On 1 May 2008, Nick B. brought Cuba and played it with David, Peter, Matt and someone else I forgot, while André, Manuela, Nigel and Nick played RoboRally. Steve, Keith, Damen and I played El Capitán, which I had ordered from Nigel. I bought the game because it’s a majority control game by Kramer, it has gorgeous and detailed art by Mike Doyle, and it includes an expansion using two Portuguese cities. However, being our first game, we played the base version.
All of us thought it was a great game, with simple rules but mutually balancing mechanisms that make for interesting choices, without the paralysis of El Grande. For example, putting the first warehouse in a city means you win in case of ties for majority; it also means you’re the first to get a deactivated warehouse, but then you can activate it for free and increase the pay-off of the majority. As another example, the more warehouses in the city, the less worth is the majority, but on the other hand the fortresses in that city may become more valuable. Putting your first warehouse later in the game in a heavily built city means that the value of the other players’ majorities diminishes while you increase your bonus for the number of cities where you’re present.
Damen was to first to have warehouses in all cities, and Keith was second. Keith also managed to have two fortresses in the most heavily built cities. I was the only one to extend a loan from the first to the second phase, which cost me 30 florins, but on the other hand I could quickly start the second phase with building, instead of wasting a turn going for a loan. I was the only one to build all warehouses and fortresses, but still only came 3rd in a tight game: Keith won with 162 florins due to his presence in all cities and valuable fortresses, Damen had 134 florins, I had 128 and Steve 124.
The second games of the evening were For Sale, Ave Caesar and Manhattan. The latter is a game by Andreas Seyfarth, the author of two of my favourite games (Puerto Rico and Thurn & Taxis). It was Steve's game and Manuela, Nick, and I played with him. It’s another majority game, but with a greater nastiness factor and a greater luck factor due to the cards. In future games, I should strive to keep always a second card of the same position, to counter-attack in case someone ‘covers’ my building. Steve had the tallest building in the first two rounds, Manuela had it in the last two rounds. They finished first with 142 points each. Nick and I also finished ex aequo, with 136 points.