Wednesday, 20 October 2010

boardgaming in photos

7 Oct 2010. Le Havre. I suspect I now like this more than Agricola, which I rated a 10. Maybe I need to change my rating for Agricola to a 9, since I rated Le Havre 9.5. Part of the reason that I rated Agricola a 10 was I kept playing it over and over again. I played many games in the first year that I bought it. Nowadays I don't play it as often, and I think I am more keen to play Le Havre. I like how Le Havre feels more open. You are not so restricted by the feeding requirement like in Agricola.

This was my play area. I tend to build lots of buildings and only ship goods once or twice. I think there's still much strategy space that I have not yet explored in Le Havre. I can't resist building stuff.

Michelle's play area. She likes the Shipping Line (leftmost card in the top row).

The main board. There was $12 on the cash offer space (botton left) and yet both of us ignored it. $12 = 12VP.

We don't use the storage spaces on the game board (the orange roofs), so about a third of the game board is wasted space. We use a separate storage box which we place next to the game board.

16 Oct 2010. Another game of Le Havre played recently. That Fish Restaurant on the right was a special building (there are many special buildings in the game but only a few will ever appear in each game). I had used Marketplace to peek at upcoming special buildings, so I had known it was coming. So I worked towards building both Fishery and Smokehouse, which worked well with the Fish Restaurant. I could use the Fishery to collect 6 fish, then use Smokehouse to turn all 6 of them into smoked fish (while earning $3), then use Fish Restaurant to sell all for $18. This was not too bad, but eventually I didn't use them much afterall, because towards the later part of the game there were other more lucrative means of making money.

16 Oct 2010. Innovation. I forgot to take photos when I first learned the game and wrote about it. I have since bought a copy myself, together with my order of Axis & Allies Europe 1940. I have now played a few more games, and I think I can now decide that I do like it, since I am still keen to play it. Another good thing is my wife likes it. Lately she has been reluctant to learn new games and to play longer games. Innovation being a card game made it easier to convince her to try something new, and so far she has been enjoying the game.

There is indeed some luck in the game, and some card powers are so strong that your position can be quickly devastated if you are a victim of such powers. However the fact that Achievements can never be taken away from you mitigates these big swings somewhat. Also as you get more familiar with the game you will learn to watch out for the powerful cards and plan for them. You will gradually gain a slightly more strategic or macro view of the game, as opposed to just a short-term tactical view. I enjoy exploring the different powers of the cards (every one is unique). It is interesting to figure out how to best use your cards in the current game situation. The game situation can change greatly, and the usefulness of a card can vary greatly depending on the timing.

I now find that it isn't too difficult to win the Special Achievements. You do need to plan for it. Having drawn the specific card which gives an alternative way to win a Special Achievement does help. Now that I have played a few more games, Special Achievements don't seem so impossibly hard anymore.

This was the first game that I taught Michelle. At this point I had gained 5 Achievements (i.e. need one more to win). I was in Age 10, more advanced than Michelle. Both our score piles had been emptied, but I could try to rebuild it to get the Age 9 Score Achievement, or I could go for one of the Special Achievements. I had Robotics, and I Dogma'ed it. It allowed me to draw and meld an Age 10 card, and execute its powers. I drew Software. It's Dogma effects scored me a 10. It also made me draw and meld an Age 10 card, and execute its powers...

... I drew A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). Now A.I. is a strange card. When its power is executed, if Robotics and Software are top cards in the game (which was the case here), if there is a single player with the lowest score, he/she wins instantly. I had just increased my score pile from 0 to 20 this turn...

... Michelle still had 0 in her score pile. So she won! SkyNet had just gained self-awareness and was destroying mankind. The human who had contributed least to science won. Who says the game isn't thematic?!

17 Oct 2010. Afif, Atiqah and I visited Allen, and I taught them China. Allen had these nice plastic bowls in different colours. I used one matching my green pieces.

China is my favourite Michael Schacht game. Simple, clever, fast. Lots of player interaction because you are always competing and cooperating at the same time. We played two games back-to-back, since even the first game including explanation took only about 40 minutes.

Scores for the first game were very close! Before the game started I reminded everyone that scoring from officials (emissaries?) could often determine victory, and my prediction came true as it was indeed my officials scoring that won me the game. However they all did very well in establishing long connections, which I tend to do not so well when I play. In our second game I could no longer beat them. They did much better with the officials.

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