Tuesday, 22 January 2013

"If it Prospers"

It did for Jon in Verrater, it didn’t for Gareth in...
This week saw my Descendants of Draco, Michel’s Orion Hegemony, Gareth’s Mechaenama and Andy’s Hydra Progress.
Early game was fairly peaceful as I laid came to most of the inner (sector I) spaces, populating them with Ancients (Draco can co-exist with Ancients. Michel defeated his Ancients in Combat and Gareth and Andy concentrated on exploring the outer sectors, finding little, although Andy picked up a Phase Shield and Hypergrid Source, both of which went on his Dreadnought. Diplomatic relations where quickly established between most parties.

By the time Michel stormed the Galactic Centre I had a 7 hex empire complete with Orbitals, but not much of a fleet. Michel had researched Plasma Missiles. By building many Interceptors I was able to delay Michel a little, only to find myself attacked by Andy as well. Andy in turn found himself attacked by Gareth, who took over Andy’s home sector. Gareth kept the Traitor tile for the rest of the game and did not attack any further, keeping his forces ready in case Michel turned on him.
Michel however concentrated on attacking me. Despite having 40 minerals in reserve, he only used a couple of Dreadnaughts against me, holding his Cruisers back in case another player attacked. I was able to force one of the dreadnaughts to retreat, at the price of three cruisers and another system. Meanwhile Andy took a system from me with his Dreadnaught and I retook the system from him with an interceptor.

The following turn Andy and Michel took another system from me. I had enough to Discs to completely cover my track at this point, having picked up both Advanced Robotics and Quantum Grid earlier- and only having three systems left.
I had researched Plasma Missiles earlier and for the final turn I was able to pick up Starbase and Gluon Computer, thus finally having Starbases which could stop Michel. Michel wisely didn’t attack me, but Andy did and was destroyed by my Starbases. I also managed to take a system from Andy by loading plasma missiles on my Cruisers without Computers- he had shields so strong computers were pointless... Michel also took a system from Andy that turn.
Michel 45 Gareth 26 Me 26 Andy 24.

Traitors multiply in our next report...

Verrater (thanks Jon)
As there were 4 players available, Noel suggested a go at Verrater, which really needs this number of players to work. It was new to Barry and Neil, but despite being in German, it isn’t actually too complicated. As it was Noel’s copy, there was no English translation of the rules to refer to, so Jon tried to remember as best he could (although he forgot the bit about having a hand limit until Noel had a huge fistful…)
No-one picked the traitor in the first round, which resulted in Neil and Jon taking a valuable 6 points each. Jon had also picked the Strategist which gave him an extra 2 points.
Jon was the first to turn traitor (surprise, surprise), which left Neil on his own, and Noel playing a shed-load of cards, but then Barry also switched sides, to beat Noel and Jon in 2 battles. Jon took the opportunity to mix things up again, much to Noel’s chagrin, as he had now fallen a little way behind everyone else, and was back to being on his own again. He took the opportunity to drop a couple of offices into the landscape, which would at least guarantee points at the end of the game.
The very last turn could have seen an interesting swing in points, had Neil or Barry chosen to turn traitor and drop a load of cards down, but as neither of them did, Jon’s last-minute use of the builder was enough to give him the victory.
There are a lot of subtleties to this game, and it is always an enjoyable experience (well, for Jon anyway) – even in German!
Jon 27; Neil 22; Noel 17; Barry 16

Sadly no traitors, just trains for our finale...

Railways of Europe
With Woody safely ensconced in another bout of Tzol’kin Noel decided it was safe to crack open his heavy boxes. Jon and I were always up for it and managed to seduce Gareth II in as well as Barry from ‘North America’ (RotW expansion joke, you’ll be in fits when you get it!).
Five meant a large map and so Europe was chosen, always good and tight and messy with that number of players. The cubes didn’t fall perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but then do they ever? And if there were some obviously advantageous areas it would be a blood bath I’m sure. The opening bidding wasn’t too heavy with Noel taking the honour and delivering the first cube of course. He’d opened up in northern Germany with Jon going slightly further east, Barry a bit further east and Gareth II and I opting for some warmth in Italy.
Barry continued building some useful track out east, Jon and Noel decided to start trying to get in each other’s way, joined by Gareth II in Central Europe, whilst I headed for Iberia. Noel continued to stay comfortably in front with a useful track bonus whilst Jon turned his attention to collecting debt, hardly a turn passed without him picking up more. I managed to sneak the first 3 leg delivery and steal a march towards Noel whilst Barry and Gareth II progressed steadily with track building.
There was an interesting use of the expansion city tiles, much more prolific than usual, although the resulting additional 2 cubes never really amounted to much of an advantage for that tactic. With Barry starting to make a move with some good 4 leg deliveries and Jon finally shifting cubes too I was grateful to be out on a limb, and by the time I completed the Milan – Madrid route for a 7 point bonus I’d managed to take a small lead.
Noel then thought he was in a race with Jon to pick up the Paris – Constantinople route bonus, completely unaware that Jon hadn’t managed a connection from Paris in the first place. He took a late 3 loans to complete the route having had his round bids pushed high thus losing the cash he had built up quite nicely. Those loans cost him the game. With a pretty baron Central Europe the final round began, I upgraded my train to make the only 5 leg delivery of the game, and with a 4 as well in the last round moved into what I believed would be a comfortable lead… Barry was still able to deliver several 4 leg cubes and Noel gained from one of these too. The final scores were way too close, and indeed everyone was in contention!
Scores; Neil 41, Barry 40, Noel 39, Gareth II 34, Jon 34

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