Saturday, July 28, 2007

Victory Snatched from the Jaws of a Death Star

The image above is a picture of Chad's people, the Naalu Collective. Believe it or not, they are now the supreme overlords of the galaxy. Here's the story of how this amazing feat happened.

We had a wonderful session today of Twilight Imperium 3, with about 99% of the expansion added in as well. Carlos hosted, and we drew the following races.

Race Tally:
Ben: The Embers of Muaat
Carlos: Mentak Coalition
Chad: Naalu Collective
Jon: L1z1x Mindnet
Jerry: Federation of Sol
Chris: Emirates of Hacan

For some reason just because I started the game with the power to construct War Suns (a.k.a. Death Stars), I was perceived as huge a threat by everyone. Throughout the entire game I was beset on all sides by evil gotcha cards, bounties, senatorial sanctions, and whatever anyone else could through at me. It just wasn't fair to me gentle, peace loving people. Alas, the bounties on my head were never collected, as I never lost a single space combat... not that it helped me win..., but I digress.

Each player, in turn, implemented their own unique strategy towards attaining galactic conquest. Jon, with a race of evil Terminator-style robots quickly invested maximum effort in technology development and military production. It wasn't long before he had an iron grip on Mecatol Rex, and he dominated the Senate throughout the game through threats and intimidation.

Chris played his part as the master of trade quite well. He was rolling in wealth the entire game, and he used his gold to build a massive fleet. With the evil Jon on one side, Chris decided he had a better chance of beating up on the poor humans, and spent most of the game beating Jerry all the way back to his homeworld.

Jerry was my ally for the entire game. We had a nice demilitarized zone between us, and we used this as a foundation from which to expand in opposite directions. Jerry made a daring assault into the wormhole nexus against Jon, but evil Jon had forbidden experimental weapons hidden on his Dreadnoughts and quickly blasted Jerry's fleet out of space. Chris, the Italy to Jon's Germany, quickly dog piled on Jerry, and Jerry spend the rest of the game fighting to stay alive.

Carlos controlled the space pirates. He too spent most of the game hurling nasty cards at me. Carlos captured a solid quadrant of the galaxy, and by the end of the game was quickly pumping out a fleet each turn, almost faster than I could blow them up. Carlos was solidly in the camp of Jon... sort of like the Japan to Jon's Germany... I had my eye on an assault against his inner worlds, but alas the game ended too quickly...

Chad was the crafty Naalu and my next door neighbor. For most of the game, I couldn't figure out what he was up to, though it seemed he was steadily managing to get VPs almost every turn. Chad initially pushed towards Mecatol, but his advance seemed to stall as Jon rushed forward on the other side. Still, by the last stage of the game he was ahead by one VP.

I watched Chad inching upwards in VPs for several turns, and I knew I had to deal with him before he got too far ahead. On turn one I managed to secure Hope's End, the Imperial elite soldier planet and training place of shock troops. I bought just enough technology to upgrade my War Suns to speed two, then launched a second one for my fleet. I rallied my massive fleet at Hope's End, two spaces from Mecatol Rex; two spaces from the worm hole nexus, and two spaces from Chad's weakly protected home world. Chad quickly built, doubling his home fleet. Jon threw signal jamming on me, which delayed my fleet a turn. Then I struck, hitting Chad's strengthened home world. A huge battle ensued, but I decisively won, only loosing a good portion of my fighter cover, then seizing Chad's home planet.

Carlos, seeing me with two War Suns with only a few fighters left jumped in with his fleet to try to take me down. A second huge battle ensued, and again I emerged victorious, losing just about everything except the two War Suns. Carlos' own War Sun went nova with a blinding flash, and I reset my jump coordinates to target him next.

Chad had a small, rag tag fleet of refugees a few hexes away, fleeing the colossal destruction of their home system. If I wanted to, I could blow these paltry remnants out of the game the next turn, but I figured it wasn't worth the effort. Chad was out of the game.... Or so I thought.

The last turn arrived, and Chad picked Bureaucracy. He searched through the objective deck and pulled out Imperium Rex, a.k.a. game over! Argh! He ended the game, and because he was ahead in VPs, he won! So, though I had virtually annihilated him, the galaxy was his. Apparently the burning down of his homeworld awakened the galaxy to the madness that our struggle truly was, and Chad represented peace and prosperity.

Congratulations, Chad! Masterfully played. Many thanks to Carlos and his family for hosting us, and thanks to all the players for participating in such a mammoth game.


