Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Gladiators...and building Kingdoms

What to do with all those gladiators?
Well, we had our regular Tuesday night "After School Special", and out came Spartacus again.  Brian had yet to play, so we broke it out with Mike R. and Carson.  We played the "standard" game this time, with each house starting at 4 influence.  This made the early game a little slower, as more negotiating needed to be done to play those mid-level intrigue cards.  The others had gone to 6 or 7 influence be the time I got around to gaining some.  I had 2 cards called "Sate Roman Appetites", which gave +1 influence to a Dominus with at least 4 ready gladiators.  I went a on a spending spree, at one point having 5 gladiators.  The stars of my stable were Gannicus and Varro.  Varro never fought a match, but his special ability gave me a gold anytime - during any combat - where 3 hits were scored.  He must have earned me 10-12 gold over the course of the game.

Gannicus vs. Theokeles
Gannicus was my star in the arena...or so I thought.  With stats of 4-4-4, he's the equal to Spartacus himself, and his special ability is that he wins ties as an attacker.  However, when brought to battle, he had to face Theokeles, from Carson's stable.  Theokeles is one of the promo cards I picked up at Prezcon, and has stats of 5-5-2 (but no special ability).  I had armed Gannicus with a net, which allowed  him to automatically win initiative once during the match...but I hardly needed it, rolling 4 dice to Theokeles 2.  However, the dice gods were not kinds to me...I don't think I rolled over a 3 the whole match.  Most bets were placed on me, and I still think Gannicus has the edge, being able to win ties.  But it was not to be, as Theokeles absolutely dominated.  Gannicus was lucky to escape with just an injury, and not be decapitated.  I was able to heal him, and he later triumphed in the arena.

Carson started to pull away, and with the help of Brian and Mike, I was able to knock him down a few pegs with an intrigue card.  However, a turn later, he was able to play 4 cards to shoot from 8 to 12 influence and win the game.  I was able to block one of his cards, but he had yet another.  Brian and I both has other cards that could have likely blocked the win, but we didn't get them out quickly enough.  Note to self...the end game can occur quickly. 

After Spartacus, we tried out Kingdom Builder.  This is an interesting game, in which there's a ton of randomization...including some of the rules!  The board is assembled using several random "sectors".  Several tokens are placed on the board, according to pre-printed images.  The board consists of 5 types of playable terrain (prairie, flowers, forest, crevasse, desert), and 2 impassable types (mountains, water).  On your turn, you draw a card, which will be one of the 5 playable types, and then you have to play 3 houses on that terrain...but you have to play them adjacent to previously played pieces, if possible.

Building Kingdoms
If you ever play next to a token, you get to keep that token and use it's special ability for the rest of the game.  The special abilities are randomized.  In our game, we could add a 4th house, move a house from one location to another, play on the board edge, or add a house to the end of a straight line.  The other thing that is randomized are the scoring rules.  These are randomly drawn cards.  In our game, we scored by having long horizontal rows of houses, a point per grouping of houses, and a point per house in the sector with the least amount of houses. 

I finished 2nd, behind Mike R.  It's an interesting game, a bit of an abstract brain-burner.  My first impression was "meh"...but I have found myself thinking about it somewhat.  It's not on my "must own" list by any stretch...but I'd definitely play again if it came out.

A few odds and ends...

I always pay my debts
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to drop in the Game Parlor when I dropped off the boy at a birthday party across the street in Chantilly.  I found Mike R. and his buddy Paul in there, setting up Triumph of Chaos, themed to the Russian Civil War.  That looked like a meaty game, with a lots of cardboard counters and a rulebook printed in size 8 font.  While he continued to set up, Mike encouraged me to teach Paul Battles of Westeros.  This game is kinda sorta related to the "Command and Color" series of games - Memoir '44, Battle Cry, Battlelore, etc.  However, I maintain that it's a step up in complexity, doing away with the left/center/right system of card play, replacing it with command and order tokens, used to issue cards from your leaders.  I taught Paul using the opening scenario, with Lannisters attacking Starks across a river.  We had to leave it after 3 of 5 rounds, and the outcome was still in dispute.  I don't think I (as the Lannisters) would have been able to achieve victory (capturing 2 specific hexes) in the 2 turns left to me.  In 3 turns, yes, my cavalry would have mowed him down...but 2 turns didn't leave me enough time to cross the river, I don't think.  BoW is yet another game I really really need to play more.  I think all but 1 time I've played, I've played that same opening scenario.

Jumpin to hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy!
On Tuesday, a very special package wave 2 ships for X-Wing that I had ordered some months ago.  Yes, the Falcon is as sweet as she looks.  I had ordered all the wave 2 ships (Falcon, Slave I, A-Wings and TIE Interceptors)...but when I was at GP on Saturday, I broke down and bought their last remaining Slave I as well.  Hey...the Battlefoam I ordered has space for 2 Slave I's, so I can't do anything less than use those spaces, right?  Of course, now I need more of the small ships to fill all those spaces as well....

Lastly...congratulations to Ben Rosset, who officially announced that Dice Hate Me games will be publishing Brew Crafters, which I reviewed the prototype of in my Prezcon blogs (known then as "BrewMasters".  Also congrats to TC Petty III, who is following Viva Java with a dice version

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