Wednesday, May 15, 1996

Dune Game (5/25/1996)

Players: Allan (Fremen), Joshua (Harkonnen), Mike B. (Emporer), Mike C. (Bene Gesserit), Scott (Atreides)

The Spice Harvest add-on provided some suspense to the opening of Dune and was quite enjoyable to boot. We started out with five Fremen in Carthag, ten Harkonnen troops in Tuek's Sietch, Bene Gesserit in control of Sietch Tabr and Habbanya Ridge Sietch, The Emporer in charge of Arrakeen, and Atreides off-planet with 37 spice in hand. Atreides immediately attacked The Emperor's forces in Arrakeen with 14 men and turned down the Fremen offer to identify a "non-traitor" leader -- so when Lady Jessica turned out to be in The Emperor's employ, Atreides regretted it mightily (as did his tanked troops).

The next turn brought no true action. The Fremen picked up some spice while the other players sat tight. However, during the following round, Bene Gesserit played the Thumper card to call forth a worm, which ate that Fremen spice and caused a nexus, during which the Bene Gesserit and Fremen allied (read that sentence again if you don't get the irony). In fact, this allowed The Fremen troops to reinforce Carthag by riding the worm, which, along with the two two Bene Gesserit strongholds, would have provided victory for the new alliance. In response, The Emperor and Harkonnen allied, leaving Atreides to pick up what scraps it could find. With these two superpowers going at it, the fate of Dune seemed sure to be decided quickly and not quietly -- and it was.

After lengthy negotiations with the Emperor/Harkonnen alliance, Atreides attacked Arrakeen with one troop (for 10 spice -- and no guarantee of throwing the fight), and with that city secure, The Emperor went after Sietch Tabr and Harkonnen tried his luck in Habbanya. Bene Gesserit fortified Sietch Tabr, and The Fremen moved four troops into Tuek's Sietch, leaving Carthag as the only non- contested city on the planet. Atreides continued their theme of total destruction with an Arrakeen Shield/Lasegun, and Sietch Tabr went to The Emperor, which portended a speedy win; however, Harkonnen lost Habbanya to a traitor while holding Tuek's with ease.

Atreides relieved the overburdened tanks with a Ghola (took a total of seven men out) and immediately claimed the newly-vacant Arrakeen with ten troops. With most of the other players licking their wounds, Harkonnen sent four of his best warriors into Habbanya to face down eight Bene Gesserit. It shouldn't have worked, but did. The B. G. miscalculated and allowed the Emperor/Harkonnen alliance to prevail before 11:00 when we should've played well past midnight. But as Harkonnen said, "Half the battle is showing up, and that's what I did." And we congratulate him on that accomplishment.

A word from our winners, Joshua & Mike B.

1. "It is a good thing to be a rich Emperor in Arrakeen when beginning a game."
2. "It is also a good thing to be a card-tight, rich Harkonnen with Tuek's Sietch."
3. "It is a bad thing to form an alliance early in the game that forces the strongest other players to ally before something's had a chance to weaken them."
4. "It is an even worse thing to bank on the survival of your two-previously-used-card Bene Gesserit leader against an opposing eight-card Harkonnen leader when you have more than twice the opposing troop strength."
5. "Summation: Don't allow a soak-off to become a hosing." - Joshua

"With both Harkonen and the Emporer entering the game already rich, their alliance was virtually unstoppable. In an all out final battle scenario like the one we entered on the third round, it is vital to attack wherever it is feasible, especially when you are loaded with treachery cards, like we were." - Mike B.

Scott's words to live by:
- When played well (read: "when played by Mike or Allan"), the Bene Gesserit are a formidable force, especially in an alliance. Maybe we should use them rather than the Guild when we have five players
- Two spice for the identity of a loyal leader seems like a bargain now
- Knowing that the Bene Gesserit are alergic to Dune (in the spring) might change my strategy in the future

Saturday, May 11, 1996

1830 Game (5/11/1996)

Players: Allan, Joshua, Mike, Ray, Scott

Nice to get back to the 1830 grind again. Joshua and Ray posted prohibitive bids on the C&A and B&O respectively, while Scott bought both the D&H and M&H, Allan scooped up the SVN&RR, which left Ray with the C&St.L and Mike got no small properties. Joshua made a deal with Scott in order to start the Penn at a higher par, and the first Operating Round (OR) saw only two companies start up (C&O and Penn), and they purchased only a few 2-trains between them. The following Stock Round (SR) brought the first cunning strategic move (read: dirty trick) of the game; Mike had bought enough Penn stock to float it and then proceeded to sell them to knock the price down the toilet first chance he got, claiming all the while that "stock price is an indicator of shareholder confidence in The President." With so few companies under way, Mike then started up the New Haven to take advantage of its early pay-off possibilities.

Once 3-trains entered the game, the Penn bought the D&H from Scott (to complete the previous deal) and the C&A from its President (Joshua); Joshua used his newfound riches to start up the New York Central and Scott combined forces with Ray to get the B&O up and running. Meanwhile out west, Allan's C&O connected two routes with Chicago and floated to build a ton of stock value. Penn trapped the B&O in the south (where the latter made hay by running two 3-trains -- one to the Deep South and the other to the east) and finished its route to New York, while New Haven went to Boston and paid well even though it got a semi-late start. Mike sold of four shares of Central (see a pattern here?) and started Erie at $100 per share; Scott spent his newfound gold pieces to bring the B&M on-line (also at $100 par) and the technology race had begun.

After running his corral-full of 2-trains, Allan bought the first 4-train to obsolete them and put the hurt on a few other railroads. No one else had to withhold dividends to provide their railroad with a new train, but only Allan got the joy of running those multiple-2-trains before sending them to the scrap heap. Even with its rich uncle (the Central), Penn limped along with inferior trains until very late in the game. The B&O and C&O chugged along, the latter reaching a maximum stock value of $164, and the former paying as much as $21 per share with two 3-trains. The next SR brought the CanPac up and the threat of Diesels loomed large even though The President asserted that he had no intention of buying one. B&M was still getting started and the Erie tried to reach the C&O track when CanPac bought the last 5-train; directly after that, B&O and Erie cleaned out the 6-trains. Left with no real choice (he had the money and the 4-train to trade in), Scott bought the dreaded Diesel, leaving the Penn and New Haven with no train and no rich corporate uncle to bail them out. Mike (with the New Haven) never had to face destruction because Joshua purposefully bankrupted (on Central's turn) to end the game.

Order of Finish:
1. Allan with $1578
2. Scott with $1253
3. Mike with $1216
4. Ray with $1092
5. Joshua with $0

A word from our winner, Allan

"Don't be afraid to try new things. Our group had always focused on the eastern railroads and relegated C&O to a late game role. I tried starting the C&O early and it proved to be a winning move. I was lucky enough to salvage the mid-game by getting one of Mike C.'s railroads to sell the C&O a 3 train instead of having to buy the poison 4-train which allowed me to buy a 5 train by only withholding one dividend. In the end Joshua went bankrupt and the C&O's high stock value is what won the game for me. I think others would have caught up with me if the game had not ended abruptly."

Scott's words to live by:
- Seems whenever I don't plan on Diesels, they wipe me out; and when I bring the Diesels on, I never get to use them. Bummer
- Allan's QuickStart C&O strategy worked well and bears closer scrutiny in future games
- It's easier to play when you're running the 1830 GameCorder. Honest