I was a few minutes late arriving and found Steve watching Dave & Ben play
|Mordred 30 mins|
This is a strange game by Martin Wallace, which I played once over at Dave's. I'm not sure what the players are supposed to represent, but the idea is to defeat the forces of evil represented by the black pawns of Mordred, while simultaneously building up a network of towns villages and castles, which earn victory points. The game ends either when a player has placed all of one type of building, when all the Mordred pawns are on the board or possibly if a player defeats Mordred in his home castle on Anglesey (in which case that player automatically wins). That last victory condition is straight forward, but the interesting part is when the game ends by one of the other methods. You first look at whether Mordred has won (more Mordred pieces on the board than total player pieces). If he has not then the player with most victory points wins, otherwise the player who did least to aid Mordred wins.
So you have a balancing act because to build things you need money which you get by rolling dice at the beginning of your turn, you can choose from 3 tracks to roll on, with increasing average income, but if you choose the higher value tracks your chances of having to place Mordred units increases meaning the probability of an evil win is increased and you are further along the Mordred track putting you at a disadvantage if he is victorious. To counterbalance this you can use your settlement (Castles are best) to attack adjacent Mordred pawns and if you win, not only is the evil power reduced, but you also get to move back toward the side of light. It is an interesting system and I'm not entirely convinced of the skill element, but it plays in a short time and is quite fun.
I remembered all that and it's been a few weeks since I played, I'm sure Dave will correct me if I got anything wrong.
After Ben & Dave finished we decided to play one of the hot games of the moment.
|Age of Empires III 150 mins|
I had played this once before at Luke's Happy, Happy Games Day a couple of months back and found that I quite liked it, which surprised me a bit as I've never really been taken by games on this theme, other than the old Sid Meier PC game Colonization.
At the beginning of the game we decided to record the scores on a piece of paper as the scoring track on board is not the greatest ever produced of it's type. Also it's not exactly a vital thing to have when scoring only takes place 3 times. If it had been constantly changing that would be different. As a result of all this I've tried to reconstruct the score breakdowns from Dave's notes, the first and second ages should be accurate as are the totals, but it's possible that the Age III distributions may be very slightly off.
Ben played the Dutch and adopted the strategy of spreading the word of the Lord to the natives, sending over many missionaries and gaining extra colonists that way. He acquired the Monastery in the first age, giving an extra Missionary each turn and then picked up the Cathedral at the end of the second age, so his missionaries would give 2 colonists instead of one. However despite sending many people to the New World, he was weak in the other area, having few trade goods and ships, although acquiring the Taxation building brought in a regular income. He also made no discoveries. Ben might have done better if the Cathedral had turned up earlier in the age giving a longer period for it to have an effect.
Age I 2
Age II 10
Capital Buildings 2 (Taxation 2)
Dave C was the Spanish and adopted a strategy primarily geared toward colonisation and also some discoveries. He acquired Conquest of the Incan empire in Age I and this enabled him also to pick up New World Cartography for a free discovery. He was soon sending a lot of men including soldiers to the New World and this was helped when he got Indian Allies in Age II, which he used to virtually eliminate every foreign presence in New Spain (fortunately I'd already picked up the Gold having discovered it and been first to 3 colonists). Elsewhere he had more competition, particularly in Brazil, where I had a presence and Steve who also had a soldier, resulting a a kind of standoff. Dave's weakness was income, although he had Trade goods and a couple of ships, he had no other regular source and after the initial boost from the Incan Empire he struggled being unable to afford Capital Buildings in Age III.
Age I 6
Age II 12
Capital Buildings 4 (New World Cartography 4)
Steve was the British and adopted a similar strategy to Dave, although he also went for trade goods and employed Merchants (I think he picked up Trade routes in Age I) to boost his income, so he had sufficient money to fund his plans. In age III he was able to acquire Mercantilism which boosted his score well due to his collection of goods, but just failed on a last minute discovery, having not had time to accumulate enough men for the expedition. That said he did benefit earlier in the game, when Ben had a failed discovery and he was able to immediately follow up knowing he had sufficient force to do the job.
Age I 6
Age II 16
Capital Buildings 11 (Mercantilism 11)
I was the Portuguese apparently, but this was because of my desire to be green rather than because of the country. I went first and seeing that the Navigator tile was available I decided to try a similar strategy to that which had served me well in my only other game, so I headed straight for the Capital Buildings. The Captain in the discovery box each turn would allow me to make plenty of discoveries. In addition to this I concentrated early on picking up Trade goods and Ships, then aiming my discovery missions at areas where the goods matched what I'd got. Specialist wise I concentrated on more Captains enabling me to be certain of success in my discoveries and some missionaries, which I would send the following turn to pick up the goods. I didn't bother that much about keeping my discoveries after that abandoning them if hoards of other muscled in. At the start of Age II, I already had a good income and was additionally able to pick up Privateers, which was quite good as I already had 2 ships and this would later become 3. In Age III I had enough money to afford 2 Capital Buildings on the first turn and the fact that one was Factory ensured I picked another 2 in the following turn, the others were Wealth, Prosperity and Population, I'd have liked Mercantilism, but Steve beat me to it.
Age I 8
Age II 6
Capital Buildings 36 (Factory 5, Wealth 14, Prosperity 12, Colonisation 5)
I won comfortably as I did in my other game by adopting the same strategy. In both games I was the only one to play this way, while the others were fighting a lot over the New World colonies. I can see that at some point I'm going to have to modify this as it relies so much on having the right Capital buildings to support it. I probably play this way because of my general preference for an economic route rather than one of conquest/conflict and it is nice for a game to allow both types of play. Whichever way, it looks to me as if Money is Power as it buys Capital buildings and whether they are direct point scorers or give other advantages, the right ones are vital to whatever strategy is used.
Until next week