Saturday, May 31, 2008

Give the man his camel (Goa, Aladdin's Dragons)

JayWowzer made his way up to our fair country once more. Meanwhile, a carpeting snafu kept Kozure out of action. That made us a foursome for the evening.


We started with Goa. Luch has been trying to get this on the table for quite some time, but something always seemed to come up. I'm glad we did get around to it... it's a great game. I have to admit that I find the auction a bit strange, though. I've never really been comfortable with auctions that have players exchanging money rather than paying to the bank (Modern Art does this as well). I'm not sure why, but there's a feeling of futility in there. Bidding a certain tile up hurts the bidders, but benefits the auctioneer. A player who spends all their money early in the round frequently gets it back during the auction because the money they spent goes to another player who, flush with money, will likely spend it on an upcoming tile. Anyway, it's a small detail because the game works despite this weirdness. The rest of the game may be multiplayer solitaire, but the decisions are interesting and the game never seems to play out the same way since the tiles you win during the auction combined with the expedition cards largely determine the most effective course of action. Another odd thing: I don't think I've EVER advanced the money track or ship track past the 2 step. Are there winning strategies which depend on money or ships? I suppose in my next game I'll have to try it, but off the top of my head I can't think of how it would go.

I won the game having maxed the expedition and production tracks, founded all four colonies and collected a triple in my expedition cards. Luch, frequently the winner at Goa, came in second.

Aladdin's Dragons

We've played Aladdin's Dragons a few times before, and I think I'm going to have to go back and read those session reports because I don't remember what we had said. I remember liking it, but I don't think I loved it. For whatever reason, this week's session was really good and I distinctly felt that it was a better game than I remembered. Clearly, there are a few things which could go wrong: Because the winner is the player with the most tiles, it can become mathematically impossible to win a few turns before the game is over. Also, the spell cards are fairly chaotic in their effect. Conversely, the counter-spell artifact feels at once too easy AND to difficult to play (and that essentially depends on whether you plan on using an artifact that round or not, because if you do you probably NEED to use that other artifact and therefore can't afford to waste that opportunity). Anyway, it may be just a case of having equally skilled players playing the game and balancing out the rough edges, but none of those "problems" really came up for me and ruined the game.

It's funny, too, because even though I won I constantly felt like I was losing. You simply can't win everything you want and so I was seeing all the opportunities I was missing as my blind bids proved to be too small or my guesses about what other players were going for proved false. I suppose the same thing was going on for everyone, though. Jeff seemed to be picking up a lot of artifacts, so I had him pegged as the winner. He also held the camel 80% of the time. I went more than one round without artifacts, but I picked up two on a couple of occasions.

The last round was the most memorable. There was only one artifact left, which obviously created a situation where everyone put everything they had onto the same space (with consideration to the gems they had to spend and those they hoped to win).
What threw a wrench into the whole thing was that the palace guard turned out to be a 10, so those of us without any "spare change" were eliminated from the running in the palace. In this case, JayWowzer SHOULD have been the the highest bidder and happy winner of the last artifact, but he ran out of money and Luch picked it up instead. That tile would have tied JayWowzer with me, and probably won him the game on the strength of the tie-breaker scrolls (I only had one, I think he had two).

Very close...

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