Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Male Patton Boldness

The last Tuesday of the season, and alongside host Joe, Martin, Sam, Matt, Ian and myself, we also found Steve in our midst, keen to get rid of his two red fives before the season’s end.

We spilt into two. Martin, Joe and Sam when for the new Race To The Rhine, a sort of war game where three players race up the track, beating back the Nazi hordes and first one across the Rhine is the winner. If you get to the Rhine at all, in which case other means of finding the winner are used, but more of that later.

The rest of us went for something a little lighter. Africana, the joyous romp across any number of indigenous cultures, looking for treasures and “assistants.” I explained the rules to Steve and we were off! Although we often forgot which colour we were (I'm never blue, and Steve was appalled at being yellow).

I flatter myself that I though I was doing quite well, with my extra joker in my hand, but I hadn’t spent enough in the books, and both Steve and Matt easily overtook me on artifacts and stuff. Ian found himself frustrated that, in his last turn, he couldn’t do anything except buy a new expedition just for the one point it would give him.

Steve 42
Matt 38
Andrew 29
Ian 23

(Just a quick diversion, there’s a small matter of the Africana division, with yours truly doing rather well.)

Meanwhile, The Race to the Rhine was still in full swing, so we had time for another game. Since Steve was now on the cusp of a perfect five, we tried to avoid anything that needed strategy and chose Knizia’s elegant but dice-heavy Age Of War. We hoped that the luck aspect would level the playing field somewhat and also, when it looked like he might win, I have to admit the three of us did our best to stop him. Finally, Matt was able to pick up the final card which gave him the win.

Matt 11
Andrew 10
Steve 8
Ian 4

And by now Race To The Rhine had finished. By all accounts, it was something of a anti-climax, starting well but then tailing off. No one reached the Rhine, and since all three of them killed an equal number of Nazis and had the same number of medals, the tie-breaker was turn order. In other words, the final places were decided according to how they were sat around the table.

Martin 4 dead Nazis, 5 medals
Joe 4 dead Nazis, 5 medals
Sam 4 dead Nazis, 5 medals

After this, Steve went home, his two-game quota filled. The remaining six of us went for 6nimmt, since it’s a nice short game. We didn’t realise quite how short it would be, with Ian crashing past the 66-point barrier faster than a cartoon cat stepping on a roller-skate and whizzing into a larder full of pots and pans. After a bad first round, he then found himself in a spiral of doom, picking up cards almost every time he played. Joe stayed aloof from all of this to clock up his second win on 6nimmt!

Joe 9
Sam 14
Martin 20
Matt 26
Andrew 30
Ian 80

And so the season draws to a close. It’s been the driest finish to a July to September season since 1910, according to the news. But for all that, we still haven’t had a games night outside. Meanwhile, the winners are...

Steve takes the Form Table. Only one game away from a perfect five: he still ended the season with the rest of us wondering how he became such a winning machine.

Steve 3 1 1 1 1 7
Adam 3 2 2 1 1 9
Sam 2 3 1 2 2 10
Martin 3 1 2 1 5 12
Matt 4 1 2 3 2 12
Chris 1 2 13 5 12
Joe 1 2 6 1 3 13
Hannah 2 2 3 4 5 16
Andrew 5 2 3 3 3 16
Ian 6 4 4 2 1 17
Paul 2 2 5 5 5 19
Anja 3 3 5 5 5 21
Katie 3 3 5 5 5 21
Jim 4 5 5 5 5 24

Then on the Division, it’s close at the top. Sam takes first place in Points by less than two points: it was basically all down to that last game of 6nimmt. I win on the medal table, though. And there’s that man again: Steve takes Points Ratio by a handsome margin. Well done that man. Well done all of us!


  1. Well I can't see any rules we got wrong. The advanced actions do seem to make it easier to kill Nazis though, so maybe the end would have been less of a slog.

    If only I'd played a few more games this season!

  2. Well done everybody, especially Steve! And Andrew. And me.

    I can't make up my mind about Race to the Rhine - the first hour was fun but after that it was frustrating. There's a lot of thematic absurdity - medals being stripped from you by the Nazis (even though you are far away), armies shutting down for tea when they run out of trucks, and supply lines that only work once and then just sit there clogging up the road. Despite that though it was fun and reasonably fast-moving. But winning, as mentioned above, seems almost random. If Martin had turned over a Feed The Starving Citizens card, he might have won. If I'd gotten a Nazi card that I could have defeated, I might have won - or indeed if Joe and Martin hadn't teamed up to take a medal off me I would have won! I'm sure Joe was inches away from a definitive victory too. I guess one could argue that's games; made up of ifs and buts… but we all felt it at the end - slightly let down.

    I must admit I didn't wake up with the urge to play it again either - but the idea of it is good and it looks great. Personally I think it needs a tweak to the rules, though!

  3. I'd like to try it again. I did have a half-hearted root around on BGG, and the consensus seems to be that a Rhine-crossing victory is rare. A few players enjoy the thematic resonance of that, others feel it is a damp squib.

    I think I'd be in the latter camp, in that the alternate victory condition is so arbitrary.
    This thread here has some interesting comments:

    One guy has come up with what the designer sites as an innovative strategy - piling the Germans into his own route, so that he can fight them nearer his army base and supply lines, for a winning stack of medals.

    That seems gamery in the extreme, and if that is what it comes down to that's disappointing. The designer says the design team have their own strategies but are not sharing them yet, in order to see what strategies players adopt, so it will be interesting to keep an eye out for those.

    I'd happily play again, in the hope that the air-support and General special powers take the edge off the difficulty spike - and I would probably play with more of an eye on how to avoid the unsatisfying tie-break win. Had Sam picked up that early medal that I took on my first move his win would have been all but assured I think, since it's fairly easy to lock in against counter-attack.

    A fine showing in 6Nimmt - I did have a pretty decent hand going in to that second game though.

    Thanks all for a fun night as ever, sorry for relegating four players to the rickety card table.

  4. A special mention should go out for Andy's inspired title :)

  5. The credit should go to Joe. In fact, there was a stream of amusing comments coming from that table throughout their game. At one point we clearly heard one of them say "Disco is dead", though. Not sure how that fits into the WW2 theme.

  6. We were channelling Monty. He hated disco.