Saturday, February 15, 1997

Joshua Brings the Hammer (2/15/1997)

Players: Allan (Harkonnen), Anne (did not play Dune), Brian (Fremen), Joshua (Atreides), Mike B. (Emporer), Mike C. (Guild), Scott (Bene Gesserit)


What an effin' wipeout. Played four games, Joshua won three and we didn't finish the fourth. He brought the hammer alright, and my head still aches. We started out with Dune, skipping the Spice Harvest because of time constraints on one player (he had only three hours), though it turned out we should've played Spice Harvest and skipped Dune. First round was pretty boring, Atreides took Habbanya Ridge Sietch sans opposition (and with only two tokens), the Fremen got spice in The Great Flat. The Worm appeared and the Fremen rode it into Tuek's Sietch, and next turn, the Guild moved out for spice and the Emporer swooped in to fight the newly arrived Fremen in Tuek's. Everyone else passed until Atreides sold some information to the Emporer, which gave him just enough spice to ship into Sietch Tabr to battle the Fremen. The Bene Gesserit (and everyone else at the table) did not realize that this was for the win, and the spiritual sisters skipped their turn. This meant that an Atreides win in Sietch Tabr meant a one-player victory on turn two of a six-player game, which is exactly what happened as he wiped out the no-treachery-card Fremen and ended the game early.

Robo Rally...

After we detached our chins from the floor, we decided to play a serious game of Robo Rally. Mike C. screamed out to an early lead (first one to the second gameboard), while the other players bumped and lasered each other around on the massive "conveyer belt vortex." Allan reached the second gameboard next, and his reward was a robot that immediately spun into a small pit, and the "bots" got pretty spread out due to robots enticed by the edge of the board or Scott and Joshua's "laser-magnet-bots." Mike C. muddled around around between walls and lasers and couldn't get himself going, Scott's bot took serious damage and shutdown (while on a slow conveyer), while Joshua, Anne, and Allan rebuilt their robots and started over. Eventually, Mike was forced to shut down, and Brian flew into a pit; but restarting looked like a pretty good strategy when Allan got back to the second gameboard right away and Anne kicked ass with her nine cards. Scott avoided the crushers by swooping across them toward the backside conveyers. Mike B. stopped for multiple rounds on a repair spot to shed some damage, and Mike C.'s robot was finally compacted into a can and had to restart (though his archive point was close to the flag -- close geographically, that is), and Scott finally navigated the conveyers to land first on the first flag, which left only two flags to go.

Brian had to leave, so we removed his bot. Allan reached goal No. 1 next, and was hot on Scott's trail (and halfway to the next flag) when Mike B. made it. Joshua got there next, and Scott and Allan missed on their first pass at the 2nd flag, meanwhile, Mike C. and Anne pounded each other into oblivion at the edge of the board, and Mike's robot died as he was trying to shutdown whereas Anne rode the momentum of Mike's defeat to the first flag. The second flag was on the edge of the board and had three layers of conveyers between you and it, and was particularly difficult to reach, but Allan appeared to have it in sight when he changed his plan just before the timer sounded (we used a two minute timer). His new plan was safer, but he realized he would've gotten there with the old one and kicked himself the rest of the game. Scott shut down again (and again was on the conveyer at the time) Finally, after the shutdown, Scott reached the second flag, followed closely by Joshua and Anne (the latter of whom knocked the former off the board -- which was Joshua's third death and the end of the game for him). We called it quits then (with still one flag to go). Finally tally was as follows: Mike B., Mike C. & Allan reached the first flag, Allan nearly reached the second one (Anne nuked him before he got there) and Mike B. had the healthiest robot ever after spending multiple turns on repair spots. Scott, Anne, & Joshua reached the second flag, with Joshua knocked out of the game by Anne right afterward, and Scott on his way to the third flag, carrying no damage at all (and still on his first life).


Priceless went sour fast. In the first game, Joshua built an early lead with cars and coins, Mike B. and Scott competed for games and in the end they both lost (overpaying for half the points), and Mike wandered around the board because he had nothing together. The luck of the draw indicated that Joshua should win, and he did -- by about $500,000 -- as he locked up antiques, cars and coins (the three most valuable groups on the board).

The second game was more competitive, with Allan moving out to a quick lead (collecting antiques), Mike C. gaining when he lost an early auction to Scott (who once again overpaid -- this time for glassware). Joshua started slowly, lining up some stamps and card through shrewd trading, while Scott tried to recover by grouping clocks and one antique with his early glassware error. Mike started a nice collection of cars and married it to a chain in toys (and one glassware) that brought him to the lead for a moment before Allan filled in his third artwork item and catapulted back in front. Joshua added a few coins (and one jewelry) to his chain, and built momentum that appeared ready to carry him to second place.

Allan erronously thought Scott was ahead of Joshua and used an Auctioneer card to spoil Scott's attempt at a respectable last-place finish, and when Joshua bought his third stamp right afterward, Allan realized he should've saved that dastardly deed for Joshua. Mike could never finish his jewelery collection (price was driven through the roof), and that ultimately relegated him to 3rd place. The Joshua/Allan sweepstakes ended with Joshua at $1.4 million and Allan at $1.36 million -- our closest finish ever and quite a disappointment to Allan who might've won if he'd hosed Joshua rather than Scott.

A word from our winner, Joshua

For Dune:
"ANY time a player has two cities (no matter how weakly held), assume that his next move will be for the game and block him. Especially when he's got a mere 2 troops holding a city. Remember this: The more pathetic a player looks the more he deserves to be in tanks instead of being in a city. If nothing else lobby to pay someone to eradicate the weakest city held. Otherwise you might as well go for the six player alliance."

For Priceless:
"Don't listen to the bull look at their points. That's where the real money comes from. Keep a tally of how many checks each player has spent and you immediately know how much their worth and probably where they're headed next. Also, if you go with a middle group then don't plan on buying the 4th item; it's just way too expensive. However if you go with one of the outer groups then it's just a measely $100,000 for the 4th item and you still get the 10 bonus points. Two adjacent outer groups can be worth way more than solid inner groups since they won't deplete your check supply while your building up points. One check makes a difference big time."

Scott's words to live by:
- Joshua was lucky enough to follow both his Priceless strategies in one night -- and win twice
- In Robo Rally, anyone else notice the correlation between the name "Anne" and the phrase "knocked out of the game"?
- Also in Robo Rally, don't give up a life too easily; shutting down for a turn is better because you don't go back to your archive point and you (usually) come back with fewer damage points
- Next time I'm that far behind in Priceless, I vow to cheat
- I propse a variant on 1830 where we play Spice Harvest first for either cash or stock in companies. This might eliminate some of the predictability of the game

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