Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Night of the unnecessary Swans

Contributors: Daniel, James, Soren, David

‘Twas the night of the long games.

A long game of Orleans, a long game of Ludwig's Secrets, a long game of... uh, I dunno what they were playing on the other table. No Madame Ching despite three copies being brought along.

I've come to the conclusion that I really don't like the Ludwig expansion. It's a real PITA to set up with having to separate every single room tile in the game before building stacks with a specific blend of old and new tiles - Bezier have also done this with their latest expansion for Suburbia, it's a terrible idea so no idea why they have such a fascination with it.

Gameplay also slows to a grind as it enters VP min-maxing territory with all the extra considerations with moats and swans. Watching James agonise over whether to score three points or two points plus a bonus point almost led to the insertion of the master builder token into a painfully small orifice. Anything to relieve the boredom I guess.

The secret passages are okay but unnecessary, they don't add anything other than a gimmick, and everything else is dilutive junk. The game does not need this; simple, quick, and fun has been turned into convoluted, slow, and murderously pernickety. I think this might even end up as turkey of the year for me, unless Tom can discover some new filler games for us.

After a brief dalliance with Too Many Cinderellas (for the record, it’s important stuff, James won) we followed up with a gear shift into the always welcome Sentinels. Raj picked ethereal mythos mage Nightmist, Gareth plumped for shapeshifting animal-man The Naturalist, Tom went intergalactic with Captain Cosmic, and I made up the team with Skyscraper, the size-shifting Thorathian who spent most of the game as a two storey giant stamping up and down on everyone, friend and foe alike.

We lined up against Apostate, who had turned up with his demon horde and tainted relics to deliver some smackdown in the temple of Zhu Long (an ageless mystic who has mastered the art of preserving life after death, and also occasionally turns into a dragon – oh my). The bad guy initially got the upper hand with a pair of ancient relics that were both increasing the power of his attacks while also allowing him to get some extra shots in at us. Things went from bad to worse with the appearance of Zhu Long in his dragon form along with some pesky shinobi that kept interfering with our card decks. Nightmist eventually decided that she had had enough and literally exploded into a fiery rage that blew up pretty much everything on the board, with the unfortunate downside that it left all of her companions on the ropes at the same time.

The Naturalist snuffled about in Rhino form for a while, soaking up damage and healing himself, before flipping out toward the end in a major Crocodile tantrum that involved biting the villain down to a single hit point over the course of just a couple of rounds. Captain Cosmic did his ‘Green Lantern’ thing and was throwing cosmic constructs all over the place that were handing out additional attacks and damage bonuses/reductions, whilst Skyscraper spent most of her time going large and delivering big stompy ground-shaking strikes. Apostate cleared the field at one point with a play that blows up all the other cards on the table, but we were able to take out the rest of his toys before it took effect and so there was minimal impact. In fact it inadvertently helped us by getting rid of that pesky Dragon that kept popping up.

Although we all ended up with single digit HP we were comfortably in control for the last few rounds and sent the bad guys packing once again.


First time playing the expansion and yeah, I'm not sure either.

The swans feels a bit pointless to be honest... something added on for the sake of adding something on.

I like the Moat - I think the points bonus is overpowered so you really need to all be building at the same time to stop someone completing 4 sides and raking the points for the rest of the game. But so long as noone else lets this happen then it creates a nice additional space-ial awareness challenge to the game. whch is a lot of what the current game is all about already. and is very themeatically pleasing

The hidden passageways... nah... there's a good idea in there somewhere, but this isn't it.

...and the extra cards/tiles are just fluff... nice to have but not vital.

So yeah, I guess give me the moats and ignore the rest which isn't a good value for money for a £20 expansion these days !soblue


We played a much too long game of Orleans. Just yet another very multi-player solitaire, resource conversion Euro game.

As interactive as your dog taking a dump in the woods and someone else accidentally stepping in it next day while shuffling for something in their handbag.

Apparently, the expansion adds solitaire and co-op - well, that can not have taken much time and effort to add. Surprisingly, the scores ended up fairly close although Tom seemed to have runaway engine.

Not awful, though - would not completely refuse to play again. At least better than Feld's and Rosenberg's rubbish.


The other game played was League of Six as I protested against playing Battlestar Galactica. Not that I have anything against Battlestar but it can take a long time and I think I would prefer to play Dark Moon or Homeland: The Game instead as I'm not a fan of the Battlestar TV show either. As we all know there's only one truly great SciFi TV show and that was Babylon 5 laugh

Anyway back onto League of Six, after umming and erring over a few games Alex decided we should play it as it looked like Settlers of Catan. Of course it ended up being something very different. So Gareth, Sarah, Alex and I set up a game just in time to fit Raj in. Each player takes the role of a tax collector, sent to collect tax from one of six medieval cities. Each player is bidding for the right to collect tax from one of the six cities by bidding their guards. The more guards you have the more chance you can force a player to give up the rights to a particular city. Add to this a random siege that closes a different city each round as well as random placement of goods and it makes for an unpredictable experience.

I started strongly by claiming the strongest city by outbidding Gareth, little did I realise this would send me into a downward spiral in which there's almost no chance to escape. As turn order is dictated by the player who has bid the most guards and the first few players will end up with the most guards by outbidding each other it generally means those with no guards after the first turn or so have no say over which city they will claim. The first players will forever increase their strength and dominate the bidding which continues to allow them to go first. The bidding also creates a domino effect, you can bid for a city on your turn and then watch as someone forces another player out of their city into yours and then you are forced to move onto someone else's city and before you know it everyone has a city they didn't really want all because of bidding war started far away.

Raj at one stage tried to fight his way out by spending his victory points on more guards but this set him so far back in the points it was impossible to catch up. In the meantime Alex was racing into a comfortable lead with Gareth, Sarah and myself not too far behind. However when it came to the last turn Gareth managed to win by utilizing various victory point conditions. The final scoring was Gareth first, Sarah second and Alex third all separated by a point each. I came third about 10 points behind and Raj a bit further back.

There's some nice ideas in the game but I felt a bit powerless to the domino bidding and I was reliant on a bit of luck to just stay in the game.

Headed home early after that as I was tired and the game finished me off laugh

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