May 16, 2005

RR Gamers Session Report for April, 2005

by Susan Rozmiarek

Wow. I can�t believe that it�s been over a month since I�ve made a blog entry. Actually, yes I can. Between building a new house, selling a house, my kids� end-of-the year school projects and soccer tournaments, I�ve simply been buried. Time to park myself in front of the computer has been almost non-existent.

Fortunately, amidst all this busy-ness, we have managed to keep the Thursday night RR Gamers going at our house. Alas, with our impending move 30 minutes away from here, in a few weeks, that era is about to end. So far nobody has stepped up to the plate and committed to hosting the weekly group. We are, of course, still willing to host, but nobody wants to drive the distance during the middle of the week. Wimps. ;-) We plan on hosting longer, monthly game days on the weekend. I guess we will have to think of a new name for the group as well, since we will be living in Liberty Hill, not Round Rock. (RR=Round Rock, in case you didn�t know).

Now for a brief rundown of some of the more interesting games I played this past month.


Now that I�ve gotten an official correction on the proper way to play the Native tokens, I�m eager to give this one another go. In this last game that I played, I got two Native tokens in quick succession early in the game. I assigned them (incorrectly, I now know) to specimen types that I hadn�t collected yet and was easily able to grab the bonus. Plus, I had the ability early to collect extra income for every card in the event deck that gave additional income based on certain collected tile types. This led to accusations of �the rich get richer� while I tried to defend myself with a lecture about the consequences of not saving one�s high valued cards. I also had grabbed a very desirable starting location, Rosaria, after reading about how strong it is on Boardgamegeek. From this location, I was easily able to snatch up several cheaper, 2-gold building locations unchallenged in the lower left corner of the board. I�m hoping that I could have been easily been countered had somebody else started nearby and competed with me for the cheap locations. As it was, I won the game handily.

I really like a lot of the things going on this game � the route planning, the uncertainty of the Event deck, and trying to milk the most money out of a very tight income system. I do have a few concerns, mentioned above, so more playings are in order before I can finalize my opinions. I think the game will be at its best with players that are familiar with the Event deck and power of certain starting locations, and with the corrected Native rule.

Amazonas close up.

Manifest Destiny

I have never played this game�s predecessor, Age of Renaissance, or any other long, epic civilization game for that matter, other than History of the World once. Manifest Destiny sounded rather interesting and more importantly, shorter, so I was willing to give it a try. We scheduled it on our normal Thursday game night after extracting promises from those interested to read the rules beforehand and show up on time. Two of the players had already played, so that helped a lot. We were able to get started right away.

Despite the fact that the rules seemed fiddly and had that same horrible numbering system as all those old Avalon Hill games, Manifest Destiny actually felt rather simple once I started playing. The game turns flow in a logical manner. The game is card driven, with a vast variety of cards and resulting effects. Obviously, familiarity with these cards is a huge advantage, but it was fun discovering them for the first time. Each player also has a limited number of tokens to spend each turn. These are used to do just about everything and deciding how best to allocate them each turn provides most of the agonizing decisions. I guess the downside to the game for many will be the hefty dose of die-rolling that determines some pretty important outcomes during the game. Of course, you can improve your chances by spending some of your precious tokens. The luck factor was annoying (because mine was bad!), but not a game-breaker for me.

I started my empire in Louisiana and quickly purchased the Westward Ho progression and spread west. I ended up controlling most of the Southwest but this ended up being a bad thing when Mark played a card that caused a devastating reduction in my profits. I can�t remember the card (I don�t have the game to look at), but it hamstrung me for the rest of the game and I never could get those profits back up. I also did terrible in the race for breakthroughs as the dice were against me most of the time. Most of my victory points came from Progressions, where I did much better. Mark jumped out to a big lead to end the game with 32 points, but the rest of us were pretty close with points of 25, 24, 22 and 21. Yep, that�s me in last place!

All in all, a very fun game with a lot of mechanisms that mesh together well. It was a little more wargame-ish than I normally prefer, but there were plenty of other things going on. Our game clocked in at around three hours. I would definitely be willing to play it again.

