Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Caylus and other games 3/27

So I showed up to DL right around 5 and Brian was already there waiting so we started a two player game of Caylus. I can't really get an intuitive feel for this game at all. Certainly I screwed up my timing of when to be making cubes and when to really push for vps. I did perform better than my previous attempts but still was a distant second.

Jeff, Jon and Dennis had showed up and we decided to break out Fury Of Dracula. I got to try my hand at Dracula. I was attempting to play actually more Cowardice of Dracula with the goal of just staying as far away from people as possible. I started in the far reaches of Eastern Europe and worked my way up around the russian border for a few turns before heading west. (oh at some point Ben showed up and Jon went to play a 2 player game with him and then Chad showed up and took over for Jon). I also got a sneak peek at what was in store for me when I got to take a gander at Dennis's Items: Stake Stake were the first two things I saw...so maybe cowardice is a good idea. At this point, the hunters got an ally that let them see the last card on my trail and they picked up the beginning of my trail. Because of their location at the time they picked up my trail, they were able to deduce pretty accurately where I had been. So I went evasive. I did wolf form to go make my trail a little bit harder to follow and instead of running to Western Europe and towards some wide open spaces doubled back down to with the plan of hitting the coast in a few turns and making my escape by sea. I also really wanted to land in the single space island, hide for a turn and plant a vampire, and then head out again, hoping that it would not be detected in time.

Well this plan seemed to work pretty effectively. They concentrated their search on my escape points in Western Europe, and although I had to use a hide to get the timing to the port right, I was able to make the port and take to the sea. Then a wonderful card for me hit. It let me teleport to anywhere on the board, and even though I thought I had double crossed them pretty well, it let me escape a trap Dennis had been planning with a vicious card.

I went to Paris and was planning on heading south to the mediterranean to get to that island and plant a vampire still. This time though, my trail was found very quickly. A card that let them see adjacencies in my trail got two of them, and by the time I made it to sea, they had all the ports well covered. At this point in the game I had 4 points and it was almost a new day, so I just needed to hold out a little while. Here is where I made my big blunder. I tried to be sneaky again, going to ireland instead of back to eastern europe where there were many possible escape routes. I figured if I used a hide there and a feed, I could stay there for a few turns and hopefully get them off my scent. It was not to be. A few more revealing cards came out and all of a sudden I was trapped into going to England with all of them there. This was a double plus ungood event but I got some very lucky escape rolls and took to sea again.

I ran to the mediterranean as fast as possible, hoping to find a safe landfall. Again, I probably should have just landed in europe leaving myself as many escape routes as possible, but I was hoping they would be thinking that way too, so I landed on that little island thing. By this point it was night and a few more turns would leave me victorious, so Brian, realizing if I was there that they could not afford to let me remain there, played a hunch and checked it. Luckily, I had an encounter that was able to discard his stake, so he only had a crucifix with which to vex me. Mainly my goal was to escape from this fight, but getting a bite on Brian was also a nice possible result so I tried to pick opportune times to Mesmerize him. He was reading me like an open book though and the fight ended with basically no damage being dealt either way on continuations. Dennis tried to hop in quickly with his double stake crucifix combo, but an extremely ambitious customs official confiscated them as contraband.

I ran away again and this time quickly moved to Italy another kindof dead end, but at least one that gave me some options. I kept running away and managed to survive the last couple of turns without incident.

Next we played a card game...I'm bad with names, but this had something to do with cattle (I think that was the theme) and numbers. I had a really bad idea about strategy in the first round and took 20 points early (points are bad). I picked up some idea about how to play and was even able to offer the other players advice about good cards to play in the later rounds. Meanwhile Jeff was running away with it, having only 2 points going into the probably final round. Somehow, he managed to take 24 and myself 0 (to go along with the 25 accumlated points), to allow me to squeak out a win.

Finally, at my request, we played a game of Shadows Over Camelot and I pulled the traitor. Basically my idea about this game has been that the while the traitor has a broad spectrum of possibilities for his play, there would be two possible optimal ways to play:
1. Pretend to be loyal, avoid getting revealed, do as little good stuff as you can without giving it away so you can flip two white swords at the end.
2. Pretend nothing, be openly treacherous at the beginning, always do the worst possible bad action and be less than useless with your good actions.
Mixed strategies where you start off pretending to be loyal and then reveal later seem less likely to succeed because while you are "good", you are moving the loyal knights closer along to success without getting the sword flip bonus.

