Gamers: Allen (blownfreaks), Yee Ling (crabzai), Phuah (phuah),
Heng (ayheng), Ainul (aanemesis), Wai Yan (waiyan) and CK Au (jack208)
Games: Race for the Galaxy, Zooloretto, Age of Industry and Agricola
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras Google Map
Date/Time: 18 June 2010 (Fri) 8.00 PM – 3.00 AM
Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 18/6/2010
|AFTER PJ, SUBANG WE ARE BACK TO CHERAS NOW!|
After our first meetups at two new locations ie. Petaling Jaya (read sessrep here) and Subang Jaya (sessrep coming), Boardgamecafe.net is back to its regular Friday meetup at Old Town Kopitiam in Cheras!
This time around, our resident Game Taster (to understand this definition, read Hecose’s blog “We are not Game Players“) Allen brought along his newly arrived deluxed limted edition copy of Age of Industry, the latest in Wallace’s TreeFrog production. Age of Industry is supposedly Brass rethemed, or remake or revised. Kinda like Jacky Chan’s recent Karate Kid as a remake, rethemed or revised version of Pat Morita’s Karate Kid (1984).
So how does it play? 😛
|RACE FOR THE GALAXY|
But first, we need appetizers. 🙂
While me and waiyan slurped into our dinner, and joined later by Allen and his soon-to-be-expecting wife Yee Ling, we noticed two suspicious characters slinking off to one dark corner of the cafe smoking some Galaxy (RftG) coke as the rest of the cafe were too engrossed watching Germany lose to Serbia.
To protect the identity of these two dubious characters, no photos of them shall be published here. 🙂
After dinner, we gathered for a game of Zooloretto. Since the game fits five and we’ve six, one of us was pressganged into doing boring stuff like reading the “Age of Industry” manual. I shall remain dignified and refuse to finger-out the perpetrators (hehe).
Zooloretto is a boardgame version of the popular card game Coloretto. I’ve to say I like Zooloretto a lot more than it’s card version.
ayheng re-capped the rules to everyone (amazing that ayheng still remembers all the fine details of the rule!)
You might think it’s a cute game by its looks but things can get APish as players get into difficult choices regarding the choices of animals for their zoos. In-between the serious looks above, the session was punctuated with lots of laughter.
AP = Analysis Paralysis
For some time, I was getting worried as Germany was struggling on the other end trying futilely not to lose to Serbia and you’ve this group of ppl laughing occasionally and at times, the laughter coincided with some frustrations for the German players on the TV screen. Half expecting some cranky Germany fan to walk up to their table and asked, “What’s so funny about Germany losing?” LOL
|AGE OF INDUSTRY|
It’s now time for the Main Course – Allen’s freshly minted copy of Age of Industry, a deluxe limited edition complete with serial number and wooden pieces from Treefrog. Oooh….. nice.
Phuah joined us and we did a 4p game on the beginner’s Germany map. Phuah has been MIA for a while and it’s good to see him back at OTK!
Since all four knows Brass, I just did a quick rules recap of Brass and then outlined the differences between this game and Brass. So what are the differences?
The deluxe limited edition of AoI comes with wooden rail links and wooden tokens for money. It also comes with the original Brass-type rail links in case you feel nostalgic.
In AoI, you get color-region cards while in Brass these cards are named-locations. Using color as regions provides more flexibility in your game plan as you can build on any cities of the given color as opposed to Brass where you’ve to build in the named city.
Using color coded cards is definitely more friendly since it also eliminates you having to indiscreetly scan the board high-n-low looking for a particular city by name.
Brass gives you a fixed hand size of 4 cards. Here in AoI, you draft cards (ala Ticket to Ride) two at a time. It’s considered an action (with no cost) therefore you can decide to start by drafting up to your hand size of 9 or draft some cards, build, draft again.
Think the card drafting is meant to reduce the randomness of the cards given to players randomly (Brass) but my feeling is card drafting is more fiddly and doesn’t really mitigate the randomness that much.
In AoI, you need to be connected to an external port or port token in order to draw coal or iron for your building. In Brass, you need to be connected to ports for coal but not iron (which may be thematically correct but adds one more fiddly rule to remember).
A new building Factory is introduced which like Cotton Mills, allows you to sell to a port for money. It sells for more money and has a higher end-game VP but you need to develop twice before you can start building factories. aanemesis and phuah were building some factories so they can comment on the viability of this approach.
The external market now has specific market token at each location so you know exactly which goods (cotton mill or factory) will sell at the market and which has no demand. The external markets are one-time use only so there’ll be a competition to grab them first before the other player does.
I like the Brass uncertainty of the external market… it provides you with an element of risk taking if you wish to sell quickly thru such markets (as opposed to building your own port). That’s more thematic. Wonder if wolfx will agree with me. HaHa!