Marty and Adam play Manifest Destiny. Note Mark's beer, it would later not be upright. Oops! I hope Adam's game got dried out.

Ticket to Ride: Europe

I adore the original so getting this new version was a no-brainer. I�d already played the prototype and so knew some of the neat changes in store. Just a new map for variety makes the purchase worthwhile, but the new twists � tunnels, ferries, and stations- are fun as well. I think I�ll always prefer the simplicity of the original, although this version will probably see a lot of play, too.

Late in Ticket to Ride: Europe.


This is a cute little card game about building clocktowers. I�ve heard it described as a card version of Capitol, and it has a little resemblance in that clocktowers must be built one story taller than the previous one built of the same type, similar to the buildings in an area in Capitol. The buildings in both are even distinguished the same way � by their roofs. Clocktowers is a MUCH lighter game, however. I thought it to be a good filler, but not great. The Story cards ran out rather quickly and the game ended too soon, I thought. I love the card art with the mice and cats.

Susan and Mark finish up Clocktowers as Clark watches.

Ice Cream

How could anyone not like the theme of making ice cream cones?! This is another light card that reminded me a lot of Coloretto, in that you are building a set of cards to pick up (in this case scoops of ice cream) that will be beneficial for you but not for anyone else. The play in Ice Cream seems a little bit �nicer,� in that it isn�t as easy to hose someone else as it is in Coloretto. The game seems to have a rhythm to it, where you spend one round gathering as many types of ice cream tubs as you can so that you can fill lots of orders the next. Everyone that played it seemed to enjoy it. I know I did. I also have to comment on the contents of the box. I opened it up and pulled out no less than 7 sets of full color rules! I thought this must be a goof, but it turns out they are in 7 different languages. The cards are of nice quality as well, with a linen finish.

Ice Cream orders. Very Coloretto like, but different enough to keep.


I just didn�t get this game AT ALL. I didn�t understand the rules explanation very well and I certainly didn�t understand what I was doing during the game. Oh, I�d have a glimmer of a good tactical move here and there, but I felt like I was just scattering share markers around with no real plan. I just didn�t have a clue, which was frustrating. I think a big part of the problem was I didn�t understand how best to use my bosses. I didn�t enjoy it at all, but everyone else seemed to, so I guess I need to try it again to see if any light bulbs suddenly click on in my head.

Mark, Jon, Susan and Ed play Goldbr�u.

Carcassonne: the City

I�m getting just a little tired of the endless parade of Carcassonne variations. Okay, VERY tired. So, when somebody tells me yet again that the latest one is the best version so far, I tend to yawn and try to look interested. Despite the neat wooden box and pieces in this version, I wasn�t even really tempted to buy it. I did get a chance to play it though, and I have to agree that it is pretty good and probably has the most depth of any Carcassonne variation that I�ve played. The City has looser tile placement rules, similar to those of the two-player Castle version. This allows for more clever play, but I actually prefer the more restricted placement rules of the original. Sure, this makes the original game more dependent on lucky draws, but the simplicity and lightness have always been part of the charm for me. The wall mechanism in The City is rather interesting, although I didn�t see the ramifications of my moves at first, and set up some nice scoring opportunities for the next player. However, all the changes still feel like a lot of unneeded fussiness. I can say, without hesitation, that this is the most attractive looking version of the game.

Near the end of Carcassonne: the City.
Other games played in April: Lost Cities, Flower Power, M, and 6 Nimmt!

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 16, 2005 2:30 PM


You could always keep the "RR Gamers" name, but have it now stand for Rozmiarek (Susan) & Rozmiarek (Ed).

Best wishes for the upcoming move!

Posted by: Phil Alberg on May 16, 2005 10:09 PM

Well... who says "RR Gamers" didn't already have a double secret meaning? Hmm?

Since the group may continue after we move, we plan on letting them have the "RR Gamers" name. Susan had a great idea for a new name based on the new house. So once we get settled in and the house is in a reasonable order we'll start up at least monthly weekend sessions. We also plan on trying to find some people in the new neighborhood to start a new weekly group.

Posted by: Ed on May 17, 2005 8:26 AM
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