Tuesday, 7 February 2012

"Of a complicated battle"

Another outing for...
This was very nearly a game of Ora et Labora, but I forgot my phone on the way to games club and missed Gareth’s text. By the time Gareth arrived I had set Eclipse up and so we reverted to plan A...
We had five Terran players. As most experienced I took the central slot with Barrie, the only other player who had played at all, on my right and Gareth on my left. Beyond Gareth was Johan and beyond Barrie was Ian.

The game started with the usual explores (the technologies being clustered at the expensive end of the market), and Gareth found an early materials cache, enabling him to build a Dreadnought and take on the Ancients. Most people had some Ancients to fight, except for Johan who hadn’t found any. The Ancients were generally defeated without any problem. Johan and Gareth exchanged Ambassadors, as did Ian and Barrie, and I exchanged ambassadors with both Gareth and Barrie, in Barrie’s case intimidated by his Cruisers equipped with Shard Hull... I was lucky enough to pick up an Axion Computer.

Ian had a pretty good economy going with a couple of Orbitals. Gareth had built up a large mixed fleet, while me and Barrie stuck to Cruisers. About turn 5 I stormed the Galactic Centre with my Cruisers.

Gareth, in the first player vs player combat in the game, moved a single Dreadnaught into my Galactic Centre, gaining the Traitor tile.
I responded by researching Plasma Missiles and installing 3 Plasma Missile tiles on my cruisers, who already had Axion Computers.
Gareth asked a few questions about how combat worked and then threw his entire fleet into the Galactic Centre,  about eight ships total.

The entire fleet was destroyed by the initial volley of Plasma Missiles from the four cruisers. Rather a dramatic result for the first real battle of the game! Worse still for Gareth he had used many actions to launch the fleet and so had to give up a few outlying systems to break even. Gareth explained that he thought each ship could only target one enemy ship- if that was true he would indeed have won the combat...
The following turn Johan kindly took the Traitor tile from Gareth and attacked his nearest system. Gareth managed to scrape together a Dreadnaught by burning all his resources. Johan moved more ships in. Uneasy peace prevailed in the rest of the Galaxy- possibly around this time Barrie bought Quantum Grid by swapping out materials for science.

In a sort of poetic justice, Gareth’s Dreadnaught, properly upgraded with Improved Hull and Plasma Cannons, completely wiped out Johan’s larger but less technically advanced fleet.

The uneasy peace continued during turn 8, apart from Gareth and Johan fighting skirmishes. I had built all my star bases and a couple of Dreadnaughts. Ian was saving his materials, while Barrie was massing a large fleet on my borders.

Turn 9 came and Ian built a couple of Monoliths. I then struck into the only system of his I could reach, which he had two star bases and three ships in. Ian upgraded his ships with multiple shields, and I was distracted by Barrie launching his own attack on me. A three-way competition of upgrading and moving was won by Barrie, but at the price of using up all his discs.

So, although Barrie was attacking me in four systems, he couldn’t take a single system for his own. Despite his superior numbers he only defeated me in two of the systems- a 1 VP system I wasn’t defending and a lightly held 2 VP system. Elsewhere the combination of Cruisers with Plasma Missiles and Star bases with Plasma Missiles and Ion Cannons was victorious, although it was quite a close run thing.

The key battle however was for Ian’s system. Ian’s Shields paid off and my Plasma missile volley failed to destroy sufficient targets, leaving an uneven contest between Ian’s fully equipped ships and a single Ion cannon on each Dreadnaught.

Ian had very bad luck with the combat VPs and I had good luck, getting three 4s.
Ian 32, Me 31, rest in 20s.
From space ships to...
After a lot of humming and hahing, the groups split up and Dan was joined by Shamu and Jon to have a go at Dan’s recent Maths trade acquisition. This is a fun game of rolling dice to acquire parts of an engine that will enable you to buy airships. It’s relatively straightforward, although keeping track of how many dice you’re entitled to roll each turn is key to ensuring that you don’t inadvertently ‘cheat’ (ahem – Dan…..!)

Jon managed some good rolling at the beginning, but got a little stuck when trying to upgrade to more valuable dice. Dan got his engine working well and was soon able to purchase the more valuable airships. Meanwhile, Shamu was quietly (sort of) collecting tiles with bonus points, along with several low-value airships. And when the end came, this was enough to win him the game.
Light, inoffensive fare that I would happily play again!
Shamu 19(ish); Dan 15(ish); Jon 10 (ish)
Once again they turned to...
Verrater (thanks Jon)
This was new to John and Dan, but was described by Jon as ‘a bit like Citadels but better’. “It had better be…”, grumbled John, who had obviously had a deeply scarring experience of Citadels somewhere in his gaming past.

In this game, Jon had shot into the lead at the halfway point, but then failed to score a single point until the final round. At the end of round 6, the scores were 17,17,17,19, which led to an exciting finale, where Noel managed to win a single-handed battle to claim the victory. I’m still liking this one a lot – definitely value for money in that little box!
Noel 28; Jon 23; John 22; Dan 21

Ligrettto (thanks Jon)
For Ligretto read “Dutch Blitz”. John had brought it along, and we played it 2 or 3 times. I think he won every time! For a change of pace and a real test of your eye-hand-brain co-ordination, this is a great little card game. Definitely one of those ‘just one more round’ games (but maybe not at 11pm…….)

P.S “Of a Complicated Battle” is from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida

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