Archive for April, 2011

A second endeavor

April 25, 2011

The past two Mondays I have played Endeavor.  This is a somewhat recent game that saw a few plays when it was brand new, and then got quickly shuffled out of the rotation.   So its been fun coming back to it and giving it a second chance.

In case you don’t know, Endeavor is a shipping and colonization game.  The game is structured to be precisely 7 turns long.  Each turn you buy a development building, recruit workers, assign them tasks including colonizing, war making, shipping, and acquiring trade cards.  The map is nicely drawn, helping invoke the theme.  Players start in Europe and after some early colonization in Europe, begin shipping to various foreign pasts of the world.

Our first game (last week) was with just 3 players, but tonight’s game was with 4.  Endeavor can handle up to 5 players, and I believe it might be best with a full group.  Especially in our three player game, many distant lands were never opened for trade.  Even in our 4p game we didn’t touch a couple of the distant lands.  It just seems logical that with a fifth player the game would finally be running at full speed.  And this lack of scaling bothers me a bit.  I would rather not play Endeavor again as a 3p game.  I’ll agree to 4, but I think it would be better with 5.

At its heart Endeavor is a engine-building game.  So far I have not found the right mix.  I’ve finished a distant 3rd in both recent games I’ve played.  I also think Endeavor is largely a tactical game.  Certainly some long-term strategies, especially around what building you build is present.  But the activities of the other players open and close opportunities, and better players will observe and act upon the changing situation to their advantage.

Ultimately I feel Endeavor is not a long-term game for me.  I’d play it most anytime if asked.  But after these couple recent plays, my apatite is largely sated again.

A Prince of the Renaissance

April 20, 2011

Tuesday night we had 6 players, all of whom were interested in a meaty game, so after a bit of discussion we landed upon Princes of the Renaissance.  This really appealed to me, as this is a game I hadn’t played in a couple of years.  Chester kindly taught the game, as I needed a good reminder, and we had one player who was playing for the first time.

During the first decade, I found myself constantly overbid on each family tile I proposed to acquire.  This gave me a free hand in taking condottiere roles, which I did twice.  During the second decade I finally acquired a minority interest in blue.  When I attempted to attain a second blue tile (still minor to Alex’s 3 blue tiles), I was outbid.  So I finally began a second family investment in red, quickly gaining two merchants.  After the second decade I suspected I was in trouble with just 3 family tiles, out of the 6 allowed for the entire game.  I had achieved a decent income, but knew it was going to be impossible to afford 3 additional family tiles in the final decade.  On the bright side, I had managed to get a third laurel.

Going into the final decade, I felt like I had a decent chance to win, but surely was not optimistic that I was even the frontrunner.  Blue was riding high amongst all the cities, and Alex’s 3-strong position in blue, seemed to be the front-runner to me.  So to mitigate Alex’s superior position over me, I won the bid for the final blue family tile.  However, as it happened, the final group of artists tiles (with their status adjustments) and a key battle led to an ultimate downfall of blue.  To my fortune Red did climb to 3rd position amongst the 6 families.  My best hope for key points was getting a fourth laurel, but I was unsuccessful in my condottiere duty, which cost me 4 valuable victory points. 

For the end game points, I did harbor hope of getting the 6 vps for having the most money.  But that was not to be, as Alex nosed me out by 1 dollar.  So sadly that meant I only achieved 3 pts instead.  So as it turned out I attained 31 points, losing to Chester with his 35 points, and Alex’s 32 points.  All in all a very enjoyable game, one I felt in the hunt for.  I look forward to trying again!

Back at the Table

April 18, 2011

I finally played a game tonight.  Nothing all that remarkable.  We were three and we played Endeavor.  (Why isn’t this spelled Endeavour? – If your going to name you exploration game after Captain Cook’s ship, why wouldn’t you use the same spelling as the ship carried?)

Anyway, I had a lot of fun playing Endeavor, but did rather poorly.  That’s okay, but I felt like the game was underdeveloped due to the low player count.  I noted many of the distant regions did not get developed.  A fourth would have helped, but I suspect this game is best with 5 players.

We finished up with plenty of time to spare, so we decided to play Siesta – which has turned into a favorite closer for us over the years.  I was the starting player, and eventually won.  I noticed that with only three players my plans worked out much better.  While there is no luck in this game, the decisions of the other players will often alter your intended moves.  I really like Siesta for the thoughtful tactics, embedded in a 20-30 minute game.

Keinen Spielen

April 14, 2011

Well, sadly, no gaming to report on.  I last played a game on April 5th, when we played Age of Industry and Rallyman.  I am hoping to play games tomorrow night, but will see if that works out.  I’ve been fighting some sort of cold/sinus/allergy thing, and may just take it easy.

I gave a co-worker a copy of Mr. Vampire today.  No, not a game, but a truly sublime video that features Hopping Vampires, Kung Fu, a Taoist Priest with two bumbling assistants…  If you’ve never seen it, well you’ve missed something special.  I can’t really say it is a “good” movie.  But I sure enjoy the hilarity, and the fun mix of kung-fu vs. horror.

Curmudgeonly tendencies

April 6, 2011

I played Age of Industry again this week.  Pretty good, but ultimately something about it leaves me wishing for something more.  It’s a chip off the ‘ol Brass block, and while it does have a couple nice features, it mostly leaves me wishing for original Brass.

I haven’t had much call my name recently from the new games currently in vogue over at BGG.  Mostly I am just wanting to explore the games currently in my collection.  It seems as if I am self-selecting out of the mainstream of my hobby.

My appetite for exploring older Euros is also diminishing.  A copy of Banque Fatale came up for sale tonight – just the sort of older Euro I used to hunt down with some alacrity.  But I did a cursory look, and opted not to bid for it.

Zack gave me New Orleans Big Band recently, which is an older Euro I have wanted to play for years.  Its waiting in the wings, and I do want to play it.  But I suspect it will only get minor attention (if any) from the Bistro players.  Older copies of Pfusch and Neolithibium have never gotten on the table at the Bistro.  Although, one success story is An den Ufern des Nils – I have taken it over to a friend’s house, where we have played it 2 weeks in a row to great enthusiasm.

For me, the question of “What might have been?” has always enticed me to play older Euros.  I played Settlers back in ’95 or maybe ’96.  Later on I got the fever when Mississippi Queen and Formula De crossed my bows back in ’99.  I have frequently explored what games were theoretically available to me – just on the European continent, while I was on the North American continent, unaware a huge catalog of great games existed.

But a dozen years after being indoctrinated into this “German boardgame hobby”, I feel like I’ve done most of the back-exploration I have an appetite for.  Oh sure, I’ll continue to play newer games, and even occasionally get excited about a new game on my own.  But largely I am pretty jaded now – feeling like I’ve seen most of these themes and game mechanisms offered.

So I am feeling my curmudgeonly tendencies more and more.  But I do want to remain open to playing the new games my friends bring to the Bistro.  However, while I may enjoy the fun at the table, I will admit more often the new games leave me wishing for something closer to the wonder and excitement I felt when I first discovered this hobby back in the late 90’s.