Friday August 3, 2007
I headed out to the Game Shoppe to meet up with some folks for a bit of gaming. I got there about 6:00 and had planned to play a quick introduction game of Twilight Struggle with Justin Easley so that he could get a feel for the game. We played through the first couple turns while we waited for the rest of the gang to show up. I had a crazy first turn as the US, gaining 6 VP. My hand only had a single USSR event, which Justin forced me to discard right away. I tried to point out a few things I thought were relevant to how the game usually plays, but mostly was just hoping to give him a feel for the flow of the game.
By then, my friend from work, Steve, had shown up and about the same time, Bob came in, so we sat down and figured out what to play. I had brought Antike in case 6 showed up, and everyone agreed to try it out (Antike is not new to me, but was to everyone else). I explained the rules (which are not terribly complicated, except possibly for the conquering a city part) and we got going. I picked the "German" side (i.e. the side with contiguous water) and we all drew our starting positions. Playing were: Steve Wicklund, Adam Wisniewski, Justin Easly, Mike Garrett, Bob Huntsman, and myself. This game started as a rush for units to feed city expansion. Interestingly, nobody took any advances for a long time. I pushed to an early lead through cities(10), sea zones(7), and an advance. Everyone (as is typical) kept pace, except for Steve, who look like he was going to do really well getting to 10 cities very quickly and having a lot of territory. Steve somehow got stuck after his initial push and never recovered. Bob started building temples and scoring a huge amount in resources - his temples were fueling marble and he started a building spree, only spending money to double up his city defenses. Adam looked like he was going to be hurt the worst, as he had grabbed 6 zones, and then ended up stuck in his corner of the map. However, he had gold, and started spending it buying up all the advancements and took the lead near the end of the game. Being on the opposite corner of the map, I could do nothing to stop him from building more temples to score the last point he needed for a win. I've played this game a number of times now, and its been different each time. A lot of people on the BGG feel like this game becomes a stalemate as people build up huge armies and won't risk fights. In our game, there wasn't much combat, because we really hadn't gotten to the point that anyone was ready to start going after temple kills - we were still busy picking other low hanging fruit when Adam won with what was pretty much an advancement victory strategy (albeit a strategy he had been forced into). I'm thinking about upping my rating on this one again - like Age of Empires III (see how I work in a reference to the game despite not playing it) there are multiple ways to win and you cannot focus on only one nor can you go after too many.
After the heavier game, we elected to play the lighter Hoity Toity. I have not ever played this (despite owning a copy as well as a copy of Adel) and was interested to try it. