Date: April 3, 2003

Games: Expedition, Euphrat and Tigris, Coloretto, Der Herr Der Ringe: Die Zwei Türme: Das Kartenspiel

Attendees: Doug, Ed, Helen, Jon, Mark, Rick, Robert and Susan

Reporter: Susan Rozmiarek

Yet another good turnout with eight people. After a whole lot of waffling and indecision on what to play (what else is new), we opted to split into two groups right away, with Die Sieben Weisen on one table and Expedition on the other. I really hadn't enjoyed my one playing of Die Seiben Weisen, so I chose to play Expedition, an old favorite that hadn't hit the table in ages.

Expedition: Helen, Doug, Mark, Susan

We were all fairly familiar with the game (Helen had played its predecessor, Wildlife) but it had been quite some time since anyone had played it, so we took some time refreshing our memories with the rules. This is a game that has had numerous questions crop up in the past on internet forums and we found ourselves once again befuddled by some of those issues. We ended up playing the variant where, when a loop is formed, the player immediately places another arrow anywhere off the loop. I think we may have played a few rules slightly incorrectly, especially in regards to the effects of picking up an arrow, but I don't think it affected the game much. Afterwards, I found an improved translation that answered our questions on BoardgameGeek. What a great resource that has become!

I had some great luck in the beginning, picking up all of the chips I had placed and getting a few of the public expeditions. I believe some people actually mark the locations of the public ones on the board, but we feel that is for wimps! We like the added challenge of remembering where they are. Mark stayed close behind me and Doug stayed close behind him by making several clever loop plays. The end of the game was a race between Mark and me to get to our last locations. Unfortunately, my last location was isolated in Africa and my only hope was to form a large loop with the blue expedition. Mark ended the game by getting to his last destination way before I was able to do that. He took the victory, followed by me, Doug, and then Helen.

I was struck by the similarities between this and the much newer and lighter TransAmerica. It has the same feeling of laying down track to connect your secret destinations, all the while hoping for unintentional assistance from other players. Of course, Expedition is a much "bigger" game, both in size and depth, which allows for clever playing.

Coloretto: Doug, Helen, Mark, Susan

This simple little card game is quickly becoming a filler favorite. It can be taught it minutes and plays quickly. It has some simple tactical decisions, a pleasant press-your-luck element, and light hosage opportunities all wrapped up in a tidy little package. We played a fast game while the other table was finishing up. The end scores were: Mark 30, Helen 28, Susan 22, Doug 20.

The next two games on the table were Chinatown and Euphrat and Tigris. Chinatown is a great game when played with the Westbank Gamers' variants. It reminds me somewhat of a negotiation version of Big City, a favorite game of mine. It proved to be the most popular selection, though, so I played E&T, a game I never mind playing.

Euphrat and Tigris: Helen, Mark, Susan

This was the first face-to-face game of this for me since playing many games of it on the 'Geek. Immediately, I had trouble "seeing" things on the board. I am so used the graphics of the online version that it took me awhile to get used to the look of the real thing. Another problem I had was remembering things like taking victory point cubes. Things that the computer automatically does for you. My, my, what a lazy gamer I've become, completely spoiled by online games.

I was a little apprehensive about playing this with three players. I've played enough online three-player game to realize that with three, there is the danger of two of the players bashing on each other while the third goes off in a corner and builds a hefty lead by themselves. Even knowing this, it is still sometimes hard to prevent due to the luck of the tile draws. I much prefer the more crowded four-player games.

While most of my online games have been with open scoring, this game was played with the intended closed scoring. I haven't decided which I like better. At least with closed scoring, you can delude yourself into thinking you are doing better than you are!

Well, my fears came true. I started building a power base on the right side of the board, Mark started his in the middle, and Helen spread her leaders out in the lower and upper left. After building up a respectable amount of support, I started an external conflict involving three leaders with my neighbor, Mark. I figured that I might lose one of the conflicts, but with my support on the board and in my hand, I thought I had a decent chance of pulling off a victory in at least two. Alas, it was not to be. Mark pulled off a stunning upset, using all six tiles in his hand to tie me for the win in all three conflicts. This hard blow to me was very difficult to overcome. Although towards the end I was able to control two monuments for several turns, I trailed the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, Helen, off in her secluded corner, built a monument which she was able to control for quite some time. She later built another monument that she was to control for many turns. The usual mid-endgame monumental battles ensued, with disaster tiles being played and enemy leaders parachuting in, but when the dust settled and victory points were revealed, Helen was on top.

The scores were close: Helen 13, Mark 11, Susan 9.

Der Herr Der Ringe: Die Zwei Türme: Das Kartenspiel: Ed, Jon, Mark, Helen, Susan

Doug, Robert, and Rick's early departure left us with five, so we decided to give this new acquisition a go. Ed had played this game with his lunchtime crowd and decided that we needed a copy of our own. Since Lord of the Ring games seem to be a dime a dozen these days, I probably wouldn't have even noticed this one, but the designer's name on the box was the always eye-catching Reiner Knizia. I'm not sure that man is capable of designing a bad game. Besides, the cards depicts actual photos from the movie, including my favorite elf hottie, Legolas.

This game turned out to be a nice solid game of set collecting and hand management that required players to always be looking ahead. In usual fashion, I missed a key rule, this one about picking up cards after discarding one. I really learn games better if I get to read the rules myself beforehand. When things are explained to me, I often miss something because I am still digesting what was just said. Oh, well. At least I have an excuse for my pitiful performance ;-) I'm looking forward to trying this one again.

Results: Ed 21, Jon 20, Helen 17, Mark ?, Susan 11

Another great evening, with a nice balance of shiny new games and golden oldies.

Mark, Doug, and Susan watch Helen plan her route in Expedition.
Expedition board
A view of the Expedition board.
Die Sieben Weisen
Ed, Robert, Jon and Rick have a wizard battle in Die Sieben Weisen.
Where's Susan?
Mark and Helen wait while Susan is off getting empire building tips from Saddam during their game of Euphrat and Tigris. (I guess we know why she lost.)
Building Chinatown
Making deals and building stores in Chinatown.

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