Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GameStorm, Day 2

Sorry for the delay in publishing this, I had thought I had free Interweb access from my room, but it turns out that I just managed to get in without paying. The free access was in the public spaces. Anyway, on we go!

Day Two was unusual in that I had actually slept extremely well the night before. Yes, I was up until 2am making sure the library got shut down and the room got closed up, and I was up at 8am to get to my first game on time, but I usually have a lot of trouble sleeping in strange places. Here, I slept like a baby despite only one synthetic pillow and forty seven down pillows. Next time I'll remember to bring my own.

First up was a game of Dungeon Lords at the Z-Man area, with Chris, his son Jake, and Justin. Dungeon Lords is a pretty standard "place a lot of markers, do a lot of things" game in the stripe of Caylus, Pillars of the Earth, Stone Age, Cuba, etc. While I'm a fan of these kinds of games, I generally have been staying away from most of them because there seem to be so many. DL stands above the rest on a couple of points - the components are marvelous and really evoke the theme of swapping roles from most dungeon delve games, and of course the actual fighting the parties that raid your dungeon at the end of each year (one turn). I should also mention that you need to be considering what sort of opponents you'll have in your dungeon, which is slowly but surely revealed as the turn goes on and is then based on just how "evil" you are. I've been itching to give this a shot, and I'm delighted that I was finally able to. This one will be added to my collection. Justin won in a game where we had absolutely no idea how well we'd do, largely on his unconquered tiles.

After lunch, I wanted to spend equal time in the Rio Grande Games tournament, and had picked Sylla as my game of choice, largely on the name, which was of course one of the creatures Ulysses had to sail between in the Odyssey. Except that it wasn't about that creature, but about Sulla, the Dictator of Rome around 72BC. I think most of you know that BC stands for Before Christ (and we are now moving toward the more religion-neutral "Before Common Era", or BCE). That did not prevent this designer from making Christians a major part of his design. While I understand that anyone not interested in ancient history or who has read even the first book or two of Colleen McCullough's Rome series will have the vaguest idea of who Sulla was or when he was the dictator will even notice, I sure did. Add on top a rulebook that had several vague sentences (essentially "this works like you'd expect it to work" in lieu of an actual rule), Vestal Virgins who are Christian (like Buddhist monks who are also Jewish), and rather dull gameplay, and you see pretty quickly that this may have been the low point of the con for me. Avoid at all costs.

Next up was the feature game for me for the day, a rare playing of History of the World. Unfortunately, we played the Hasborg edition, which is the least interesting to me of the three editions I own (also A Brief History as well as the "original" Avalon Hill edition - I don't own the original Ragnar Bros "tea towel map" game). I like this least because you are rewarded for having the most points at the end of each turn, which strikes me as being an example of the rich get richer. Yes, you also still get no choice of empire in the next epoch, but these points are often critical to winning the game and it's a bit of a crap shoot. There is a rule that eliminates these bonuses that I would request to use in the future, but it's optional. I also really like the original AH rule about "strength" - each empire is rated in points in terms of it's VP generating ability, and empire draw/pass order is based on this rather than VP. SP makes the game about doing the most with the least, and I really like that.

In our game, we only had four people, and in general I've learned that the game requires six to work as it's supposed to. In fact, the game did not function as it was supposed to - the guy who got the Romans won, largely because he also got an early empire after a very late empire in Epoch 6/7. Interestingly, the guy who got the most end-of-turn tokens came in third, although this was a wacky game as I was the only person with significant experience playing. However, my usual tactic of playing in out of the way places to generate lots of small VPs was defeated thanks to people going out of their way to kill my units because they had siegecraft played and nothing else really to do with their time. Savvy play for people who clearly didn't understand that strategy. I came in second with some very strong play with the Mongols in Epoch V after getting the Arabs (who sucked mightily in Epoch IV), followed by weaker empires in the last two epochs. I was able to score 150 points in the last three Epochs, and three of us exceeded 200 points in the game. That said, still a lot of fun and I met some very nice people in Matt, Dale, and Perry (who won in his first outing!)

My final game of the day was my second playing (ever, not of the day) of Martin Wallace's classic, Brass, but on a map of northern France and the Low Countries. I really liked the game the first time I played it, and I like it even more after this one, aside from the difficulty of figuring out what the various French language cards meant when representing the various buildings (ironworks was particularly difficult to figure out for some reason). Also, the map was laminated pieces that hadn't been trimmed. Note to DYIers - cut the sheets down to their working sizes before laminating so we can abut the pieces correctly! One town was on one sheet, but connected to two others with no connections on the town's sheet, making it difficult to parse the board effectively. That said, it was a good variant and one I'd buy if it were professionally produced (or the equivalent, as with the most excellent fan-produced version of Pampas Rails I saw the next day).

In our three player game with Cary and Anna, very nice people I'd met at EGG in February, we had a very interesting game. I had a good first round that saw me with a lot of factories left over going into the second round, and I felt I was in it right up until Anna stole my Ship Building spot that I was developing into and Cary overrode one of my Ironworks. Still, I managed to nail over 50 points just for my rail lines, and the scores ended up 148 for Anna, 149 for me, and 153 for Cary. Wow.

Aside from Sylla, the day was sullied only by the failure of the ice machine to work on my floor, and no easy way for me to get from floor to floor other than the very busy elevator to get ice from a different machine.

1 comment:

dave said...

They had an account for wireless that worked from your room; I saw it posted in the vendor room, but nowhere else. That was a sweet touch!