Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Gilad's / Traders of Genoa

So I finally made it out to Gilad's for gaming. This was my first time gaming at another game group, believe it or not.

Gilad is the originator of a board game forum on tapuz.co.il and a newer site www.boardgames.co.il, a Hebrew website about board games and a wannabe board game association. Gilad launched the site and then had to put some of the ideas on hold, apparently, mainly owing to a thesis, I think.

He had been holding game sessions for a while in his home in Modiin. Along with launching the site a few months ago, he announced a new weekly game session in Tel Aviv. The first evening attracted some 25 people (?), despite having to charge for attendance, but then something happened and he wasn't able to continue using the facilities. That also went on hold.

Then Freak in TA, the only brick and mortar board game store in Israel (comics, ccgs, etc...) held a game session. It was successful, and they plan to hold another one next month. Gilad announced he was joining up with them, at least, I think, until he can get someplace weekly going again.

Also on hold is the "association" for the promotion of board games in Israel. I hope to have something to do with that if it ever starts.

Gilad is a nice guy with similar interests to mine. We have many of the same games, and he, too, developed a prototype game which may be going into mass production. It is a cute looking little strategy game, basically an abstract, involving turning or moving your pawns on top of a grid of pieces in order to collect a set of pieces from the grid. I will be trying it out as soon as I can. It was also developed for THAT company who treated me a little less than kindly concerning my own prototype.

What makes me jealous is that Gilad, who is a Hebrew speaker and more centrally located in Israel, is able to get a large group of players with more ease than I can with my Jerusalem location and poor Hebrew.

The game evening was called for 8:30, which seems pretty late to me, and would only give us a chance for one game. I arrived at his lovely house and met his lovely wife and three kids. Eventually, there were 12 of us, including Gilad and his wife.

Participants: Jon, Gilad, Tali (Gilad's wife), Tal (some guy, not my daughter), Haim, Vered (Haim's wife), Montgomery, Eli (Montgomery's uncle), Limor, Sasson (Limor's husband), Ronit, Hagai (Ronit's husband). I enjoyed meeting them all (I actually only really met a few of them).

I shuffled through Gilad's games. Aside from the games we shared, such as Settlers, Puerto Rico, etc..., there were some that were on my wish list, so I was particularly eager to play them; I tend to be disappointed by a lot of games that others praise highly. Among the games he had that I didn't were Traders of Genoa, Samurai, Carolus Magnus, and Cartegena. I also saw that he had the ASL starter kit. Traders of Genoa was my particular interest, so I got to play it.

Other games that were played:

Montgomery, Eli, Limor, and Sasson played Web of Power and then Bohnanza. None of them had played either of them before. For Web of Power, Gilad had given them an explanation before moving on to his own game, but when I looked over, I saw something like 11 ambassadors in one province, so I had to lean over and explain the ambassador rules again. "Ah, we were wondering about that!"

Gilad, Ronit, and Hagai played Attika.

I have no further information about any of those games.

Tali, Tal, Haim, Vered, and I played Traders of Genoa, and only Tali had played before. Tali explained the rules fairly well and with minimal interruption. Haim started us off, and the turn order was Haim, Tali, myself, Tal, and Vered.

At first playing, ToG seems to be a classic Alea game, right up there with Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. It is essentially a continuous game of open auctions, where the auctions are free for all, even the decision about which items to auction is up for auction (ultimately under control of the current player), and each player can win only one main item each round.

Essentially, there is an 8x8 grid depicting a town square with numerous buildings. Each building has a different item available. The current player rolls two dice to determined the starting position of a tower of five disks. During the course of his round, the player will move the tower one step in any direction, leaving behind one disk each time. So, he will eventually land in five locations, which means up to five buildings. He can also quit at any time. At each location, the current player either takes the item for himself or auctions the item to other players. Each player, including the current player, can take only one item. Any time a location is landed on the item MUST be acquired is another player offers something for it: either you have to take it, or you have to accept a legal offer for it. If no one offers, you can move on to the next place (you still have to leave a disk from the tower).

