Thursday, May 9, 2013

Puerto Rico and "The Adventurers"

Well, we had a whopping 9 people stop in for Tuesday night boardgaming fun at The Game Parlor.  With that many people (which was actually lower than we had expected), we split into two groups.  Carson, Mike R., Mason and Brian D. played Ground Floor (which I have yet to play), and several rounds of the card game Hanabi.  The early birds among us were going to squeeze in a game of Hanabi, but the rest of the folks arrived earlier as looks like an interesting card game in which you know everyone's cards...except your own.  The game is a cooperative endeavor to try and lay down cards of different colors in the correct order.  I'd definitely like to try it at some point.

In any case, our "sub-group" consisted of Mike BW, Tom, Traci, myself, and a fellow named Jeff who had wandered into the Game Parlor, looking for a game.  I decided to introduce this group to that old standby...Puerto Rico.  Mike, Tom & Traci had never played, and it had been a long time for Jeff.  A firm believer in "the burned hand teaches best", I set out to crush these a fun, socially acceptable euro-game way of course.

Heading into the end game....
By random draw, I was the first Governor, which meant I got an indigo plantation.  Now, one of my favorite strategies to play is what my buddy Grant calls the "Corn King" strategy...plant lots of corn, ship it for points, and use a higher end crop (tobacco or coffee to generate money).  I thought I could pull of the same trick with Indigo.  I was wrong.  As the first Governor, I pulled a fairly standard move, and chose to settle, taking a quarry.  From there, it took me a long time to build up my Indigo empire...needing a production building as well as colonists in that's far tougher to get those points rolling in than it is with corn.  I got my coffee going as well, and Jeff was the only other player in the coffee business...but by midgame I had an office, so I wasn't worried about getting shut out of the market.  Then game a couple of disastrous turns.  Jeff played the Captain role...and shipped his coffee...which meant I had to load my coffee on that boat...nothing left to sell in the market!  The Craftsman was played soon after, and I raked in 3 indigo, 2 coffee and a corn.  Next turn, when Captain was played, I had 3 people placing before me, and the boats consisted of corn(which was full), sugar and tobacco.  I couldn't place on any of the boats, and with no warehouse...I lost everything but one coffee.  We also had a turn where folks started taking the big buildings...a bit premature, I thought...and I opted for a wharf.  I never did get a big building.  Finally, the game ended about 3 or 4 turns earlier than a typical game, I think.  We had several rounds where 8, 9 or even 10 colonists got loaded on the ship...and lack of colonists did eventually end the game.  When the fog lifted from the island of Puerto Rico, I was left with 30, Mike, Jeff and Tom had between 32 and 36...and Traci had 51!  Shipping multiple loads of tobacco and corn, as well as 2 big buildings gave her a commanding win.  What was that about crushing the newbies?!?  I did learn a valuable lesson, that if I go for the "Corn King"'s best to use corn!

Here comes the boulder....
Jeff took his leave, and next up was The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac.  This is not to be confused with The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus, which is a "sequel" of sorts, but I think inferior to Chac.  This game is the "Indiana Jones" of board games.  As one of the adventurers, your goal is to escape the temple with the most expensive loot, while trying to avoid being killed by crushing walls, crumbling walkways over lava, a rickety bridge, a raging underground river, and most relentlessly...the ever pursuing boulder.  I was introduced to this game at WBC a few years ago, and love it - it's very light, very silly, and takes 45 minutes or less to play.  In fact, we got in 2 games of it. 

In our first game, I had the lockpicking ability, and tried saving it to use to pick up the "Idol of Chac", the most valuable treasure in the game.  Since it was everyone else's first game, most played conservatively, avoiding the lava, and just rushing for the exit.  I got sidelined at the rickety bridge getting that treasure (note that I have the 2nd edition, with includes a treasure on the bridge...I think this is a good thing, as it provides more impetus to actually cross the bridge.)  Mike BW managed to actually nab the Idol, and Tom, he and I made it out.  Traci did chance the lava after getting shut out of the wall treasures, and plunged to a fiery death.  As did her backup character, I believe. sad.....
The 2nd game was much more exciting.  Tom, Traci and I spent time among the crushing walls to study the glyphs for safe passage across the lava pit.  Mike made a dash for the wall treasures, and picked the locks on all 4.  The boulder was moving slowly.  I successfully made it across the lava pit, picking up several treasures.  Tom made for the exit, I think nabbing the bridge treasure.  I attempted to go for the idol, which I successfully recovered...however the boulder had picked up steam and was right on my heels.  I came charging around the corner, only to be caught by the boulder and squashed like a bug.  Mike and Traci had gone the river route.  Mike came out of the river with 9(!) treasures...but being loaded down, he was not moving fast.  Traci emerged shortly after him...only to be crushed mercilessly by the boulder.  Mike dropped 3 of his treasures to lighten his load, as he needed to move only 2 spaces to escape.  That meant that among the 5 dice to be rolled for movement, he only needed 2 of them to be 3 or above.  He promptly rolled, and got 1-1-2-2-4.  That meant only one move for him, right to the door itself...where it was promptly sealed by the boulder, using his crushed body as a nice gasket.

That was a fun game...and nice way to end the evening.  There are some rumblings to pull out Eclipse in the near future...which is something I've been wanting to play for some time....

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