Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'd Like To Offer You My Protection

I arrived at Dragon's Lair around 6ish. There was a game of Through The Ages being played by Brian and Chris - I don't know much about this game, but it looks complicated and long. Sounds fun! For $70, it better be...

I missed what game Simon and Steve were playing when I arrived - you guys need to chime in and let us know. My first game was my newly-opened box of Nexus Ops. (ooh, the smell of a newly opened... gah - WHAT is that smell???) For a game that is/was being sold for a fairly cheap price, it's got a LOT of nifty glowy bits. I need a play or two more to figure out what to do with this game - I defended my territory pretty well, but managed not to score any victory points. Steve ran away with it by amassing a huge pile of pink bugs, dragons, robots, and (we think) a human somewhere in that pile. Jon arrived and started stacking the mission and energize decks to try to give Simon the edge, but it was too little too late.

For our next game Simon pulled out Bootleggers - a game of prohibition-era moonshine distribution. I had the brilliant idea to man a smaller speakeasy early in the game, but failed to plan for the larger bar that Jon manned to capacity. I also used up my mobster influence too early, instead of holding the potential destruction over people's heads for extortion and bribery. Jon was clearly winning the game until he revealed his hatred for success - he self-destructed by inviting the copper into his distillery for a personal tour. This let the game continue for one extra turn, where Steve took advantage of his non-threatening, not in the limelight strategy to amass enough money for the TKO. Hmm. The prevent-Steve-at-all-costs strategy clearly needs some tweaking.

At this point most of the crew left, and we had time for one quick game of Race for the Galaxy. I managed to draw all military worlds with zero military strength for the first four turns, crippling me for the game, but I WAS working on a pretty decent comeback strategy involving alien goods and developing-for-profit. Chris pulled a win out, scoring 2 more than Brian, and I finished a distant third.

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At 5:11 PM, February 12, 2008, Blogger Simon said...

It was nice to finally meet Steve whom I first spotted doing the thousand-yard stare during the rules explanation of Through the Ages. He offered to peel away for some two player fun and so we began:

Roma: Despite being Steve’s first time playing, he pretty soundly destroyed me twice in a row. I really like this game win or lose. I think it’s something to do with thinking up clever ways to mitigate the luck of your die rolls. With some ingenuity, you can pull off some pretty crazy tricks. -That is unless your opponent drops a forum, gladiator, and scaenicus in the first frickin’ round (wtf?!).

Nexus Ops: Sean joined in and offered up his shiny new copy to play. I think I have yet to play a game of this where the playing order isn’t the finishing order. Maybe some smarter person at BGG figured out a way to balance the game a little better. I would check if I were motivated. Honestly when I think about it though, it really doesn’t make sense why it’s so unbalanced in the first place. Playing order shouldn’t matter that much, should it? Bah, I don’t know. It’s good, cheap fun anyway.

Bootleggers: Oh, buddy! I don’t think it’s a secret that I love negotiation games (I thrive on stress!) and Bootleggers was no let down. Heck, it might be up there with I’m the Boss! though I have yet to play Chinatown which I hear is one of the best in the genre. As for our game, I need to try that “play it bogart and fly under the radar” thing Steve did which tends to win 75% of the time. Instead I opted for the “honor all your deals and be really honest” thing which is possibly the most counter intuitive mobster play style ever, ever. Jon was a big threat throughout the game, but he got his stills busted up not once, but TWICE due to rolling all of his dice while being staked out. For those unfamiliar this means that when he fires up his still for whiskey production (you know, the stuff you sell to umm…win) he can’t roll a five or he gets everything confiscated, i.e. smashed into tiny bits. Jon chose to roll five dice…twice. That’s what you get for being crazy with greed, man! Had I known Steve had so much money I could have played a thug card to bust one of his trucking shipments in the final round to seize victory, but alas… All I can say is we need to play this with six players!

As a side note, we finished all of these games around the time Brian and Chris finished playing one game of Through the Ages. I bet their fingers were cube-pruned and their eyes suffering from VP track tunnel vision. Those two are troopers, I say…

At 9:20 PM, February 12, 2008, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Nexus Ops is a lot of fun. From a strategy standpoint, it's pretty simple: attack.

Everything about the game is set-up to reward taking action and to punish defense. Hence the advantage of going first.

I think the game does a decent job of balance by giving the later players more cash. Then again I've only played twice and once the first player won.

Balance or no, it's fast, furious and fun.

At 11:05 PM, February 12, 2008, Blogger Schifani said...

Through the Ages would have hurt. I prefer games where drunks can win.

Roma fit that criteria. Follow Simon's advice and roll well.

Nexus Ops. The light bulb came on after many losses and I now have a solid game plan even if not first...and it's one I can follow if impaired. The commish did try to rob Sean and I.

Bootleggers. Jon could have won, but his "screw the Ents" mentality earned him the sad ending he so richly deserves. I never had any great money scores, but I was cheap while consistently getting 15-30K every round after we revealed we were all at 18-20K in round 4. Simon is right, I could have easily been sabotaged, but Jon loomed as the larger threat with his potential for 65K+ per round.

It was cool to meet Simon and I am fired up about making more Mondays.

At 11:21 PM, February 12, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it that Brian says? Something along the lines of "the Holy Grail of gaming is the two-hour civ game." Basically I take it to mean that it's a "Holy Grail" because it hasn't been found yet. To save time, you sacrifice substance, and vice versa. So I am resigned to the fact that if I want to play a fun, substantive civ board game, it's gonna take a while.

Through the Ages felt a lot like the Civ series of games (but not too much like Fall from Heaven), which is clearly what the designer set out to accomplish. It's pretty fun and has some tough choices to make. It feels like there's a lot of depth to it that would become apparent with more plays. You have to think about culture, military, research, claiming territory (making people), building stuff--it's a lot to manage and the cards throw a lot of variability into it, with some short-term gain vs. long-term efficiency choices to be made. I enjoyed it although we played a slightly stripped-down version. One of these Saturdays, I think Brian and I would play it again if anyone else wanted to give it a try.

I really still want to play Roma, it just sounds like fun (I like dice rolling games, don't know why). Bootleggers also looked like fun, although neither negotiation or auction games are my strong suit.

But I sure can roll dice.


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