Halesowen Board Games #21 (16/07/14)

Viticulture

First game of the Evening was Viticulture, including the Tuscany expansion (Self-Printed Limited Falling Apart Edition). First time in a while as I’ve not really been pushing it – ridiculously enough being because I like the expansion a lot but know I have a fantastic properly-printed version coming which’ll put mine to shame ^^.

Our game consisted of myself, James & Mark, with Mark playing for his first time. We played with Mama’s & Papa’s and the extended board, but no other additions from the expansion. The former gives each player a variable start (Allowing me to start with a windmill and 2 wine-orders, Mark with a tasting room and a wine-order and James with an extra worker and a wine-order, plus one or two other things I forget (Everyone has 3 workers as standard too of course). The latter splits the game out into 4 seasons (From 2 in the base game), making for more action spaces and timing to think of, but less ‘moment-to-moment’ decisions (As there’s only 3 per season). (Edit – Also used properties, which make field values different (5,6,7) and led you ‘sell’ them for money).

The game started off with Mark & James rushing to get vine cards & planting them. I was going to join as one of my initial orders was a cheap fill (Red 4 & White 2), but missing out on getting any vines led me to go for my buildings first (Plus when I did get a vine, it was a 4 White which required both a Trellis & Irrigation to plant). An early card led me trade 3VP for 9 Lira, which helped with this strategy.

Both James & Mark managed to get decent early fields, with James having a slight advantage as he was making good use of his extra worker, while Mark struggled a little to get everything he wanted done with just 3 (Something which is fine in base Viticulture, but both the 3-Player game and the extended board contribute to making things more open, which also makes more workers stronger). I eventually got 4-white (or red, I forget, as I managed to draw 3 4-value vines in my first 4-5 vine cards) – I also started crawling back on VP from my -3 with a visitor letting me swap 1 grape + 1 wine for 1VP + 1 Lira/Year (I think I used the extended boards trade action to get the grapes to do it).

By the time I managed to get back over 0VP, James & Mark had moved ahead by a few and James seemed to have started building a huge amount of grapes, to the point it was looking very worrying for me & Mark. I had a 4R/3W and 4W field but struggled to find a low value red (Needed to be 1 or 2 to fit in the 6 value field), I did, however, manage to also grab a cottage and upgrade my cellar to max, and fill the low value order I mentioned earlier to be on 2Lira/Year. Mark seemed to be doing ok, but was also burning through quite a lot of Vine cards, and missed out a lot on harvesting (He eventually picked up a Yoke though).

When we got into the latter third of the game, James was winning by a…considerably amount, consistently getting to harvest-double and keep well stacked on grapes, so he could keep on picking up additional wine orders. (In hindsight I wasn’t helping the situation by using my Yoke and/or the harvest 1 & get a lira spot). Mark was a bit above me in points, but I had quite a good setup going (I’d finally found a 2-red grape so had 2 strong fields) as well as having almost every building (Lacking a tasting room, as didn’t want to be competing for tours).

When it came to the last year, which was to be triggered by James, of course, as he not only had orders to get him onto the end points but a ‘spare’ sparkling wine that he could have sold-directly to hit 25 anyway. I’d managed to get early in the turn-order (Might have been in the #1 spot having been #7 not long before in fact) which let me get an order filled to slip ahead of Mark, then sell Wine ahead of James for a further 4VP and cube movement. With all passed, I was at 21, James ~28 and Mark lower down (I forget where, apologies but I was starting intently at James’ marker wondering what else I could have done – A few things in fact as I certainly didn’t play perfectly). We then added on the end-game VP from the map (A feature of the extended board introducing an area control mechanism for a few extra points) – I jumped up 5 to 26, James to 30 and Mark an extra point or two.

So the victory went to James! First time in a good while I’ve had my ass kicked at the game, which is a pretty refreshing feeling so well played sir ^^. Mark did well for a first game, and could probably have hit 25 had there been one more year, and the scores between me & James were close, at just 4 apart (Perhaps I should have tried to convince Mark to block the other sell wine space, would have been a tie ^^).

Looking forward to the next play, quality of the print be damned =)

Steam Noir: Revolution

We had a good 45-minutes left for the evening, so opted to go for something short. I’d brought along Steam Noir & have been wanting to give it a spin for a while, just haven’t got around to getting people to play ^^.

Steam Noir is a bluffing/deception game where players are taking part in a revolution against ‘the empire’. Players try to maneuvre their faction into a winning state, but you have to be careful as there’s 3 possibilities.
1 – Succesful Revolution, and your faction is a small amount in the lead (<15 points ahead)
2 – Succesful Revolution, and you’re in 2nd on points with the highest >15 points ahead.
3 – Failed Revoluton, and you’re last on the points track.

