January 19, 2004

Session Report for January 15, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

The plan for tonight was to play some longer games. With that in mind, Ed sent out a stern note warning latecomers that we would be starting on time and they might miss out. So, while Ed brushed up on the rules to Ursuppe, I tried to plough my way through the rules for my choice, Mare Nostrum. Good grief. I finally gave up in frustration. After reading the rules, the FAQ, and the many long discussions on BoardgameGeek, I still don’t feel confident enough to try and teach the game. As it turned out, though, we never got around to playing a long game. Instead, we were distracted by a surprise delivery.

Flower of the Lotus/China Moon

My local game store has a shiny new copy of China Moon that’s been beckoning to me (buy me, buy me!) every time I go in. So, when I stumbled across the rules for its predecessor, Flower of the Lotus, at The Game Cabinet on a search for something else, I printed them out to try. After a little research, I found the rules to China Moon on Bruno Faidutti’s website and noticed a few significant changes, including the number of spaces frogs move each turn (2 vs. 1, 2, and 3) and the addition of “springs” on the board. I decided to use the newer rules and simply added the springs to the board. With some colored cubes for the flowers, and Carcassonne meeples as frogs, we were set to go.

Doug shot out to an early lead, gathering most of the early flowers. Mark was not far behind, due in part to my blunders, which set him up to collect several of the remaining flowers. Mike, Ed and I found it nearly impossible to catch up after that. Although we were able to force them to drop or trade a flower, breaking up sets, it wasn’t nearly enough to stop Doug. Mike and I found out the hard way that frogs in the back of the pack were quickly stranded and not able to “leapfrog,” which reminded me a little of Cartagena. I was able to get a cube at the finish line, which completed a set and put me in a surprising second place.

Results: Doug 9, Susan 6, Mike 5, Mark 4, Ed 2

Opinions of the game were pretty mixed. All new to the game, we were not seeing the optimal moves at the start. The lack of opportunities to catch up to Doug’s lead was very frustrating. With most of the flowers picked up quickly, the second half of the game dragged, with it coming down to a race to the finish with only a few opportunities to hurt someone else. However, because I had heard good things about the game, I did a little more research afterwards, thinking that perhaps we had gotten a rule wrong. Lo and behold, I found a better picture of the China Moon board which shows two extra “butterfly” spaces on the board that are not present on the Flower of the Lotus board. This could have had a big impact on our game, giving more opportunities to force the leaders to drop flowers for the frogs in the rear to pick up. Sigh. This is what I get for being cheap and trying to make a homemade copy. I definitely want to try it again and give it another chance.

Our homemade Flower of the Lotus / China Moon.

In the middle of our game, the doorbell rang. Instead of being another latecomer, it was the UPS guy, making a delivery at the unheard of hour of 7 p.m. The delivery was our Game Surplus order, a day earlier than expected. More importantly, it contained Attika, which everyone was eagerly anticipating playing. All thoughts of playing a long game were dropped. Those of us who didn’t exert ourselves enough to get in on the first game of Attika, sat down to play Ra, instead.


I’m beginning to feel pretty comfortable with this game. I don’t always win, of course, but I at least feel like I know what I’m doing.

This time around, the first epoch started slower than usual, with the Ra tiles taking longer to come out. I was able to jump out in the lead for Pharaohs but ended up only tying for the most with Jon and losing the lead in the second epoch. My score got a boost from getting the only Flood tile to come out that epoch and several Niles. The last epoch was very odd. Everyone but Helen snagged what he wanted and bowed out early. Helen was left with one sun tile with which to bid and only four Ra tiles on the board. So, she was able to file the board with tiles from the bag until the row filled and she was forced to stop, picking up a pretty nice haul without any competition.

Results: Jon 39, Susan/Rick 31, Robert 30, Helen 28

Ra gets another playing with Helen, Robert, Susan, Rick and Jon.


The first Attika was finished, so a few more of us had the opportunity to play. I had had a taste of it, playing once on BSW, but there is no substitute for playing with a real copy face-to-face. I sat down with Mark, who had just played, and Jon and Helen, both new to the game.

I made the mistake of building my city tile too early, and in the middle of the board. I was soon surrounded and only able to build one building next to it for free. As a matter of fact, the board got really crowded before the first new game board tile was added. Helen got fairly close to connecting two temples, but Jon was able to block her. Then it was Mark threatening to join the two other temples by laying down three roads in one turn. I was able to block him, but only by founding a new and expensive settlement. By placing new board tiles, Mark was again close to connecting, as the rest of us were racing to get all our tiles built. This time I did not have the resources to stop him and nobody else stepped up to the plate, so he took the victory.

I think the next time we play this game we will be more aggressive in preventing the temple connections. I rather like the dual victory conditions as it adds a layer of challenge. It adds an additional threat to contend with. One thing we did do, which I think helped a lot, was to mark our player mats with cubes to indicate which buildings we had built. A quick glance was all that was needed to see what your opponents were trying to build as well as to help remember your own building goals. I got this idea from BrettspielWelt.

Almost everyone who played Attika tonight really liked it. I can easily see it nudging out the current favorite with our group, Alhambra.

Results: Mark in first, followed by Jon/Susan/Helen

Another playing of Attika as Helen, Jon, Susan and Mark take it for a spin.

Mark (red) makes a flanking run during Attika.

Other games played: Space Walk, Exxtra, Trendy, Pueblo.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at January 19, 2004 10:55 PM

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