Board Game Session Report for March 24, 2003: Money, Call My Bluff, Age of Steam


Chris' SOG session. 5-player Money, 6-player Call My Bluff, 3-player Age of Steam.

When Chris said that Mare Nostrum was being played, I was excited to have a chance at this promising new game. I pulled myself away from my responsibilities at work, which are growing ever urgent, just for this game.

I should have known what the evening would hold, given that the host vowed to never play "what Vitas likes."


Players were Rob, Ralph, Chip, Lewis, myself. New players to the game were: Rob, Chip, Lewis, myself.

We spent 6 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

Game Overview

This is a card game with a money theme.

Basically, players start with a hand of six cards, plus one worthless bluff card. Two sets of four cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table.

Players make a bid, by putting down any number of cards face-down in front of them. In bid order, from highest to lowest, players exchange their cards with someone else's, or with a set from the middle of the table.

After all players do that, the cards in the middle of the table are replenished back to four cards each, and another round begins.

This continues until the draw pile is exhausted. At that point, each player reveals sets of cards based on currency. For each set, if the value is 200 or more, the value is added to the score. If the value is less than 200, then 100 is subtracted from the score. After this is done, there is a bonus for sets. three cards of the same value adds 100 to the score.

There are gold coins which add face-value to the score... piddly amounts that they are.

The game is played for three rounds.

Session Overview

We actually played this game for one round instead of three, using it as a filler until everyone was ready.

I didn't get the game, because sometime during the instructions, I heard that it's good to have all the different currencies, so I shot for that at my detriment.

Personally, I don't see what good the bluff card is. Everyone bids at the same time. There's no hand limit. A player can't lose the bluff card. It just takes up space.

I'm not sure what to think of this game with the one play.

Game lasted 16 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to buy Money at

Click here to learn more about Money at

Call My Bluff

Players were Rob, Ralph, Marcus, Chip, Lewis, myself. Marcus was a new player to the game. Ralph had the first turn.

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

Game Overview

This is a dice-rolling bidding game.

Each player starts with six dice and secretly rolls them in a cup. (Being noisy at this point is part of the fun -- especially when you slam the cup upside-down on the table so you can then peek at what you rolled.)

Then players bid on an ever-escalating track of what number of all dice have a specific number. You can back-track a little by bidding on the wild-card, rather than a number.) You can re-roll your hidden dice if you reveal (and let stand) at least one of the number you bid on.

On your turn you can call a player's bid. At point, all players reveal their hidden dice. If the player is correct, all other players lose one dice. If the player went over, that player loses dice equal to the amount he was over. If the player was under, the caller loses dice equal to the amount he was under.

When a player loses all his dice, he is out. The winner is the last player remaining in the game.

Session Overview

Marcus was quick to call Ralph's bluff many times, so he lost out first.

Then we had the game drag out when Ralph and Lewis were the remaining players with their full compliment of dice.

Game lasted 21 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to buy Call My Bluff at

Click here to learn more about Call My Bluff at

Age of Steam

Players were Chris, Lewis, myself. Chris had the first turn.

We spent 10 minutes going over the rules and setting up the game.

Game Overview

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.

Session Overview

This is the first time we played a three player game. All of us played six players, and I played five players as well.

With three players, competition for roles was weak. We pretty much could do what we wanted when we wanted. That meant bidding for turn order was light.

Though money was tight at the beginning of the game, we all had more money than we knew what to do with at the end of the game.

With less players, there's less pain in the decisions to make each turn.

Chris ended up making use of his six-link engine speed on the final turn, which is something I've never seen in a five or six player game.

Overall, the flavor of the game is lighter with less players, and less engaging towards the end.

Game lasted 144 minutes. Final scores were:

Click here to buy Age of Steam at

Click here to learn more about Age of Steam at

Click here for Chip's take on the session.

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