27th Jul 2023 - Beyond The Sunby Robin. Fri, 28 Jul (Updated at Fri, 28 Jul)
I had my first go at Beyond The Sun, the next game in the tournament, this week. I didn't think it would be my kind of game, being all tech tracks and accumulators; but I actually quite enjoyed it. It felt like a fairly benevolent game, where you normally have several options, all of which feel like they are helping you progress - so you always feel like you're achieving something even if you end up last.
The result was one-all: One to Ian, for getting a rule right when the rest of us thought it was something else; and one against Ian, for getting another rule wrong. I forget which rules - both to do with who "controls" a planet. Generally this seemed like a fairly straightforward, unambiguous kind of game.
The next result was that Ian won. He was up against tough opposition, in me and Michel, but in the end no-one could get near him in the "time taken on your turn" contest. With the typically multiple good options, meltdowns and the consequent downtime were a bit of a problem in this game - and I imagine it will only get worse in the actual tournament games. So it felt like we were in for a long-running game; and yet notwithstanding the downtime we were all done by 9:30. So it's a fairly short game really and one which, if we didn't think too hard about it, could have been finished in an hour or so.
And, in case you're interested, Ian also won in the category of "most victory points". I guess this is how the game normally pans out: we all got a similar number of points, despite what appeared to be very different strategies. Though, as Michel pointed out, "strategy" doesn't really seem like an appropriate word in this game, as your choices are largely steered by what cards come up. Does this mean that luck can play a significant role in who wins? It wasn't clear to me from a first play-through. But in our game at least, Ian's strategy or tactics or whatever it was focussed less on the tech tracks, more on the colonisation, and that won him the game. So it isn't always about the tech tracks, at least.
So a large part of the game-board was determined by these random-ish cards, which I found intriguing. Then I went downstairs and found them playing At The Gates Of Loyang, which is the same but even more so. I've not played that game but I would like to try it. I was struck by how much like Agricola it looked - which, given it's also a farming game by Uwe Rosenberg, is perhaps not surprising. Also like Agricola, it had Graham playing it and claiming he was really bad at it - so presumably he won.
So well done to Graham and Ian. And a good outcome for me too, as I enjoyed our game and didn't feel so bad about forfeiting my chance to join Barton In Bloom, which made it to the club this week at the second attempt. "I'd like to buy some flowers," has now taken its place in the glossary of instantly-recognisable boardgame soundbites, alongside such favourites as "I'll double-railway," and "I'll do family growth."
We also had a return visit for Distilled, which again seemed to receive only modestly positive reviews. Always good to see another game with an alcoholic theme, though it doesn't sound like it will be challenging Vinhos and Bootleggers in the ratings. And we had what I think is a first appearance at the club for Expeditions, which looks like a simpler and definitely quicker spin-off of Scythe: they were packed up and gone long before even our game's early finish.