Another excellent game session this week! When I arrived, PitchCar sessions were over and people were choosing the next games. Hannu quickly got me and Gargoyle to join him in a game of Preference. Gargoyle was a newbie to this game, but he’s no stranger to traditional card games so he learnt quickly.
It sure was an odd game. First of all, it lasted only five deals — minimum possible is three. Second, we saw two successful misére hands! Gargoyle played the first misére, filling his quota of ten points immediately. In the next hand, I got very good cards for misére and bid for it, but Hannu wouldn’t accept that: he bid eight, I couldn’t bid misére without the widow because I had an ace I had to dump, so he played the game successfully. It wasn’t comfortable for him, but he did it.
In the next hand I bid misére again and played it, finishing the game: I had earlier played a seven, so I had four pulya points already, so the misére’s ten filled my quota and the surplus was enough to fill Hannu’s quota as well. I described four hands here: in the fifth one, Hannu failed a bid of six and took two heap points.
I won, because I had made 14 pulya points and thus got 40 whist points against Hannu, on top of the 16 I had before. Hannu had no whist points, while Gargoyle had some against me and some against Hannu. So, the final scores were 50 for me, 22 for Gargoyle and -72 for Hannu. These are very low scores: before, the spread has been something like 200 to -150. The lack of heap points caused the low scores, and since we had two miséres, there weren’t lots of whist points.
It was an interesting, colourful game. Let’s just say Hannu doesn’t probably love the misére bid, not right now at least…
After Preference, we got a fourth player and Hannu went for his brand new Metropolys. It’s a bidding-building game from Ystari that has garnered some reputation for an ugly board. I don’t know — I’ve seen worse, and the pieces for players are pretty cool.
Each round players bid for building rights. Bidding is done with the pieces: everybody has a set of 13 buildings numbered 1-13. Someone starts by dunking a building on the board in one of the districts. Next player either passes or places a higher-numbered building in an adjacent district. This continues until everybody passes, somebody bids 13 or there’s no room to place another building (the map has some borders, and you can’t bid on an area where there is a building or a bid). Once the bidding is complete, the winning bid is turned upside down so the number doesn’t show and all buildings used for bidding are returned to their owners.
That’s it, pretty much. To give the game some structure, each player has two secret goals. One is based on the colour of the districts and other gives some special setting (districts connected with a bridge, districts around a statue, three-district chains and so on). Fulfill these and you score points. The districts also have chits that give bonus points or penalties. The game continues until somebody runs out of buildings.
It’s pretty clever, really. Perhaps slightly too clever, too, as too much analysis might bog down the game. Secret objectives help there. Anyway, I found the game rather intriguing and charming — I kind of got the feeling I might want to buy the game, and that’s fairly rare. Fortunately Hannu has a copy, I’ll be able to play the game few more times to see how my feelings evolve. Right now I would buy a cheap copy right away.
In our game I was perhaps too hasty with my high-numbered buildings. I got stuck with all my low buildings, so I was pretty much out of the game for a long time in the end. A newbie mistake: when bidding, it’s important to also think about future bidding power. Next time I’ll know better. In any case, kudos to Sébastien Pauchon, designing both Metropolys and Yspahan is something worth being proud of.
Next up was a round of Slovenian Tarok, where I continued my good showing by playing a successful misére in the first deal. It’s pretty hard one in Tarok, with the trumps and all, but then again, since everybody is forced to beat the cards played, some high cards are not a problem. Here I played the 21 in the first trick, hoping that the Skis wouldn’t be in the widow. It wasn’t, and my game went well.
Add to that two successful hands played with Olli and I was a glorious winner. Hannu got one good hand, but suffered from bad cards. Fortunately he and I got a free pass when Olli had made a mistake — we would’ve lost the hand, but since Olli didn’t play trumps when he should’ve, he had to pay a penalty. He was second anyway, so it didn’t hurt him too bad…
Pretty fun game, except for Hannu, I suppose. The cards didn’t treat him well this time.
Last game of the evening was a three-player game of Die Dolmengötter. It’s pretty good with three, too — not quite as much action as in the four-player game, but if the players don’t actively avoid each other, it works. In our game I made a terrible blunder, playing my 4-point dolmen in the wrong place. To make it worse, I lost to Hannu by only two points: had I placed my dolmens the other way around, I would’ve scored four more points and won the game. Live and learn. Dolmengötter is definitely making its way to my all-time favourite game list.