At 9:58 PM, July 28, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Ok, first of all, I have to say that this was a great 7 hour game and I’m glad to have spend the better part of my Saturday playing TI3. There were a few things about this game that were a bit strange, though. For example Mecatol Rex was surrounded by a void that caused players empires to expand sideways rather than towards the center. I had never seen this. With a configuration like this the player who owned Mecatol Rex was safer than usual from attack. Good going, John.

Chad is a cool player who played the game well. Chad, when you left the three planets wide open, I honestly though that this was a ploy to get Ben to attack my outpost by going through your region of space. I should have moved to occupy these planets, but took a MEGA risk and attempted to liberate your home world. This was probably the galactic blunder that galactic historians will ponder for many millennia to come. It will finally be discounted as myth because it will be reasoned that no space admiral could have possibly have been so stupid. He mercifully died in the attack.

Ben, thanks for a superb write-up! I do need to comment on one thing about you being the galactic villain. I don’t know if it’s just me and my naturally paranoid nature, but you seem to LOVE to drop little hints to other players inciting them to believe that I am evil and cannot be trusted. So naturally I am afraid of you!

Ben also mentioned that adding the outer ring to the game might slow things down. I am not sure that I totally agree. I don’t think that it would for the following reasons:

• I think with more planetary resources, players will have larger empires with stronger economies. More resources, more votes, more production, and more action.
• I think with more planets, you will have a far richer variety to choose from when it comes to earning victory points. I could see games with higher points and closer races for points. I think that this would drive flash-points for conflict.
• Players will need to come up with more creative ways to expand and defend their territory. The shattered empire objectives add more “Conquest” objectives, so excitement will not be lacking.
• With more territory to protect and expand, I would expect that the game would have more smaller battles and fewer monster ones. Alliances with other players would become more important as players would need to trust each other so that ships and troops could be sent to more volatile areas. Gone would be the massive battles where one defeat would spell doom for your entire empire.

I could be wrong with all this, but I would really like to give it a shot. In terms of actual clock time, I think that the game would last about the same amount of time because that final “Game Over” card is going to be drawn more or less at the same time.

We need to try this. Thank you all for coming over today!

At 11:23 PM, July 28, 2007, Blogger Chad said...

My plan was to bide my time, hoping that my comparatively weak forces (compared to Jon's forces inching their way towards Mecatol) would make me a less likely target.

Once I built up what I felt would be a decent force, I planned on splitting my forces to take A) the two planet system adjacent to Ben's home system with one token ground troop and B) the system where Carlos had a War Sun parked for several turns (the one that ended up launching into my home world to counter-attack Ben's assault on me).

I had built up my forces exactly as I wanted them, and I planned on passing and beginning my attack at the start of the next round... and Ben attacked. That put me on the defensive.

As for the three open systems, those were left open since they weren't really important to my production. Had I lost them I would have lost all of 2 resources.

In all honesty, my win was a fluke. Had I not gotten that card that gave me one trade good for each planet I controlled outside of my home system, I wouldn't have gotten the VP that put me ahead of everyone, and I took a huge hit in production to buy my "spend 10 influence" VP.

I SO shouldn't have won that game.

At 1:44 AM, July 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a very important question needs to be answered:

As Chad's people are dancing around and Ben's War Suns are exploding in the sky like a big fireworks show, are they singing the Ewok song from the original release of Return of the Jedi or the re-release?

Excellent writeup Ben! And you did a great job of organizing all of this in the weeks before we actually played, which was a very smart thing to do. Absolutely the right way to do it.

Wow, I had a great time playing this game! The different races felt distinctly different as they were played, which I liked. I'm not sure the races are perfectly balanced, but I thought the choice of a race from two pre-selected options helped with this.

I was amazed at how well balanced, though, the strategy cards are. There is no forced card to take as the first or second choice in each round, which I think was proven on the turn when Assembly made it through all six players without being selected.

The game overall had a very enjoyable ebb and flow to it. (Easy for me to say, as I wasn't losing planets as some of the other players were, but even if I had been eliminated I think I still would have been itching to play again.) It sure did not feel like seven hours.

Congratulations, Chad, on a well-played game. I saw a few mentions in the rulebook that there are other ways to win besides primarily warfare--now I understand what that means. You won according to the rules of the game and deserved the win. It taught me that I *must* devote at least some effort to claiming objectives throughout the game rather than waiting until all my military conquests are done.

I hope Jerry doesn't think I was picking on him! I'm glad he came and hope he joins up with us more often.

Carlos, thanks for hosting! It was a great experience. Dang, when are we going to do this again? I can't wait! (And how often can the human body actually tolerate seven hours playing one board game? My guess is we wouldn't do this more than monthly but I sure hope it's not less frequent than that.)

