20 October 2013

October Board Games (Tsuro / Puerto Rico / Carcassonne)

Once again it was that time of the month, and we gathered at Dave's house for more board game fun.

This time, all three games played involved tiles.

My island, filled with crops (tiles) and busy workers (the brown markers).

First up was a couple rounds of Tsuro, which we've done a few times before. It's a good fast way to get your mind in board-game mode.

In the first game, I went out tied last. Placement of a tile meant that Dave and my dragons collided, and were thus out of the game.

The second game ended similarly - with the only non-fly-off-the-board option meaning Michael and I crashed dragons, and became tied winners.

Second up was Puerto Rico, rated highly on boardgamegeek. This was the game's first appearance at B&B, and I really enjoyed it.

It's a game of rounds, phases and turns, so it can get confusing asking whose turn it was. Players take turns being the "Governor", indicated by a marker tile that goes around the table (like the dealer button in poker). Then each player chooses a "role" from eight tiles that are in the middle.

Mayor: Each player gets a "colonist" (brown marker) off the ship. The role-chooser gets a bonus colonist from the supply.
Settler: Each player chooses a plantation from face-up crop tiles. The role-chooser gets the option of choosing a quarry instead.
Builder: Each player purchases a building from the supply. There are limited quantities of these tiles to choose from. The role-chooser gets a -1 cost bonus for building.
Craftsman: Each player collects resource blocks based on their manned plantations and processing buildings. The role-chooser gets to gain an extra block, of any of his crops.
Trader: Each player, if they can, must trade in some of their crops for coins. Only one of each crop can be sold in the trading house, so this is one way to stymie your fellow players' plans if they're growing the same crops as you. The role-chooser gets one more coin in addition to the sale price of his crop.
Captain: Each player loads ships with crop resource blocks. Each block placed on a ship gains the player one Victory Point. Only one crop type per ship means this is another way you can stymie fellow players' plans.
Prospector: The role-chooser gets a bonus coin from the bank. No actions are taken by any players. (There are two of these tiles to choose from.)

The roles players choose in any given round, and the order they choose them in, can have varying impacts on each player's city and economy. It doesn't matter how much money you save up, it's the Victory Points, from exporting during the Captain phase, or from bonuses provided by specific high-cost city buildings, that matter.

A typical round (one player's "Governorship") could go like this:

Player 1 is Governor. He chooses "Mayor" from the 8 tiles. He gets a bonus settler, and then settlers are dealt out off the ship in turn to each player. Each player then decides where to allocate workers, and redistribute if need be.
Player 2 chooses "Builder" from the remaining 7 tiles. He gets a -1 bonus to the cost of buying a building tile for his city. Then each other player, in turn, purchases a building (or passes, if they want).
Player 3 chooses "Settler". The role allows him to choose a quarry (which also reduces future building cost) instead of a plantation. Each other player then chooses a crop from the board and places it on their map.
Player 4 chooses "Prospector". He collects the money on the tile, plus a bonus coin from the bank.
Player 5, with only 4 roles left to choose from this round, picks "Craftsman". He has fully-manned sugar plantations and a sugar mill, so he collects sugar blocks from the supply. Then each other player, in turn, collects blocks according to their manned plantations and  processing buildings. (Someone with manned coffee farms but no roasting plant would get nothing.)

And then all the tiles go back to the middle, and the "Governor" card passes to the left, and the pattern repeats. Because each player chooses a role, which everyone participates in, in our five-player game there could be a total of 25 actions during each "Governorship".

Various strategies can be employed. Do you trade your crops early, to get cash for more buildings (that gain bonus points at endgame)? Or do you ship all your goods off to Europe, for Victory Points? There are some interesting economic possibilities in this strategy game.

Do you choose roles that will help everyone (which can be useful early on), or do you go for roles that will disadvantage others?

I look forward to playing this one again, now that we have all had a game. (With the exception of Dave, this was everyone's first time with Puerto Rico.)

We finished with a game of Carcassonne.

I'm not going to write a whole lot about the game here, but there's a rather easy to read review/introduction to the game here.

I'm pretty sure this was my third experience of Carcassonne, so I knew what I was doing just a little bit more. I started to take an early lead in points, thanks to completing several cities, but finished up dead middle. Which isn't bad.

As a game for 2-5 players, I should probably add this to my wishlist, as I think Kara would enjoy it.

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