Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday's Games

It got off to a little bit of a slow start since most people arrived late but it turned out to be a fine, well attended game night.

My first game of the evening was a three-player game of Pillars of the Earth. I've been asserting for weeks now that the game would be best with three players and this playing did nothing to discourage that opinion. With three there is still stiff competition for the best craftsmen and resources but it isn't nearly as tight as it is with four. Once again the master builder draw proved painful but I still managed a respectable finish, coming in second by a single victory point.

The new Days of Wonder game: Colosseum is finally here and I played for the first time last night. We played a three player game and it went reasonably well. This game is about putting on the best events at the Roman Colosseum. Players secure the rights to produce specific events and then must bid and trade in order to secure the correct resources to produce the events. If you don't have all the necessary resources, you can still produce the event but it won't be worth as much points. None of us had played before so we all made plenty of strategic mistakes. My biggest mistake was not realizing until it was too late how important it would be to make sure that I stayed focused on the last turn's event. The game lasts for five turns and during each turn you may produce an event. The thing is, unless you screw up, only the fifth event really matters because your score is a high-water mark of your scores from each event. Since each completed event contributes a fixed amount of points towards the next, the only reason to worry about maximizing the earlier events is to get more money (you get payed based on how they score) and that's often not a good enough reason to worry about maximizing the event. It's better to focus on maximizing whatever event you plan to produce last. I think I'm going to really like this game but after one play I'm not completely sure. I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this one. Oh, and if you're wondering, I lost. Pretty badly.

My last game of the evening was (yet another three player) game of Elasund - The First City. In my opinion, this is the best game that Klaus (Settlers of Catan) Teuber has produced in years. It had been months and months since I last played this game and I'm afraid to say that we started playing with one incorrect rule as a result. Furthermore we discovered that there was a second minor rule detail that I had actually never played correctly at all! I blame the rule book which is not quite as clear as it could be. I blame the rule book because clearly I can't possibly blame myself. That would be unheard of. We switched to the correct rules mid game once our mistakes were discovered by a third party. I maintain that neither rule change significantly affected the outcome of the game (I won by a comfortable margin) and I think that either of my mistakes would make fine variants. FYI, the rule I had forgotten was that when the pirates take a resource, the victim gets to choose which card(s) to give up; we began by playing that looted cards were chosen at random. The rule that I had never played correctly was that when placing a permit token you must give up gold cards equal to the number on the token; I've always played that permit placement doesn't cost gold. The way that I've always played leads to a slightly faster game (due to more gold in the economy) and slightly stronger defensive positions (it's always advantageous to play the larger permits), but it doesn't really significantly alter the strategy or feel of the game. Sure it costs more to use some one's permits since they're more likely to be 4s and 3s but you've probably got more money to do it so it kind of all comes out in the wash.

The big "other" game of the night was a five player game of Die Macher. I like Die Macher. I really do. But I just can't see myself devoting five hours to it very often. In the time they played their one game of Die Macher, I played three games.

Also played was Nexus Ops, and I'm sure there were other games as well but as I wasn't involved, I can't really remember what they all were. (No Thanks! was one.)

I'm going to be out of town next week (and consequently, House Full of Games will not be processing orders for the week of June 4-8) but game night will still be on as usual. Have fun without me. I'm sure I'll be playing plenty of games with the family while I'm away. Perhaps I'll tell you all about it when I get back.


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