Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Every 100 Games - Saint Petersburg

My 5,400th play was Saint Petersburg, which is a game that I've played several times over the past 6 or 7 years. I recently was given a copy as a gift (thanks Aristides!) and so played one of the "Best of Three" series my wife and I play on occasion. Here is the review of this older game that is coming back into print soon.

Game Play
Players are trying to score victory points by hiring workers, building buildings, and recruiting aristocrats to their side. I make it sound really cool, but basically it is a Euro game where you are managing your money to get cards to get money and points each turn. There are four phases each turn in which workers, buildings, and aristocrats all activate on their appropriate phase giving you their money or points. The fourth phase has upgrade cards, which upgrade the three types of cards, but that phase doesn't activate their abilities. Once a single type of card runs out, the game ends at the end of the turn, and the person with the most points wins. The end game scoring is the aristocrats, which the more unique ones you have, the more points you get.

The box art and the card art is very Renaissance Russia. However, the board is really plain and pretty much not needed. This is a card game. The score track doesn't leave a lot of room for multiple pieces on the same space. Mostly this is a really plain game that if made today, probably would have a bit more flare.

Strategy & Tactics
You have to get some workers early to have a chance. The rule book even says get two workers on your first two rounds, so as not to fall behind. Then as you are purchasing workers and buildings you have to try and make the right tactical choices each round, depending on what you think your opponents might do, in order to save the most money and get even further in the game. Setting yourself up to get unique aristocrats by making sure you get a chance to buy one each round is important as well.

This game really falls short for me. I've tried it and tried it, but it just doesn't do it. You can make a single mistake in the first 3 turns and be out of the game. It snowballs so much that the single mistake is a huge disparity at the end. What makes it worse, in my opinion, is that sometimes you can get behind in this snowball game from no decision of your own. Rather just pure luck. If the start player gets a chance for a couple really cheap workers and you have to pay extra money for yours you are in trouble. It is even worse if they get an observatory on their first turn, thus getting another worker, and 50% more income than you going into the next turn. This game is just not one for me, though I'll keep it in my collection for those that do really like it in my group.

Dour-Faced Old Men - This is the game for you. You'll look especially dour playing this one.

New to the Hobby Gamers - New gamers to the hobby tend to try and go back and play the classics. Overall, I think many people would say this one is a classic, but I will suggest there are many other classic games to try instead of this one.

History Hipsters - Nope, this isn't for you either. It is too old, it is popular, and really it doesn't teach you a whole lot of history.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews. All images are from BGG and if you follow their URL you can find them there.

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