Despite a game-filled convention weekend just behind many of the members of our group (I was in Canada, sadly), we had seven people show to play games at my place this past Tuesday. Present were Eric, Tim, Carrie, Carey (oh, this will get confusing later), Laurent, Mike, and myself. On the table: Ticket to Ride: Europe, Carcassone: The Discovery, San Juan, and Traumfabrik.
While Tim, Carrie, and Eric went into the Temple of Conspicuous Consumerism to play Carc: Discovery Channel Edition, the rest of us pulled out Ticket to Ride: Europe. I'd only gotten in one game of this earlier with three players, and it felt like multiplayer solitaire. We all had separate regions of the board we were claiming, and even with the rules about no double tracks (which are all in the west anyway), there was no real competition.
This game felt quite a bit different, at least for me. Carey and I started building out of Madrid early, but fortunately we were the only ones. Laurent built along the eastern edge of the board, with an early run from Palermo along the 6-space ferry line. He also scored the long 21-point run from Petrograd late in the game after Carey failed to have the necessary cards to finish the tunnel line there. Mike started out a bit west of Laurent, but did an awful lot of blind draws in the early game (and later).
I kept all four of my starting tickets, as they were all in a nice line. My biggie was Lisbon to Berlin, with other stops including Rome, Zurich, Riga, Bucharest, and Budapest. However, I had a horrible time finding green cards, and Mike stole the Budapest/Bucharest run out from under me. Thank goodness for stations. Still, I managed to hook everything up, and thought I had enough time to steal another ticket or two. Since Laurent scored 36 points just off of two long lines, I figured I better do something if I wanted to win. Sadly, not a single one of the three tickets worked well for me, nor were there any lines going to these cities! I finally chose the Brest to Marseilles line, although it would require at least two lines to complete and I didn't have the necessary cards in hand to finish it.
As it was, Laurent won handily. With little competition in his chosen area, two of the three big-point runs, and easily the longest rail line, it wasn't close. Carey and I finished within a handful of points of each other with me getting the edge for second, and Mike brought up the rear, the usual result when you have to resort to blind draws (although he had a *lot* of cards in hand).
I'm still not sure I like this one as much as the original, which I've played several times and always enjoy. It's light, but very satisfying. Europe feels more like everything depends upon whether you are competing with others for your long route, but perhaps I simply haven't played enough to explore other strategies such as just doing lots of shorties.
Carc finished around the same time, so we shuffled personnel a bit. Eric, Tim, and myself tried out Traumfabrik, one of my favorites to play with anyone but Dave - he's a machine at computing the value of tiles - while the others played San Juan. This was the first playing of Traum for Eric, and Tim had only played once before. It had been a while for me, so I did my usual "one rule short" trick and neglected to mention the value of money at game end.
Eric and Tim were very aggressive in finishing movies early, while I wanted to bide my time and go for the endgame points. this strategy actually worked quite well, although I don't know that an 18 point movie would win Best Picture much of the time. Guest Stars were very sparse, I think only three or four came up the entire game (we also missed the rule about Guest Stars having the stars behind their faces, I had thought it was the red borders, but we caught this early in the game and I don't think it had a big effect). I was also aggressive about getting good directors, scoring two of the four big boys.
While Eric ended up with the extra movie in the draw pile, I had the benefit of having two of the three best pictures at game end, one of the best pictures at the end of the quarter, the best director, and the worst movie (at 3 points, tough to do without Reiner). That was 45 points at game end, plus 5 completed movies that were done by the first party in the last round. Biding my time definitely helped, as I managed to get a particularly important set of tiles in the third round when I had collected 27 of the 36 scripts (money). At game end, I had won handily, exceeding more than 100 points compared to Eric's 80-something and Tim's 60-something.
All tainted by my failure to remember the part about scripts being worth points at the end. Still, I felt that waiting for the right tiles worked in my favor.
After a little discussion of Gamestorm, the recent Portland con, we called it a night. I've mentioned before how fortunate I am to be a part of such a great group of people, and this was a very entertaining and enjoyable evening. Thanks to all who attended after what was surely a game-filled weekend just two days before!