Saturday, February 03, 2007

2 Knizias (Tigris and Euphrates, Modern Art)

We played a couple of excellent Knizias which rarely seem to get table time this week: Tigris and Euphrates and ModernArt.

It was Bharmer's pick, and he chose these classics which he had never played before. Shemp was not in attendance this week.

Tigris and Euphrates

Tigris and Euphrates is a game I've played pretty much constantly online at BGG since I was introduced to it 2 years ago (which probably translates to +/- 20 games). The rest of the group, however, have only played (at most) a handful of times. I should have crushed them, right? Yeah, no.

Bharmer, very early on, committed a very common newbie mistake: he built a monument he couldn't defend (of course, it's a common newbie mistake for a reason... when you first learn this game, you mostly just want to see how things tick, and building a monument is an important part of that initial understanding of the game). Since I was in the best position to take advantage of this, I swept in and grabbed it. I actually scored a few points in external conflict on the way, so it was even better than it could have been. Yet again, I had an unfair advantage, which should have made winning the game easy. Clearly, despite my experience I'm not that good at this game. Over the course of the game, a large monument laden Western empire grew quite powerful (and attracted many leaders). The East saw smaller northern and southern civilizations develop, fragment and morph into three smaller territories after a series of bloody external conflicts.

It was an exciting game. Despite a general unfamiliarity with the game, players didn't keep to themselves (often a problem with less experienced players). As the tile bag dwindled, I was really struggling to catch up in blue. I took a gamble on an exterior conflict against Luch which didn't pan out, leaving me further behind. I did manage to hook up to a blue monument, but it seemed like it would be my lsat turn. Despite all my advantages, my score wasn't giving me much confidence. Surprisingly, I did get one last turn as the tile bag was passed back to me with a single tile in it! I snagged 2 more blues that round, putting me back in the running.

Final scores put me and Kozure in a tie for the win. We had to go to our third least colour to break it... I won. That was close! Bharmer continues to prove that he's exceptionally quick at picking up games by playing very well in his first time out.

Modern Art

Modern Art is a game we don't play nearly often enough. 4 players is, in my opinion, the best number for the game (3 is not satisfying, 5 is too chaotic). Modern Art has the odd quality of being a game that is easy to play, but hard to "get". Strategy is not evident. Understanding the economics of each individual sale is simple enough, but manipulating the market to your advantage is harder. If an artist is already on the table, is it to your advantage to play another card by the same artist and bring in more interested buyers, or is it better to bring in a new artist and devalue the other player's investments? The answer involves many factors, including the amounts the other players have committed to the purchases, how many more are on the table, what is in your hand, etc. Like Tower of Babel, I play this game and enjoy it, but never feel like we are catching on to the strategy.

Again, bharmer played very well for his first time. There were no blown deals or gross overpayments. He actually spent a couple seasons without buying any paintings at all (deciding to maximize sales instead). It didn't work for him, but it was interesting.

Scores were unbelievably close. Luch won the game with 520, Kozure came in second with 514, and I came third with 510 (those numbers are approximate). It was good to get play that again.

Here's to revisiting older games! And Knizias.


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