Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monday Night, and revisiting the Classics

Last night got off to a slow start with a few games of To Court the King, where I managed to roll poorly often, actually only about one roll out of 7 went poorly. But always the last one. By then Chris had shown up and we played Goa. Has it really only been out 3-4 years? Rudiger Dorn has quietly become one of the premier designers (he also has Jambo, Louis XIV, and Traders of Genoa to his credit). After that, we tried the newer version of Leaping Lemmings, people should send me their comments (or just put them here) and I'll pass them along...

At this point, several people had to leave, so I pulled out a classic. Titan. I've been on a kick to revisit old games, and this is one of the worthiest.
Why Titan? Well, it's a direct conflict game with lots of dice. But there are three reasons it remains played (over 25 years after initial release).
  • It's hard to gang on the leader -- The masterboard forces you to manuever ... you can't just go after someone wily-nily.
  • "Lets you and him fight" doesn't work -- In almost every other battle-y game, if A & B fight while C watches, C comes out ahead. Here, A or B may gain strength (compared to C). Fighting and winning is rewarded.
  • Titan rewards multiple plays -- Even after (literally) hundreds of games, you can still spot new things.
Anyway, Jeff and I taught Sean. I had a good opening, but then managed to put my Warlock in the wrong spot (obvious after I started rolling the dice). In the right spot, I needed average luck, and for my opponent to not get slightly above average luck. In the wrong spot, I needed good luck (and none for my opponent). In the right spot, I win the battle in the nick of time ... my Titan exits with one hit remaining. (All hits heal between battles). So I was the first one eliminated. Jeff made one blunder ("I thought that was his Titan stack"), but several turns later maneuvered a crunchy kill stack into Sean's Titan.

You can play (against AIs who were reasonably competent if not great, last time I checked) via Colossus. You can order from Valley games, although I have no idea about the quality. I'd love to see this getting played more. A classic. (There are other classics I'd like to see played, too. Hence the new label).

PS ... (I downloaded the Colossus ... it still has a few egregious bugs. But I remembered David desJardins' strategy page ...)

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At 6:01 PM, July 10, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Titan and Magic Realm are my two favorite non-wargame Avalon Hill classics, and thankfully both now have very good Java-based versions. Realmspeak, the Magic Realm Java game, keeps getting better and better, and implements almost 100% of the game, plus allows realtime on-line play, which sadly Colossus does not.

I sold my copy of Titan a while back for big bucks, so I was one of the first to pre-order the Valley Games version.

At 9:52 AM, July 11, 2007, Blogger seanp said...

Thanks for teaching Titan. I've done a couple of quick run-throughs of Colossus... I need to play a game or five really paying attention to what my opponents are doing also. A powerfull Titan is a scary thing, I've learned...

Leaping Lemmings was a lot of fun. I think it's pretty much chaos with six players, but that's expected with so many ways to muck up other people's plans. Once you learn the special abilities cards, it will be easier to try and protect against them. (Rock slide, anybody??) I think the game will also change with experienced players, as it will be easier to spot the "runaway leader" and pound on them a little bit. I like the hidden points of the pellets, and the alternate victory path it provides. I wound up somewhere near the middle, even though I had 7 eaten lemmings and only 1 3-point dive...

The names on the lemming tokens are a nice touch - it's great to cheer or mourn your favorite lemming. I also like how the rules encourage clustering/herding... you'll get an occassional breakaway lemming going it alone, but they seem to be prime targets for eagle chow.

At 11:36 AM, July 11, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

During the rules explanation, turning in three 0 point chips for a single card seemed a weak compensation for having crappy chit-pull luck, but at the time I wasn't aware that:

a) cards are worth points

b) the cards are fairly potent

In hindsight, having to take it in the shorts three times to earn a new card still seems weak, but not as bad as it did.

Adding a single point to each chit (so there are no zeroes), and allowing a player to purchase an additional card by spending three VP worth of chits seems like a reasonable fix, but it would skew the value of the chits relative to the value of a dive, so it's probably a bad idea.

At 4:50 PM, July 11, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

Realmspeak, huh? I've never tried Magic Realm, mainly because it seems to take so long and I didn't want to read the rules.

I personally thing that LL should let you turn in two chits for a card (at least in a 4-6 player game), but they're trying it at three. [Actually, my idea is that you should be able to turn in any two chits, not just zeroes].

At 4:51 PM, July 11, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

And note that ACTS lets you PBEM titan against people. Of course, you have to know how the masterboard works in order to decipher their (ASCII-based) graphics....

At 8:34 PM, July 11, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

For very recent (i.e., within the past week) videos about Magic Realm and Realmspeak, check out http://www.bookshelfgames.com/. This should give you a good idea about the game.

At 6:52 PM, July 12, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

BTW, if you do give Magic Realm a spin via Realmspeak, I'd recommend starting with the Berserker.


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