Salishan Friday Night
I left home around 7:15 after putting Jack to bed and started the drive to Salishan. It’s a pretty drive during the day, but at night in the rain, not so much. Audiobooks make the drive go much faster, so a quick two hours later I arrived. Mike and Lorna were playing Memoir ’44, and the rest of the gang (Chris, Wes, Doug, Mimi, and Ken) were upstairs playing Canal Mania. It worked out perfectly for me, as I had a little time to wind down and get settled before jumping into anything.
On the Underground
First up was On the Underground, an interesting game of passenger delivery in the London subway system. On your turn, you lay up to four track pieces in any of the colors assigned to you. (I was white, grey, and black.) Each color you own can only extend track of the same color, and you cannot branch without acquiring and spending two branch tokens. (The number of colors you own changes with the number of players. I don’t know if the number of builds does, but I suspect not.)
You get points for connecting to intracity spots, line ends, and linking any two matching goods tokens. (these are randomly placed on the map.) You also get points for cities surrounded by a closed loop you’ve built. Branch tokens are acquired when you link to a line end or forgo one or more of your track builds on your turn. Links between destinations can handle anywhere between 1 and 5 different color track.
After you’ve built your track, the passenger moves. Four destination cards are always on display, and the passenger follows a specific algorithm in determining where he’ll go. Some of the cards are gold, some are white. If both colors are available, he’ll travel first to a gold destination, then a white. If only one color is showing, he’ll only visit one destination. The one he chooses is the one that involves the least amount of walking. (unbuilt links in the track.) If there’s a tie for that, he’ll choose the one involving the fewest different lines. (he’s cheap on top of lazy.) If there’s still a tie, it’s active player’s choice. Each different color track visited on the way gives the owner a point. There is no way to avoid giving other players points on your turn. After traveling, cards are replaced and the next player goes. Game ends when you can’t fill the card display back to four.
Visually, the game looks like a cross between Paris Paris and Ticket to Ride. It doesn’t really play much like anything else, though, as the board situation keeps changing. You try to do the best move you’ve got on a particular turn, but (at least after one play) it’s hard to see where there’s much long term planning other than trying to be efficient in your builds and tending towards routes that are more useful later on.
The deciding factor in our game was that Lorna managed to build a circuit around eight cities. Final score was Lorna 65, Mike 58, Eric 57. Without that loop, it’s anyone’s ballgame. I enjoyed it. I’ve thought about getting this one a few times, but wanted to play it first. Now that I have, I think it’s worth a purchase. Jodie should enjoy it.
The Canal Mania game had wrapped up at this point, and we split up into games of Buyword and Drive. Chris, Wes, Lorna, and I played Buyword â€“ the Sid Sackson game about investing in letters. Very simple mechanics. Roll a die, and everyone chooses that number of tiles from the bag. Add up the pips on the tiles (which go from 1 to 5), square it, and that’s how much that set of letters will cost you. After buying tiles you mix them with what you already have trying to form larger words which you then sell using the same pricing mechanism. If you buy tiles such that you’re over 8, you’re forced to form a word. Game ends when you run out of tiles.
I think the best word I put together was “shaved” for 121 points. (I know I had an 11-pipper, just can’t remember if that was the word. I was tired.) Wes got the biggest word of the game (jumped) for 169 points and ended up winning. Scores were something like Wes 405, Eric 364, Chris round 325, and Lorna around 265. This is a nice filler game. It struck me while playing this that while Jodie and I are both writers, we don’t have any word games. Then again, maybe it’s better that way.
By that point, it was nearly midnight, so we all called it a day. I understand that 18TN is on the schedule for right after breakfast, so that should be a great start to things. More to come!