbread46 had to go and show up!

Umm, what I meant to say was . . . (<------ use of ellipses dedicated to CB)

Shortly thereafter, CB showed up bearing his box of games and we were so overjoyed to see him that we scrapped the game and Harbinger went over the rules for the second time and we started over. Nice for CB sure, but it was a sad day for Eric as I tried a different opening maneuver in the second game and did, shall we say, less well (<------ understatement of the report). CB was the Bull of course, and you may insert your own CB/Bull joke here.

Have you got that out of your system? Good. Onward!

Tigris & Euphrates (T&E) is a tile laying game that can be very nasty, but this game was more randomly contentious than pointedly so and no one player got hammered or targeted over the others. T&E also introduced another weird Knizia scoring mechanic which I think he used again in Ingenious, but don’t quote me on that. There are four colors of victory points in T&E and your score is the number of the color you have the least cubes in. Or, in other words the winner is whoever has the highest least or most/least. It rewards sets and diversity in scoring and the person with the most cubes overall or the majority of cubes in certain colors is not guaranteed the win.

In the end the game ended due to treasures getting down to two or less rather than running out of tiles and though it was a close game, the Lion dynasty was victorious. Then we looked through Cornbread46’s haul of new games and settled on Masons to try out.

Game #2 – Masons -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21791

Players: Harbinger, Yong No Mo, Cornbread46 & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner: Eric wins in a one-point squeaker over Yong
Harbinger = 40
Yong No Mo = 53
Cornbread46 = 47
Eric Holdridge 54

Masons is a newish game by Leo Colovini that I had my eye on for awhile, but never bought. I kept meaning to try it on one of the play-by-web sites, but I never did. It is basically like a souped-up game of “boxes” -- that game you may have played as a kid with graph paper. You make a grid of dots (here the board) and draw lines on them until a portion of real estate is boxed in (here this is done by placing fences as your lines). The wrinkles added to make this more than the sum of its parts are: (1) towers of three colors (grey, black & white) which are placed where the “dots” would go where the fences intersect; (2) houses of five or six colors which go on either side of a placed fence; (3) dice for both the towers and houses which dictate which color(s) you will be placing; (4) “palaces” in each of the house colors which replace double houses in the same color when an area is completely fenced in; and most importantly (5) a ton of goal/score cards which can score different combinations of houses/fences/towers/palaces etc in completed and incomplete areas of the board. Each time an area is “enclosed” everyone can play one or two of their goal/scoring cards.

Since it was a first play for everyone we were really feeling our way out and maybe did things we would not do again. I know I played a lot of fences/towers/houses away from the others, causing there to be a ton of points available for anyone that had score cards which gave you two points for each white tower (for example) not attached to a completed area. This allowed CB to gain almost 40 points in one scoring. Now that we all know the cards a bit better, I do not think that we will be setting up such plays unless we have the score cards that match. It may have been more sensible to play in a smaller area and complete things a bit faster & not leave the open areas so full of items that were incomplete and so profitable to score.

As you can see, however, CB did not win in the end, and the game has some neat mechanisms to allow for catch-up. For example, the person in last place after each scoring is able to discard a score/goal card of their choice and draw a new one. The other way that people can exploit the system is to try and control when the game ends. If the game had ended earlier, it would have definitely been CB or maybe Yong’s game. The game ends when any one type of piece (towers/fences/houses/palaces) runs out. This does give the players some control of how things will end as you can combine completed areas and this will usually free up some fences and possibly some towers as well. In the final scoring round I was able to just inch out Yong by one point and it was a near thing.

This game does have a lot of luck and people who hate luck may complain, but this game will go over perfectly with others that I play with, so it is definitely going on my want list. While the chutes and ladders score track leaves something to be desired, the rest of the components are excellent and the game looks really nice with one creepy exception. The creepy guy on the box with the dodgy hairdo gave me bad dreams (See, http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/155149). But even that can’t keep me away. Someday it will be mine. Until then, I plan to keep pestering CB to bring it every time he comes.

QUESTION SECTION #1 – what did everyone else think of this game?

Yong? Harb? CB himself? Thoughts? Opinions? Diatribes? Denouncements?
Let all of PolyU know.

Next we thought we could do with a shorter, filler-ish game. So we broke out For Sale for a couple of plays.