There’s no income track in AoI. Whatever you sell – cotton mills, factory, coal, iron, or port – earns you a one-time revenue. That’s it. There’s no building up a revenue stream to provide you with recurring income every round. You need to huff-n-puff to make money.
I guess Martin Wallace did not attend Kiyosaki’s School of Riches and learn his concept of Passive Income vs Active Income. In Brass, you huffed-n-puffed to build up a stream of recurring passive income and then you switch your attention to VP generation (which is what wins you the game, and not money). In AoI, you huff-n-puff and keep huffing-n-puffing in order to make Active Income every round.
But there’s loan! And they are easily accessible. Taking a loan is no longer an action. You can take them as often as you like, as many as you like and repay them whenever you want to. Each loan carries a $1 interest per round so it’ll be good to pay them back when you’ve the funds.
Which then lead us to another fiddly aspect of the game. Paying back loans, re-taking loans, and paying back loans… a lot of shuffling of loans/money. I feel Brass handling of loans is more elegant but a fren of ours – wolfx – will beg to differ. He’ll probably find AoI’s loan mechanic more (cough) thematic.
The loan mechanism in AoI won’t likely see an IMF-certification unlike Homesteader, which is now all set to be announced as IMF’s Best Practices for Loan Governance in their next global conference.
There are no two eras – as canal and rail in Brass. Only a single rail era in AoI. You still get two actions per round but not every action needs to be paid with a card (as in Brass). Only building and development require you to play/discard a card as cost of the action.
Development in AoI allows you to discard one tile (of lowest tech) for a single card as an action. In Brass you develop two tiles for a single card action. This does not mean “development” is a slow process in AoI. There’s only 6 tiles for each building type eg for Cotton Mills, you only get 2 level one, 2 level two and 2 level three. So that’s like 6 tiles for cotton mills in total.
Brass has 12 cotton mills tiles and 4 levels hence the need for a faster development to allow you to get to the higher tech buildings. In AoI, I see a lesser need to do development as even a level one cotton mill is useful since it gets you $8 income (remember income is one-time in AoI but recurring in Brass).
Buildings score you end-game VPs based on their tech level – and regardless of whether they are flipped (used) or not! Therefore there’s no differentiation between going for coal or iron strategy unlike Brass where coal is income-centric while iron is VP-centric.
In AoI, I see coal vs iron to be more of an opportunistic move… if there’s no coal, let’s build a coal mine. If there’s no iron.. let’s do iron works. Since both nets you about the same revenue and VP.
Brass allows for more variety to your strategy. If you’ve already built a good revenue engine, you likely not be bothered with coal mines. You also need to know when’s the optimal time to switch from revenue making to VP generation in Brass.
The main reason Martin Wallace rework Brass into AoI is so that he can design more maps for this game ala Age of Steamand Power Grid. He mentioned in his designer notes that Brass was too thematically linked to the Northern England industry and won’t be easy to decouple for future maps.
We previewed the 2nd map and it does indeed offer a variation to the normal play of Brass or AoI. The Germany map of AoI feels similar to Brass and is perfect to allow Brass gamers to adapt to the different of AoI.
The Southern England map however is a whole new different propositions. If you study the map above – and assuming you already know how to play Brass – you can see external markets and coal imports being linked to shipyard (ships) and beside the coal imports, there’s only TWO local sources for coal (in the top left of the map).
This will mean coal is going to be a very hotly contested commodity here. The coal imports (and also the external markets) only become accessible when the ships are build. And to build ships, you need to first build the ports.
Here I can appreciate the beauty of Martin’s new maps and how each of them keeps the basic rules of the game yet changes them slightly for flavor. That has been one of the unique selling point of Age of Steam and also Power Grid (which is not a Martin Wallace game however).
Teacher: Which country started the cotton mills industry?
Student1 (raises hand): Teacher, I know the answer
Student2 (jaw drop): Shit, I shud have studied last nite instead of reading this Power Struggle rulebook.
But better still, we’ll have some copies of Brass available soon (from FRED) – mid July.
We closed the evening with a session of 3p Agricola with aanemesis, phuah and myself. aanemesis ran out a comfortable 40 pt winner. We didn’t do the farmers of moor version. 😦
As we were leaving the cafe, we can smell the frustations of England fans as they stumbled against Algeria. Till next week…..
|BOARDGAME RETREAT JULY 17TH|
We’ve announced July 17th as the date for our Boardgame Retreat 2010. This not-to-be-missed event shall be a 2-day 1-night event with Day One starting at 9 am on Saturday and ending at 2 pm Sunday.
To sign up for this event, go to our Facebook Event page
To get a flavor of how the retreat is like, read about our last Euro Game Retreat @ Awana
We look forward to seeing you at our Boardgame Retreat! 🙂
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