Thursday, January 14, 2016

Playing the Top 100: Tichu and Orléans

First I want to thank all of my friends that have offered to find me games, started trying to find me games, helped out with strategies, and most importantly played games with me. We're 5% of the way home people. It's all downhill from here. I also wanted to clarify something that may have been misconstrued in my earlier writing. I'm not limiting myself to playing these games once (though once may be enough for some) and I'm also willing to play other games that are not on the list. I just want to get the top 100 in by year's end.

 Also, if you're interested in playing a particular game with me because it is your favorite thing and live in the metro, let me know of Facebook. Let's set something up. Additionally also, I have requested with the guys that we Twitch stream Battlestar Galactica. You should watch, it's the game that sort of brought our group together and our games are a blast.

This has been pretty fun so far. I really like goals and this has given me a reason to play some things towards which I would not normally gravitate. Tonight I talk about one of those and it is not Tichu. Tichu and I love each other. We are old friends. Tichu knows where it sits in my top 10 list, it is one of the games that regardless what time it is, I will play. My Tichu partner and I have been playing
together for what I would estimate is a couple of years now and we love it. Probably a little too much.

Tichu #77 - For those that do not know, Tichu is a trick-taking (climbing style) game where you and a partner square off against another pair of players. First team to 1000 points wins and points are only scored on 5's, 10's, and Kings. There are 100 points in every game with a special card being worth an additional 25 (the Dragon) and another special card worth -25 (the Phoenix). There are also two other special cards, the Dog which passes lead to your partner, and the mahjong which leads the game. Before play starts each player passes one card to each other player and whoever follows the leader of the trick, must follow in same kind with higher cards. So if someone plays two 2's, you would need to play a pair of something higher. Also when the mahjong is played whether it is lead or not, the person who played it has the opportunity (they do not have to) to wish for a card. The next time a player can fulfill that wish, they must. No passing allowed if the card is available.

The game is part knowing the cards, part guessing well, and a lot of knowing your partner. I would not even say that JR and I are that good, but we feed off each other well. He is the brash, charismatic, crazy guy that we all know and love. I am the guy that makes his wild, crazy dreams come true in a game of Tichu.

The game itself can only be truly learned by playing it, but I'll leave a few tidbits of advice before moving on to Orléans. 1) If you do not know what to pass, always pass your highest card to your partner. 2) Never pass any specialty cards to your opponent unless someone calls Grand Tichu (risking 200 points to go out first in order to receive 200 points if they do) then pass them the Dog only. 3) Figure out with your partner which way you will pass Odds and Evens, so that you do not create a Bomb for your opponent (trump hand made up of 4 of a kind or a straight flush of five or higher). 4) If you have a certain trick, someone else probably does too. 5) Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. In other words, if you partner calls Tichu, never, ever, ever play over them unless you have a guaranteed way to get them the lead back.

Other than that, all I can say is play a lot and eventually you will get better. Oh and try and find a partner that won't yell at you, it's just better that way. Oh and don't forget 6 and a half million Chinese people play Tichu every day. So says the box. Alright, on to the Euro game of the evening.

Orléans #91 - Orléans is a game about building a city or cities or a trading empire or something. It was described to me as a bag building game where you draw chit/tiley looking things and then you "worker placement" style put them on spots to get more chit/tiley things. We played with the Deluxe version, which has wooden chit thingies instead of cardboard. At the end of the game I saw the cardboard version, That game would have driven me bonkers. As it was, the game was not too bad and I enjoyed myself. The object of the game is to get the most points and there are many ways to do it. One of the things that I really enjoyed is that when I made a play and was blocked for X reason, there were other things I could do. I definitely did not feel out of the game, though I had know clue how I was doing until the end.

When you get more little dudes, you usually get a thing as well. Maybe it is an item worth points. Maybe it is a building to put more dudes out per turn. I enjoy that I don't have to share my buildings with people and it made my choices of buildings more meaningful to which would help me win most. There are 6 chit/tiley dudes to pick up. I will rank them by color and maybe  importance: Grey- score multiplier, Red - extra draw, Yellow - Wild (but gets you no extra thingies), Black - buildings, Brown - cogs of space covering (which count like  a permanent dude), Blue - Money, and White - Farmers. Farmers are used almost everywhere, but they are the most important  There are several tracks to keep up with throughout the game, including a Marco Polo style exploration track. There is also a score multiplier to keep up with. I think that there are probably some optimal moves at the start, which I did not know at the time but one can definitely catch up. In our 5 player game, I came in 2nd and the lowest score was 86; highest was pretty bonkers at 142. The game was a little long for me, but I think that is a bi-product of my group being easily distracted. I think for someone who enjoys worker placements it is definitely a game to check out.

I heard there is an app as well, which seems pretty cool. The only other worker placement that I regularly play is Lords of Waterdeep, and I think I enjoy this game a little more because of the multiple paths to victory. Also, the game lasts 18 rounds and every round there will be a tile that is flipped. This tile will affect all players either positively or negatively. The negative effects will either not affect you due to being behind or they affect everyone. The positive effects generally give some amount of money. All things are worth score in the game, except for dudes. I'm pretty sure by the end I may have had too many. Also, something that my friend said is that a 2 player game can likely be completed in under an hour, which he said because he knows that I enjoy fast play. Fast play is only beaten in my book by really fast play.

Random thing I thought about, I could see this game turned into a dice game. I think I would play it. Of course by me uttering those words, 100 Euro players died moving their little wooden cubes on a board somewhere. Dice Orléans, let's do it. I am not sure what is on the docket for next week. I am sure that we will begin planning in the next couple of days. Happy Gaming.

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