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I played Imperial Settlers with Mark, Dave and Steve Pe. This being a tableau building game, where the cards played represent locations in your civilisation. Each civ is differentiated by having its own deck of faction buildings which can be built usually as upgrades to the common locations which everyone has access to and they also differ in their standard production and the type of goods that they can store between rounds.
The game is played over 5 rounds, each of which starts with a Lookout phase where everyone gets new cards before a production phase where new goods for the turn are received. This is followed by an action phase, where each player takes turns taking actions which can include the following-
Build locations which entails playing a card from hand to your tableau with common buildings placed to the right of your board and the faction buildings placed to the left. There are 3 types of locations, being Production which produce goods in the production phase and also produce them as a one off when built, feature locations give some type of special effect which is either a one off or ongoing while action locations provide an action that can be taken on your turn in the action phase.
Raze locations allows the spending of Raze tokens to raze an existing locations. This can either be a card from the razing player's hand for 1 token or a previously built location of another player for 2 tokens. It is normally only possible to raze common location as feature location are not razable (the exception being most of the Japanese feature locations. The razing player receives the reward ststed on the razed card, while the target player loses use of the location but is compensated by receiving 1 wood and the card is flipped, counting as a foundation which can still be discarded as part of the cosr of a faction building.
Make a deal by spending 1 food to place a faction location card slipped under the top of the player board where it will produce a specified good in following production phases and as a one off when the deal is made.
Use an action building which helps you in some way. There are far too many possibilities to mention here especially as each faction has its own special locations which go to making each one different.
Spend 2 workers to get a resource or card. Each faction has this on its player board, it can be used multiple times.
The action phase goes on with each player taking an action on their turns, until all players have passed. Once a player has passed, they can take no further actions, but they have the advantage that they can no longer be targeted by another player during that action phase.
The action phase constitutes the bulk of the game, it is followed by a cleanup phase where all goods are returned to the supply except for those that the factions can store from round to round.
The game is played over 5 rounds at the end of which points are scored for locations that the factions have in play at the end, 2 VP for a faction location and 1 VP for a common location together with some specials for some locations that the Japanese have.
In our game I was the barbarians who I get the impression probably have the most straightforward locations, the cards have green backs and the scoring token is green but this was determined randomly not my choice, perhaps when playing a different faction, I may be confused. Dave was the Japanese whose faction locations are razable but they do have Samurai to help defend them, Steve was the Romans, whose advantage seems to be that they can build warehouses allowing them to store additional types of goods from round to round, Mark was the Egyptians who seemed to have a lot of gold which is a wild card good that can be used as any resource and also seem to have locations that allow the taking over or blocking of other people's locations.
Part way through the game Mark was looking as if he might run away with it as he seemed to be raking in a lot of points, but Dave used a special ability to take out one of his locations pegging this back. By the end of the game, both Dave & I had pegged him back and I went on to win by 4 points. Having said that I believe that we were making a significant error during the game as we were scoring the VP for locations as soon as they were built and then scored them again at the end of the game. Looking at the rules online I could not find anywhere suggesting that points were scored other than at the end, Dave, I gather from an email exchange is inclined to agree. I don't know whether this would have made a difference to the result but it might have done, I think Mark, Dave & I had pretty similar building scores (I had 3 points more than Dave at the end but that can't account for locations constructed, scored for and later razed) and I wouldn't like to guess who, if anyone, would have benefited had we played correctly.
I think I like this game, I will certainly play it again correctly. It is a tableau building game, which is a type that I tend to like (see also San Juan, Race for the Galaxy, London, St. Petersburg). This one has a bit take that about it, but not I think excessive. I was not impressed with the score track which is one of those which snakes back on itself so one moment you're moving a marker in one direction to add points and the next you're moving it in another. I would have thought a spiral design better or a track around the edge of a board, the problem being what to do with the space in the middle, possibly the card deck and discards and/or goods supplies, although this would leave the possibility that the scores might be disturbed by people taking things from the centre. Anyway its not that serious a problem.
Our game took 2.5 hours which seems to be a long way from the suggested 60 minutes. That said the game is clearly one where play time must be closely proportional to player number and I think it should come down when the players are more familiar with it, perhaps also with more knowledge about the differnt location cards available.
Also played was Antike II, actually using an upgrade kit for the original game, I have marked this in the stats as a version of Antike so the figure for the 2 games will be added together. I can change this if someone (Gordon?) feels that there are significant differences between the 2 games.
Power Grid was played without me, which has actually happened a few times this year. As noted we have only Japan of the original expansion maps still to play this year. The new deluxe edition is due out in this country next week.
Star Realms I know not a lot about, from what Scott and Gordon said, it is some type of deck building game.
Full results follow.
|Power Grid - 140 Mins.|
|Antike II - 130 Mins.|
|Imperial Settlers - 150 Mins.|
|Star Realms - 20 Mins.|