At 5:43 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Monthly works for me!

At 7:43 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Chad: You picked Bureaucracy three times at least, which seems to have been a key to your victory. The rest of us were busy having fun with Technology, Warfare, and Assembly, while you were busy arranging the victory point deck. I don't think it was an accident that you won.

At 8:20 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

i would be perfectly content with TI3 on a monthly basis. But considering the games scope this is probably not practical. Once every 6 to 8 weeks would probably be more realistic.

I am also fine with hosting, but am usually at the mercy of when the wife and kids go off somewhere.

Chris, I don't think that Jerry thought you were picking on him. All of know that's part of the game. I cannot believe that STeve has never played this.

Despite that there were some strange things about this session, I loved it and it has only made me want to play again. Hopefully before too long. I observed some cool new strategies.

BTW, Ben you were spared a back door atack from me via a worm home. When I made a threteneing move towards John I was really moving towards you, But when I activated the system and moved my fleet there I just forgot to move the War Sun. I therefore had to abandon that plan.

At 8:38 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Jeff said...

Didn't Chad win the last SABG TI:3 game he played in?

At 10:17 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

I'm pretty sure you are right there Jeff. The problem is that I haven't been there to alert everyone to the fact that Chad is running away with it. One of these days I'll have to correct that, perhaps in the session in 6-8 weeks.

At 10:31 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

One small nitpick:

Chad had a small, rag tag fleet of refugees

should be edited to read:

Chad had a rag tag, fugitive fleet

So say we all.

At 11:47 AM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I won the time we played before this one at Dragon's Lair around Christmas. Chad won the time before that. In retrospect my successful quest to reduce Chad's homeworld to a cinder was more than a little myopic. Pursuing such a strategy may have led to victory over time (i..e. lots of new planets under my domain), but in the mean time, I was really just kingmaking Jon. Yep, next time I'll focus on burning down Jon's homeworld.

At 3:14 PM, July 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at how some other players on the web handle the Direct Hit/Emergency Repairs situation that we ran into, I found one that I think makes more sense.

If a Dreadnought or War Sun takes a hit and the attacker wants to play Direct Hit and the defender wants to play Emergency Repairs, then they simply cancel each other out. Both cards are discarded and the ship remains damaged. It is not destroyed but it is not repaired either. This seems to make the most sense in that both players get to play or not play their card if they so choose and turn order/seating order/who said first/who shouted loudest does not come into play.

IMHO this sounds like a pretty fair implementation that I think we ought to use in the future unless anyone objects.

At 3:40 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

This sounds awesome.

I hope to someday be involved in a TI:E game.

At 5:56 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Maybe we are just getting more experienced with this game, but I don't recall so many Action Cards being thrown around in previous games. This really made things unpredictable.

I am already looking out for another time when I can host. If we have enough players, I would really like to try with the outer ring.

Has anyone looked at the Vassal Plug-in for TI3?

At 6:16 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

I can't get 2 player games going on vassal (except for Ben). Good luck setting up a 6 player game.

(ooooooh.... insert uncomfortable silence)


At 6:26 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

Ok, Carlos is excused.... he JUST sent me an email telling me he had installed Vassal.

At 8:19 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

If we're going for the outer ring, we should just add a 7th player. Now that the game is fresh in everyone's mind, things should rock and roll.

Chris: I think you're recommendation on the card play is right on the money.

The TI:3 Vassal module has been abandoned by its developer, who has now moved on to create something called the TI:3 Wiki. Its amazing, but it requires a full-time GM to play. I can't see PBEM TI:3 being too successful though.

I have Labor Day, Sept 3, off if anyone is interested in trying even a game with a smaller number of players that day.

At 11:06 PM, July 29, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Labor Day will be a good day to plan for, but I will not be able to commit to anything yet. I am pretty sure that I will be in town, I may need to watch the kids. But if I have a target to shoot for, then the odd are better that I will be able to work something out.

At 11:47 PM, July 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in for Sept 3rd.

At 11:56 PM, July 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, (although this may seem nitpicky) for those who own the Shattered Empire expansion and aren't already aware, there is an errata replacement offer by FFG. The orange technology deck is missing one card because it was accidentally replaced by a duplicated "Sarween Tools" card. You can print out the form at the FFG TI3 website and send in your extra Sarween Tools card and they'll mail you the right one. I sent mine off today.

Now if they would only fix that PDS cost misprint on the character sheets...

At 6:40 PM, July 30, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

I sent in for the replacement card. It took about a week to get the new one.


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