Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 10/12/2010
A relatively quiet meetup with just one table in play, but it saw a mix of interesting games getting some table-time. Vasco da Gama as a first-play to a few of the gamers, and an old fave Wealth of Nations making a comeback and finally we close-out the night with 18Scan. Not bad for a single table session which lasted 9 hours!
Gamers: Ang Xian Jun (ang), Neo Say Soon (neo), Phuah (phuah), Kareem Koh (kareem), Heng Aik Yong (hengy), and CK Au (jack208)
Games: Vasco da Gama, Wealth of Nations, 18Scan
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras | Google Map | GPS: N O3° 6.195° E 101° 44.058°
Date/Time: 10 December 2010 8.00 PM – 6:30 AM (Fri)
VASCO DA GAMA
We started the evening with Vasco da Gama, a game first taught to me by Nicola an Italian based here on work-assignment and who attends the OTK meetup occasionally. The fact that Nicolia himself reminded us of Vasco da Gama only adds to the theme of the game! LOL
That’s me going thru the rules with Ang, Heng and Neo.
In Vasco da Gama, you are shipowners and the game is about being adventurous and setting up crew to sail the seven seas with the hope of bringing in the most prestige points at the end of the game.
In the game, you hire captains, recruit crew, build ships and launch them out to the various faraway ports to gain money and prestige points.
The port cities (above) where you can hire captain(s) and recruit sailors as your crew. The numbered token on top of your colored player marker indicates who gets to do this action first. The earlier your action is, the more likely it’s going to cost you a higher fee. In return, you get first dib.
These are the ships you can build, each of them comes with a “ship value” which determines how far (and long) they can sail to the faraway ports… the longer and further they can sail, the more money & prestige they are likely to bring you.
The faraway landing ports of Natal, Terra de Boa Gente, Mozambique, Mombasa, Malindi and Calicut where you can send your ships. Each landing comes with its own (mix) return of immediate rewards vs longer term prestige points.
There are also 4 special characters – Manuel the 1st (King), Bartolomeu Dias, Francisco Alvares, and Girolamo Sernigi – whom gives you additional abilities when you patronise them. For eg, Francisco Alvares is the only source of missionary crew (white pieces) and you’ll need this crew mix if you wish to set up your ships to sail to the more lucrative landing ports.
ayheng (blue) went for the early high-VP strategy.
These are the landing ports… where players will fight over to land their ships to collect the landing bonus (one-time) and port bonus (recurring). There’s some screwage element in this part of the game where each player will attempt to position his ships so that he can continue to occupy a spot in the landing ports while hoping to oust a competitor’s ship from one of the spots.
The Player’s Action Turn Marker where each player in turn order can pick up one numbered turn marker and use it to claim one of the four action spots – Hire Captain/Crew, Patronize Special Character, Build Ships, Launch Ships. The number indicates who gets to take their actions first (which can be crucial at certain spots when you are fighting for a good bargain).
Heng won this game by focusing on the high-point shipping. We’ve only played this game a couple of times, and with different groups hence I suspect we have not grasped the basic nuances of the game well enough to form some strategic approach to playing the game. Should get this to the table more often. 😛
WEALTH OF NATIONS
Next up was a game we’ve not seen at the OTK Tables for awhile, and it’s also a personal fave of mine – Wealth of Nations, a game that base it’s resources on a supply-n-demand system that’s more realistic than Power Grid. And if you thought “food” is the cheap commodity in this game, think again. 🙂
A 6-player game of Wealth of Nations with Phuah (joining us after a long absence from OTK) and Kareem arriving at OTK while we were finising Vasco da Gama.
Heng explaining the rules of WoN to Neo, who’s the only newbie to this game from this group. I’m sure the rest no doubt welcomed the rule refresh.
Initial starting package for the 6-player with Neo (top-right) and myself going for food, Heng for manpower (red), Ang for Capital (black), Phuah with Ore (white) and Kareem with Energy (blue).
I was immediately hemmed in by Heng and Ang… grrrrr….
We also played with the Ver2 rules which comes with an interest payment of $1 per loan cert (vs the original rule where loans bear no interest). To balance this, the starting package comes with an additional $40.
Each commodity market – food, manpower, energy, capital, ore – has its own trading market where the current price is determined by the net effect of buying and selling. Therefore if more people buys a particular commodity, it’s current market price will rise as supply dwindles.
After quickly expanding into Energy (and making my industry self-sufficient), I was the first to lay down the markers for a bank (note the three markers in triangular setup on the left). If played using the old rules – where loans carry no interest – I’ve to say this would have been the game-winning move as I would maxxed out my loan options and built the bank which gives me a fixed $90 cash income per round.
However with the new Ver2 rules, it’s not likely going to work out as beneficial for me to do so. Yes I can still maxxed out my loans to build the bank but the prohibitive cost of the interest will slowed me down. And someone who is able to build up his industry with a mix of organic & funded growth will eventually overtake me comfortably.
So that’s already a plus for the new ruleset. 🙂
There was another interesting dynamic in-play for this session. There were only two food producers in this game – with food generally seen as low-end and not-so-useful commodity – and in this session, it did appear initially food was not going to be worth much as most of the other gamers quickly got into automation (which eliminates the need for food to fuel their industry).
However Neo thought differently and he started hogging up his food… therefore driving up the price of food in the open market for those who still need food. My industry being totally self-sufficient hence I was not affected by this food embargo but I was observing the proceedings with full interest. 😛
Food costing $11 a pop? You don’t see this often especially in late game stage… but it’s happening in this game.
Most of the other markets were generally trading very high as there did not seem sufficient commodities being produced to satisfy the market demands.
Part of the reason for this lack of supply was the building of three banks (yes, all three!) by three different players – Ang, Kareem and myself (see picture below, banks being the purple tiles)
And this is another aspect of the game I like – the shape & tone of the market are determined by the players; whether it’s going to be a seller’s market, whether the economy is flushed with cash (as in our case, with three banks in operation) or commodity-driven.
You then need to be able to respond to the changing market forces in order to get ahead of the others. Beautiful.
The game ended with full occupation of the empty territories. My early setup for self-sufficiency and bank didn’t help me at all as “loan money” is no longer the key to winning in the new Ver2 rules. In the original ver1 rules, it was all too easy to just leverage loan money to ramp up your industry….
Now in Ver2, the focus is shifted back into building a profitable economy through a mixture of loan and organic growth. Thumbs up!
Neo with his hoard of food driving up the food’s market price was able to cash out at end of game at close to half a VP for each food cube. Didn’t win him the game but it did bring him to 2nd or 3rd.
I suspect in Ver2, there’s more returns for someone to hoard up a resource especially if that resource’s only produced by his industry.
I have enjoyed this game with its Ver1 ruleset but now I’ve to say I like it even more with the Ver2 revision to the rules. Ver2 ruleset comes with the War Clouds & Superindustry Tile expansion. Ang has mentioned the other expansion rules are also worth trying out.
Maybe next time.
Note: Time really flies when playing this game. It was already past 3am when we finished but I don’t think anyone realized that…
Next up was 18Scan as we moved into the R2 phase of OTK. This will come as the next part of this sessrep. Click here to read Part 2 of this sessrep.
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