This week David and Susan suggested a game of Genoa, and Richard and I joined them. I had played it only once, in June, and Richard had never played the game, but he got it immediately and beat us thoroughly. He drove hard bargains (must be his patent lawyer training) and managed to accumulate most of the privilege cards, thus getting a massive money bonus at the end. He also played very efficiently, ending without any surplus wares. There were several 'nasty' moments throughout the game, for example when Susan finished prematurely her turn, not allowing any of us to take an action. There were also some 'duh!' moments, typically provided by yours truly, when I realized I had miscalculated the path of the tower. While I came last in June (605 florins, against 655 for Julie, 665 for Ian, 670 for Ester, and 725 for Julian), this time I miraculously came second, don't ask me how. I guess it was the large orders I fulfilled, one of them in the game's and David's last turn, for which I had to split the order's proceedings with him. Better 50 florins than nothing...
Genoa seems to be a game that doesn't get easily repetitive because it gives players so much leeway with respect to trading, strategy and tactics, which in turn means that each play with a different group of people can be quite a different experience.
David and Susan depended on André to take them home and had to wait for him to finish a marathon game of Dominant Species with Big Nick and Michael. So, we next played two rounds of Category 5 (6 nimmt). Meanwhile, other games were finishing, and Mark and Manuela joined us for a game of Vampire. The game's 'theme' is pointless. Suffice to say there are 6 suits of cards, each card being worth 1 or 2 points, and that each player's goal is to put down a set of at least 3 cards, as valuable as possible, in each suit. Cards cannot be added to sets once they're formed on the table. At the end of the game, for each suit, whoever has the least valuable set has to discard those cards; all other cards' points are then added up. During the game there is a face down draw pile, and one face up discard pile per suit. On your turn, you take two cards from the draw pile or you take one complete discard pile. You then either discard a card from your hand or else put down a set of cards. If you take the discard pile of a suit, you must use it to form a set, possibly with additional cards from your hand.
In the first game we were cautious and only formed sets with a reasonable number of points to make sure our own sets would not be the least valuable ones and become worthless at the end. However, it turned out that for each suit there was at least one player who had not formed a set in that suit, which meant that everyone scored the cards in their sets. Since the game ends as soon as the draw pile is exhausted or someone forms a set in each suit, for the second game I tried to make low value sets as fast as possible to force the game's end before anybody else had accumulated many points. Easier said than done, because it was easy for the others to spot the strategy and try to 'starve' me of the suits I still needed, by hoarding them in their hands and then forming sets. Nevertheless, I had a quite better score in the second game, which means the strategy is not too bad. I just have to execute it better next time, maybe by only starting to form sets when I have at least two cards of each suit in my hand. Overall, a nice little filler from Knizia that plays fast and demands some non-trivial choices, but by far not his best game.