Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Knight to Remember...

The day started splendidly. I woke up at an ungodly hour in order to get a quick mind-rousing jog in, then headed over to Steve's for our semi-weekly game of War of the Ring, the expanded edition. Steve played the Free People's player and delivered upon me a thrashing I will not soon forget. We have collectively decided, due to the amount of FP victories we're seeing, that we've both lost our nerve for playing the Shadow as aggressively as we should. This was definitely true with me today. I had pretty much every Shadow army in the box on the board, but still only had 5 VPs when Steve dunked the ring. The key for the Shadow is to push hard until you feel the wheels are about to launch off the wagon!

I then dashed over to Dragon's Lair to meet Chris and Jose. We played quick games of Zooloretto, which Chris dominated, and Colosseum, which Chris again dominated. Ouch! Still these games are great fun, and they seem to get better with each play.

Chad arrived, and we decided it was time to go big! I busted out Warrior Knights with its new Crown and Glory expansion. Now, it had been probably 9 months since I last played the vanilla version, so we chewed through the rules explanation. This is a pretty complex game, almost along the lines of Arkham Horror in its level of detail. Adding in most of the expansion, I think it took at least 30-45 minutes for us to get rolling. Still, once things got started, the game system started to click.

We played with all of the expansion rules except the King and secret mission, which I later wished we had added. These two rules add a great deal of suspense to the end game, but I was a bit concerned already with overwhelming everyone with the complexity level. We did add in the new fate deck, technology development system, riots, garrisons, town levees, mercenary leaders, and new order, assembly, and event cards.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I squeaked out a win. We flubbed a rule early on, so my win gets an asterix, unforunately. Anyway, I'm very pleased with the expansion, and I'm sure now that we've played, we could probably cut the play time down by at least 25%.

Thanks to Chad, Chris, Jose, and Steve for another great Saturday of gaming!



At 11:28 PM, July 14, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Sounds great. I'd like to try that game someday.

I went to the bimonthly Houston gaming group session. Played Age of Empires with the right rules (sorry guys...did mess up 2 minor, one not so minor...details below). Also played Phoenicia. A guy in the group got the game from Europe. What a sweet game. Talk about a surge in deep 1 hr games in the euro gaming scene. Definitively one to learn much from to get better at.


1. Minor: To score a colony at the end of rd 3, 6,and 8, there has to be at least 1 player with 3 units (not a total of 3 between all players).

2. Not so minor (OK, BIG): When succesful after a discovery, discard all committed units, AND put one regular colonist in the region. That makes Missionaries (which add a second dude with him), even better to quickly complete the 3 needed for scoring and for the trade good.

Maybe I should have read the rules a second time. I only read them once, and it was right as I was setting up my very first 2 player game.

At 8:20 AM, July 15, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Warrior Knights

Okay, here's a few rules I missed:

Instead of gaining control of a city, a Baron may wish to raze it. Barons only have the option of razing a city immediately after gaining control of it. To raze a city, the Baron simply removes the plastic city from the board along with any control marker underneath it. The Baron then receives 3 times the city’s income in crowns. Razed cities cannot be controlled by any Baron.

This makes the auto-victory conditions make more sense: First, check whether any Baron controls more than half the unrazed cities in the Kingdom (do not count overseas
cities). If so, that player immediately wins the game.

I'm eager to play again sometime using the Crowning the King expansion ruleset.

At 12:14 PM, July 15, 2007, Blogger jbarreto said...

I enjoyed all 3 games we played. My favorite was probably Colosseum. The rules were well laid out in the sequence of play, the components were beautiful and the trading/bidding war for stage resources were vicious. Definitely something I will purchase in the future.

At 1:39 PM, July 15, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I like Colosseum. I know its just me, but I think the game could use just a tad more nastiness and/or killing. However the more I play I do see the auction phase (using the official variant rules) can be very tense and cutthroat, so my opinion of the game is improving.

Now, Zooloretto, on the other hand, can be very nasty game where there are multiple ways to give your friends and neighbors the knife in the front.

At 1:52 PM, July 15, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

With the cute name and cute panda, how can Zooloretto be nasty? Must try this one...

At 2:36 PM, July 15, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Carlos, it's just a facade.

At 12:21 AM, July 16, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I enjoy Colosseum (although by the end of this post people might think I feel otherwise), and the production values are indeed top-notch. Several people on BGG seem to feel that an Emperor's Loge is vital to winning, as it allows you to get Emperor's Medals which give you an extra build phase.

I didn't have an Emperor's Loge, but I won an auction for an extra build phase chit, which served the same purpose. I actually believe it's the extra build phase itself which is vital, and the Loge is important because it's the most surefire way of getting it. If I hadn't won the build phase chit, I would have HAD to build the Loge to help get two Emperor's Medals (which equal the extra build phase) or I wouldn't have been competitive.

I also tailored my strategy to get the highest production point program at the end, and those extra points proved hard to overcome, despite the fact that I think Ben was the most effective auction bidder, trader, and show producer--as evidence, he ended up with two podiums (given to the person with the best show each round) to my one and Jose's one, and I think he had more star performers as well. I felt a bit bad that just because I bought an "arbitrarily better" 4th tier program that I had that kind of advantage over anyone else producing a 4th tier program. I don't think the assets for my program were any harder to acquire than were the assets for Ben's or Jose's 4th tier programs. The only real difference in difficulty with producing a 4th tier program is the money required to buy it--a program worth more points costs more money--but I think we all had enough money at the end such that our decisions on programs to buy was guided by assets in hand, not money in hand. The point of all this is that the increasing VP payoff of each individual program does not, in my opinion, reflect a proportional increase in difficulty in producing that show--it just seems kind of arbitrary.

In addition, turn order makes a LOT of difference in this game (and in a game with only five turns, that's a pretty big issue), as the first person to go in the fifth turn (when most 4th tier programs are bought) gets first crack at the best available programs, and the later players get no say in it--they simply have to choose from the best that's left.

I think the game would reward skill better if the programs in each tier were all the same cost and same reward (bringing in other factors like Emperor's Medals, season tickets and meeple positioning into play), and if acquiring programs was also done auction-style rather than just "My turn is first so I'll choose the highest payoff program."

(I'm just saying this because I thought Ben played the better game and my come-from-behind win really felt arbitrary for the above reasons rather than a reflection of any skill or strategy on my part.)

On a much less harsh note, I think Zooloretto is a thoroughly enjoyable game and is played on pretty equal footing throughout. It's quick and the rules are easy to explain and understand. In addition, there's a fair amount of the "screw your neighbor" mechanic by making carts more or less desirable for other players with thoughtful chit placement--and doing so really feels like good-natured fun rather than malignant or personal. The theme of cute cartoony animals also helps with the fun mood of this game. I mean, who doesn't get at least a little of that warm and fuzzy feeling when thinking of petting zoos? And you can't help but like a game where you get to turn over a chit and say, "Sexy monkey!"

(And the extra animals DO get shipped back to the jungle--a very happy, friendly jungle. I know they do. I refuse to entertain any other possibilities.)

At 9:11 PM, July 16, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

they are put to sleep!!! don't let them deceive you...

At 9:15 PM, July 16, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I prefer to think of them merely being used to feed hungry children... MMMmmm hotdogs!


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