January 11, 2004

Session Report for January 8, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

With the holidays over and everyone back in town, we were expecting a pretty decent turnout. We guessed correctly and ended up having three tables of games going most of the evening.



This is yet another quirky trick-taking game. These have been all the rage with some in our group lately, including me. Since this one is out in a nifty new edition, I was eager to give it whirl to see if it is unique and worthy enough to add to our collection. As it turns out, Mark has a copy of the old version, so we sat down to play an inaugural three-player game with Ed while another group started Alhambra at another table.

Fortunately, Ed seemed to have a pretty good understanding of the rules, which were bizarre enough to take every brain cell I possess to digest as I listened to his explanation. By the end I had decided that I would really have no clue how to proceed until we had played a few rounds and I had seen how the unusual mechanisms played out. This of course guaranteed that I would be the owner of the Imp (think ďOld MaidĒ) at the end of the round. As-a-matter-of-fact, I ended up holding this foul creature at the end of two of the three we played. Guess in which place I finished?

Helen arrived while we were playing, so we quit at the end of three rounds. I felt nowhere near figuring this game out and was just barely starting to see a few strategies. It seems to be one of those chaotic games where you have a few basic strategies, but are usually reacting to dramatic changes to the situation, the main change being the Impís value. Iím looking forward to exploring the game further. Right now Iíd be hard-pressed to give my opinion of it, but Iím definitely drawn to its weirdness.

Results: Mark 129, Ed 94, Susan 13

6 Nimmt!

With the appearance of Rick and Robert, we decided to pull this filler out while waiting for Alhambra to finish up. We only got to play one round for which I was very thankful. I like it better with fewer players where you at least feel like you have a little more control.

Results: Roxana 1, Rick 2, Ed 5, Robert 7, Helen 12, Mark 31, Susan 40

We now had quite a crowd and enough for three tables. One of our groupís problems is deciding on which games to play and with this many people it was looking like it was never going to be settled. So, I picked up my first choice, Magna Grecia, set it up and started reading the rules. Having a game out and ready seems to attract players. Mark and Ed decided to join me.

Magna Grecia

We were slow to get started, with Ed running off to explain the rules to another game before coming back and explaining Magna Grecia. Unfortunately, the yelling and laughter of kids playing video games nearby drowned him out. After shooing them upstairs, we were finally able to get down to business.

I thoroughly enjoy several games by both Leo Colovini and by Michael Schacht, so I was really looking forward to this one, a dual effort from both. I was not disappointed. This game reminds me a bit of two of Schachtís other games, Paris Paris and Web of Power, in that scoring occurs through the building of networks with a majority mechanism thrown in the mix as well. However, Magna Grecia feels heavier than the other two, with much more thinking and calculating. The game is very dry, but that is not necessarily a detriment in my book. As far as the appearance goes, while the colors arenít my favorites, they are nowhere near as bad as people make them out to be.

Early on, I could see that having a presence in the center of the board was important, so I staked out some claims there. I also worked on developing the right side of the board, which included a few oracles. The frustrating thing, of course, is you never have enough actions to do what you want. Then you have to spend precious actions replenishing your supply of tiles from which to work. On top of that, you also have to be careful to not run out of money. And since money is what wins the game, you must speculate that you will get a good return from your purchases. Combine that with the fact that you are never quite sure, but only have an idea, of turn order and number of tiles allowed on a given turn and you get a game with plenty of tension and tough decisions.

There is much more speculating early in the game and it gradually tends towards more obvious decisions as the board fills up. Still, we had some maneuvering and clever plays over oracles near the end and the game remained interesting. The last turn did drag a bit with players maximizing their score, but the time spent wasnít really excessive. I was pleasantly surprised with my score and was left with a very favorable first impression.

Results: Ed 58, Susan 55, Mark 48

Mark and Susan play Magna Grecia

Two thirds the way through Magna Grecia. Can you spot the mistake? (It's very hard to see).
Other games played: Alhambra, Mississippi Queen, Euphrat & Tigris, Alles im Eimer

For more pictures from this gaming sessions and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 11, 2004 10:06 PM

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