OTK Meetup 11/3/11 – Age of Empires 3, Power Grid China, Navegador Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 11/3/2011
By jack208
An evening of exploration started with Age of Empires III and then followed by the latest rondel game NAVEGADOR. Power Grid China was also taken out for a preview (with the Power Grid Qualifier ongoing).
Gamers: Caleb, Ken, Zavier, Teddy, Lee Ching, Nicola, Heng and CK Au.      

Games: Power Grid (China), Age of Empires III and Navegador.
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras | Google Map | Lat-Long: N O3° 6.195° E 101° 44.058°
Date/Time: 11 March 2011 8.00 PM – 5.00 am (Fri)
Caleb was looking for someone to teach him the ropes of Age of Empires III and with Heng around, he’s the most natural person to teach – since only he among the OTK gang owns this game (yes, I do not have ALL the games hehe).
BGC Meetup - Age of Empire III
Been a while since we play this at OTK. Hopefully the new building expansion for AOE3 will arrive soon…
The 1st of our six Power Grid Qualifiers starts this Sunday and we wanted to bring the China map (which is one of the two designated maps to be played in the qualifiers) for a preview. We’d already done the preview of the Germany map last week (read sessrep).
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
The China map is dominated with cheap(er) connections in the middle while hitting you with ridiculously high connection cost if you want to build towards the west.
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
Teddy & wife Lee Ching enjoying their Power Grid sessions; one of Teddy’s fave games.
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
Nicola, our Italian gamer fren, doing his first Power Grid session. He told me this will likely end up in his To-Buy list. J
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
One of the unique features of the China map is the regimented power industry where the power plants are auctioned in plant number (ie the lowest value power plants come first followed by the higher value ones). There’s also no current and future market.
In a way, this change makes the power plant auction system easier to understand for newbies but with only 5 power plants available (in a 6-player game) for each turn and no refill until end of turn, this can make for some cutthroat bidding.
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
Another characteristic of this map is the short – very short – Step 2. With a replacement rate of at least 3 power plants each turn (even if no one bid for any plant), Step 2 usually lasts no more than 2 turns before you get Step 3. Sometimes Step 2 doesn’t even happen at all, as in this game!
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
This session is pretty balance, however if you are going to play this map, do be aware it can be brutal and you cannot afford to lose pace else you’ll not likely catch-up. In this session, both veteran players – myself and Heng – were caught out early in the game and we found great difficulty catching up.
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
The north-west region, expensive to break into but once you are here, you’ll get to take the spoils of non-competition build.
BGC Meetup - Power Grid China
The final position with both Ang (black) and Lee Ching (red) being able to power 14 cities but Ang won by money tie-break. Watch out for more Power Grid China sessions in our Power Grid Qualifier event reports.
This is one of our latest March arrivals and one of the most talked about games from last year’s Essen. It’s also the fifth in Mac Gerdts’ Rondel series which started with Antike back in 2006 and followed by Imperial which almost everyone agreed is the BEST of his rondel games. Imperial came with an expansion map (world) in Imperial 2030 which also featured revised rules from the feedback of gamers.
In-between there are two other rondel games such as Princes of Machu Pichu and Hamburgum. Hamburgum has a new expansion the Antverpia expansion which helps improve the base game. Heng is already refreshing himself with Hamburgum rules so expect to see Hamburgum Antverpia soon at OTK tables.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
See all our March 2011 Arrivals here which include games like The Speicherstadt, De Vulgari Elonquentia, Agricola Goodies Expansion, BSG Exodus Expansion, Defenders of the Realm, Dominion Prosperity, Earth Reborn, Factory Fun, Formula D Exp 3: Singapore & The Docks, Fresco The Glaziers, Glen More, Hansa Teutonica Exp: The East, I’m the Boss, High Society, If Wishes were Fishes, Isla Dorada, Incan Gold, Merchants & Marauders, Merchants of the Middle Ages (formerly Die Handler), Mines of Zavandor, Neuroshima Hex + Expansions, Princes of Florence, Power Grid Russia/Japan maps, Rattus + Expansion, Railways of Western US expansion, Roll thru the Ages.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
The thing I like about rondel games is it’s relatively easy to teach approach. You have the rondel and by going round the rondel, you can explain the main gist of the game mechanics. Wrap that up with a start and end, there you have the rules explanation done.
The appeal of the rondel games is in “figuring” out how the game clicks (in consultant speak, to figure out the strategies & tactics to win the game. LOL). And this will take a few play or more. J
BGC Meetup - Navegador
As a game based on the age of exploration featuring Portugal’s search for a trade route from India to China, ships would be one of the main elements. Ships are your keys to sail into new region to explore; earning you bonus money & prestige points (but also loses you a ship, hah, the perils of exploration!)
BGC Meetup - Navegador
Gold can be found in Africa!
BGC Meetup - Navegador
Your own dashboard chronicling your age of exploration and the prestige points from the building of your wealthy trade dynasty. It also tells you how many factories you have for each of the three commodities – sugar, gold and spice.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
There is a fluctuating market price for each of the three commodities. As players sell their commodity, the price goes down.. but as others process more of that commodity, the prices will go back up. Since the early part of the game is focus on building your economy engine, understanding how the market works, knowing which player is going into which market and how you can manipulate it to your advantage is crucial.
I’ve seen this “market” implemented in some of Mac’s earlier games but I find Navegador to be the best implementation of a dynamic supply/demand market among all his rondel games.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
Mac implemented the “workers” concept rather uniquely here. You need workers in order to perform certain actions, eg two workers to set up a new colony (so that you can sell commodities to them), three workers to build a new factory (for processing commodities)  and five workers to build a church.
However you do not “consume” those workers. You merely need them as a kind of “qualifying criteria” to perform that needed action. More workers means you can do more than one action in the same turn.
Everyone who has played a rondel game before knows that your first three steps forward on the rondel is free but any further steps incurred a penalty usually in the form of money. In Navegador, each additional step above the first three will cost you a worker for each step. Ouch! This will hurt.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
Taking Privileges will also cost you a worker (ie you sacrifice one to claim one privilege). Privileges are important since they act as bonus multipliers for your game-end score. To put it in another way, if you do not have more privileges than your opponents, you have probably lost this game. 😛
And to make player pay for privileges with workers – a real scarce commodity – is a great choice from Mac! I won’t want to give spoiler but think again if you are going for the awesome game-changing First-Turn-Privilege opening gambit. Hehe.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
These are the various buildings available for players to build – factories (sugar, gold, spice), shipyard and churches. They are cheap to build for early birds but get incrementally expensive as supply dwindles, and they need you to have build up enough workforce in Lisboa in order to qualify for building them… plus they are ALL important!
BGC Meetup - Navegador
One of the game end triggers is when a player manage to successfully explore Nagasaki. All players including the player who just explored Nagasaki gets one last turn and then it’s point calculation.
BGC Meetup - Navegador
Nicola and Caleb in their first game of NAVEGADOR. This game deserved the Essen hype and you can bet it’ll see more playtime at OTK!
An idea struck me! Let’s do an AGE OF EXPLORATION Game Day at Boardgame Depot!! Watch out for the invite in our Facebook page.

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