Wednesday, September 07, 2005

9/7/05 - South Side Tuesday Session Report

Laurent and I converged on Mike's last night for some fun gaming. On the table were Ingenious, Rumis, and Oltremare.

First up was Ingenious. This was Laurent's first play, my third or fourth. I've been getting more interested in the elegance of abstracts lately, and this game definitely qualifies as a great abstract.

One of the things I learned early is that you are better getting small points rather than set up an opponent for a big play. Even better is finding ways to keep your opponents from exploiting colors you are doing well in but that they are short in points for. Apparently, this strategy works pretty well, as I managed to lock Mike out of a win late in the game, and nudged Laurent as well. By one point (9-10-11 to 9-10-10). Laurent was a quick study, but sitting to his left was a bonus early on when I managed an 8 point score in blue. However, I should also point out that I was the only person *not* to peg a color for the extra move (both Laurent and Mike did this twice).

Next up were a couple of games of Rumis, which has a superficial resemblance to Pueblo. You still want to have the most blocks showing from the top, a la Pueblo, but otherwise the game feels much different. For one thing, all of your blocks are different shapes, and you must connect a new placement to at least one face of your old blocks. You also have four different structures you can build, choosing one before starting play.

We did the stairs first, with Mike and I on both sides, Laurent in the middle. I made a dumb move late that kept me from laying down a block that would have given me four points and the win. In the second game, my first tile play was forced to choose between one side or the other in the Ell, and Laurent's second play gave Mike the win (despite my mentioning this. In fact, my second and third plays locked up my side of the board, giving me 11 points guaranteed. Since the board has 33 spaces, that meant that I would either end up in a three way tie for first or a definite second. As it was, Mike snagged 12 points, and my oracular powers were proved yet again. This is a good game, one I'll need to pick up in the future.

Finally, we tried out Oltremare, a cute little card game with a lot of extra bits. I believe Eric hosted this game, so I'll leave out the description. However, I will mention that the mechanism that means the last card you collect to your cargo stack will determine how your next turn will go. The rules are a little on the thin side (or poorly translated), so we weren't really sure if the harbor markers affected the cards you just played, or the ones you would play next turn (according to someone who appears to know what he's talking about, it's the latter, we picked the former). However, we kind of went back and forth on this, so the game quickly became a learning session.

I have to say that the way the cards work really rewards hand management, although there isn't that much you can do to affect things other than have too many cards at the start of your turn, then buy them back from the pirates. I was mostly concerned with getting sets of the goods rather than choosing cards based on what other qualities they had, and that seemed to work pretty well. We weren't really sure what the score was at the end, but I had done quite well (only a couple of collections for one in a pretty big cargo stack, two cards in the pirates, and 9 points for prestige/harbor markers. This is one I want to try again now that I have the rules right. Mike thought that KC would like this one, and I think he's right.

Thanks for hosting, Mike, and I'll see many of you next Tuesday at my place.

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