19th August - Tinners' Trail

Steve's report of Tinner's Trail
The first of the four rounds in TT is by far the most critical in determining who will win, assuming the commodity prices and cube distributions do not go crazy. One reason for this is that the person who buys the first mine will go first getting the improvements, which will give him the pick of them (ie. the adit), and also possibly more of them. Consequently, the start player is in a quandary. If he puts the best mine up for auction, the bidding is bound to be intense, and he might end up paying over the odds, or letting someone else have it cheap (this assumes that no-one really knows what any mine is worth). If he puts up a less attractive mine and lets someone else have it so that there is less competition for the best mine, he won’t get the adit. What to do?

The strategy that I tried in both games was, basically, as follows:

First, I put two reasonable looking mines up for sale at 1, and dropped out of the bidding early, so that Richard and Garry got one each, leaving them with less money than me (fortunately they bid each other up, and spent 7 or 8 on each mine).

Next, I took the steam pump and removed a water from the best mine. This meant I was still last on the time track, so I then took the adit and used it to improve the best mine even more. In this way, I stole the best improvements from the players who would normally have expected to get them (and had for this reason perhaps paid a little over the odds for their mines), whilst still being able to guarantee that I would get the best mine for myself (because I had most money).

It might seem that, by developing the mine before purchasing it, I would be forced to pay more for it than if I had bought it first, because the other players would be les worried about having it ‘dumped’ on them, but I calculated that the other players were unlikely to bid me up to the limit of their money because, if they did, I might let them have the mine and then they would be unable to do any mining and thus have no money going into the next round – v.bad.

This element of my plan worked pretty much as I hoped. However, in both games I got caught out by being forced to take my ninth action before Garry, which allowed him to get a key mine for 1. I won the first game despite this, having managed to buy two adjacent mines in the first round but still get the adit (due to an error by Richard, who was the start player), but in the second game, the mine that Garry acquired was one that I had pre-developed, and I was unable to recover from the blow.

It will be interesting to see if my strategy stands the test of time, against players who are prepared for it. However, I suspect that my play in future first rounds will be geared more towards making sure that I am the player who gets the ‘free’ mine after everyone else has used their ninth action.

Richard’s chances were, as usual in TT, scuppered by the random commodity pricing. Garry and I discussed this piece of lazy design on the way home, and here are some of our ideas:

- Every time a mine is sold, the commodity prices change in some way that is related to the mix of tin and copper in the new mine (market expectations).

- Players get more actions, but selling cubes becomes an action, and prices change depending on what is sold (or on what remains unsold in the players’ yards?).

- Players sell their cubes at the time they mine them, with price modifiers determined by the improvements they have. The restriction on improvements per mine could be lifted with this one.

- Roll for one commodity price only. The other is then fixed by a rule that says the sum of the prices must be a constant. Perhaps the value of this constant could be affected by the level of investment on the investment table?

Game 1 Steve 108, Garry 87, Richard 72

Game 2 Garry 75, Steve 57, Richard 55

We had some time to spare so we had a few games of Hol's Der Geier. Steve and I managed to lay identical cards at least 2 or 3 times per hand (normally when trying to avoid the minus cards) thus forcing Richard to pick up loads of bad cards even though he'd played a really good card - what a laugh!

Score after 3 hands: Garry 60, Steve 47, Richard 11

12th August - Stone Age

I'm really behind with my blogging at the moment and I don't have much time to write about Stone Age, the new Hans im Gluck game. But we'll be playing it again in 2 weeks time (which is tonight as I'm writing this 2 weeks late, err... anyway) so I'll write a bit more about it then. Basically we thought it was alright but need a few more games to make up our minds.

ugg! me win!

Steve 138, Richard 111, Jo 103, Garry 78

5th August - Tinners' Trail

No Agricola this week, Tinners' Trail instead. I've covered the game before here so I won't go into any more detail on how it works. We got the board set up and we had a fair amount of water on the board before we started. Steve then started the auctioning off nearly all the mines at the begining of the game, in fact I think I even managed to pick up a reasonable mine for £3. Steve decided to buy an undeveloped piece of land and roll the dice to see what sort of resources it would have, unfortunately the dice were not his friends and he ended up with the worst result that was possible.

eeek! That's 4 water!

In the end Richard managed to take the win by a large margin.

Richard 136, Jo 82, Garry 74, Steve 55

We still had some time left so we plumped for a quick game of Hey that's my Fish. This is a great little game where you have to grab the best selection of fish whilst removing the hexagonal icebergs. After a bit of jockying for position I managed a rare win in a very close game.

Grown men playing with little wooden penguins

Garry 28, Steve 27, Richard 26, Jo 14

29th July - You'll never guess - Agricola!

We played Agricola again! I think I've played this game more times than any other in recent years, it really is that good. There's not much more to write about it really, we played a 4 player game and I came last (I'll have to start practising with the 1 player game).

Jo 39 ,Steve 38, Richard 32, Garry 29
updated due to poor handwriting (sorry Steve)

27th July - Games at friends

I don't normally blog all the games I play, sticking mostly to the more 'gamer' games that we play on a Tuesday night. This weekend we stayed with friends, and I've decided to do a brief write up on the games we played. Paul is very keen on playing games, often saying that Monopoly (so good that it's ranked number 4637 in the board game geek rankings) is his favourite game. After introducing him to several heavier games I was surprised at how well he picked them up (well he beat me every time). This weekend I decided I'd teach him to play Agricola.

We played the family version as the full blown game with the cards can be a bit over whelming the first time out. The weather was glorious so we set up on the patio table, poured some cold drinks and got stuck in.

The end is in sight - I have a bad feeling about this

Coming up to the first harvest and disaster strikes!!! Somehow I 'd completely forgotten about gathering enough food for my 2 family members, I had to pick up a begging card, -3 points, oh the shame! I blame this mistake on making sure that Paul knew all the rules correctly (that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.) I was down 3 points but I've played the game 10 times in the last 2 weeks so I should be able to claw some points back before the end of the game.

Can you guess the result?

Things didn't go too well (for me) and I knew that it was going to be close. I added up the score and I'd lost by 1 point - aarrrgghhh! I have to blame it on something, err... I wasn't wearing my lucky socks (do I have any?), the sun was in my eyes, I'd been slipped a micky finn, I'd... oh arse...

1 point, just 1 point!

Paul 34, Garry 33

After dinner and a fair few glasses of wine we first of all had a crack at Felix the Cat in the Hat. It must have been the wine or the relaxed company bit it never got going so it went back in the box and we got Pickomino out instead. This was much more fun (especially when you've had a few), rolling dice to see how may worms you could grab off a barbecue. Despite Sally telling everyone that she was really unlucky with the dice she took the win by a wide margin.

mmm... worms, Sally's winning hand

I can't remember all the scores but everyone pointed out that I'd come last.

The next day before we came home we had a couple of games of Zooloretto. I hadn't played the game before but it wasn't to complicated so after a quick explanation we started playing. I didn't do to well at this either and ended up with a few to many animals in my shed at the end of the game.

Paul 22, Natalie, 22, Garry 17, Sally 16

Now that we'd got the hang of it we decided on one more game, right, this time I was going to be a bit more carefull with the tiles I picked up. Well I think everyone had the same idea and I played a pretty poor game (coming last, as it was pointed out to me)

Paul 27, Sally 24, Natalie 15, Garry 14