BGC Meetup 19/2/10 @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras – Agricola, Aladdin’s Dragons

Gamers: Henry (rhyen), Allen (blownfreaks), Yee Ling (crabzai), Nelson (nelson), John Wong (johnw), Alvin (aycee) Wai Yan (waiyan) and CK Au (jack208)

Games: Agricola, Aladdin’s Dragons

Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras Google Map 
Date/Time: 19 February 2010 (Fri) 8.00 PM – 3.00 AM Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 19/2/2010
by jack208


Agricola Session #1
Two weeks earlier, on 5 Feb 2010 we’d a short meetup session with rhyen, blownfreaks, NX, John and myself (jack208). We’d wanted to try the Farmers of Moor expansion for Agricola but since we’ve newbies to the Agricola game (ie. NX and John), we decided to do the basic Agricola to intro these two to the game system.

BGC Meetup - Agricola
Two more gamers introduced to farming in Agri-land

It was rhyen’s wicked idea to use the K-deck for both Occupation and Minor Improvement. He figured might as well throw these two straight into the deep end and see how they do…. muahahaha….

John did ask me what’s the K-deck…. and why’s rhyen grinning wickedly whenever that’s mentioned.

BGC Meetup - Agricola
The two pros doing comfortably with their K-cards 

One of the biggest drama was NX premature playing of the Lover occupation. He played it too early before he got his food system set up… and he was struggling for the next few rounds going around collecting food to feed his ppl. haha.. NX found out the hard way maintaining a wife and lover ain’t easy!

But overall, I think both newbies did quite well in their first Agricola K-deck session! On the other hand, me and blownfreaks were a bit rusty and we were struggling to build some rhythm to our farm-growing.

Inevitably rhyen won this game. I’d thought he was running away with the game in the mid-game stages as he was dropping Occupation and Minor Improvements left & right and collecting tons of resources. I was surprised to find his score was just 2 pts above mine.

Agricola Session #2
NX has to say goodbye for the evening and his place was replaced by aycee who dropped by while we were in the middle of our first session. Since the game was already set up and everyone seemed eager to have another go, we did another session but this time with the E-deck. 😛

BGC Meetup - Agricola
aycee taking over NX’s place in the 2nd session

Needless to say, it’s much easier (and more familiar to me) playing with the E-deck. This time, we have a surprise winner… John did very well in just his 2nd game to win this!

BGC Meetup - Agricola
John winning in his 2nd session of Agricola 


We skipped the pre-CNY meetup (12 Feb) as most of us have Reunion Dinners to attend to. The next meetup was on the Friday after ie 19 Feb.

BGC Meetup @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras
Old Town Kopitiam all decked out in Chinese New Year deco

We did Aladdin’s Dragons a few weeks back, that session was without the Magic Spells (as my copy was the German edition and the wordings on the spell card are all in German).

This time everyone agreed we should play with the Magic Spell, and since I’ve yet to do the English paste-up for the Magic Spell wordings, we just refer to the printed Magic Spell list whenever we get access to the Magic Spells. Not an ideal solution – and quite mah-fan to refer to the printed list – but it was a doable solution.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons
Dragon caves…. where treasures can be found aplenty

The game starts at the Dragon’s caves… where players have the chance to acquire treasures hoarded by these dragons. But mind you, we need to “fight” among ourselves to see who gets what and sometimes in some caves where there are limited supply of these treasures some of us will leave empty handed.

Treasures are essentially the “money” we can use to buy artifacts at Palace Rooms.

Aladdin’s Dragons uses hidden bid tokens which add up to become your “bid strength” to determine who wins in each space/area/room of the game board. A very effective way that adds plenty of tension to the game.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons 
City Spaces in the Aladdin’s Dragons game board

These are the city spaces where player can visit to gain some useful tools such as magic spells, the ability to use the power of the artifacts twice, and to trade one treasure for three. In our first game without the Magic Spells, these spaces seemed of less value. Now that we played the full game, I find the City spaces just as hotly contested as the Dragon Caves.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons
Palace Rooms in the Aladdin’s Dragons game board where you can acquire artifacts

Treasures (stolen from the Dragon’s Caves) are the currency in which you can use to buy any of the artifacts displayed in the Palace Rooms. Artifacts are the Victory Points in this game; the player with the most artifacts wins.

