Chinatown was the main event for GNN's regular Tuesday meet, a very sparse affair this week. Martin, Andy and Matt couldn't make it. Ian was a late withdrawal. Even Andrew was absent, perhaps still a little gamed out from the weekend. Steve and Anja were busy building a garden deck.
However such is the population of GNN that still left 5 of us: Hannah, Adam, Joe, Katy and myself (Sam). Whilst we waited unknowingly for an Ian who would never arrive, we played Joe's new card game Kobayakawa. I missed its debut last week but it's very simple, if a little counter-intuitive. The main question at hand is whether to go for a high card or a low one, as the lowest card adds the common Kobayakawa card to their score before cards are compared.
Joe streaked off into a healthy lead, winning the first few rounds as the rest of us puzzled over our best move. In the fifth and sixth round I surged back into contention with two straight wins as I claimed the Kobayakawa. However in the last round I had to drop out and consolidate, hoping Katy would beat Joe. She didn't:
We moved onto the main event. I was pushing for Rialto, but Joe had his heart set on Chinatown. He pulled the old get-the-board-out manoeuvre, and sure enough we were soon embarking on a seemingly never-ending negotiation spree.
For negotiation is Chinatown's main mechanic. Every player gets plots in the city (a lá Lords of Vegas) and businesses to establish there. However businesses are more rewarding when fully established over several plots rather than just one, and that's where the swapping of plots, businesses and money comes in. Unlike Lords of Vegas, the gambling is fairly minimal and only really applies if you negotiate for a plot whilst still needing a second (or third) plot to join it with your existing business. For the most part it's easy to work out what plots are worth, just by calculating what businesses will earn once established there.
I say it's easy. After a single beer and some Bombay mix I really struggled with the simple maths, and stared down at the player aid with a kind of number phobia, the same sensation I get when my accountant explains corporation tax to me. This bewilderment was misinterpreted as Machiavellian scheming, and I was accused of "winning", but I was just being thick.
If I had a strategy it fell together by accident - establishing two businesses as fast as possible then selling all my other plots to generate extra cash. It gave me a healthy position mid-game, but by the end the other businesses were much more profitable, and Hannah swept to a convincing win:
I blame the Bombay mix, which was rather hot.
I'm not sure how I feel about Chinatown personally. I find the fact that plots worth is calculable (by those of us who are numerate, anyway) mean it feels like the game mainly consists of haggling. That's a fun mechanic for a filler but I found 2 hours of it quite tiring. I'd be interested to hear the other's thoughts.
Hannah was tired anyway, but that might not be the game. Whilst she retired to bed we finished with No Thanks. It was to be Katy's revenge: I missed out on a linking card for my two chains, Adam ran out of coins and Joe went for high cards that didn't exist:
Suitably sated, we called it an evening and Joe escorted me home in his new shiny gold Audi. We had to stop and work out how to fill it up with petrol on the way, which gave me an idea for a game...