Boardgame club meeting: Fifth Avenue, Finstere Flure

The first boardgame club meeting this Fall was yesterday. It sure was great to get some gaming action going on. We had a decent showing, with about two tables going on most of the time.

First game I played was Fifth Avenue. It was much better than the last time. This time even the scoring action saw some use — black cards were a desired commodity. Erkka almost won the game, thanks to his massive skyscraper lots — with up to five skyscrapers placed on one area. However, it was the Central Park that spelled his downfall. He didn’t have any skyscrapers there, we drew three different business icons and Olli got a four-point lead over Erkka. With even three points for each CP skyscraper, Erkka’s lead would’ve been enough.

I mentioned the thing about businesses while explaining the rules. The first three groups of businesses were still placed fast, but then it stopped and everybody concentrated more on skyscrapers. The game took little over an hour, which is a pretty good time for this game. What’s even more interesting, the game ended because we had two building stops. That was interesting! I’m certainly interested to play the game more, but I think I’ll make sure I’ll have four players next time, too. Three might be just too little for this one.

After that, I kept the same group of guys and played a prototype of mine with them. It’s a word game, where players form words in certain categories. Letter cards limit the players’ choice of words. It was interesting, but needs some fixing. As I suspected, the letter distribution of the cards was off and the game was slightly too short, maybe. It also turned out the game needs a timer, as it takes some heavy thinking to form the words out of random jumble of letters. However, it certainly looks promising. I’ll make the fixes before Helcon and try it out there.

We had a large group and thus ended up playing Finstere Flure. Our group had several people who hadn’t tried this gem yet, so it was a very good choice. If Derk and Aldie would ask me for my favourite six+ player game, this would be my pick. It’s always such a blast. This time, though, the experience was slightly hurt by boring dungeon design. Monster kept running in the middle of the dungeon, so after the masses cleared that area, the road to freedom was open. Next time I’ll plonk down the two teleport exits in the dungeon exit corner to make it more interesting… I wonder if there’s some general idea on how to make a good and interesting dungeon?

After the horror I got Janne and Ville to join me to try out Dos Rios. It was, uh, interesting. Janne won the game hands down, it was over in just 25 minutes. He got three casas and a hacienda, while me and Ville had just our haciendas (bad strategy). We just didn’t bowb him enough, I guess. I’m a bit on the fence here, the game is certainly quite chaotic. There’s no forward planning, you just try to wreak havoc as much as you can on your turn. That can be fun with the right people, I think, and I’m looking forward to playing the game again now I know how not to play it… And yeah, I must say the river mechanic is very neat and I like it a lot. Clever bit of design, that one.

Antti wanted to play St. Petersburg — obviously I agreed. We got Robert and Erkka join in, too. In one point of the game, a player couldn’t buy a worker which someone else got. Can you guess who’s who by just looking at the scores: Robert 97, Mikko 79, Erkka 70, Antti 36?

Well, yeah, it was Antti who didn’t get the farmer and Robert who did. At that point I commented that Antti lost (I’d like to see a St. Pete newbie who wins against experienced players) and Robert won the game and I was correct. There was no hope for me to catch Robert anymore. That’s what wrong with St. Petersburg: Antti’s mistake (a typical newbie one, too) had a very strong effect on the result of the game. However, I’m not overly annoyed by this — it’s natural thing in a game like this. For others, of course, this is a perfectly good reason to hate the game and I can understand that, too.

Victory & Honor was high on my list of games to play. So, I persuaded the guys to give it a go. Robert was there the previous time, when we had failed several rules. This time the only thing we got wrong was the artillery, which was somewhat minor. So, we got a full four rounds of good action, which was nice. I teamed up with Robert (which was of course the fairest way to do it, since we had previous experience) and kicked butt 187-78. We had some mighty fine luck with Robert scoring several good cavalry hits. You know, starting the first phase with a general in the middle is a very good stratagem, but a good cavalry hit will hurt that one.

Victory & Honor is a clever and fun game. The partnership play works well, I even started to figure out what kind of moves it takes. Throwing tricks to one’s partner is useful — we had a very successful phase where I scored no cards. Robert, instead, had tons of them. Great fun, but I still have to write the clearer rules for this one…

Robert’s luck continued in San Juan. His gold mine worked, what, five times out of seven or something like that. Meanwhile, I didn’t see a single bonus building even though I went through lots of cards. I took it calmly: with cards like these, even Alex Rockwell couldn’t win. I just fought over the second place and scored that, with less than 20 points. What a sad game, but these things happen every now and then in games as dependant on luck as San Juan — there’s no reason to take it heavily.

One last game: Crokinole — I had to play it, since I carried it over and nobody had played it yet. I still had the touch, as I won Erkka 100-0!

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3 responses to “Boardgame club meeting: Fifth Avenue, Finstere Flure”

  1. Which alphabet cards are you using for your game? I am pretty keen on Alphabet Playing Cards at the moment (
    I am going to have to get Finestre Flure now. We have been looking for a really good large-number-of -players game.
    Victory and Honour does seem to get universally good reviews, but I have a few trick taking games to get through now…

  2. I use homemade cards (=old, useless CCG cards with stickers on them), because the cards need both letters and categories. Also, I need to able to change the distribution at will. For example, I’ll need to add more vowels to the deck.
    Victory & Honor is a good game, but quite complicated (though — I did find a rules summary at the Geek) and slightly tricky to teach. I recommend it if you’re really into trick-taking, but it’s really not a must.
    Finstere Flure, in the other hand, is.

  3. Oh, and re: Alphabet Playing Cards — nice, but I have little use for alphabet cards with English letter distribution. Even though I’m pretty good with English, playing word games is only fun in Finnish.