May 31, 2004

Session Report for May 27, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

It seems like every game night someone comes up with a funny pun, or I hear something quite odd or startling when one doesn’t know the context. So I am now going to include some of these quotes at the end of session reports. Look for “Overheard at the Table.”

Wow, was it ever hard to choose between the choices tonight. Mike brought his minty fresh copy of Power Grid. Funkenschlag is a favorite of mine and I didn’t manage to play this new version at the Gathering.

On the other table was Eiszeit, the German version of Mammoth Hunters. This was a Gulf Games prize table pick we’ve been trying to get it to the table for quite some time. Despite the mixed reviews it has received, the fact that it an Alea game and designed by Alan Moon has made me eager to try it. Since I knew Power Grid would probably come out again soon, given its newness, I opted for Eiszeit instead.


This is an area majority game with a very attractive board and really cool wooden woolly mammoth pieces. The currency in the game is chips that represent rocks. The board is composed of twelve regions to fight over. The number of regions diminishes during the game as a glacier covers them. Each region has a facedown fire chip that adds to how many hunters that region can hold. Conflicts occur when the number of hunters exceeds the region’s capacity. Mammoths add to this number as well as to the region’s worth when it is scored.

The actions on the board are card driven. You get to play one action card on your turn. These actions include adding, removing, and/or moving hunters and mammoths as well as fire chips. The really cool thing is that the cards are divided into two types – light and dark. The light deck is composed of cards that show actions that you, the active player, take. However, there is a varying cost in stone chips to play each one. The dark cards each depict an action that another player gets to take. In most cases, you get to choose the other player. However, instead of paying stones, you GET stones for playing a dark card. This is the only way get the stones necessary to play the light cards that get you actions. This is a very nice balance and provides some very neat nuances to the game. You are forced to play some dark cards and the decision as to who to give the action to is very interesting. Ideally, your choice will not hurt you, but someone else instead. Trying to predict what each player will possibly do with the dark card action reminds me a bit of the card dividing mechanism in San Marco.

We started seeing some of the strategies and nuances after a few scoring rounds and the game got quite vicious in the latter half. Our scores ended up being very close. My only criticism is that it was rather long at about 90 minutes. While not as strong as some of the other Alea titles, it is still a worthwhile game and I’m glad we picked it up. I would recommend the English version though, as we constantly had to refer to the card translations in the rules.

Results: Ed 46, Susan 44, Francesca 43, Peter 41

Francesca, Peter and Ed go hunting Mammoths in Mammoth Hunters.

After the second year in Mammoth Hunters.

Now I had to choose between San Juan and Alhambra with one of the new expansions. Since more people were clamoring for Alhambra, I decided to play San Juan. I’d played it twice already and wasn’t all that impressed. It looks to be a game that gets better as one gets familiar with it, so I wanted to give it another chance.

San Juan

There have been a lot of strategy discussions on the internet forums about this game, but I tend to just skim those or avoid them altogether. The only thing that did stick out in my mind from those discussions was the power of the Chapel. So, when I got one of those fairly early I built it and started adding a card to it every round. I also got a Library built early and was able to later add a Black Market and a Quarry. This left me in a pretty sweet spot for building cheaply, especially when able to choose the Builder role and use the Library. Since I was holding a couple of valuable monuments, I decided to focus on building those. Here’s where I made an error, though. I actually had Triumphal Arch in my hand, but I used it to build my Quarry, hoping to draw it later if I did indeed manage to build my monuments. Unfortunately, Mike had built the other Chapel and stuck the Arch under it to take it out of the game. When the game ended, I still managed to squeak out the win over Mike with my loaded Chapel and three monuments netting me lots of points. Both Francesca and Peter managed to do pretty well also, considering it was the first game for both of them.

I enjoyed San Juan much more this time. I think this was due to knowing the cards a little better and thus being able to form a plan as the game went on. In my first two games, I felt like I was just building anything whenever I was able.

Results: Susan 34, Mike 32, Francesca 28, peter 22

Susan, Mike, Francesca and Peter play San Juan.

Other games played: Trendy, Alhambra w/expansion, Power Grid

Overheard at the Table:

Power Grid: “Because you were excreted first”
“He’s spending money like a drunken sailor.”

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 31, 2004 12:54 AM

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