Visiting Jyväskylä: Villa Paletti, Da Vinci Code, Agricola

Villa Paletti box

I was visiting my parents in Jyväskylä this weekend and as usual, games were played. We started already in the afternoon with Villa Paletti. I like the game, and this reminded me why. It’s just so much fun. The last game we played was particularly delicious. The lowest level was supported by three small pillars: one at the other end, two very close to each other at the other. The board was supported by one of the two pillars, then fell down to lie on both of them, then after few more moves swung back to only one of them — at which point I took the other one out.

So, for the rest of the game the whole tower was supported by just two pillars. I didn’t expect to get another turn, but we played several rounds after that before the tower finally fell over. That was simply excellent and very exciting.

DaVinci Code box

Next up was DaVinci Code. The game has a bit of a problem with guessing: at least two of the four games we played ended with a 50-50 guess someone had to take. In the first one I got it wrong and the next player won, in the second one my brother guessed wrong and I won on the next turn. There’s no way around it, really: if you don’t take the guess, you don’t have even the 50% chance.

That’s mildly annoying, yet I still like the game. If you play few quick rounds in succession, having some lucky endings doesn’t really matter that much. I guess I wouldn’t organise a serious Da Vinci Code tournament or anything, but it’s quick fun with some lovely moments of sparkling ideas — "hey, I got it!"

We also played a game of Chinese Poker. I decided it’s a silly game. It’s the one where you deal 13 cards to each player and then form three Poker hands (five, five and three cards) out of them. Hands are compared and the best wins. It’s not really a Poker game as there’s no actual betting involved, just fixed payouts for the best hands. It’s hardly a game, as there are remarkably few intelligent decisions to make, or at least that’s how I felt. It’s sort of fun, but gets old in about two hands.

Agricola box

In the evening we played the main treat: Agricola. We had five players, all novices except me, so we played the family game. That was certainly enough! We did manage to play the game in just 100 minutes, which was nice.

It was a success. My mother loved the game, and she did quite well, too. I won with 25 points, she got 24. Ismo made a bit of a record, scoring 14 begging cards… but that’s his style, when he doesn’t know a game well enough to make reasonable decision, he plays interesting moves. He certainly got plenty of points: he finished with -5, which is pretty good considering the -42 points from the begging cards.

But it’s good, good, good! My game was quite the struggle, but at some point it just got so much better. I got plenty of fields, with lots of grain and vegetables… Once again I had trouble building pastures and getting animals (except for instant eating), that’s something I’ll have to work on the next time I play. The resources were pleasantly tight with five players, baking being one of the harder things to do unless you took the starting position.

I’m rather fond of the game.

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