Sunday, 3 May 2015

boardgaming in photos: TTR Switzerland, Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld, Brass

19 Apr 2015. The Switzerland map is my favourite version of Ticket To Ride. It's for 2 or 3 players only. In this version you can draw many tickets, and it is entirely possible to complete all of those you keep. This is what makes the game exciting. It is feasible to gamble and hope to draw tickets which you have already completed, or which can be completed without too much additional risk. This is a game where you often reach for the ticket deck and say in your heart, "Yes I feel lucky today!". Another thing which makes the game exciting is the area around Zurich. It is often congested and you can easily get blocked or be forced to reroute.

Michelle's tickets. Completing 11 tickets is not unusual in TTR Switzerland. I stick some cards under others so that I can cover the score circles which I should ignore when totaling her points.

The country-as-destination concept is one of the special features in TTR Switzerland. In this ticket card above, one of your destinations must be in France. The other one can be in either one of the three other neighbouring countries. There are multiple routes which lead into each one of Switzerland's neighbouring countries, so you are rarely blocked off completely. In this card above, you only score one of the three point values, depending on which country you manage to reach. Naturally you will go for the highest number you can achieve.

This is Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld. The children saw Michelle and I play, and requested to join. So I taught them how to play. We played the partnership rules, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more fun than the 2P game. In the partnership game, it is easier to collect all cards of a colour (which gives you bonus points), because there are two players working together in each team. Also the draw deck gets exhausted more frequently, which means towards the late game you know most cards are out, and the question is whose hands they are in.

The children are new to rummy games, and do some things completely beyond our expectations. Once Chen Rui (8) picked up a card which Shee Yun (10) had discarded. Michelle and I automatically assumed she had now collected the third card of a colour, so she could play a meld. To our surprise, she didn't play any meld. She was planning to collect that colour one by one! I was on the other team, and I was the next player. I had two cards of that colour in my hand. I played an Agent Meeting card to rob both of her cards of that colour, so that I would have enough for a meld, and I could play it. I felt a little bad for having taken advantage of her inexperience.

24 Apr 2015. Brass by Martin Wallace. One of his best works. It had been quite a while and I was definitely a little rusty. It was my first time playing this as a 4-player game, and I think 4P is the best player count. I built my first factory, a cotton factory, in Blackburn. That was not a good idea. I made a mistake and thought I could build a canal to Preston, then build a port there, and then sell cotton using both cotton factory and port. I didn't realise there was no canal connection between Blackburn and Preston. Oops indeed. Eventually I had to build two canals to get to Liverpool, to build my port there. Allen (red) was rather rusty too. He built his first cotton factory in Bolton, but there was no canal connection to Blackburn or to Wigan. He too had to build two canals to reach Warrington & Runcorn, where he could build then a port. We were both the chemistry dog internet meme - I have no idea what I'm doing, not much better than Leaf (purple), who was new to the game. Jeff (yellow) was the only one who had an idea of what he was doing.

Jeff's (yellow) first cotton factory was built in Colne, just next to Yorkshire at the north eastern corner, which had a port. So he could start selling cotton earlier than the rest of us. Leaf (purple) had started with a coal mine in Oldham, which was not exactly a good idea, since coal wasn't in high demand yet. Allen joked that this was the famous Oldham Opening, but I bet at the time he wasn't sure whether that was a good or bad move either. We were just fooling around pretending to be experts and imagining there were famous standard moves like in chess.

We were now in the second half, the railroad era. Canals were now replaced with railroads. In the southeast Jeff (yellow) had built quite a few coal mines, which did good business and gave him a solid income. He had timed the construction of a few coal mines and iron mines very well, when the market (those two rows of black coal and orange icon cubes) was depleted. He could sell his newly mined coal and iron to earn some quick cash, and he was able to flip his mine tiles quickly to turn them into money-making businesses. All these happened in the first few rounds of the second half, and I knew then that the rest of us would not be able to catch up. We should have worked together to stop him, but we had enough trouble managing our own businesses.

In Brass, scoring is only done twice. We were in the second half, so these are scores from the first half. The hat markers are the score markers. Scores from the first half are about one fifth to one fourth of the total scores, so they are not a good indicator of how well the players are doing. The income levels, i.e. the round discs, are good indicators. Jeff (yellow) was now far ahead of us, and was making more money than us every round. Strong cashflow is very important in this game.

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