Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Raanana Session Report, in which I teach Agricola

Participants: Laurie, Jon, Daniel, Rochelle

Ellis was in the middle of moving. He should be back next week.

Race for the Galaxy

Laurie 40, Jon 38

I arrived early and Laurie chose this as a two-player game for us. We played with no specific two-player rules, just one role each round.

I picked too many 6 point cards early on and had to toss most of them out. Still, I didn't fare too badly. I played the 6 pointer that makes other developments cost 2 less early on, and then I mistaken played a development which I thought gave me another 2 discount on further developments, but I noticed later that it gave 2 discount on worlds, not developments. That put a kink in my plans.

Laurie meanwhile started taking victory points early and ended the game when I only had 9 buildings out. My second mistake was not to realize that this was going to happen and to build in what was sure to be the last round, instead of uselessly produce. Really, the only thing that bothers me about this game is the way that it suddenly ends and the way one player can rush the ending out under another. I would like the game a lot more if it simply went 12 rounds or something.


Daniel 34, Jon 29, Laurie 26, Rochelle 23

We started the explanation for this at around 8:30 and finished the game at just before 12. It's an odd game in that it has a lot to explain, and even during the game there is a sense of being overwhelmed, but the basic flow is easy to grasp. This is in contrast to other games that are difficult to explain but not overwhelming once the game is in play, like Princes of Florence, or remain overwhelming and also hard to understand the flow, like Puerto Rico.

Daniel insisted that we draw and keep our fourteen cards, rather than do something to ameliorate the luck factor, since it would only do to help the newer players. In fact, I drew reasonably well; nobody had any real game killers.

I played unusually with a lot of occupations and minor improvements, all of which helped me get points but not food. I didn't have a good food engine and so occasionally had to scramble for food at the last moment. I played a card early on that gave me four wood but also gave any player who ended the game without any negative points a five point bonus. That seems like overkill, since the person who has no negative points is typically winning anyway. I often end the game with no negative points, so I thought it couldn't hurt me.

Unfortunately, in the last two rounds when I needed at least one of the Plow actions (I had an improvement that let me plow three fields, rather than one), both were taken before I could get them. Not only did this leave me with negative spaces, it also left me scrambling for food, lacking points in the food items (I was also going to plow them, and no one else could effectively plow), and forced me to give up several other items since I had to use my actions elsewhere. It represented at least a 10 point loss for me.

Laurie also experienced people blocking what she needed on various occasions. She finally took the Start Player action, but didn't feel like it did much for her. Daniel is the only one who finished with no negative points, and the five points he got from my occupation card handed him the clear victory.

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