Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tuesday 25th January - Merchants of Amsterdam

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This weeks game is the 2000 offering from Renier Knizia, The Merchants of Amsterdam. Here is a description from BGG:

Players are attempting to be in first or second place majorities in a variety of categories throughout the game. These include commodity markets, trading colonies, and warehouses in Amsterdam.

On a player's turn you draw three cards and decide how they will be resolved for the turn. You can either remove the card from the game, keep it for yourself, or put it up for auction. The cards allow players to advance or place one of their markers in the various categories.

There are also time marker cards which when drawn move the game through various "historical" phases until the last which ends the game. The historical phases follow a period of time in the history of Amsterdam which can range from no effect, scoring rounds for particular categories, bonuses, and towards the end some penalties as wars begin to disrupt business markets.

The unique twist in the game is that the game comes with a spring driven auction clock to perform the dutch auctions throughout the game. You start the clock and it ticks down as all of the players hold their hands ready close by. The idea is that as time passes the cost of the card lowers and it is simply an issue of who will pay for it first by slapping down on the clock and thus stopping it at a certain price.

Two of us had played once and the other two hadn’t played at all. So after a run through of the rules, Garry started us off. This game gives you many difficult decisions, deciding which card to discard, auction or keep is just the first of many. Keeping an eye on the dobber on the time track is also prudent as the scoring squares can creep up on you quickly if you are not careful. So deciding what to bid for and where to place your storehouses and trading posts etc so as to maximise your position ready for the next scoring is vital. The various bonuses for certain conditions that are met during the game are a welcome boost in cash but you have to be careful as when the game gets towards the end quarter you have to start removing store houses and trading posts, and if the conditions for the bonus are not met after that you have to pay the bonus cash back to the bank. Nobody in our game took the opportunity for a loan from the bank. As to the auction prices on the whole they were 150 or above. and the option to double the prices was taken on 3 occasions I think. Another good tactical option that spices things up. To be honest I thought Garry was well in the lead, but the double scoring round at game end dramatically changed things. Getting the majority in an area is obviously good but getting a large number of second places is also necessary. For anything other than that its no dosh.

Final Scores (*denotes starting player)
*Garry 1230, Colin 1420, Natalie 980, Neil 1010

Rating (0-10)
Colin 7.5


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