Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Rule Fuel

That’s what Joe should have taken before two games which both needed a walkthrough of the rules before we began, and Joe felt the full force of The Explainer’s Curse.

But to begin at the beginning: It was the core four in attendance, with a possible late arrival from Will and faint rumours of a new gamer who may have joined us but couldn’t. This newcomer is one of Joe’s “internet friends” and we worried that Joe is being groomed.

Sam and Adam ate chips and we brought Trains! to the table. This “Dominion Plus” was raved about by Joe and Adam after there first encounter with it, so Sam and I agreed to it’s quick return to the table. Joe cleverly combined rule-explanation with the lengthy time needed to set out all the cards.

We chose the Tokyo side, which meant there were only two places where I could say “I’ve been there” so I didn’t bother. When we began, Joe seemed to be in prime position, with almost half the board to himself and the rest of us clustered in the Western half. However, we found that this game relies on riding in on others’ good works. It’s all well and good keeping all your points to yourself, but to get a good score needs a little (unwilling) co-operation.

Adam was chaining his cards together so efficiently that I wondered if he’d actually dealt himself more than five cards. I asked if he was cheating, but it was meant as a compliment. Sam picked his way through the rules and seemed to be doing okay. I seemed to be the only one discarding waste when I had the chance. In fact, we managed to exhaust the waste deck which can’t have been good for the environment.

In the end, Sam won comfortably, with Joe amazed at how badly he did.

Sam 53
Adam 41
Andrew 31
Joe 28

After this, a selection of games was considered, with Zooloretto being chosen. Not the tiny dice-based game, but the full, widescreen experience of tiles being drawn from bags and zoo expansions. Sam and I were newcomers, and Joe talked us through the game. Draw tiles, place tiles on a truck (of three tiles, maximum) or take a truck or pay money to do something. That’s the bare bones of the game and I’m sure that, given time, it’s underlying strategy may reveal itself in all its clever glory. On first play, though, I simply tried to specialise and hoped for the best.

There was a notable lack of money in the game and it wasn’t until the game was almost over that Joe remembered the rule that finishing certain areas got you some cash. By then, it was too late, and when we came to count up Sam discovered that he’d misunderstood the scoring rules, and his half-finished areas weren’t as valuable as he’d thought. Joe’s paternal instincts must have distracted him once again, as he trailed in last.

Andrew 22
Adam 21
Sam 19
Joe 17

On the Form Table, I remain top but Adam looks ready to pounce.

Andrew1 3 1 2 1 8
Adam2 2 2 1 2 9
Sam 3 1 1 3 3 11
Steve2 3 3 3 4 15
Hannah3 3 4 1 4 15
Anja3 2 5 1 5 16
Joe4 4 4 4 2 18
Miles2 3 5 5 5 20
Quentin3 3 5 5 5 21
Lizzy2 5 5 5 5 22


  1. Trains definitely felt like a vast improvement on Dominion, which initially thrilled me but quickly palled. I liked it - the board gave some focus, even if the main player interaction is checking everyone is taking Waste Cards.


  2. Yay yeah I like trains - really thought I was on to a winner when you all gathered on the other side of the board with your initial placement. But of course, you all piggybacked on each others station expansions, whereas I was relying only on my own station building. A really interesting dynamic, and as I remarked last night, similar to Canalmania in that respect; the same flawed logic was my comeuppance in that game too.
    The setup is a bore, but Adam's suggestion of using the dividers was clever.

    Embarrassed about my rules slip-up with Zooloretto, but I'm not convinced it's great even with a bit more money. Coloretto did it better before, and Zooloretto the Dice Game does it better still...

    Still we had a good laugh about various aspects of loading animals onto trucks. A fine night!

  3. I've always thought of Dominion as multiplayer solitaire. I kind of like it but the lack of interaction means its just a race to see who has built the most effective deck.

  4. I had as little idea where all those cards came from as you did.

    How long will this Endersby-dominion (joke (c) Hannah) last - is that four weeks at the top of the table?

    I think Zooloretto could reward a second play (now that I understand how you play it), but I don't see it becoming a main-stay...