Wednesday, 16 May 2012

3... is the magic number

Indeed... and it could've saved a lot of time if we'd remembered this early on when trying to decide how to split games between 9 players...  oh, how we could've done with Tonio's mathematical skills to help !

Eventually common sense prevailed and we split into 3's to check out the games below...

But first, a small aperitif for the early arrivers...

Fast Flowing Forest Fellers

Jon and I managed to get there early this week and so ramped up a 2nd game of this with the idea it would be over by the time everyone else showed up. This time using Jon’s new copy, him having been impressed enough after the initial game to get one himself (well that and also i suspect the 7.99 price tag helped sway the decision J). Then Paul showed up just before we started which made it a 3 player game.  Some new maps were chosen for the course, one with long (LONG) currents just asking for player interaction, and the second with an interesting set of currents and logs that looked intriguing.

Early on, as suspected, everyone seemed more enthusiastic to dump other players back down the long current flows rather than trying to get clear of the hazards… to avoid this I decided to only launch one at a time so I could focus on getting each past the obstacles rather than relying on getting the right cards… Jon and Paul seemed happier slugging it out on the rapids J

Eventually, after some kind of reluctant truce was called, everyone started to drift to the 2nd board… this set in motion a very different kind of scenario wherein a chain reaction would be triggered by kicking a log into a current near the top of the board. This would kick another log onto another current, which might kick a player, who would move a log etc… all the way down. Quite interacting to see, if not exactly that useful for anyone.  By this stage both Jon and Paul had realised that I was ahead and were trying to join forces to stop what was probably both of their worse outcomes… me winning J… but in the same way that Dastardly and Mutley never quite seem to get it together it wasn’t having much effect… eventually they both realised the game was up as my 3rd and last logger reached the finish line.

Gotta say I’m liking this game, and not just from the result. It’s simple (possibly the simplest game to teach I have), quick  (45 mins) and has a lot of potential for interaction, planning and even a little strategy…

Final score: James (me) winning, with Paul and Jon still floating somewhere off the coast of Alaska, squabbling about who was to blame for my victory…

Power Struggle (thx Noel)

Having had Power Struggle on the shelf in the living room for the last
year, Noel was very keen to get it to the table for the first time
this evening. Over that year, the rules had been read many times and
with a brush up on the day he was all ready to go. It did need all his
best spin doctoring to wheedle it onto a table so it was less a
Coalition of the Willing but more an Alliance of the indecisive (James
II and Jon) and the Latecomer (Andy) who started the game.

After a thorough rules explanation and with no one having a clear idea of strategy, Noel took up the Director of Communications and the Chairman roles with the initial placements. Jon picked up the Development division, James the Legal eagles and Andy was Human Resources chief. In the absence of anything clearer to be focusing on, Andy and Jon piled cubes onto the board 'that cant be bad can it?' and James picked up the first batch of shares. The Communications role meant Noel sorted the order of all the cards that were coming out and combined with the Chairman role enabled him to make plenty of money in  the first few rounds. He was unchallenged in the Communications role for the whole game which enabled him to control the pace and timing of the whole course and in retrospect all of the others realised that the Spin Doctor was the crucial role and should have made more efforts to bribe or bully their way to control this department.

As a whole there wasn't too much bribing going on the in the game. Andy had the initial reputation of being a bit easy in accepting the brown envelopes and moved ahead in the corruption points track, but soon Jon
picked up the mantle of table shark. Unfortunately he combined being dirty with being cheap and no one accepted his bribes so although he moved up on the corruption track he didn't gain any department special abilities through these actions.

Noel 'spin doctor' reached the 4 VPs needed to win first, with Jon 'Dirty but Cheap' 2nd on 2 (3 million Pinats), followed by Andy 'cube builder' on 2 (1.2 million Pinats) and James 'Stealth Takeover' on 1.

This first game lasted about 2.5 hours, including rules explanation. It is a unique and interesting mix of mechanics: area control, worker placement, bribery and economic, in a nicely thematic way. This unique
mix makes it challenging to identify a strategic route early in the first game but should benefit from another play which should also bring the playtime closer to 90 minutes. Hopefully, enough going on and enjoyable uniqueness that it doesn't take another year to get it back to an IBG table.

Sunrise City (thx Paul)

Paul and Soren were both keen to build Sunrise City version II after a fun game last week, with Tom taking the other seat at the City's planning committee. Tom had done his homework by reading the rules on-line, so minimal recap was needed and the game commenced.

Paul's first role was the one that Soren used to get into a lead last week, with points being given to match any other players during the zoning phase. It seemed to work as well as it did for Soren last week, so Paul managed to sneak into a good lead by hitting 10 points straight away and then again fairly shortly afterwards.

Soren enjoyed his use of the lawyer card by swapping round bidding markers at the end of the round, although Tom wasn't in a position to complain about the very honourable role in the legal profession, being a real life one, and all. As it was, Soren chose to screw with Paul's marker instead. Tom focused on swapping zoning tiles to his advantage.

Tom realised much more quickly than James II and Paul last week, the absolute importance of 'hitting the ten', so both he and Soren kept in pretty close proximity to Paul and at the end game all three had amassed a good pile of stars.

On the count it was revealed that Paul had managed to keep his lead, although had another turn been played he may not have.

Scores: Paul: 19, Tom: 16, Soren: 15


After some debates about who and what to play Johan, Phil and me disappeared to the far corner with Cyclades. Phil and me had played once before, but it was new to Johan. The rules are pretty simple though despite the complex looking nature of the board. A little bit of everything involved, auction (a-la-Amun Re), area control, set collection, dice… but the game all fits neatly together and after a couple of rounds plays very smoothly to a conclusion.

Johan started out looking to collect philosophers for a quick route to victory, while Phil quickly took a military lead picking up the god granting troop movement in the first round and claiming a new island.  Then in the next round he successfully attacked some of my ships... which kind of flavoured my approach to the rest of the game :)

Indeed, most of the game revolved around Phil and myself threatening each other and the occasional battle whie Johan focused on the philosophers and managed to avoid most of the carnage... A tactic that almost worked like a charm as after several rounds when Phil and me were sparring we suddenly both noticed he was one philosopher away from claiming a 2nd island and the win... a truce was hurridly called between myself and Phil as we checked our options. Basically we got lucky... Johan could claim the 2nd metropolis, and indeed we couldn't stop him... but he only had one island to put it on, and I was able to invade this to take over control of his metropolis before the end of the round... great for me... not much use to Phil... and Johan's dreams of glory vanished in that instant.

From here Phil and Johan realised that I was now the main target. During the previous rounds I'd managed to obtain 6 priests which grant the owner discounts on the auctions... with this I was able to under bid for the gods with impunity and was also stashing a nice nest egg as a result.

And despite their combined efforts, I managed to wrap the game up soon afterwards by ininvading one of Phil's metropolis's to pick up my 2nd metropolis. Interesting to win by allowing other players to build up the cities and then just invading, some might call this a cheap victory... personally I'd disagree :)

It was an interesting game from my side as to be honest I'd not been playing for the win for most of the game, but was having fun building up an army and being able to select what Gods and creatures I wanted due to having the most cash and best dicsounts... It was only after the 'near' Johan win that I realised what the actual point of the game is (to build 2 metropolisis) and switched aims.

Final scores:  James completed the 2 metropolysis first with Phil and Johan both looking distraught at how things had turned out...

A rare victory for me in a game involving Phil... Ok, so it has dice, but I'll take it anyways.

and that's that... also played I believe was a co-op game of The Isle of Doctor Necreaux which was won by the good guys...

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