At the very beginning of his turn, after the tower is placed on the first point, the current player can auction off not only what is right under the tower, but the direction the tower will move, and any future items the tower might land on. Auctions can involve any sort of trades, such as money, cards, cubes, etc..., and one of the items that are or will be available this round - basically, anything physical. Any other sort of deals, with the exception of the movement of the tower, are not allowed.

After doing this, he moves around, continuing to auction anything that hasn't been auctioned yet. Then the next player does the same thing. That's the bulk of the game: auctions, negotiations, over and over. If you like this sort of thing, this is it. If you don't, this is it.

Now the actual object of the game is to get the most money. You get money either from auctioning off items, or from the items themselves. In short, the bulk of your money comes from delivery orders, messages, and privileges. The game ends after a specified number of turns.

The items are:

Big delivery orders: three cubes from different locations, which must be fulfilled in a fourth location. Gives 100 gold and a free one shot card.

Little delivery orders: one cube delivered in a second location. You don't have to use an action to make this delivery, so just having the tower in the delivery location will allow you to fulfill it. Gives 40 gold.

Messages: if the tower hits both locations in one turn, you can fulfill a message. Again, you don't use an action to fulfill the message, you just need the tower to follow a certain path. Gives 30 gold.

Privileges/Fulfill big delivery order: Each privilege represents a location on the board. It is worth nothing but gold at the end of the game, but privilege cards representing buildings that are adjacent are worth more than ones that are separated. The more you have in a set of adjacent locations, the more they are worth. Drawing privilege cards is a huge luckfest - something I abhor - but privilege cards can also be traded, which alleviates this slightly, although I doubt they are traded much, since people are always fearful of giving other players advantages when they don't know if they are getting as much in return. Worth 10 gold for a single building in a row, 30 for two, 60 for three, etc... up to 50 each additional.

The same locations that give privileges are the locations where you can fulfill your big delivery orders. Only one of these can be done at any one tower visit.

Cubes: two at each of four locations. Used for delivery orders.

One shot cards: these cards let you do one of the following: a) trade a cube 1:1 with the bank, b) take any one cube, c) take a free item from any location where you have a marker (see below), start your next turn in any location you want instead of rolling the dice, or e) take or win an additional item during one turn.

Markers: you get two markers of your own color to place on the board under certain restrictions. Each building can hold one marker, and you can either place yours, or use them to kick other markers off the board. The markers do three things: a) they are worth 10 gold at the end of the game, b) you get 10 gold anytime someone else takes the item in that building, c) lets you take a free item if you use one of the above cards (see above).

That's about it.

I started off thinking the sets of privileges might be nice and easy to acquire, but I forgot just how badly my luck would be in acquiring them, and once I had a bunch, no one wanted to trade any to me for fear that they would be worth way too much in my hands. I ended up with a set of three and three singles - only 90 gold.

Tal, on my right, quickly became a difficulty for me. Every time I offered him something, he always asked for 5 more. When I refused, we both ended up losing for it. I quickly became a running joke. Eventually he realized that this was not the best maneuver, so, even though he continued to instinctively ask for 5 more, when I threw up my hands, he laughed and settled for my offer. In return, he offered very little.

It was a fairly long game, from about 9:10 until 12:30, moving quicker as we hurried up when it started to get late. I made a few errors, offering too much when no one else was competing with me, that sort of thing. Others did some similar stuff. A little collusion was going on, but not much, and very few takebacks occurred, which was good.

Everyone basically thought I was losing most of the game, which was fine for me, and a thought I wanted to encourage. Haim seemed to be leading for much of the game; to everyone's surprise he came in second (610) to his wife Vered (640). I placed third with a surprising 600.

A good game, which I borrowed for out club, since it does not see much play at Gilad's.

1 comment:

Gilad said...

It was a very nice gaming evening. The Traders of Genoa is played in our group often, but since we have so many games we figured another group might as well enjoy the game for a while.
Other then that it was nice meeting some of the people I didn't have a chance to meet for a few months. Hope we'll see you more at your group meeting or ours