The Industrial Revolution and Aliens: Game night summary

My faithful gaming buddy, Mike, was the last man standing after trying to assemble a game night this week. So we decided to change things up a bit and dig into more heavier fare. He was fortunate to receive a copy of Brass just in time and since it has been on my list of games I needed to try at least once, it made the decision of picking our first game pretty easy.

Granted, this was a 2 player variant of the full game, but I still didn’t feel like we were playing some subset of the full game. Basically a few of the lower cities were blocked off, 1 card of a handful of other cities were removed and the coal/iron track started at 2, rather than 1. All of the mechanics and actions remained the same.

Without realizing how had money is to come by, I jumped right into building canals to make sure I had a solid infrastructure setup before putting any buildings down. It’s not that this was a bad plan, it just handcuffed me because my money was depleted so quickly without the possibility of having it replenished. Luckily I realized that and started putting down some coal mines, hoping to monopolize the material. That worked pretty well, but I was still pretty strapped for cash. So towards the end of the phase I really focused on saving money, with the hopes that I would be able to put down 2 cotton mills and 2 ports. It took me until the last turn, but I did it. Pretty good paid day from that and a surprisingly nice payday from the canals I placed, as well. I was starting to get a sense of what I should be doing. That was until the second phase started…

Because we didn’t remove very many 1 level buildings, there were a significant number of spots that were already built on. This made for a different challenge right off the bat. Not only did I have a hard time building because of the lack of space, I couldn’t build some of my 2+ buildings because there would be no way of getting coal to them. No problem, though. I learned a tough lesson in phase 1 when I didn’t take advantage of developing. So my first few turns were building tracks and developing through the less valuable buildings in order to long term or end game strategy. Mike did a great job of building even more tracks and connecting his coal to most of the more valuable cities. This enabled his coal mines to be flipped pretty early on for a good bump in income. He also tried to entice me by building a handful of ports, hoping I would want to save the money from buying tracks and just use his ports for producing cotton. For the most part I was able to keep on my own path and find other ways to use the cotton mills. Similar to the end of phase 1, I waiting until my very last turn for one big payday by building a nice 18 point shipyard.

After all the point tallying was done, I came out the victor…but not by much. We certainly learned a lot and I can say that I’ll be much more prepared for my first “full” game next time.

Wanting to finish off with something a little lighter, but still substantial, we decided on Alien Frontiers. One of the best games at playing just as well with 2 as it does with 4.

In my usual early game strategy, I did everything I could to amass ships, while Mike went for collecting resources, taking advantage of his Alien Tech card that prevents me from raiding his supply. At first this worked great for me because I was able to use the Transforming Station and colonize pretty quickly. Luckily for Mike he was a master at rolling triples and, since he had no problem with resources, he was also able to colonize pretty easily.

As got deeper into the game, the typical tug-of-war for colony bonuses was going on and that was taking a big chunk of resources from my supply. So I felt as if I was just spinning my wheels trying to take abilities away from Mike, rather than pushing the game forward. He also made a substantial leap forward after aquiring both +1 VP tech cards. All I could do at that point was try and push his colonies around so I would control more territory. It didn’t work all that well and he eventually finished me off with, what else, another set of triples. Mike actually maxed out the victory point track, which led us to question something:

Why does the scoring track only go to 14? In a 2 player game each starts with eight colonies, so if you’re able to get all of them on the planet, that is 8 points. Plus up to 2 for the Alien Tech cards and possibly 1 for the Positron marker. Right there is potentially 11. Control more than 3 territories and you’re at the top of the track. Maybe it’s unlikely, but definitely possible. Oh well, doesn’t change the fact that I really, really like this game!

We only had time for 2 games, but both were fulfilling and very enjoyable. Thanks for reading!

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