Friday, January 06, 2006

Veni, Vidi, Vici: Session Report, 5 Jan 2006

Four noble Caesars gathered to carve up the decaying Roman empire. Jefficus, Jonius , Simonius, and Benius Maximus assembled their legions and prepared to wage an epic struggle across the known world.

Jeff started off in good position with an insolated stronghold in Egypt. Simon had Sicily as an island fortress and Mesopotamia under his thumb as well. Jon, I think, had a majority of his holdings on the continent, while I had a solid base in Greece.

I made a major move East, capturing Turkey, booting Simon out of Mesopotamia, and cutting his army nicely down to size. At the same time, I built my navy to five galleys, where everyone else had just one, in order to make the Mediterranean my own personal pond.

Jon and Jeff slugged it out in mainland Europe with Jeff keeping Spain and Gaul, and Jon securing Italy. However, the battles decimated both of their armies, while mine was still sitting on the sidelines polishing its armor. Jeff was able to keep Egypt built up and fortified, discouraging any desert adventurism.

Simon made a jump from Sicily to southern Italy to challenge Jon for domination of Rome, but he was eventually booted off the continent. Taking advantage of the situation, I slid in behind him and took over Sicily.

At the same time, Jon and Simon were racking up serious chaos points, taxing their subjects into a frenzy. In this game, the people with the top two levels of chaos loose victory points each turn, which can add up to a serious penalty compounded throughout the game.

In the end, I was able to pull ahead, fueled by a profitable city nestled away far in the East with my powerful Navy and mint condition army ready to pounce. Jon did a great job securing his domination of Italy and even with my hordes I was loath to dislodge him. Simon made a painful run at my soft underbelly the last year, pillaging my homelands in Greece and Turkey, but it wasn't enough. Jeff ended up with a solid second place, with low chaos, and Egypt, Gaul, and Spain quite secure.

What a great game!

21 Comments:

At 8:49 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I confirmed on the Eagle Games forum that there's no limit to the amount of Influence tokens you can use.

 
At 10:53 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

Now that we have played Conquest of the Empire, we need to fit in some time to play Railroad Tycoon and Descent.

 
At 11:21 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Who's up for a mega-game on MLK day?

Turns out it was a good idea for Ben to host instead of me - there is no way on Earth that the Conquest board would've fit on my table.

 
At 11:50 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Kendahl said...

Sorry I couldn't make it...

How would you rate the game overall?

 
At 12:38 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I have it up in solid 8 or 9 range... I think the game was awesome, though I don't think it would be as fun with less than four players, and it would be even better with six players.

 
At 1:17 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

I'll second Ben's comment about player numbers. You need at least four for it to be worthwhile, and more would be better. The play time would increase with more players, but seeing as how we cranked out our game in three hours, I can easily imagine a six-player game taking less than five. That's short enough to do on a weeknight (barely).

I enjoyed playing and the evening sped by. After a single play, I wouldn't rate it as high as Ben does, though. That being said, I must point out in all fairness that 'Huge Sprawling Wargame-esque Game' is not my favorite flavor. The components are first-rate, and I really like the way combat is handled. The effects of controlling the Senate add a neat extra dimension to the game. However, the mechanics for movement and alliances both felt wrong. Or stiff. Or clunky. Or fiddly. Something. Playing a set number of campaign seasons both helps and hurts the game, but helps moreso than hurts. A set number of turns means that the game will end for certain - no interminable Risk-like stalemates that drag on for hours. Also, knowing exactly when alliances will shift, and when the end is coming up allows for a fairly precise allotment of resources, which is nice. The down side, in my opinion, is that it makes the endgame feel a bit out of flavor. I made some moves at the end that were the smart thing to do regarding victory points; they locked me into second place. In doing so, I left a flank completly open to Jon and spread out my forces so thinly that either Simon's legion of blue or Ben's horde of yellow could have smashed me, but I could count up exactly how many actions they had left and those crappy moves were perfectly safe. I would definitely play again, but only occasionally. I don't feel any desire to own it, for sure. I'd give it a 6 or 7, but take that with a grain of salt. Just thought I'd give you the certainly-not-a-grognard viewpoint.

 
At 1:57 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I'm having trouble putting any sort of bearing on the game as to a rating. The movement was just wacky and combined with the two actions a turn, some really strange and fantastically unrealistic things can happen. I lost Mesopotamia early in the game because I didn't see the potential move of a yellow plague of Ben's troops whipping the opposite side around the known world to my doorstep in a single action. This scattered my armies to the wind and after that I basically just went after people for spite.

