Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two is company (Steam x2, Mr. Jack x2, Carcassonne: The City)

We had an unusual two player session this week... just me and Shemp could make it. Other than wargames, my collection is fairly light on two player games, but we did get a chance to play a few games that don't often see the light of day.

Steam: St. Lucia
I bought this Bezier Games expansion map mostly for the single player side (which I like a lot). It's a bit strange because every single space gets a cube at the start of the game, and absolutely no coloured cities exist until somebody urbanizes. IT makes for a map that changes substantially between plays and is quite wide open with opportunity in the first half (though it does get tight before the game ends). Surprisingly, I did get to play the St. Lucia side once before with Luch on New Year's day. In that game, we pretty much had each started on one end of the island and worked down towards the middle. Not so with Shemp. I payed for first player privileges and after I had established my link he immediately built off of it. Unsurprisingly, our relationship was poisonous to both of us. I kept hold of the first player action and urbanized all the towns in the south using up all the coloured cities in the process and ensuring my track was in the way for all his deliveries.

(I'll note that we got a rule wrong... we played that the first player had the option to keep paying to go first until he passed or the 2nd player took the initiative special action. The correct rule is that turn order alternates... much more forgiving on player 2).

Shemp had a great deal of trouble getting in the black with this setup, and in the end I won fairly handily. This was all around a live and learn type of experience for both of us... I'm sure we would play very differently next time. All in all, it's a good two player board that I can see playing again.

Steam: Jamaica

Jamaica is a curious board. It's a small map, and relatively symmetrical. There are just two coloured cities in the middle and a handful of towns on either end. The game does not have a set number of rounds, and instead ends once all goods are exhausted. It didn't take us long to figure out that this was going to be a very barren board very quick. Barren board = brutal game. The only thing that could have made it more difficult is if they introduced terrain that cost more than usual to cross. Oh, yeah. They did that. The middle is mountainous, and those add +3 to track costs.

I urbanized both ends of the board, placing my track so that Shemp would hopefully be forced to ship through my links. Both our debts were spiraling out of control because building our infrastructure was expensive and long deliveries were hard to find. Most of the game was spent making sad 1-3 link deliveries. I faced bankruptcy on numerous occasion, with my income and VPs at -10/0 respectively. At one point, I had t spend 19 dollars (!!!) to develop 4 links of track to keep me from having zero delivering potential for the rest of the game (I had to rebuild 2 sections of track on mountain spaces). Luckily, I managed to scrape together enough points to get me by. Only near the end of the game did we start approaching solvency. If memory serves, Shemp won by a point and our scores were 0 and -1. Good times.

We made the assumption that using a two player map meant that the goods growth placeholders started with only 2 goods cubes (since that's what the rules state for 3 players). Considering the impact it had on the game, it's possible it should have been three. I posted a question on BGG... we'll see.

Mr. Jack

Shemp had never played this game before. It's one of the few two player games (that aren't wargames) that I've bothered to hold on to, because I liked it enough to keep even if it gets played rarely.

I played first as Jack, and almost managed to win. It came down to the last round, where Shemp discovered who I was (the cop) and was *just* able to catch me in time.

Shemp tried his hand at Jack next, and did much better than most in their first play. On the first few rounds, I managed to eliminate all but three suspects, but he successfully eluded further narrowing for quite a while. I believe I caught him in the 7th round, which was approximately 3 rounds more than any other first timer I've seen.

Although it's tough to play Jack, this is a very fun game that hits the right note between ease of play and strategy, luck and control. Good game.

Carcassonne: The City

We ended the evening with a oldie. Carcassonne: The City gets very little play in our group, and I've considered trading it away because of that on many occasions. However, I do like it and... it's just such a nice package! I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. Yet.

I went far too aggressive on "farmers" (I know, wrong terminology for this set, but I can't remember what they actually use). I was short meeples throughout the game and missed out on the guard's scoring opportunities in the end. It was a competitive game, with just a few points separating us, but Shemp did win.

As we were packing up The City, we realized we had played much later than we usually do (12:15am!). Whatever, it was fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment