Recap: Ground Floor PnP and a Ra blowout
Ground Floor, produced by Tasty Minstrel, is in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign with two weeks to go. The game has already funded and hit several overfunding goals. As part of the campaign, they released a Print and Play version so you can try before you buy. I’m terrible with PnP stuff, but a friend of mine put it all together so that we could give it a whirl.
Ground Floor. Ground Floor is all about building a business. You start with a measly specialty in one area (of six) and then you branch out to improve your business and your product. While it is essentially worker placement, the game has a number of interesting twists.
First, you are managing two different economies. Most actions will cost you money and information (gained through research, hiring consultants, etc.). So it is equally important to take action to get both currencies, and Ground Floor definitely makes that tricky. There is no exchange rate, and no easy way to turn one into the other. Instead, you will have to use your workers to separately generate both.
Better, though, is the central market place. While you can pretty much do anything available on your personal board, the best actions are on the central board. And there are tons of interaction between players. In the Marketing area, each player can use broadcast, print, or networking to increase their reputation (which impacts player order and bonuses). In consultation, players can try to get information by paying consultants, but it takes two rounds to do so and you may be relying on your opponents to push you over. And the Market itself is interesting. Each firm sets the price of its products. Depending on the state of the economy, some number will sell – but people only buy the cheapest ones. So players must set a good price to avoid being easily undercut by an opponent.
Overall, I enjoyed my play of Ground Floor (even though we got the initial setup slightly wrong). I was pleased to find that it was a good economics game without being overly mathy (Power Grid is my barometer for mathy games). There are a lot of choices throughout the game, and plenty of opportunity to differentiate. If you like managing economies, you should check out the Kickstarter.
Priests of Ra. Though I played a number of games this weekend, and introduced 7 Wonders to some non-gamers, I wanted to recount this week’s play of Priests of Ra. Zomg. Zomg is the only word that can be used to describe my horrible, horrible score. I ended with 36, the next player was in the high forties, and the winner had 58. How, how did this happen?
Well, my bully strategy didn’t work. Partially because other players caught on, but more because of seating order. Generally, I get the best tiles I can in the first epoch and don’t pay all that much attention to the tiles I’m securing for the second epoch. This usually helps me win epoch one auctions because I don’t mind taking those poor bidding tiles if I can get some good scoring tiles. Then in epoch 2, I invoke Ra at every opportunity. It works better with less players, but in a five player game, that means the most that anyone will get is four tiles. It allows me to get groups of four with my cheap-o tiles, or force other players to bid their high tiles on it. Win-win for me. Then, in the third epoch, I play more balanced so that I don’t lose points from bidding tiles. I call it a bully strategy because I force the other players into auctions in epoch 2.
This time, seating order beat me up badly. The players two and three to my right caught on. They would invoke Ra early (sometimes by drawing a Ra tile). So on my turn, there would only be one tile in the offering. Ugh. Now if I invoked, they were likely to let me have it and I use a bad tile for a bad reward. So, I’d pull a tile. But then, the tiles would fill up enough that when I invoked Ra on my turn again, it would be so attractive that my opponents were very willing to use their good tiles.
So my strategy totally backfired this time. Next game of Priests, I’ll have to make sure that I have some kind of contingency plan. Or maybe get better tiles for epoch 2. This game I started epoch 2 with tiles 1, 2, and 4. Maybe, just maybe, that was bad planning.
Brass. I reviewed Brass a while ago. Though I enjoy it, I think it’s a little rules heavy. It is a difficult game to teach to new players. And, partially because it is so rules heavy, it is difficult to get to the table. I always tell people I’m a big fan of Brass, but it’s been so long since I played that I often wonder if that’s still true.
Wonder no more. I love Brass. It is rulesy, there’s no getting around that. But this last week I was able to play with two other players who were experienced in Brass. We did teach one new player, who struggled with a lot of the ins and outs and exceptions. But, with three people who knew them all, the game was a blast. I didn’t have to re-explain every rule four or five times. We all knew what we were doing, and the market manipulation by the players was engaging and exciting. During the game, I was able to build both level 2 shipyards, which was just enough to give me the win (by two points).
While I think the rulesyness (two suffixes?!) will mitigate the fun of the game when playing with new players or when learning the game, it was wonderful to be reminded how awesome Brass can be when everyone is firing on all cylinders.
Also played. Core Worlds, 7 Wonders