Monday, 8 March 2010

Old Town 5 Mar 2010

I joined the Cheras OTK (Old Town Kopitiam) gamers to play again last Friday evening. It was a last minute thing, as I originally didn't expect I would be able to join them. We played a 4-player game of Ra: the dice game. This was the first time I played the real thing, as my copy was home-made. The real thing of course looked much better. One thing I didn't like though was how separate reference cards were used. In my own version I put the reference information onto the game board, e.g. how to place cubes, how to score, what to do after scoring. A bit busier than the original board, which is simple and clean, but much more convenient, in my opinion.

I found out I have been playing one important rule wrong. On a player's turn he can roll the dice up to 3 times. I had thought it was max twice. The OTK gang did worse. The last time they played, they had thought it was only once. Oww... No wonder they didn't have many disasters then.

The next game played was Chicago Express. We did a 6-player game. I didn't even know it could support six. I thought it was max five. We had a mix of moderately experienced players, minimal experience (i.e. one-game) players and newbies. I myself have played exactly once, and have forgotten most of the rules. I needed the rules refresher. Most of the strategy and nuances (at least those that I had learnt the last time) came back to me after a few turns.

In this game, the strategy I applied was simple. I became majority shareholder of the red company, owning 2 out of 3 shares (and this company only ever has 3 shares), and just focused on making sure the company reached Chicago first. It did, and I earned lots of money. During the game I tried to buy some shares of other companies, but eventually dropped out of the bidding when they got too expensive. So I ended the game with only 2 red shares, and $64. And I won the game.

I think Chicago Express is a game with very little margin for error. For the game to be enjoyable and to shine, all the players need to know it quite well. I think some very key decisions are made in the early game, so you need to know the game well so that you know what you are doing at that early stage of the game. Else you may get stuck in a bad position and suffer for the rest of the game with little hope of catching up.

In this particular game after I gained those 2 red shares, the rest of the game was mostly auto-piloted. I just had to make the red company as profitable as possible. Allen was the other shareholder holding the remaining 33% share. By spending my effort on the red company, I was helping him too, but only to half the magnitude of how much I was helping myself. He had to invest in other companies too to earn more money, but unfortunately for him the other investments didn't pay as well as the red company. In hindsight, maybe he should have intentionally wrecked the red company, just to stop me.

Whenever bidding for a share, you need to think carefully whether you'll get back the money you spent, because at game end, you only count cash and not the value of the shares you hold. When we finished the game, I joked with Chua (first play for him), "They didn't tell you that?! You were conned!!"

Chicago Express is a game that takes more plays to fully appreciate. I am still impressed with how succinct it is.

The 3rd game I played was China, which I brought, and was pleased that I got to play it. I've always liked it but have not played it for some time. By this time we had broken up into two groups, four playing China, four Middle Earth Quest, and some spectators watching the latter. I taught China to one veteran and two newcomers. The newcomers are not new to games, just new to OTK Cheras. I hope they enjoyed the game and will join the OTK group regularly in future.


荒凉。儒 said...

i would like to join in the fun some time but normally i have to work on friday night.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

The OTK group meets quite consistently every Friday, so feel free to drop by any time you don't need to work on a Friday night. They are a open gaming group. I'm not a regular player at their sessions, but I always enjoy myself when I play with them.