May 17, 2006

Game Day Report for May 13, 2006

by Susan Rozmiarek

My big goal today was to play Ticket to Ride: Märklin which we’ve had sitting on our shelves for a couple of weeks unplayed. I wasn’t able to get it to the table until later in the evening, but in the meantime I played a fabulous mixture of old and new games. I didn’t play a bad game all day and had fun even while I was losing horribly. Quite a contrast to my Age of Steam misery at our last game day, I must say.

Settlers of Catan 3D

Marty brought this beauty, complete in its wooden treasure chest. I’d seen the pictures but they don’t do it justice. The heavy molded pieces have fabulous detailing and the art on the cards is very nice. The only problem is that overall it is extremely busy without enough contrast between player pieces and some of the terrain. I found it very difficult to assess the board at a quick glance. Of course, I had to be the one to choose a starting location first and was completely thrown by the different look. I was fairly happy with my choices though and I got fairly used to the look by the end of the game. We played with the “food stamps” variant which helped, but Marty and I were hampered severely by the robber sitting on our “9” mountain hex while that number got rolled time after time. Mike ended up annihilating us 10-5-5-4. That’s me with the “4.” :-( It was pretty cool playing with this beautiful edition and I’m glad that I got the chance to bask in its splendor. I’d practically have to win the lottery to afford it myself, since it ain’t cheap. Maybe we could just eat rice and beans for a month or two?

Brian, Marty, Mike and Susan (picture taking) playing 3D Settlers of Catan.

3D Settlers close up. Gorgeous!

Ca$h & Gun$

This game got a lot of good buzz at Essen but the price seemed way too high for a filler even if it does come with foam guns that you actually get to point at people. Brain brought his copy up from San Antonio where it apparently has gotten a lot of play. It was great fun, even if I did get eliminated by Carl after amassing a nice pile of cash. I knew I should have taken the cowardly way out that round. Still, I think the game is priced too high and unless it shows up on a prize table somewhere. I don’t think we’ll be getting it.

Cities and Guilds

I’d heard good things about this obscure tile-laying game from JKLM, a British game company. You’ve always been able to order it directly from the publisher, I think, but it is a small print run game and with shipping from England, the price is really steep. However, Boards & Bits got in it for a reasonable price so we jumped on it. This is majorities game with several different ways to score that make it a little hard to evaluate until you’ve played a game and seen how the it all works out in the end. Brian wrote up a pretty good assessment on his blog. I mostly agree except perhaps my first impression was less harsh and hopefully not just because we are the ones who shelled out the bucks for a copy. I think with a few more plays and perhaps less players, more depth will be revealed although it is still going to be rather tactical with the limited number of tiles to choose from each turn. It is also quite dry. Still, I like this sort of game so I’m looking forward to giving it another go. I was a little disappointed in the quality of the components and the art.


I was expecting more of a wargame where the idea is to grab and hold as much territory as you can. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this game was hardly about that at all. Sure that is one way to go about it and you do have to get aggressive at some point, but there are many ways to get victory points and not all of them encourage violence. And, once you earn a victory point you get to keep it, even if the condition you fulfilled to get it gets destroyed by another player. I never did hold many regions in this game. I focused on getting temples up and running to earn gold to buy knowledge. Then I build up a massive fleet of ships which spread out and eventually sacked a few temples of Carl for the win. I was really impressed with the game. The rondel is a great innovation that keeps the game moving at a fast clip. Instead of players taking a massive turn while everyone else twiddles their thumb for ages like in many “civ” games, here you only do a small bit on your turn so the analysis paralysis is greatly decreased.

Carl, Paul, John and Susan battle in Antike.

