Date: 11th June 2004
Game played: Saint Petersburg ( Hans im Gluck ) BGG Id: 9217

Saint Petersburg is a new game from Hans Im Gluck / Rio Grande about the development of the city in the 18th Century. Players use their scarce supply of rubles to acquire worker, building and aristocrat cards, which earn the player either an income of rubles, victory points or a combination of both. Each round of the game has four phases and at the end of each phase (except the fourth) there is a scoring of income and/or victory points. At the beginning of each phase, eight cards are made available for purchase. Any cards left over from the previous phase are supplemented to bring the total back up to eight by the card type associated with the particular phase (workers in phase 1; buildings in 2; aristocrats in 3 and upgrades in 4). Players can choose to buy a card and place it on the table, reserve a card and take it into their hand, pay for a reserved card and place it on the table, or pass. If all players pass in succession, the phase ends and scoring occurs. After the fourth phase, no scoring takes place but, instead, any cards that have been available for two rounds are taken from play and any remaining cards become discounted by one ruble in the following round. Once all the cards of one type have been exhausted, the game ends once that round finishes. There is then a final scoring of VPs for aristocrats and money in hand, with any reserved cards still in a player's hand generating minus 5 points each. The player with the most VPs is the winner.

Money is very tight in this game and timing is pretty important. You need to be generating enough income from your worker cards to keep you in the bidding for the later phases, but then you miss out on buying buildings and aristocrats early, which can generate victory points every round. The upgrade cards are good but deplete your supply of rubles for buying cards early in the next round. A fine balance is needed. In our game, I stayed concentrating on income generation for too long and fell quickly behind on VPs. Mark K and Nige both got the balance right and got plenty of points in the final scoring of aristocrats. Mark K just did enough to take the win from Nige. We all thought this was a very good game, although my only doubt was how well it would stand up to repeated plays. We'll have to see whether it still feels as good after another few games.

Mark K
Mark G

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