This represents that either you’ve led a revolution and the people have accepted your faction as the new leaders, that you’ve led but appeared no better than the empire being overthrown, leading to your being kicked out of the revolution, or having failed to overthrow the empire, are the faction getting the least blame and hence least lashback from the empire.

Gameplay takes place over 3 months, with 4 weeks in each month. Each week, players play cards simultaneously (3 times) to determine a weekly winner (Who gets points on the main track, with the players supporting that faction that week getting points for their own hidden faction). At the end of each month players flip their temporary support cards (Chosen at the start of the month) and if that faction had most support that month, they get some additional points towards their hidden faction.

As the game continues, the various factions will go up the points track depending on how they do in invidual weeks. When the 3rd Month is over players flip their hidden faction cards and add the points they’ve built up to those factions on the track. The winner is then determined by the conditions mentioned above.

I’ve barely done the game justice in that explanation, as it’s a remarkably er…odd game to play, feeling quite different to anything else. The simultaneous play of cards each week is fun though, and can make the game fly by quite fast (We took an hour, but was probably ~30-45 minutes if not for explanation/checking the rulebook time).

In our game er…Well I barey know what was happening to be honest, but the suffragettes (purple) flew out ahead early, with green/blue not far behind and yellow/gray staying at 0 for a fair while. Mark got a lot of points towards his hidden faction quite early, supporting the strongest faction for a large part of the first month, although all 3 of us got good chunks of them by the end.

The endgame had the Empire getting it’s ass kicked, suffragettes out in 1st place, green in 2nd, merchants 3rd, empire, then the other 2 factions further back. James was supporting the suffragettes, Mark green & myself the merchants. Unfortunately I’d not been able to get my faction many points and was in a terrible position (By the time I noticed how awful I was doing, the empire was too far behind for me to even go for a ‘last place win’. Purple & Green were within a few points of each other, so the highest win giving James the unexpected victory (Unexpected as he was quite unsure what was going on throughout – I don’t blame him as this is a very strange one to learn).

It was fun anyway though, and I really like playing even if it is difficult to work out how to approach things. The temporary support mechanic that I barely mentioned lets you supporting factions outside your main one as an investment to get points back to your main one later, which can give a good swing to that faction at the end, making it so other players want to work out which ones people have to try and block them.

Would love to play with the max of 5 sometime, as I think having all 5 factions represented by players would make for a very interesting difference to play, and make it yet more of an important concern as to what factions each other player has. Sometime soon, maybe ^^.

Anyway that’s all for this week, did some gaming on Sunday so I might post about that if I have time to write it up ^^. Till next time =)

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2 thoughts on “Halesowen Board Games #21 (16/07/14)

  1. Daniel Danzer

    Thanks for your cool session report of “Steam Noir: Revolution”. You are right – it is quite a beast to learn what to do and why (it’s mentioned in the rulebook: The first game is just for learning).
    When played with 5, the emperor usually becomes stronger: often two players think, supporting him would be the best – making it harder for the other three to lead the revolution to success. Even in general, mathematically speaking, the emperor strategy is the most probable to win – some players complained about this, especially when the majority of the group is sharing this point of view (leading to a sure win of the emperor and a “who gets last” competition from the very beginning). To eliminate this “groupthink advantage” I came up with a small additional rule you might want to try playing the next time:

    The “Threatening National Uprising “:
    The emperor is also liable to the rule, that he is losing, when he is 15 or more points ahead of the strongest revolutionary faction at the final scoring.
    Just imagine, he has then beaten down the revolutionaries in such a brutal manner, that the complete rest of the population is storming his palace and chasing him out of the country. :-)

    I hope you will have some fun again with my game!

    Best regards,

    Daniel

    Reply
    1. Smoothsmith Post author

      Wow, thanks very much for the comment! I tend to assume the only people that see this blog are halesowen guys but it’s really awesome to have someone I don’t expect, the designer of a game played nonetheless, drop in to say something about it =)

      I can’t actually remember if I have played with 5 yet, though certainly with at least 4, which I think was a game where the Emperor won by a little bit. If it does turn out to leave the Emperor feeling too strong though I’ll give that variant a shot ^^. I think it might be cooler to have that as a dead-zone where noone wins though, such that as you say, it’s the general population that seizes control leaving no faction with the upper hand!

      Thanks again,

      Chris

      Reply

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