My wife wrecked her car recently, and it had enough damage that we had to total it and buy another car. I really hate buying cars, as I know just enough to be dangerous. To make matters worse, we didn't look over the weekend as a friend has a connection into car auctions, and we wanted to see if any RAV4's were up for grabs in the near future. Sadly, no, and so we found ourselves on Monday afternoon in a position with very little free time to find a car before State Farm stopped paying for the rental. Tuesday afternoon was that day, so I got up very early to take care of things at work, then rush home after lunch to rush out to one of the few dealerships with a used RAV4 (the market is very slim on these vehicles in Portland), and managed to buy a car in time to get to Mike's by 7pm for gaming.
You knew there was a gaming tie-in there, didn't you?
Anyway, this will help to explain why I managed to set up Union Pacific for five players and completely forget to deal four share cards to people at the start of the game. That's 20 cards, and since I like the variant deck preparation rule where the dividend cards get spread around the deck, and the last dividend card was seven cards from the bottom of the deck.
This made for a fairly long game, a good 2.25 hours. We eventually ran out of places to place trains, and had to just play or draw shares for the last several rounds. On the plus side, I won with a boatload of points. I managed to get the majority of UP shares for the last two scores, at the end with a single share lead over both Mike and George of 6-5-5. I also held the majority of the Red track, and in fact essentially built it up the entire game. Mike felt badly for getting all of these second place points for this train, and actually put a couple on the board for me, but I was able to hold him off for the entire game in that line. I also managed to snag the Mexican Radio line out from under Patrick at game end. Play Tip: go after the same lines as the guy to your left, as you'll almost always be able to snag these shares before he can.
In the end, getting close to 80 points off of just the UP and Red lines, I won handily with over 130 points. I will not forget the dealt shares in the future!
With only about 30 minutes left and five people, Mike wanted to show us a racing game that is released in the US as Breakaway Rider. I have this title, and was ready to give it away after an abortive runthrough with members of my family at Sunriver last summer. After playing two heats (hands) with this group, I have to say that it is just as luck-based as ever, but with extremely brisk play I think it is good fun. If you spend too much time thinking about what to play, the game loses any charm it might once have had, but if you have to react quickly it's pretty fun. If you're interested in a quick game that will in all likelihood not reward you for good play but is entertaining if you take it for what it is, this is a keeper. It has moved from my Auction pile to my Keep For Now pile.
Thanks to Mike for hosting, and I again apologize for the rules screwup. I spent the whole game thinking that we had an awful lot of trains on the board given the number of shares left to draw...