Thursday, August 7, 2014

6 August: Back to back heavy boardgaming goodness!

After playing Kohle & Kolonie (K&K) last weekend I was very excited to give it another go, trying out a different strategy I had in mind. Our friend also wanted to try Wildcatters so we decided to give 2 heavy games a go!

We were late in starting K&K as someone went to the wrong location and was late. Still we quickly started our 4 player game and since we all have played the last weekend. 

All the rounds of our game. I was the GREEN player
I started off with a strategy to build as many settlements as I can and use my miners to grab as many train tokens as I can and hopefully score some easy bonuses AND aim for the Yellow/Red railway bonus at the end. 2 of the players went ahead with the Wagon strategy, seeing how another friend grab so many points each round in the previous game. They both managed to flip the Pithead that granted wagon bonuses in the 1st round. RED player managed to grab early position with her mine and settlements which later on proved to be very good for her. Unlucky me was hampered with a mine disaster in the first round.

So this progressed on with the 2 Wagon-strategy players getting a lot of money and points. I was usually the last in turn order because the bonus tile I wanted are usually at the end. BLUE player made a mistake during 1 consolidation and the Coal Trust rolled over him because of the lack of $1. RED player managed to pull ahead with several good moves and it always seems as if we neglect the RED player, much to our frustration later on when she pulls ahead. I chalk it up to my confusion because I am usually the RED player but she always wants to play RED so.... :P

I was particularly hit hard with mining disasters which took up precious miners that I could have used better elsewhere. In addition, having too many miners on the board and tableau early on is also detrimental because it becomes inefficient to use the deploy-and-move action just to shuffle them around and you don't get to purchase mines as often.

My tableau at the end of the game. Not impressive...
Initially I was aiming for second after RED player pulled so far ahead and was on track to score the RED railway. Then BLUE player flipped almost all his pithead cards in the final round to pull way ahead. So it was between me and YELLOW player for last place. I managed to beat him by winning 2 final consolidations for the steam engines and points but it was not my greatest game so far (even though I just had 2 only ;p)

I learnt many things from this game:
1) Protecting your mines is very important because if you are very unlucky, not only are you losing a miner but you are also losing valuable points.
2) Location of your mine and settlements can be quite important because if you have a longer term strategy then you can score 3-5 points per round which is very good!
3) Make sure to pay attention to mines especially when they are getting consolidated. Knowing what the Coal Trust will buy and thus possibly hand you a steam engine could give you those crucial steam engine bonus points to win the game.
4) the Wagon strategy seems really strong but not unbeatable. I may just try it the next time just to experience it for myself.

I really like this game! So far with 4-5 players it is still interactive with a lot of screwage that can happen. I think this is a game that will work best with 5. 3 might be doable too since the map becomes smaller. I need to figure out how to earn more money because sometimes I can see my opponents with >10 coins and I am still struggling with 5-8 coins each round. I also need to be much more aware of my opponents' plans and see how I can swoop in to give them more pain while still keeping to my strategy. But swooping in maybe the main reason why I am not winning in the first place since I am so tempted to disturb them then concentrating on my own efforts. I reason though that by denying them easy points I am in fact helping myself close the gap and possibly beat them.

So if you are looking for a heavy-weight euro game that is surprisingly thematic in some sense, do give Kohle & Kolonie a try. I very much recommend it!

Next up is Wildcatters. I quickly launched into a 15 minute explanation of the rules and we jumped right in. At the start there is confusion already, especially for new players because setup can be quite crucial in determining whether you can leap ahead or play catchup with the rest. This is 1 part of the game I did not like but I guess with regular plays, players will be able to start planning from the get go which they may like.

Round 1 - 7. I was dead last .. sigh...
I did not really have much of a plan going into the game. I am still trying to figure out what strategies are available but I always seem to end up trying to have too many refineries but not getting them triggered. I am not sure what makes certain refineries more attractive than others for shipping to. During the game we sometimes will try to target a particular player to trigger them to get loans but even with the possibly of 3 refineries out there, mine sometimes still do not get triggered.
Halfway through the game though the new player started to see how things click into place. By then though 3 of us had loans, courtesy of BLUE player. At the end of the in game scoring, I was first but I could already tell I will not win because of a clever move by BLUE to grab 2 wildcatters all by himself. I did try to count stocks but I had to give that up when I started using up too much of my own shares. Interestingly, there were several turns where players did not do much but grab money. My last turn of the game was very ineffective and I only manage to build my 4th refineries but due to the cards available I could not ship it myself for an additional 10 points so quite a moot action. After the results were tallied and as I suspected, I was last. Sigh….
While I like certain aspects of the game for example bluffing so that players will not attack your refineries too much to cause you to take a loan, I still cannot see a general strategy with which I can plan and win. Diversifying everywhere does mean some of your own oil barrels will be delivered but that will also mean you usually will not win the area majority. I always seem to run out of money as well doing and building so many things that I never win the Money majority. So while I will not say no to playing the game, I am quite certain I will not grab myself a copy. Furthermore, if I compare K&K against Wildcatters, I will appreciate K&K more. The new player also concurs on this. Do give this a try though to see if its your cup of tea as it is a medium-heavy weight game that provides some interesting decisions. But if you do not prefer playing 11 mini area majority games, then this will not be up to your liking!


  1. Nice Review of both games Eric..... I like Kohle the best of the two we played!

  2. Thanks Dion :) La Granja! This week I hope to get it, learn and table it :P