Date: 26th March 2004
Game played: Dallas ( Yaquinto ) BGG Id: 4297

Last week, Nige suggested giving this golden oldie a try. It's several years since I played it and Nige reckoned he was a teenager when he played it last. The two Marks hadn't played before. Each player takes on the role of one of the Ewing family and is trying to make as much money by buying stock in the various companies in the Dallas area and from being voted the President of Ewing Oil. The game is played over five years and at the end of each year, a stockholders' meeting takes place at which the Presidency is voted on. Each game year last between five and ten turns and players travel around the board using cards, which determine movement and allow certain actions to be performed. Some of these actions bring cash; others aid movement and others hamper the progress of other named characters in the game. If a player lands on certain locations, they can keep the card played for extra votes at the stockholders' meeting. Other locations allow the player to buy a share in one of the Companies. If one player is able to gain a controlling interest in a Company the value of his shares is doubled; otherwise they are worth the purchase price. The further you travel, the more different companies you can invest in. However, players need to ensure they are back at Southfork before the end of the year; otherwise they can't take place in the stockholders' meeting. And of course, if other players can divert you from Southfork using their action cards, you can be sure they will.

At the stockholders' meeting, all those present can negotiate for cards or votes from fellow players. Then everyone has a chance to blackmail a character if they can play a set of cards for that character. That character then has to vote in the way the blackmailer decides. Once everyone has voted, whoever has the most votes (which can also include non-playing characters) is made President and receives a sizeable fee from the bank. If the new President has received some negotiated votes from other players, he may choose to make good on any promise he made during the negotiation, but is not obliged to. Money also accumulates in a slush fund, which is paid out at the end of the game to whoever is President at that point. Cash and the value of stock held is then totalled and the player with the most money wins.

Our game was pretty typical with plenty of blackmail and nastiness going on. Some of the actions can be quite devastating and, not having familiarised ourselves with all the cards before starting to play, some unpleasant surprises cropped up at times. Mark G and I were forced to sit out the second year's meeting due to a heatwave causing everyone to lose their next turn. Of course, this was played by Nige who was back at Southfork one turn early in order that he could play this card. In the third year, Mark G had the casting vote as to whom to support for presidency and, to my astonishment, he sided with Nige who was a clear leader at that stage, instead of me who was probably last. An overjoyed Nige chucked his supporter a $2 million thank you even though no negotiation had taken place, keeping $13 million for himself. I was desperate for cash by then and risked losing stock if I'd been targeted by another player and didn't have cash to pay them. However, I managed to keep out of the others' way and actually managed to keep Nige away from Southfork for the fourth year meeting. Mark K also absented himself and this enabled Mark G and I to catch up a little. The final turn, Mark K played perfectly and managed to blackmail Sue Ellen (Nige) to vote for him, gaining him the final presidency and the slush fund. This gave him enough to sail past Nige for the win. Well played.

Dallas is quite a nice game, allowing players to get nostalgic and act out as one of the characters from the TV series. However, it went on much too long, taking us just about three hours. The multiple use of the cards was clever but none of us was particularly struck by the game as a whole. Nice to play after a long absence but not likely to see the light of day again soon.

Mark K
Mark G

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