Board Game Session Report for March 7, 2003: Sunda to Sahul, Sunda to Sahul, Age of Steam, Dungeoneer, Set, Magic: the Gathering


B20 session. 6-player Sunda to Sahul, 5-player Sunda to Sahul, 5-player Age of Steam, 3-player Dungeoneer, Set, Magic: the Gathering.

Sunda to Sahul

Players were Mike, Joe, Ralph, [unknown], Dave, myself. New players to the game were: Mike, Joe, Ralph, [unknown], Dave. Ralph had the first turn.

We spent 5 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

This is a puzzle tile-laying game with a colonizing theme.

The tiles are actual puzzle pieces representing a combination of land and water. These tiles must be played so that the land and water match up to make islands.

Players divide all the tiles amongst themselves face-up.

The turn sequence is: take a tile, place a tile, place a totem token on a node. Each player gets to execute the turn sequence twice. Tiles may be replaced if they're not playable at no expense. A node is a point at which land tiles meet.

There's nothing more to the basic game. Each token on a node scores a point. Tokens score two points on each node in a complete island.

The first advanced rule concerns lakes. A person who completes the final node in a lake gets to put a token in the lake. A lake score five points. A lakes in a complete island scores ten points.

Game ends when a player plays his final token, or the final tile has been played, or when no more tiles can be played.

the game can be played turn-based or in real-time.

Unlike the last time I played this, I decided to play this as a real-time game, with land nodes and lake nodes. The instructions say this game is for two to four players, but I decided it could be scalable to six. (But not as a turn-based game, I'm sure!) With the extra players, we divided the tiles evenly among the players. We scaled the tokens for each player to nine a player.

We started out fast and furious the first quarter of the game, then people got thoughtful and contemplated the rest of the game, though players felt a rush to continue to play the game. This was a good thing!

Some people got turned off and left the game, feeling they didn't have the aptitude for it. Ralph stuck it out for a second game with an additional advanced rule, even though he didn't feel proficient with puzzle games, especially real-time. (Ironically, he won the second game.)

Dave saw the possibility of playing the game with his jigsaw-puzzle-loving wife, but only the turn-based game because she wouldn't appreciate the competitiveness of a real-time game.

We did catch some mis-played tiles long after they were played, so we couldn't tell who played them to make them take it back. In fact, we were so focused on our own players, we didn't start noticing mistakes until late in the game. We ended up with two land masses because of one mistake, but it was so late in the game that it would've been a tragic blow to the scores of the people who got disconnected, so we removed the bad piece and let the rest stand.

We saw the importance of catching mistakes, because someone could intentionly make mistakes to get rid of his pieces and end the game, because tiles get discarded if people don't know who played a piece incorrectly.

Overall, I found it a much better experience than a turn-based game. Other players didn't think so, but they never experienced how a thougtful turn-based game would drag.

Game lasted 10 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to learn more about Sunda to Sahul at

Sunda to Sahul

Players were Pat, Steve, Ralph, Dave, myself. New players to the game were: Pat, Steve.

We spent 5 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

I was eager to add more advanced rules, so I added the tribes rule.

With this rule, when a player completes a node, he can add a token to the created node, or to an existing tribe on the island. A token in a tribe is worth the number of tokens in the tribe to each token.

I didn't go past this rule, because it's a tough one to get one's head around.

I should note that the previous game was played using counters from the Cheapass Games Ultimate Bits Pack. It's always good to have this around for spare bits.

But for this game, we needed flat tokens so they could be stacked, so Dave grabbed some from another game. Again, we divided the tiles evenly and scaled the number of tokens to ten per person.

This game took longer because people didn't see where tiles could go. Ironic, because it lasted longer than the game with more people. I guess the extra people made the rush more urgent.

Anyways, people played this game was a little more interesting with the additional twist (though I don't think that's what slowed us down. Some f us had to remind others of the value of placing in tribes.)

This game ended with someone playing their last tile.

Game lasted 18 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to learn more about Sunda to Sahul at

Age of Steam

Players were Steve, Matt, Ralph, Mike, myself. New players to the game were: Matt, Mike.

We spent 30 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

Age of Steam is a rail game. Well, more of a resource management game, with a bit of luck thrown in. The object of the game is to score the most victory points. Victory points are gained by owning railroad tracks. More important are the victory points gained for delivering goods from one city to the next. Just as detrimental is giving out shares of stock in your railroad which give a player some quick cash. Players play a fixed number of turns depending on the number of players.

