Thursday, 1 May 2014

Shipping Cubes and Cuboid Ships

It was supposed to be games night at Roll for the Soul, but when Martin informed me (Sam) that the numbers were looking low and it might be just himself and Andrew, I said if that was the case they should pop up to the house, as I'd be on my tod and up for a game.

And that's what transpired. They stayed long enough at RftS to play a game or two (I'll let them inform you in the comments) and then jumped on a time-travelling bus bound for Ashley Down.

Unfortunately the bus' time-travelling abilities allowed it to take about an hour to get through post-rush-hour north Bristol, but no matter. After a couple of texts I had the go-ahead to set up Railways of the World (Mexico, in this case) which meant upon their arrival they could pretty much walk in, sit down and immediately start playing; much in the way that normal people start talking (I imagine).

It was a harsh board. And harsher for Andrew, who won the bidding and set up the most productive opening link only to have me jump alongside him courtesy of a Trading Depot card, like a parasitical slug. Powered by steam.

Martin initially got confused over the representations of the colour purple but went with the book in the end.

Ha ha! That's a joke. I've had a bit of wine. Anyway... So we let him retake his go and he began building across southern Mexico. Andrew built more in the south, and I depoted up, inviting the wrath of Martin who felt I should really be building track in a railroad game. I picked up a couple of engine upgrades.

At this stage I was feeling optimistic as both the other players were going, if not Bond-crazy, then slightly liberal with the spending. I kept things frugal and picked up the most money throughout the game.

But of course money means nothing if you don't have the points, so I began to build down the west as Andrew built up the east. Martin always seemed to have trading options, and they surged off ahead of me on the score track until I was rescued by a Service Bounty giving me a little boost. Come the final count up my lack of bonuses and Baron (first to level six engine) catapulted me into the lead, only to have Andrew surge past again courtesy of his own Baron - most links. It was very, very close:

Andrew 77
Sam 74
Martin 72

It was only half past nine so we had plenty of time for another game. I really wanted to try Darjeeling but I realised I wasn't in a state to comprehend new rules, so when Martin proposed Quantum Andrew and I agreed. We went for a curious board that was rectangular-shaped but with a hollow centre, so it looked a bit like a racetrack. And early on it seemed like a mistake, as there was almost zero interaction. We just plodded around, placing cubes.

But come the endgame things suddenly tightened up, and we had to fight not only over territory but to make sure Martin didn't place his last cube courtesy of the Dominance rule - but we failed:

1 Martin
2 Andrew/Sam (1 cube remaining)

Martin and I were still up for one more game, but such an industry and combat-heavy night had worn Andrew out, so we called it a night.

Andrew2 1 2 1 2 8
Gonz 1 3 1 1 3 9
Joe 1 2 3 4 2 12
Martin1 3 5 3 1 13
Matt2 21 55 15
Ian3 3 4 3 3 16
Will2 4 23 5 16
Sam2 2 4 4 517


  1. What an interesting evening. Roll For The Soul was bereft of gamers, so after eating and playing two games, we were happy about the offer of a new venue.

    We played Port Royal and Divinare and we discovered that both work fine as two-player games. Martin won a closely fought game of Port Royal, using his twin bonuses to get +4 money whenever he had five cards on the table.

    Divinare was not so close, and it ended after two rounds with a resounding win for Martin 18 - 2.

    Railways of the World was great. I'm very pleased with my win, but both Sam and I were impressed with how well Martin took defeat: he went from first to last in the final move of the game, but he was just happy to have been part of a close game.

    There was a moment when it could have all gone wrong for me. My end-game strategy was to send a bunch of black cubes along a five-link stretch. Sam decided to urbanise a town in the middle, and if he'd chosen black, I would have been ruined. Luckily, he went for yellow. And those kind of nail-biting moments happened throughout. At least, they did for me.

    Quantam was just odd. We all went around the galaxy in a clockwise direction, and there wasn't much interaction at all. It played more like a puzzle than a war game. I take the blame for gifting the win to Martin: I'd forgotten about his ability to turn research into dominance.

  2. Also, I think Sam finished his first glass of wine before he shipped a cube.

  3. I also had an even earlier session at Roll for the Soul with Joe, before Andrew arrived! We played Manoeuvre and Port Royal and won one each.

    Divinare with 2 was interesting - you each hide a couple of cards right at the beginning which only get revealed and added to the totals at the end.

    Railways of Mexico was just brilliant. Like I said at the time, I'd much rather come last in a tight, hard-fought game than run away with a 30-point win. I think I got off to the best start, but I wasn't aggressive enough in the midgame. I should have pushed north to grab some cubes you guys ended up getting rather than just shipping my safe ones. The depots were interesting. Sam and Andrew had three shared links that got used practically every turn. Since they scored 1 point for each of them every time they were used, it was like having a point subtracted from my score!

    The 'Ouroboros' map for Quantum did seem like a damp squib for a while as we crawled around unable to reach each other. But the endgame was interesting as we scrabbled for the last few locations, and dead ships could redeploy in unexpected places. A lot of the white cards related to attacks, so they weren't much use on this map. Conversely, the one I took ended up being great because it let me gain dominance without attacking.

  4. Yeah I took a pasting at Manoeuvre but regained a modicum of self-respect by squeaking a single point win at Port Royal.

    Mexico is an awesome 3 player map for Railways - wish I'd been there (but then there would have been 4, which might have been a bit of a squash). What are these depots of which you speak - are they from the event deck you bought Sam?

  5. It was a real classic RotW, a nail-biter with everything. Wooden cubes… hexagons… and Quantum redeemed itself with that ding-dong battle at the finish. I should have encouraged Andrew to attack Martin as I knew what he was about to do, but I was too busy working out if I could pull off an unlikely win myself. Well played everybody!

  6. Andrew your maths really leaves something to be desired!

  7. No, they're regular cards. They let you put one of your trains on a section of someone else's track. Whenever a delivery uses that track, both players score a point.

  8. Ah yes - I like those ones.

  9. sorry Joe your comment wasn't there when I posted mine. We were talking last night about the event deck and how we've never needed to add it to a near-perfect game… I'm sure there's reams about this on BGG but is there any game significantly improved by the expansion? My general perception of it is they are very often simply 'extra stuff', but I realize I may be in the minority.

  10. Yeah I don't feel the need to add new cards at all . . .

  11. Have we even looked at the event deck? What sort of thing happens?

  12. I don't think we should - I'm sorry I even mentioned it. Burn it Sam! Or trade it . . .

  13. I tend to agree with you about expansions Sam. The ones I like add variety rather than complexity. For example, the Kingdom Builder ones give you more options to choose from, but you still only use 4 boards and 3 scoring cards in each game.

  14. I've a vague recollection of the event deck containing, uh, events, that simply threw in a random factor that might occasionally help but more likely hinder. So if that's the case it might make RotW feel a little more of a lottery. But I'm curious now...