26th January 2016

Supper had just arrived for Burgundy and Blue, so Green and Red set up our first game of the evening which was Ca$h ‘n Guns.  We last played it at our New Year games night, though only Blue and Burgundy who had been at that game had made it this time as Cerise and Grey are “still waiting” and Purple has work issues.  Green, Magenta and Red knew how to play though and gave Pine a quick run-down.  It’s not a particularly challenging filler, so set up and teaching didn’t take long, in fact the longest part was probably the debate about who was the eldest and therefore would start.  Pine lost the debate (and won the right to start).

Ca$h 'n Guns
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

The idea is that each player has eight bullet cards, five of which are blank.  Simultaneously, everyone chooses one bullet card and, on the count of three, chooses a target by pointing their foam gun at them.  Then, The Godfather may enact his privilege by redirecting one of the guns pointing at him before he gives a count of three on which any cowards (or astute tacticians) may withdraw.  All remaining players reveal their bullet cards and the target of any live cards are out for the rest of the round and pick up a wound token.  All players still standing then take it  in turns to choose one of the face up loot cards (or the Godfather token) from the centre of the table, continuing until there is nothing remaining.  The winner is the wealthiest player who is still alive at the end of the  game.

Ca$h 'n Guns
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

Meanwhile, Blue finished her pizza in record time, just in time to join in.  She got off to a good start going for pictures, but that made her an early target.  Magenta also picked up some potentially valuable artwork, while Green and Red traded The Godfather role a few times.  Going into the last round, it was all quite tight, especially as it is a game where players can have a hugely successful round or completely bomb out.  Pine had the hugely successful final round, as did Green, while Blue, with two wounds and a gun pointed at her head chickened out.  This meant she had a null round and finished in second with $130,000 (after a recount).  Green took the $60,000 Diamond bonus giving him $161,000 total, some way clear of the rest, and leaving Blue ruing the fact that she had made the snap decision to withdraw from the last round when she had a live bullet pointed at him.  That said, had she stayed in and taken out Green, one of the others would have taken the huge Diamond bonus and as they had more than Green without it, they could have won by an even larger margin.

Ca$h 'n Guns
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

With Magenta wanting to leave early, we didn’t want to leave anyone stranded without a game, so decided to play something shorter as a large group first and leave our slightly longer, “Feature Game” for after.  With six, the options were limited, but there were still plenty of possibilities.  Red’s eyes lit up at the thought of Bohnanza, and although it can run on a little, we felt we could finish it and leave plenty of time for Endeavor.  After a little debate, Red got her way, and then pointed out that 2016 is “International Year of Pulses“, a fact that pleased Pine as a vegetarian who makes a mean dal.

Bohnanza
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor spearjr

Pine was the only one unfamiliar with “The Bean Game”, so Green gave him a brief run-down of the rules while Red and Magenta handed out cards.  A simple, old favourite, albeit one we’ve not played for a while, the game is largely based on the fact that players have a hand of cards that they must play in strict order.  On their turn, the active player must play (plant) the first bean card in their hand (the one that has been there the longest) and may plant the second if they wish.  Then they draw two cards and place them face up in the middle of the table so everyone can see, at which point the bidding starts with players offering trades for cards they like.  Once both cards have been planted (either in the active player’s fields or somewhere else), then the active player can trade cards from their hand too.  All traded cards must be planted before the active player finished their turn by drawing three cards and putting them into their hand in strict order.  And it is the strict order that is the key to the game, however difficult it is for players to refrain from rearranging their cards.

Bohnanza
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor spearjr

The game started with some accusations of dodgy shuffling which the guilty parties strongly refuted, but led to a strange start, with chilli beans getting sort of stuck.  Red spent nearly the whole game with no cards, yet everyone wanted to trade with her, an ominous sign, it is the player who trades most and best who wins.  Meanwhile, Green sat on a black-eyed bean field for a while, then they all came all at once, the product of more dodgy shuffling perhaps?  It was a close game with Burgundy ending with thirteen and Blue just ahead with fourteen, but the signs were true and Red won with a grand total of fifteen “beangeld”.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Red and Magenta left for an early night so Magenta could nurse her cold and the rest of us moved onto the, “Feature Game” which was Endeavor, a game that Green has been desperate to play for a very long time.  It is nominally about exploring, however, the slightly dry artwork, though clear, does give it a bit of an abstract feel, though ours was seasoned with a little bit of international atmosphere as we were playing with Dutch Buildings.  The game is played over seven rounds, each of which consists of four phases:  Building, Population, Income and Action.  The idea is that players have four status tracks which correspond to Industry, Culture, Finance and Politics, which roughly correspond to the four phases and dictate what players are allowed to do at each stage.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