Each turn, players get to issue shares to get more money. people bid to get to pick their turn order. the first player to get to bid is determined randomly, but then players always follow turn order. Then people select their unique action. Then they build track -- three per turn. Then they move goods from one city to another, scoring a victory point (and income) for whose ever tracks are used. This happens twice per turn. Then they collect income. Then they pay expenses. One per share issued, and one per engine link level. (Engine link level determines how many cities a train may pass through to deliver goods.) Then goods are increased in cities, if possible. Then the turn marker is advanced.

I brought the handy-dandy reference cards printed double-sided from BoardGameGeek. These helped a lot to keep track of the turn sequence.

We tried to remember which rules we screwed up last time -- We can add a link if we forego delivering at least one good, incomplete tracks must be extended or lost.

Though we were mostly experienced, this game was no less agonizing in decision-making than the last game. Money was so tight.

I set myself to lose the first-turn, but the other players let me take back the mistake. We did the same for Mike later. Nobody wanted to see anyone drop out for playing that poorly.

In the end, I really screwed up by buying track that left me with owing during the pay expenses phase. If I didn't do that, I would've had a competitive score.

One thing, though, is that this game did play faster than the previous time we played it.

Ralph points out that the way the scoring is shown in the rules is more confusing than it needs to be. It's better to calculate it this way: (income_level - number_of_shares) * 3 + tracks.

Game lasted 132 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to buy Age of Steam at

Click here to learn more about Age of Steam at


Players were Ralph, Steve, myself. New players to the game were: Ralph, Steve, myself. Steve had the first turn.

We spent 15 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

This is a dungeon-exploration card game.

There are Hero cards, Quest Cards, Map cards and Adventure cards. Adventure cards consist of Bane cards, Boon cards, Encounter cards and Treasure cards.

Each player starts with a Hero, three Quests and a hand of five Adventure cards. The object of the game is to complete three quests, or be the last remaining Hero (winning by default.)

Each Hero has stats and a special ability.

The turn sequence is: 1) Discard a card, then draw back to five. 2) Play Encounters and/or Banes from your hand to hinder other players. These will cost peril tokens taken from the target player. The target player get a peril token for losing an encounter, or a glory token for winning encounter. Banes have rewards, drawbacks printed on them. 3) Draw a Map card and connect it to the dungeon. 4) Move. Collect peril and glory tokens in each room entered. Treasure and/or Boon cards can be played anytime during the Move phase, costing glory tokens. There are trap doors, locked doors and pits along the way.

A player may attack another player in the same room.

Once again, the trusty Cheapass Game Ultimate Bits Pack gave us counters for keeping track of glory and peril, and tokens for our heros, in addition to dice we needed. The game actually came with cutouts for the heros and peril and glory, but I didn't have scissors handy to actually cut them out.

Ralph and I found this game more satisfying than Hack, because of the concept of peril and glory tokens.

Going back, I see we got some rules wrong. Traps are always discarded after use. Treasures are discarded automatically when their tokens are used up.

Referencing the rules was a stumbling block. Though they were laid out logically, it wasn't easy to hone in on specific info at a glance. (Heck, that was true with Age of Steam as well.) But a reference card in the game was handy for Steve to double check a few rules.

Overall, it was an engaging game for its theme and artwork, and we look forward to playing a quicker game now that we're more familiar with the rules.

Game lasted 70 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to learn more about Dungeoneer at


Jumped in on a quick game of Set with lots of players and/or observers. One rule that threw me is that if I call "set" and made a mistake, I lose a set I already collected. It didn't matter because Kelli and Kyle were burning through all the sets faster than the cards were getting laid down, it seemed. Kyle won the game, with Kelli second -- way ahead of anyone else, including my one.

Magic: the Gathering

I jumped in on a game of Magic -- 3-player attack-left -- with Campbell and Kyle. They each had decks that they wanted to try on each other: Campbell had a deck-depletion deck, with Island Sanctuaries and Howling Mines, absolutely no creatures, Balance, and some card that lets him sacrifice lands for 2 life each for when he gets to use Balance. Kyle had a 300 card elf deck. I had a mix of red and blue cards.

I played for fun and spread my attacks towards whoever seemed more powerful. This is always a mistake in a multiplayer game, because ganging up on Campbell would've been a winning strategy. But I was playing for fun, and listening to Kyle bemoan is entertaining.

I lost first, and Campbell ran out of cards himself when he lost his Island Sanctuaries, in the face of four Howling Mines.

Click here or here (if the first link is obsolete) and scroll down to "7th" for Ralph's take on our games.

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