Saturday, October 21, 2006

Look! Look! A Prompt Recap!

SouTues was at Mike's this week, and Wes, Ben The Taller, Mike, and myself got some good gaming in.

First up was a pyramid building game that Ben has been designing for some time. I won't go into detail other than to note that it uses Lego(tm) blocks and is very close to being a real winner. There are some great design elements here, I hope Ben continues to refine the system. The game was fairly close, a surprise as I stalled badly in the mid-game and was having trouble getting going again until the end. I really like the "pipeline" effect the game has, similar to Antiquity, etc. I can't really recall who won, but I think it was Mike.

Second up was Shear Panic, a fun game of manipulating the formation of a flock of sheep. In the early part of the game, you begin by trying to get your two sheep next to each other during your move, then you try to get them as close to the "front" of the flock as possible at two key points, then you try to play tag with the black sheep, and finally attempt to avoid getting sheared near the game end. The sheep themselves are these great cartoony ceramic models that have considerable heft and add to the fun. Mike's copy is a pre-production copy from Essen 2005, I picked up the production copy a few weeks ago and they have improved some of the elements (nicer scoring boards, move trackers, "mutton buttons") but kept the great sheep.

In our game, I was forced to make a decision early on to hurt Ben's chances (as the leader) but in the process help out Wes. I took the chance and from them I knew I was playing for second. In the end, Wes won by a few points, with me edging Ben for third. Mike never really got going, and he was in last place the entire game, although I think he had fun as well.

Maybe I'll get a chance to play Vegas Showdown next week...

In solitaire news, I've continued my Silent War game, although I stopped keeping extensive records of how I was doing as it just took too much time. I managed to get to WS3 in April of '43, which gave me a Dramatic Victory (one level up from a Historical result, modified by sinking over a million tons). I'm continuing the game to at least WS4 - the game changes dramatically when you change war status, suddenly you have a shot at more sub tenders and lots of Gatos which you need because the ASW level goes up to 2. Thank goodness for Vassal.

I've also tried playing Hornet Leader 2, an update of the old GMT title that Dan Verssen sells as a Java-based or PDF game. It has some differences with the original, and unfortunately the Java interface doesn't completely mesh up wih the rules manual that comes with the game (what is the Mess Deck for?), although these are subtle differences. If you always wanted to try the system but couldn't because the game wasn't availalble, I recommend this one. Strangely, I'm unable to save games, perhaps there is a problem with the registration (I'm playing on a newer laptop than what I had when I bought it a year or so ago).

Finally, I've been trying to learn Republic of Rome as a solitaire game. I am out of my mind. I did download the "living rules" some kind soul has put on the web (the "official" rules are all over the place because of poor errata AH sent out after publication, occasionally contradictory in nature). However, the living rules don't include any info on the solitaire game, so it's slow going. Also, I've managed to pull the first and second Punic Wars and the Syrian War in the first turn, which I hear pretty much kills the game as the Romans have no fleets to start and the solo rules don't do any lookahead to determine if maybe that money you spent on an extra Forum phase might not have been better spent on a few ships. I'm going to struggle through the rest of the first turn (I'm currently reading the Senate phase rules), but it's pretty clear that this game is a tough nut to crack, even with the solitaire rules and not many decision points for me to make so far. Still, it's got a pretty good reputation and it's something I'd like to at least play once, if only a single pass through the Early Republic.

That's all for now. The next CenTues is at my place, maybe we'll finally get Vegas Showdown in then.

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