Friday, 5 September 2014

Crosstown Traffic

Thursday offered a dilemma for me. Sam was in and offering to host games on the same night as a Roll For The Soul gathering. Which should I do? Luckily, Sam’s evening began at 8.30, so I was able to do both!

My mini-marathon (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) began at Roll For The Soul, with Martin and Andy. I decided I’d be willing to give Impulse another go, since I had come to the conclusion that it was not a resource-management game as I’d initially thought: it was a war game, with a bit of resource management tacked on the side.

And so I began by building up my fleet. And, almost as if to confound my expectations, the usually warlike Martin stayed tucked away in a corner, shuffling back and forth between his trade cards for points.

The game was played out to a background of two squeaky voiced clowns who had set up a little show at the other end of the cafe. It was a little distracting and annoying, but at least we were as far away from them as was possible.

Andy and I both did our best to knock Martin out of the sky, but when Martin was out of reach, we turned against each other, and so he was able to work away, like a little space-age Switzerland, getting rich while everyone else laid waste to a generation of soldiers.

Something like that, anyway. Martin ended in first, but for once, he didn't fight his way to the top. I came last, but enjoyed it more this time. If you approach Impulse in the right way, it's a pretty good game. The scores were something like...

Martin 20
Andy 14
Andrew 13

Then I said my goodbyes and I had to hotfoot it across town to Sam's for more gaming. There I found him and Ian jut finishing off a “ding-dong” game of Age of War. For our main game, we chose Macao. New to Ian, this is a classic which has found itself in our bad books ever since a four-player game stretched out into a two and a half hour epic.

But now it was back. We explained the rules to Ian pretty quickly (if you don't include the many occasions where we said “oh, and one more rule...” during the game) and we were off! Ian found his feet very first and midway through the game he looked like the one to beat, with Sam way back in last. But Sam is never to be discounted, and with an epic final move which involved activating then using the diplomat so he could buy 20 points, while having enough cubes to zip around the board, filling up spaces, he ended in a comfortable first.

Sam 110
Ian 82
Andrew 67

I was ready to call it a day, but Sam insisted I'd enjoy a quick game of Age of War. And I did. As you'd expect from a Knizia, the game's mechanics are simple and cunning: very much an example of Good Dice. And I do feel at home with Japanese-themed games. Plus, after two last places, my luck was bound to change sooner or later.

Andrew 20
Sam 9
Ian 6

Joe 1 2 1 4 2 10
Sam 21 2 3 2 10
Andrew 13 2 2 3 11
Ian 3 2 3 1 2 11
Martin 3 1 3 3 1 11
Chris 1 2 13 5 12
Adam 4 3 4 1 1 13
Hannah 3 4 5 2 2 16
Matt 2 3 5 3 4 17
Paul 2 2 5 5 5 19
Steve 1 5 5 5 5 21

And, since I've got all the spreadsheets on my computer, it's time I did something with them. I'll start posting up divisions for our most-played games as and when we play them again. This is the division for Macao.


  1. And that's a new high score on Macao! Well done, Sam.

  2. Meanwhile Andy and I continued with some 2p games. First I taught him Khmer, a minimalist Japanese game with beautiful cards. Then he taught me Merchants, a Knizia filler I'd not tried. It was pretty good - a simple stock market game. We finished up with a couple of disastrous games of Hanabi, blowing ourselves up twice before Andy had to run for his bus.

  3. I had a streak of luck on (or in) Macao. Ian, who had been surging up the score track, had dropped back to third in player order and in the last couple of rounds got the dregs - cards he couldn't activate that cost him minus 6 at the end of the game.

    Meanwhile I'd pushed into first in the turn order and grabbed the easy-to-activate cards. I knew I'd be able to ship a heck of a lot of stuff in the last round as I'd stockpiled cubes for that purpose - but having the well meant delivering goods got me gold, and having the diplomat meant I could buy from the tribute track twice, and lo and behold the tribute track was offering up 10 prestige points for five gold - I generated ten. It was a perfect storm and I can't honestly say I planned it that way.

    Then I had quite a few end-game bonuses with Baronessas and a card (I forget the name) that gave me points for owning dark city quarters. Plus a string of quarters - I knew I'd catch up but did not anticipate that enormous surge. Great game, Macao!

  4. (Looking at the Macao division the winners are spread pretty wide, eh? I think Tinner's Trail is a bit like this too)