In the picture above, the color round tokens are the covered bid tokens placed by the players. Once everyone has placed all their tokens, they are turned face-up and the player with the highest bid total wins the room/area/space. In the Palace Room, the winner gets the chance to buy the artifact.

There are only 30 artifacts (of 6 different type) and since 5 of them are available for purchase each round (and usually 3-4 of them will be bought per round) the game time is pretty quick and should not take more than 1.5 hours.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons

This is the Jin’s tent in the City space, where players fight to acquire Magic Spells. Magic Spells are awesome!! A few of them can be game-breakers and obviously in our session, there were a few dramas associated with the magic spells.

Spell - Offering 

The first was when blownfreaks played the Sacrifice spell which requires ALL players including the one who played the spell, to discard 7 pieces of treasures! Treasures are usually hard-won at the dragon caves and most players won’t have more than a handful of each. Since treasures are the only currency used to buy artifacts, they are highly valued.. and to have to discard 7 of them in one round can literally make you broke!

blownfreaks – since he know he’s going to play that spell – has hoarded lots of treasures so that at the aftermath of the Sacrifice, he still have enough treasures left-over to buy artifacts whereas all the other players are likely broke. That’s a very nasty (and good) play.

Unfortunately for him, I’d to play the Counter-spell artifact to discard his spell! I’d the chance to buy two artifacts this round (if I do not have to discard the 7 treasures) and that’s too big an opportunity for me to let go. But if I did not have the Counter-spell artifact, this round would have been disastrous for all except blownfreaks.

The 2nd big drama came at the last round of the game… where everyone was fighting tooth-n-nail for the last 5 artifacts. And guess what? Yeah.. more spells!!

Spell - Last be the First 

This time, the head-turning “Last will be the first” spell was cast which reversed the value of the “9” and “1” bid tokens ie. your “9” value token becomes “1” and “1” becomes “9”. This can really wreak havoc with your nicely planned – and calculated – bidding!!

It was played in the Palace Guard room and since the only person it affected was waiyan – and she didn’t have any Counter-spell artifact – no one helped.. LOL She ended up having to bribe the palace guards with some treasures in order to gain entry to the palace rooms.

However that’s not the end of this spell…. as it lasts for one whole round!! This means the “last will be the first” spell affects the palace rooms as well. You can almost hear all the players groaned. Obviously since blownfreaks knew he was playing this spell, he played only the appropriate (safe) bid tokens in the palace rooms!

The most impacted was crabzai and waiyan whose “1” bid tokens in the palace rooms now becomes “9” and they were unable to pay that many treasures to acquire the artifacts. me and rhyen were not affected as we didn’t bid any “1” and “9” in the palace rooms.

crabzai actually has a Counter-spell artifact she can used to dispel this but she was saving that for my Solar Eclipse spell – which she correctly guessed would be played in the Palace Room where both of us were fighting for the same artifact. hehe.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons
crabzai (yeeling) – in yellow – the eventual winner for this session even though numerous magic spells were cast at her. LOL 

The game was still won by crabzai with her 7 artifacts – even though she was spelt-out of the last artifact round.

p/s On checking the rules, I realized there’s a misplay here as the Palace Guard room is immuned from all spells and artifacts (except for the Key artifact) and therefore the “Last will be the first” spell cannot be cast in the Palace Guard room. This won’t affect the game since blownfreaks can still cast the spell in the first Palace Room, and the impact would have been the same.

BGC Meetup - Aladdin's Dragons

Being a German manufactured game, it boasts some very nice treasure pieces. This game is now OOP (out-of-print) and when they do reprint it, not sure if the treasure pieces will be as nice! I bought this game 2nd-hand from a gaming buddy of mine, and I’ve to say it is one game with high ROI!! Wonder why he sold it! 😛

Some ppl (in BGG) do not like the “randomness” of the Magic Spells in this game. Well, this ain’t Caylus or 18xx where there’s no luck or randomness. It’s a lightweight fun and very good blind-bidding game and I don’t think the “randomness” of the Magic Spells is an issue. In any case, there are only 21 magic spells so if you want, you can prepare counter-measures for them. Or better still, fight to acquire those Magic Spells yourself.

This is definitely a fun and easy-to-get-into type of game that’ll be great with almost any gaming crowd. I’m sure we’ll be fighting for artifacts soon again at OldTown! 🙂

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