Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Last Night's Game Night

Last night was game night and although I played until after midnight, I only played just short of two games!

My first game of the night was Martin Wallace's Byzantium, which I played with Christopher, Oren, and Wade. Byzantium is a truly unique war game/euro-game hybrid where players take on the role of profiteers during the conflict between the Muslim Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire. Each player controls two armies, one from each side, in an attempt to control the most cities. It's a relatively difficult game and it can be rather long (ours went over three hours, mostly due to lack of familiarity with the rules) but it is becoming one of my favorites.

Our game was extremely close. We all made our share of blunders but mine was failing to trigger the end game when I had the chance. That was one turn after I failed to win the game by taking Constantinople. I missed by a single die roll. Had I then triggered the end game (at that point all but two of us had passed on our final turn) I might still have won but instead I got greedy and went for a few more points. That left the door open for Wade to conquer Constantinople and win on a tie breaker with Oren, which he just barely succeeded in doing.

While our game was in its final hour, Adam, Birch, Mike K, Kray and Jason began a game of Railroad Tycoon. When Byzantium finished, Birch decided that he needed to head for home so I took his place and finished the game for him.

I must admit that I've been a little reluctant to open Railroad Tycoon. It's a reworking of Age of Steam, which is one of my favorite games, and I wasn't sure I'd be happy with someone tinkering with Martin Wallace's classic rail game (even though the person doing most of the tinkering was Martin Wallace himself). Also, Eagle Games has been rather hit or miss for me.

Well, I have to say that I was VERY impressed. In many ways, Railroad Tycoon is the better game! It's certainly a better choice for casual gamers. It's very similar but there are several key differences. The auction at the beginning of each turn is greatly simplified. The role selection mechanism has been replaced with a deck of special action cards. The restrictions on issuing shares have been relaxed. The goods delivery rules have been simplified a bit to make it a little easier for people to control which goods they'll be able to ship. And there are a few other minor changes. In typical Eagle Games fashion, the bits are way over the top. The wooden disks that mark a player's links have been replaced with plastic 4-4-0 locomotives. Cities are marked with plastic water towers, round houses, signal towers and crossing signs. The artwork on the gigantic over-sized board is stunning but the board is so large that it does have some problems with warping. Overall, the presentation is incredible.

Our game lasted well over three hours long. I ended up finishing a close third behind Adam (the winner) and Mike K.

There were other games played but I was so involved in my two that I have no idea what they were. I do remember seeing Ben and Jose play Louis XIV (an excellent game which, unlike Tom and Joe at the Dice Tower, I'm always happy to play).

Come join us next week!


At 10:06 AM, February 08, 2006, Anonymous michael k said...

This is what I remember happening:

Birch, Darryl, Jose and Ben played a game of Nexus, after which Birch, Mike K. and I played Hacienda. Darryl, Jose and Ben played a short-ish game of Descent, which ended shortly after the Railroad Tycoon session started up. I'm not sure what they did afterwards, since I had to leave at that point.

At 10:19 AM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Steve said...

Well there we are! I knew there were more games going on. :) And now that you mention it, I do remember seeing a game of Hacienda. I do know what Ben and Jose did afterwards: they played Louis XIV.

So when you say Nexus, do you mean Nexus ( or do you mean Nexus Ops (

At 6:43 PM, February 08, 2006, Anonymous michael k said...

Definitely the first. Darryl won it on a single > 20 point play after being at zero points the entire game. In the Hacienda game, I got absolutely crushed going after a "maximize market access" strategy while Mike K and Birch were pretty close after building up huge land chains. I guess I know which strategy to go with next time!


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