Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Mars Attracts!

After last week’s lull, everyone was back from what they were doing, and there were seven of us players huddled in Sam’s kitchen, eager to chose cards and action them in an order usually determined by a number on the card itself.

Gonz, Joe, Matt and Ian played Mission: Red Planet, the Citadel-esque game of colonising Mars. Martin, Sam and I went for Concordia. I was interested to see how it played with more than two-players. After last night, I had a good impression of it, but I remembered how badly A Castle For All Seasons did when scaled up to more players.

Martin had read the rules before he arrived, so we were ready to leap into the game quickly. Martin and I went for the Architect move first, which I seems to be the obvious choice at the start of the game. Sam tried another tactic, of not moving his colonists at all until much later. It didn’t seem to make much difference in the long run.

We all struggled over getting particular resources, and Martin kept us all entertained with a stream of inventive terms of abuse whenever he felt frustrated. It’s that kind of game: managing your hand successfully and trying to think a few turns in advance.

By the end, both Sam and Martin had plenty of colonies everywhere while I had very few. I started buying up colony bonus cards, just so they wouldn’t get them. The plan seemed to work.

Andrew 113
Martin 101
Sam 100

Mission Red Planet was still not finished but, according to Joe, Matt was in a commanding lead. We decided on a new game (on sale cheap at The Works) Havana. This little Cuba spin-off is another card management game, but with far fewer chances (only one, actually) to get used cards back into your hand. The cards have number son, and you play two at once so that the numbers make a two-digit figure. These numbers define player order (lower number goes first).

It’s a smart system, but I wasn’t prepared for the lack of options towards the end of the game. Sure, you get all your cards back once you have only two cards left, but so does everyone else. I was poised to win, but Sam – who’d been somewhat bemused for most of the game – played a hand that allowed him to go first and he built buildings worth 10 points in his last round, stealing the win from me, and leaving Martin in third.

Sam 22
Andrew 16
Martin 13

By now Mission Red Planet had ended, and Joe’s prediction proved accurate

Matt 68
Gonz 48
Joe 39
Ian 28

They played Port Royal while we continued our game of Havana, and it ended with Joe, drawing card after card, hoping to steal third place from Matt, but also giving Ian hope that he might be able to overtake Gonz at the very last. Then Joe went bust, and all those hypotheticals came to nothing. Besides, Gonz could’ve bought something too: he had more money.

Gonz 12 (wins on money tie-breaker)
Ian 12
Matt 6 (wins on money tie-breaker)
Joe 6

Then, Joe, Martin and Gonz left. Us remaining four stayed for a “quick” game of Love Letter. Matt raced into an early lead, winning the first two rounds, but couldn’t get that last win to see him over the line. At one point it was Ian, me, and Matt all tied on 2, while Sam had none. He won the next round, giving him hope of an unlikely win. A short-lived hope, however.

Ian 3
Matt 2
Andrew 2
Sam 1

I lead on the form table by the thinnest of margins.

Andrew2 2 1 1 4 10
Matt 2 3 1 2 2 10
Sam 3 1 3 1 2 10
Martin 3 2 1 1 3 10
Gonz 1 2 3 1 4 11
Ian 1 2 4 3 3 13
Will2 4 23 5 16
Joe 4 3 4 4 2 17
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24


  1. Concordia definitely brought out the invective in Martin - in a good way. I get the feeling on the next play he might get the win Andrew and I had predicted last night. But then again, we were wrong last night.

    Interestingly I felt in control of my destiny in Concordia and came last. In Havana I felt completely out of control and won. Games, eh?

  2. It's always a a danger starting a paragraph with 'interestingly', isn't it?

  3. No news from Mars? How was it?

  4. Yes sorry, Mars was fun. It's a great game, but I need to play it more to get to grips with the strategy, I feel. At its heart it's a simple area majority game, but the way you get your pieces into the areas, and what the areas are worth, makes things interesting.

    There's lots of room for clever, and mean, strategising within the chaotic structure. And it's fairly short too, though it seemed longer last night because of the rules explanation - I was a little rusty on the finer points.

    Gonz made the point that the game felt a bit too long for its lightness/chaos, but playing again would be quicker I think. We forgot to draw a new game of the month!!

  5. I did the draw just now and it was Tinner's Trail