Date: 16th July 2004
Game played: Fifth Avenue ( Rio Grande Games ) BGG Id: 9342

This week, we tried the new Alea/Rio Grande big box release, Fifth Avenue, by Wilko Manz whose only other game I know is the Kosmos release from several years ago, Giganten. The idea of the game is to build skyscrapers in prestigious locations near to as many businesses possible. When scoring takes place, skyscrapers that are not next to any businesses score just 1 VP whereas, if they are next to four businesses, they score 8VPs. A player's turn consists of three actions. The first action is a free choice of either: drawing 3 skyscrapers for building later in the game; placing a business; taking a black card to help in the building auctions, combined with moving the building commissioner; or scoring a district where a commissioner is currently situated. Dependent on your choice of first action you then get to draw 2 coloured or black cards for the auctions and finally you have to move a commissioner. The commissioners move across the board and once they have completed their journey, they initiate a series of auctions for the right to build skyscrapers at the locations they have visited. The players bid using the cards they have managed to collect and, depending on the value of cards the winner of the bid has used in the auction, he gets to place up to 3 skyscrapers at the location being auctioned off (or he places a block on further building at that location). The game ends when either a set number of businesses have been placed on the board or when a second location has had a building block placed on it. There is then a final scoring of all locations on the board and whoever has the most VPs is the winner.

In our game, we were all very defensive in our movement of the commissioners, so much so that there was never an opportunity for anyone to score a district. Collecting cards in preparation for the auctions is critical and watching what colours other people are picking up gives an idea of where they may want to bid at auction. We all made mistakes that we soon recognised were bad plays and one thing the others didn't spot early on was the need to have skyscrapers available to build when the auctions began. I capitalised on one situation where Nige had no skyscrapers and Mark only one to trigger an auction round where I got to place in three separate locations. Although none of us had an idea of how the final scoring would go, my presence in Central Park gave me enough points to surge ahead and win. We all thought this game had several nice ideas but it did go on a bit too long. We agreed that a second game would see us all play very differently based on our experience in the first game. Pretty good though.

Mark K

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