Players begin by choosing a building from the range allowed by the player’s current industry level.  Some buildings provide an increase in one (or more) of the four status tracks, some provide actions, while some of the most others do both.  Once everyone has taken it in turns to to choose a building, they then move population markers from their general supply to their harbour according to their current culture level.  A strong population is important because that ultimately limits the number of actions players can take on their turn.  The income phase allows players to move some of their workers from buildings back into their harbour as dictated by their current level on the income track.  These add to the population players have available to do things with, while also making space on the buildings so that the action is available for re-use.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

The first three phases of each round are mostly just preparation and book-keeping; the guts of each round are in the final phase, where players take it in turns to carryout an action of their choice.  There are five basic actions: Taking Payment, Shipping, Occupying, Attacking, and Drawing Cards.  In order to carryout an action, players must activate an appropriate building by moving a population marker from their harbour to the building.  In the case of shipping, occupying and attacking, the actions are carried out on the central, communal player board.  To ship, after activating an appropriate building, players can move one of the population markers to one of the six shipping tracks and take the token that was on the space.  These tokens are useful as they add to the status tracks, but some also give a free action.  Shipping is also important as it gives players a presence in a region which is necessary for occupying, attacking and drawing cards.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

When a player places the last token on a shipping track, he takes The Governor card off the top of the pile in the region and the region is considered “open”.  This means that players who already have a presence in the region can also occupy the cities within the region. This gives both tokens and victory points, but where a player occupies a city that is connected to another city they already occupy, they get an extra token, which can be very valuable, as well as providing extra points at the end of the game.  This makes position very important, but if someone occupies a city that another player wants, one option is attacking.  This is carried out in the same way as occupying, but is a separate action and costs an additional population marker.  Occupying a region also adds to a players presence in the region: players can also draw the top card from a region’s stack and add it to their player-board, so long as their total presence in the region is higher than the card number.  Cards are important as they also add to the status tracks as well as provide victory points, however there is a card limit which is enforced when a player passes at the end of the round and any status track points gained with the card are lost when cards are discarded.

Endeavor
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

Once everyone has completed one action phase players continue taking it turns until everyone passes.  Thus, the final possible action is taking payment which is the simplest action and allows players to move one of their population markers back to the harbour so that they can re-use the building in the same round. In addition to the five basic actions, some of the more expensive buildings provide a choice or even a combination of two of the basic actions.  After seven rounds, points are awarded for cities, for connections between cities, for progress up status tracks, cards, some special buildings, and any left-over population markers.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

Although the game was more complex than many that we play, and only Green had played it before, so it took a while to explain.  In the event, it was not actually as complex as we all thought at the start, but it took most of us a while to work out what we were trying to do.  The first few rounds are quite quick as there aren’t a lot of options, however, they are very important as they set the foundations for the later rounds.  With people new to it though, we mostly had no idea what we were doing at the start, but quickly picked up the rhythm of the game.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

Pine struggled at the start having had a bad day, but he made reasonable ground going down the slavery route and finished just behind Blue and Green.  It was Burgundy, however, who had managed to build his culture early in the game and capitalised on it later finishing twelve points clear with sixty seven.  While packing up, Blue, Green and Burgundy reviewed the game a little and tried to see where Burgundy had really picked up his additional points.  First we noticed that Blue couldn’t count and had missed ten points putting her second.  This meant that although we had finished with similar points for the status tracks, it was really the cities that Burgundy had occupied and connections he’d made that made the difference.  We had enjoyed the game though and thought we needed to play it again.  Although the game has essentially the same ingredients (the region cards and buildings are the same every time), we felt the starting token layout would actually have a much larger impact on game play than we had originally thought and would give it a surprising amount of replay value.

Endeavor
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning Outcome:  Some people need to take their shoes and socks off to count to more than ten!

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