Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Session Report: Monday, Feb 13th

Got over to DL on monday around 5:45 for a longer game session. Brian was already there so we started with a two player game, Command and Colors, Ancients. We played the first scenario with no terrain, and maybe because of that the game seemed to rely too much on the not very random seeming dice and the players ability to draw useful cards at the right time. I won pretty handily, but can't point to any brilliant tactical strokes by me or blunders by him so thats where most of my negative impression is coming from.

Jon showed up next so we played a quick game of Hunting Party while waiting for the others to show up. My initial impression was that it felt a little like talisman meets magic meets clue. I'll have to try it again sometime. Jon won by killing the shadow in a close game where both Brian and I needed one more skill to successfully hunt him.

Ted, Rob and Simon now joined us for a rousing game of Beowulf. After thinking about it for a few days, I liked this game somewhat. It is mostly an auction style game with some closed fist auctions and some round the table auctions until people drop out with luck entering the game through suits for the auctions and chance opportunities. Brian and Ted won with their no wound bonuses prodding them to victory against those of us who had not gone through our travels unfazed. I definitely would like to try this again and maybe change some of my early strategies.

We broke out Bang for the next game. I ended up as the Sherriff, Ted the Deputy, Jon the Renegade, and the others Outlaws. Jon took out Ted and Brian quickly and was piling up a ton of cards and using them to smite my enemies. After he took Simon out I had to kill him because every time someone died he took all their cards which seemed a little scary to me. I finished Rob off with a flurry of bangs and misses (my special ability was use both as bangs or misses). I have alot of fun with Mafia in big groups and I really like the hidden role mechanic so although things became pretty transparent after the first or second round, it was interesting.

Brian and Ted had started up a game of Jambo while we were finishing up so the remaining 4 of us played Samurai, a tile placement game. I don't really feel like I have a great intuition about these types of games and thought I was getting slaughtered before we revealed to find that we were all bunched very close and that Rob had won by one after tiebreakers. I would like to try this again, perhaps with a smaller group sometime.

Ted and Rob had to leave, and we broke out the last game of the night, Antike. It has about a million bits and theres alot of bookkeeping as the game proceeds. Its basically a no luck expand influence in the ancient world through culture and might game. I went for the expand horizontally while trying to placate all my neighbors(everyone as I was in the middle) strategy and it worked perhaps too well. Everyone was so well placated that the only conflict that happened was in the endgame when Brian sacked one of my temples for the win. Perhaps my expansion should have been followed by a peacekeeping force buildup rather than temple construction to prevent the exact scenario that ended the game. One idea I had for making some of the bookkeeping stuff less tedious is having resource tracks with bits on them that keep track of how much of each resource you are producing. It was annoying with my terrible memory that every time I produced, I had to lift up bits and count how many cities and temples I had of the appropriate type. I think just a minor modification like that would be much appreciated. The game seems like one I would like. Diplomacy seems like it could be very important if there is conflict and I suspect in our next game there will be more conflict than appeared in our first. Definitely one I want to try out again.

We called it a night after that.

Edit to add picture of Antike per Simon's request



At 2:47 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'm reserving judgement on C&C: Ancients until I play the Zama and Cannae scenarios. Both appear large, colorful, balanced, and fun. Elephants!

At 4:06 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Pictures man, pictures! My brain requires pretty, shiny things to keep its attention! Other than that, great session report Michael!

I've only played Beowulf once, but I liked it. Bang was pretty fun although it had some major flaws (an accomplishment considering its downfalls). The endgame was quite frankly retarded though, as Rob and Michael just drew cards until they got a combo that worked. I sucked because I never once drew a weapon and was forced to shoot at Rob to my left since I knew Brian, to my right, was an outlaw. Of course Rob ended up being an outlaw, too. I hate not being able to do anything effective because of my notoriously crummy draws (whereas Jon occupies the other end of the spectrum as our last few games of Scarab Lords will attest to).

Samurai was fun as always. The end score was much closer than I anticipated. I was certain I was out of the running but ended up tying for second while Rob got his much needed victory.

Antike was a perfect '5' in my book. No-luck and a short empire-building Euro are the games biggest selling points but end up, ironically, being the games biggest weaknesses. Empire builders NEED luck, conflict, and some time for over arching strategies - all of which were absent (yes, that's right, NO conflict!). The endgame came out of nowhere while I was just beginning to implement my plans. I will say the bookkeeping was very tame in my opinion compared to a lot of other games I’ve played.

Anyway, it was nice to finally meet Michael and Ted. I hope to game with you guys in the future. Oh, and always remember: You don’t have to outrun the dragon, just the other two slower guys in your party.

At 4:40 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Thanks for the "much needed" part. You know, I've come to realize that I really really enjoy abstracts with a pasted theme (Samurai, Tigirs and Euphrates, etc). Of course, I also enjoy more the games that I win in.

At 4:59 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Micheal, nice job on the session report.

As always, it was another great night of gaming with a great group of guys. By this time last year I was wondering where the heck I was going to find a friend or two to share this hobby with... now check us out.

My two cents: I had a blast with Bang and Samurai. I want to play Bang with the Dodge City expansion (which I have) which is supposed to balance things out a bit more. Beowulf I had issues with (and not only because I was PUMELLED coming in last). Here it is:

Theme: Yes I have read the story, but in the game, I didn't really understand what we were after, or what the goal was. The theme seemed very lightly related to what we were doing...which was mainly auction after auction after auction bidding with fist, flasks, ships, foxes. Ted tried to make sense of this at one point early in the game ("well flasks and fists for the celebration, axes and foxes for a fight"...etc) Which takes me to my next issue...

Bidding/Auctions: It's my least favorite mechanic as I have stated before. Don't know why. I just don't find it exciting enough. My two exceptions though have been Modern Art and Ra.

Strategy/Tactics: I like games where within a few minutes of playing it for the first time, I can come up with a reasonable strategy, even if it doesn't work out at the end. With this game, I just didn't feel like I could discern what strategy was better than others until it was very late.

Luck: Too much of it with the RISKs. This is the first game where LUCK really has bothered me. Man, did I get pounded from the RISKs (the ones I lost in, and the ones others won with). I probably would have enjoyed it more without this feature; thus the game would really reward the player that plans ahead collecting the necessary cards for the next auction, and not punish them with lucky draws from others. I was set at the end of the game to end up not winning but somewhat better....but lucky RISKs by others made me see Grendel's sharps unexpectedly, even when I had planned it well to secure a decent victory in the last auction. (insert violins)

(and last but not least and not specific to the game) Long day at work: I find that most of the time I'm DRAINED by the time I make it to game night from a looong day of work. If a game doesn't dazzle me from the get go, I just won't focus.

But as always, I'll play anything, anytime. Another round of Beowulf ? Count me in.

At 6:57 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Michael: Sweet picture.

Rob: I thought it was "much needed" after I saw the end of that Beowulf game and after also accidentally shooting you in Bang! a lot (OK, so it was on purpose). Hey, at least it wasn't real birdshot to the face from a 28 gauge shotgun.

At 7:56 PM, February 15, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Yep, that was multiple accidental shootings before noticing I'm on your side, Simon Cheney


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