Monday, 18 January 2016

Boardgame session: 17 Jan 2016

During our last boardgame session we played the Pennsylvania side of the latest Ticket to Ride expansion. For this session we played Val and Chris using the UK board. This provides a very different game experience, with players restricted at the start of the game and they need to purchase concessions and technology to expand their networks. Buying these items costs ‘loco’ cards (or 4 ordinary cards) and the cost can vary from 1 to 4 loco cards (we did not include the ‘advanced technology’ deck). The decision of when and where to invest is key to the game, and all players need to observe each players move (we had a few examples of a player unwittingly attempting to lay track when they lacked the required technology). Most players eventually seemed to buy the same technologies (laying 3 and 4+ tracks, propellers etc.), and none bought the more expensive (4 loco) technologies. The other significant change to game play was scoring; normally we score the game on its conclusion whereas this expansion requires players to score as they go along. This change of mindset took a time to become comfortable and, of course, players could see their current relative score as the game unfolded. Completion of long distance tickets could, and did, radically alter the score profiles. Elaine won the game closely followed by Chris. We all enjoyed this expansion and felt there was an added depth of play which would become more clear with further games. The game took the same time as a ‘normal’ game of Ticket to Ride and provides an interesting variation on the base game. Overall, I think this is an excellent expansion; the two games are very different and neither render the base game redundant, and I envisage a good mix of Ticket to Ride with equal plays of base and expansion versions.

Next we broke out my nice, new Bohnanza cards. I personally love this game; the player interaction
when trading, planning ahead depending on your hand order, deciding whether to invest in a third field etc. It is a game that definitely works best with more players (I never played a 2-player game) because the competitive trading aspect really comes to the fore. I went for a 2 field strategy (saving 3 coins) and thought I was doing well. Val eventually won, due to some canny trading deals which seemed disadvantageous at the time  but yielded efficient harvesting of her beans. There are a range of expansions for Bohnanza but I think the base game has more than enough depth and replay ability to make me feel there is no need to buy them.

We finished the session with the filler game, Blueprints, which is both fast and simple, and involves dice rolling. This game also provided me with my only win within this session which is always nice. Surprisingly Chris, possibly the strongest gamer in the group, failed to get a win although he did score a couple of close second places.

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