To be fair, all of these types of games are just dressed up versions of Risk. While I like some like War of the Ring or TI: 3 (perhaps due to the fact that they aren't completely confrontational in every aspect) this one turned me off a bit. I think certain styles of games, such as this one, really bring out the worst in people and make gaming a little like pulling teeth. For example, I asked if I needed to leave a troop behind for influence purposes in a movement action and after consulting some rather odd rules ambiguities, it was decided it wasn't necessary. Later Jon pulled a move that undermined this ruling because he had read some part of the rulebook or FAQ that hadn't been addressed and wouldn't let me rededicate my force despite this (when Jeff and Ben said it would be OK by them). Actually in one of the first battles, Jon refused to let Ben commit a Trireme because he had not explicitly stated it before his roll...so maybe its more simply that Jon's just a jerk.

All in all, I'm a bit torn. While I like a lot of the stuff in the game, the movement rules, alliances, and barely there mechanics to differentiate it from Risk turn me off from it quite a bit.

I might be up for another game, but there's a lot I'd want to play first before giving it another shot.

-Simon W.

 
At 2:12 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

Simon, I probally would have let you leave a troop in Neapolis but it was the only way I could keep control of Italy after you illegaly moved an army in to battle mine.

 
At 2:17 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

...doesn't really change my comment or feelings about the game.

 
At 2:38 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'm definitely wargame oriented, so I enjoy the world conquest theme quite a bit. I don't at all mind my games bloody and confrontational.

One good thing about this game is that there wasn't any sort of player elimination, and I think with careful alliances you all could have put the hurt on me if you would have stopped hacking each other up for a bit.

This game reminds me a bit of Risk 2210, only its a lot better. These type of confrontational games definitely tend to bring out strong emotions in people, which perhaps we're now seeing.... Anyway, we were all just trying to destroy each other in good fun.

I actually liked the movement mechanics, as they enabled everyone to pounce on you if you showed any signs of weakness. I think it added to the interactiveness of the game, and kept people from any sort of defensive play style.

 
At 4:52 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Jeff, you have Axis and Allies: Europe rated as a 7 on BGG... surely Conquest rates higher than that... 7.5?

 
At 7:25 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

Alliances in this game can be very helpful. Thats the reason I threw down a lot of gold to make it so Simon and I were allies after he started invading my hold in Italy. With him as my ally I had four turns to build up my forces again without worring about him causing me any more pain.

 
At 8:52 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Have any of you played Struggle? Can someone tell me the differences?

 
At 9:36 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I haven't played Struggles, but now that I see how much I enjoyed Conquest, I'm very motivated to do so.

Struggles doesn't look nearly as pretty, but apparently the core game mechanics are similar.

 
At 9:37 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

MLK mega-game-day sounds great, by the way....

 
At 10:50 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

Ben said "Jeff, you have Axis and Allies: Europe rated as a 7 on BGG... surely Conquest rates higher than that... 7.5?"

Nope. I think CotE is a 6.5 for me. "Usually willing to play" is almost but not quite true.

I prefer the theme of A&A:E, I like its non-random setup, it scales from 2 to 4 pretty well, it plays faster, and there's no shifting alliances.

I don't mean to trash CotE. It's a solid game. I can't think of any actual flaws (assuming one does not count a minimum 3 hours play time as a flaw). It just doesn't turn my particular crank.

 
At 8:02 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Interested in playing Axis and Allies Pacific sometime?

 
At 11:44 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

See I don't mind Axis & Allies either, although I'd much prefer a few other games that tickle the same spot in its place (War of the Ring). Maybe I just don't like Conquest because I lost so badly, since these things do tend to color opinions. Although, attempting to look at it objectively, there is still just a little something I can't put my finger on that seperates this game form its ilk and whatever that is, I ain't diggin'. Perhaps I was in a bad mood.

Who knows?

 
At 6:06 PM, January 09, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Hey, count me in....whenever this hits the table again.

 
At 8:13 PM, January 09, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'll keep CotE close at hand... I keep thinking about playing more of it.

I think Simon is right... maybe because the combination of facts that I won my first play and have invested in a purchase of the game perhaps inflate my rating 0.5-1.0 points. But heck, I still think the game rocks!

What did you think of it, Jon?

 
At 11:19 PM, January 10, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I thought the game was right around a 7 for me. I lost fairly badly to you Ben, but I still want to play this game again.

Also, I think this game would be more fun with more players as that would limit the crazy movement because you would have another non-ally blocking your path.

All in All I think it was a pretty good game, and I do want to have this hit the table again.

 

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