Princes of Florence

There’s no way I’ll ever turn down a chance to play My Favorite Game of All Time. I went for my usual “builder” strategy which has always served me well in the past. Alas, I made a few fatal errors this time around. It’s amazing how differently this game can play with different players. My usual group always puts up a vicious fight bidding over both builders and prestige cards so I hoarded way too much cash that could have been victory points as I got all but the first builder practically uncontested. And nobody seemed to care about prestige cards towards the end of the game but me. So I was left holding a ridiculous 1500 florins at the end of the game. I also panicked when everyone started buying up profession cards and I used a precious action to buy one that I really didn’t need when I should have purchased a bonus card to add to a profession card I already had. This game has a learning curve so it was pretty impressive when newbie Carl played two 17-valued works in one of the last turns to leap from behind into second place. I actually had 18 or 19 prestige points at the end which tied me for third, but it was Brian “the works machine” and his team of jesters who captured the victory.

Ticket to Ride: Märklin

At last I got to play this long anticipated latest tweak on one of my favorite games. I’d been trying to get it to the table all evening to no avail and was worried that I was going to have to twist some arms! Fortunately, I didn’t have to resort to such violent methods and I finished out a fine day of gaming laying routes and moving passengers. The game did not disappoint and may very well end up being my favorite of the series. I’ve always loved the tension in the original game of deciding how long you can wait to claim a crucial connection before somebody else does. Well, Märklin ratchets up the anxiety a notch by adding another reason to sweat, this time over when to move a passenger to grab valuable tokens before somebody beats you to them. The destination tickets are now divided into two stacks, long and short routes and you can choose draw from either one. This choice is a definite improvement over the original game as it puts you less at the mercy of the luck-of-the draw.

One of my destination cards at the start of the game was a long north-south connection so I started in the far north and immediately plunked down a passenger at the very top. It took me nearly the entire game to complete it as I mainly focused on getting the juiciest passenger tokens. I racked up quite a few points, in fact. Unfortunately, I drew extra tickets late in the game and kept a long one that appeared to be pretty easy to complete. It would have been too, except Ed plopped down a really long link that used up enough of his trains to trigger the final round. He had an impressive collection of completed tickets that gave him the bonus and the victory. With those long connections to claim, you really have to watch for a potential game ending move. Next time I won’t be caught off guard.

Susan, Paul, Carl and Ed (not pictured) try out the new Ticket to Ride: Märklin.

I also played a few fillers that I’ve written about numerous times before: Geschenkt and Hey! That’s My Fish! Other games played: Tichu, Castle Merchants, Caylus, Industrial Waste, Bunte Runde and Antiquity.

After not hitting the table for many sessions, Caylus makes a return with Adam, Jon, Mike, Kevin and Marty.

Adam, Jon, Marty and Mike get in a game of Antiquity.

Castle Merchants.

John, Carl and Adam try to keep it clean during Industrial Waste.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 17, 2006 11:46 AM


Wow, what a fantastic day of gaming! Great games, too. I'm a big fan of Princes of Florence, although we haven't played it for a while. Ticket to Ride is a favorite in our family, and I would really like to try Marklin. Problem is -- I need games for SIX players, and I don't think the TtR series can be easily adapted to that number. However, if I figure a way to play six at TtR, maybe I can do the same for Marklin.

Posted by: Gerald McDaniel on May 18, 2006 8:53 AM

Dang, from my own gaming friends not even a mention of the first edition of 3D Settlers on the web (

Posted by: Dan Becker on May 18, 2006 2:33 PM

Eek! Dan, in my haste to finish the report, I completely forgot about your set. I haven't been to that page in ages and forgot how nice it looks as well. Yours has a lot more contrast between colors and would be easier to see. Bring it to a game day so we can play it!

Posted by: Susan on May 18, 2006 4:57 PM


I though the theme of your games day was an "&" day:

Beans & Rice (required for expensive Settlers)
Cash & Guns
City & Guilds
Grab & Hold (territory)
Builders & Prestige (Princes of Florence)
Laying & Moving (routes and passengers)

I really like your summaries.

Posted by: Alan How on May 20, 2006 2:49 AM

I didn't think my review of Cities and Guilds was that harsh. I'd play it again. I mainly thought we should play with less than the full quota of players.

Posted by: Brian on May 21, 2006 7:10 PM

Alan: LoL, thanks! I hereby nominate you to write all my future headings!

Brian: Perhaps "harsh" was too harsh of a word?? Maybe "critical" would be better?

Posted by: Susan on May 23, 2006 9:04 PM
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