Game #3 For Sale -- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/172

Players: Harbinger, Yong No Mo, Cornbread46 & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner Play #1:
Harbinger = 59
Yong No Mo = 50
Cornbread46 = 58
Eric Holdridge = 61

Score/Winner Play #2:
Harbinger = 72
Yong No Mo = 62
Cornbread46 = 67
Eric Holdridge = 40

This is a nice little filler bidding game by Stefan Dorra in which you are bidding on properties worth from 1-30 in the first round with your money and then using the numeric value of the properties (1-30) to try and take checks which range from being worth nothing (Void checks) to up to 15. I think there are two of each number from 0-15, but that math doesn’t quite work out in my head, so don’t quote me. Harb or CB can jump in as owners of the game to correct me where I’m wrong. The card illustrations for the properties are cartoony-cute and range from a cardboard box in an alley and an outhouse on the low end to a space station at value 30. Each of the cards also has a little animal on it to search for, and this is nice touch. It appears as if there is no animal on the 30 card, since in the vacuum of space no one can hear you bark. However, Harbinger says that there are lab animals on the space station or the space shuttle pictured. It is his game, so I choose to believe him. He does always seem to have inside info on games.

When I first learned this game it was at Rock-con with my wife and another IL friend and Harbinger’s lovely wife. Like with most bidding games, my deeply imbedded cheapness got me into trouble and before you could say “cheap-ass” I had both void checks and lost pathetically.

This time I actually won the first game (by not much) but by the second was true to form and had a double void again, losing by a huge margin. I’m always looking for a huge return on my outhouse and it never seems to happen. Not in life and not in this game either. Maybe better luck with the next game?

The answer is NO! Another bidding game! Another Knizia game! This is almost a theme night!

QUESTION SECTION #2 – On the tangent of theme nights, do you guys ever go in for a theme night – playing according to some common thread? For example all similarly themed games or all area majority games or all games by one designer or all spooky games for Halloween?

Another thing I have heard of other gaming groups doing is a game of the month where they try to play the same game several sessions in a row. Have you guys ever tried that? It seems like it may have problems if the owner of the game doesn’t show up or if you have extreme variables in attendance? Just throwing it out there to see if you have tried it or if anyone is interested.

Game #4 – High Society-- http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/220

Players: Harbinger, Yong No Mo, Cornbread46 & Eric Holdridge

Score/Winner: Harbinger was the winner.
Harbinger = 9
Yong No Mo = 6
Cornbread46 = Not eligible for the win – least money
Eric Holdridge = a whopping 0

Another bidding game. In this one you are bidding with a fixed set of cards with variable dollar amounts and each player has the same set. The first wrinkle is that you cannot make change with your cards, so your bidding is limited to the amounts you have left. The second wrinkle is that there are 4 negative cards mixed in as well and the first person who passes has to take the negative result (halving your score; stealing an item; or giving you negative 5 points) and the others have to pay what they bid. The third wrinkle is that you have to watch your money, because the person with the least money at the end is ineligible for the win. Sort of like Cleopatra where someone is thrown to the crocodiles. Here that was CB. No crocodiles, but no chance to win either. This was a weird game, where the 4 game ending red-bordered cards came up very quickly, as did all the special doubling cards and the negative cards. I ended up with a ½ penalty tile and a doubler to negate it, but no property tiles. So naturally I needed a calculator to figure my score. The endgame tiles came up too quickly in this game for me to get anywhere. CB would have had decent points had he been eligible, but in the end Harbinger was the best shopper for the win.

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


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:10 pm 
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Polyhedral Underground Master
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To answer the theme question: We have occasional theme nights, with you just missing our annual Halloween spooky game night. The game of the month thing would be cool especially to get into the deeper aspects of the games, but we usually have poor/unreliable attendance so it is hard to do.

Masons I enjoyed and your thoughts on what not to do next time are right on.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 4:07 pm 
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Posts: 7590
Location: Stuck in the mud at the Rocketville paintball field.
What type of gamer are you?: RPG
And in For sale... there is no 1,000 value card... so there are two of each, 0-15, but without the aformentioned 1.

As far as Masons... I love it... glad I got it....and next time it will be a sound defeat that I lay upon you all...( I was going easy on you since you obviously all felt ashamed and saddened that I own such a nifty box full o' bits)

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:15 am 
Masons was great fun. It went on the want list. Eric stated: "The creepy guy on the box with the dodgy hairdo gave me bad dreams." Be glad you don't work where I do. This guy actually looks, uh, you know...okay.

For Sale is not my type of game because I suck at the bidding/bluffing thing, but I'd still play it. After all, it is just a game. My family would like it because they would bask in the triumph of victory over my pathetic, dismembered, corps after each play. A rough crowd they are. Everyone tells me how cute they are, but little do they know.

Wondering why I’m posting so late? I just got back from the family visit from HELL!! I’m lucky I’m not posting from jail. It was ugly. I’m still trying to rid my system of 32 oz. of the caffeine laden elixir of wakedness from driving in the rain.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:20 pm 
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Location: I don't know... Wisconsin, maybe?
I think Auger might be lost.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:58 pm 
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Location: Right here by your side, doesn't that help to make you feel comfortable?
What type of gamer are you?: RPG
yeah, sorry...

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