18 Jul 2015. I have played Machi Koro with the Harbor expansion four times with the children, and I have never won. I have underestimated the power of the fishing boats, especially the tuna boats. The kids love them. If you manage to trigger them, you roll two dice and earn money based on what you roll, i.e. on average $7 per boat. However you need to roll very high to trigger the tuna boats in the first place, so I felt it was not worth the trouble. I guess I was wrong. Both the children love the boats and they always go for them. The harbor (a new building in this expansion) gives you an option of increasing your roll by two if you roll high enough. When the children roll high, e.g. a 10, they always choose to increase the die roll, so that they can trigger their tuna boats. Because of that, my #10 buildings which could have been triggered are not triggered. The children end up helping each other, while I am left in the dust. I had overlooked this groupthink aspect. It's time to fight for boats!
Adding the expansion makes the game take up even more space. Managing the market is also a chore. Whenever you have fewer than 10 types of buildings in the pool, you need to draw a new card. If its type is already available, you need to add it to the stack and draw another one. If it's a new type, what we do is we rearrange the market to slot the new card in the right spot, so that all cards are arranged in increasing order of activation number. I prefer to arrange the market neatly so that it's easier to analyse. Despite the additional overhead and longer play time, I still prefer to play with the expansion. The game feels more alive, organic and unpredictable. I like surprises.
24 Jul 2015. Carson City is one of the earlier worker placement games. It has been a long time since my previous play. I checked my records and found that I had only played it once prior to this, and it was 5 years ago, in 2010. I had forgotten 90% of the rules. In this game you buy parcels of land in the new Carson township, construct buildings, make money and eventually earn victory points. The setup of the initial town is random. In our game we had an unusual setup. The town centre (red house encircled by black roads) was surrounded by many mountains. This made the initial growth challenging due to the lack of flat land.
What's unique about Carson City is how worker placement spots can be fought over. Normally in WP games once your worker claims a spot nobody else can come in or kick your worker out. In Carson City another player can challenge you for the spot. A gunfight needs to be resolved to determine who gets to stay. See the $4-for-a-building spot where the blue player and the yellow player are fighting for.
On the city map in the background you can also see two cowboys preparing to fight. The brown player is trying to rob the yellow player's building (the building has a yellow base to indicate ownership), and the yellow player has sent a cowboy to defend the building. If the brown player wins the gunfight, or if the yellow player hadn't bothered to defend his building, he will get half the income of the building, but only in the current round.
Those isolated buildings far away from the town centre are ranches. They don't need to be connected to the road network, and they earn money based on how much unowned land is next to them. As the town grows, grazing land will dwindle and ranch income will drop.
This was taken in Round 4, the final round. The town has grown much. The long S-shaped path in the foreground is the worker placement path. After all workers are placed, every location on the path is resolved in the specified order.
Most buildings generate income. Mines make money based on the number of adjacent mountains. Drugstores make money based on adjacent homes and ranches owned by the drugstore owner. Some buildings have other functionality. The church forbids robberies in orthogonally adjacent buildings. The prison gives a +2 bonus combat strength to the owner. When you have macha (buddies) working as prison guards, it means you can summon more firepower when you need it. At the end of the game, your buildings earn 2VP each too.
We used some expansions. We used the advanced side of the character cards. We also used the tiles variant for the gunfights (as opposed to using dice), which reduces the luck element. In this particular round, Ivan (yellow) picked the sheriff character. If anyone attacked and defeated his cowboys, he would earn 3VP per cowboy (no points though if he started the fight himself, win or lose). So he placed his people on spots which he knew others want. 3VP per cowboy was not a bad deal. There were some spots which he did intend to win though, because they would give him more than 3VP.
The final layout of Carson City, before final scoring. I started focusing on scoring at the end of Round 2. At the time nobody tried to stop me, and I managed to give myself a strong lead. I managed to hold on to it till the end of the game. I drew poor gunfight tiles at the start of the game (the compensation for that was I had more starting cash), so I didn't want to get into too many fights. Thankfully I decided to pounce early for points, else I would probably be unable able to keep up towards late game.