Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sea Monsters, 17th Century Farming and Citadels

Well, once again we had our weekly Tuesday night gaming.  This week there was 5 of us - Brian G., Mike R., Tracy, Tom and myself.

That sea monster in the lower right just ate my ship  :(
Tom was running late, so we started - like last week - with a game of Tsuro of the Seas.  Tracy had seen us finish up our game last week, but had not played.  Once again, we opted to not play with the Sea Monsters, so it was just "regular" Tsuro.  With only 4 players, and a 7x7 grid...I'm not sure that the game is terribly exciting.  We all spent the first 75% of the game away from each other until of course the tiles forced us together.  I was the first one out, followed by Tracy, and Brian finally won...and once again we nearly filled the board with tiles.  Tom arrived near the end, and we decided to play another game, and this time we added the monsters.  It's certainly a more tense game, with the random luck factor added in.  We played it correctly this time around (I think), so there was less fiddleness, but I have to say that I'm still not sold on the monsters.  It just seems like too much luck.  Maybe if we took out one or two...we started with 5 in our 5 player game.  On the other hand, as I mentioned, it does create some tense moments.  Brian was surrounded by two monsters at one point, and had to survive everyone's dice rolling until it came to his turn again.  Not only did he survive...he went on to win the game...again.

Little sheep...where are your boar and cattle buddies?
I had brought a few games that hadn't made it to the table in a while...and when Tom got there, he immediately zeroed in on my copy of Agricola.  This, of course, is one of the classics of the eurogame genre, but it's not necessarily for beginners.  Tom had heard about the game, but had yet to play it.  Tracy also had never played it.  Bearing that in mind, we opted for the "family game" where we played without occupations and minor improvements.  I immediately went down the path of expanding my home, in preparation for later family growth.  At one point, I noticed that the fireplaces and ovens were going fast, so I grabbed one before there were none left to be had.  I had also gathered enough clay to upgrade my house.  I was gathering a lot of resources, but I wasn't actually putting anything on my farm.  No animals, wheat or veggies.  I managed to fence in a nice 3X2 pasture at one point and got some sheep going, and also managed to purchase the well.  I never got my food engine going so that I was comfortable adding another family member.  I made a terrible mistake at one point with wood, passing on building more fences because I wanted to gather more wood to build an even larger pasture.  I completely missed the fact that I didn't have enough fence pieces left to build that larger pasture...and had to resort to filling squares with stables.  Brian was the only person to perform family growth fairly early in the game, but he also missed the opportunity to get anything that could cook he had feeding problems, and had to take a begging card.  I thought this would hurt him...but in the end he won by 9 points.  He had 28, Mike had 19, I was at 18 and Tom and Tracy were in the 11-12 area.  That extra worker really made the difference for Brian, even though he had to feed him.

I've been torn in the past about occupations and minor improvements.  In some respects I feel like it's too much.  But I have also been in the position many times of teaching the game to new players, so we default to the family game.  I now wonder if that's the smart thing to do.  I am wondering if the family game is harder than the regular game, in the sense that you don't have those extra cards to help get your production engine going.  In the family game, it's hard to keep your family fed each turn, and actually do things on your farm.  So, in the future, I think I may lean towards playing with the cards, even with new players.

I'm the Warlord.  Or I would be, if I hadn't been assassinated.
Last but not least was a game of Citadels.  This game has become our go-to for the last year or two as a end-of-the-night game.  Especially at conventions, where it's not unknown to be playing Citadels at 1 or 2 AM.  Somehow we didn't break it out at Prezcon, though, and it's been a while since we've played it after work.  I had been sitting between Tom and Tracy, and I had the uncomfortable moment where Tom insisted that they had played this game before, and Tracy absolutely denied it.  However, it got a lot more uncomfortable when we started playing, as I kept getting assassinated.  Four times, I believe, three of them in a row.  There's a number of people that don't like this game because of the fact that you can get assassinated or robbed quite a bit.  On Tuesday, it was my turn in the barrel.  I really like this game as a 3-player, because you get two roles to play each turn, but I like it even with only one role each.  The people that tend not to like it seem to think that it's very random, but I disagree.  This game is all about getting in your opponents heads...and figuring out which role they've picked, and making them think you've picked a different role than you really have.  Unfortunately, we did miss one rule in the game, as Tom declared victory, we noticed that he had 3 of the same buildings in his "citadel"...but hey...we should have caught that when he played the first duplicate.

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