Saturday, July 18, 2009

Games that take long to set up (Galaxy Trucker, Agricola)

We had another "laissez-faire" dictator this week. Luch asked that we bring a few games, and he'd pick on site. From our bag of games, he picked Galaxy Trucker and Agricola.

Galaxy Trucker

Last time we played this, we discovered Luch had been building his ships without necessarily starting from the center. Bharmer hadn't played before, so a rules explanation was in order and we then started on our voyage of destruction.

The first flight was unusually destruction filled, but at least we all made it to the end. The same couldn't be said of the subsequent flights...

In flight two, the meteors where raining down amidst a variety of combat zones. I had a very successfully designed ships, so I managed to escape unscathed, but the others weren't so lucky. Bharmer lost most of his ship, but the most unfortunate story was that Kozure suffered an unlikely hit early which snowballed into a series of losses leaving him limping along. Luch had a ship that was loaded to the max with batteries, which we originally found very funny, but against all odds he suffered so many attacks that he burned through all of them and was destroyed. I ended the flight with a huge hoard of cash... a nearly insurmountable lead.

Flight three was similar, but Kozure had put together a very good ship and managed a huge comeback. I still did OK, but I wasn't sure if it would be enough. Bharmer and Luch? Well, they didn't do so well.

It wasn't. Kozure beat me by 2 dollars (it was something like 72$ to 70$ to 5$ to 2$).

As usual, it was a fun game. Even amidst total catastrophe, the experience is enjoyable... a very unique game indeed.


Given Shemp's absence, it was a good time to play Agricola.

I always go for a huge family in a stone house, lots of animals and little farming, so I thought I'd try something different. I've read that gaining family members takes so many actions, and then feeding them takes actions again, that the perceived advantage of having them isn't as great as it seems.

We played with the K deck, and my starting hand had a number of cards that would work well together for a farming strategy. Chief among them was the swing back plow (I think) which allows me to plough three fields instead of one twice in the game. I spent the first part of the game getting a number of occupations and minor improvements out, then concentrated on getting corn and vegetables for my 6 fields. Production was up.

I also had the animal tamer, which allowed me to keep various animals in the house. Between that and the "family member without a room" action, I had a single room with two family members living with a cow.

I finished with a two room clay house and only three family members. Still, with lots of veggies, some sheep, lots of cards played and few open spaces I thought I had a shot at winning. It ended as a very close game, with only 5 points separating the four players. Kozure once again beat me by 2 points, but the margin was small enough that I'm thinking the "Few family members" strategy could probably work if played better.

I'm actually growing more fond of Agricola as time goes on. I enjoy the puzzle aspect, and have come to see the "denial of choice" interaction as a kind of randomizer for my personal game instead of a traditional multiplayer game. I find the process challenging but fun, and the cards do make each session feel different.

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