I was interested in trying option 2. During the convocation I threw in a grail and asked to get it back since I was interested in helping on the grail quest. King Arthur then traded me a grail, and I gave him one back in return (I was trying to set up a potential alibi for my super extremely treacherous play on my turn). On my turn, I went to lancelot's armor after putting a catapult out (I think catapults are probably on average the worst bad action for the loyals, since they restrict their choices for bad actions later and make certain quests less attractive to complete. My movement raised a little stir, but I tried to ease their fears by claiming to have a full house and a couple of grails left in my hand.

I tried to at least keep the pretense somewhat up by putting down a 5 5 and a 4 over my next few turns and cringing as lancelot cards kept coming up. Finally the last lancelot acrd was drawn before I got to play again. We flipped them over, and sure enough it was a 14/14 tie. I had the special ability to add cards to the knights total to try to get this quest won, but as my remaing cards were just grails and a merlin, I had to decline. That pretty much cooked my goose as far as pretending to be loyal.

They delayed a turn in accusing me, so I got one more turn as a "loyal" knight, which I used to draw 2 cards hoping to get a fate. No such luck and before I could place the 6th siege engine myself and accuse someone, they preempted with an accusation against me.

At this point the strategy for me became even more degenerate...siege engine every turn and pull a card from the guy (Chad was this one) who can play special cards for free. The siege engines were piling up so Jeff was forced to start trying to fight them off. Meanwhile Brian had moved to the Black Knight with no cards on it to try to get a quick win there and Dennis and Chad were working on the grail.

In rapid succession things went downhill for the knights. First Brian lost to a quick succession of black knight cards coming out. Then Jeff lost a siege engine fight and died to it. Chads hand was quickly emptied and enough despairs and desolations hit, that the grail quest became too difficult to complete in time. A card placing 2 siege engines sealed their fate.

I think the black cards the loyal knights drew certainly didn't help matters, but I do think that a degenerate completely treacherous strategy can be very painful to the knights. I think if the grail had been completed they had enough swords to win so it might not be that bad. Just towards the very end, when it became clear that the grail would not be successful in time did it feel a little bit ridiculous.



At 4:32 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

That is the longest session report I've ever seen.

At 4:49 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

It could have been alot longer if you showed up and we played doom after DL.

At 4:53 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Heh heh

Yeah, it's too bad I couldn't make it...stupid work.

At 4:56 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Hmm, I had a little technical difficulty there...

I was saying the session report left out a key bit of information.

In games timing can be crucial. It's not good enough to play the right move, it's got to be at the right time.

Life imitates games. I made the right move by coming to game night, and I thought I had the right timing being about 45 min earlier than usual. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I got there just after Dracula and Twilight got started.

Luckily I was only out in the cold for maybe 20 min or so before Kirk and Rick, other gamers I know who are new to our group, showed up. The three of us got in a game of San Juan. Rob showed up, and the Dracula guys kept saying "just 5 more min", so we talked for about 20 min while Drac kept giving them the slip. Finally Rob got out Coloretto, which is a neat, short, filler.

Finally Drac was over, but it was past 9:00. Shadows hit the table. I'm only lukewarm on Shadows, and there was a crowd, and it was going to push near my 10/10:30 departure time, so I left.

I had been looking forward to playing Duel of Ages, but it was not to be. Ah well, some day.

At 7:22 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Last night I was so drained after a long killer day of work that I really enjoyed just hanging out with y'all, talking about games with new gamers to our group, and playing a SINGLE round of light but oh so fun Coloretto. Still, Duel of the Ages would have been sweet.

At 10:59 PM, March 28, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I'll make sure Duel of Ages is punched and waiting for play next week. I've been dying to have it hit the table.

Jon and I had a terrific game of Twilight Struggle that was still neck and neck headed in to the Late War. I as the US was ahead a bit, but Jon had strong positions in several continents. Great fun! Thanks to Brian for letting us play on his copy.


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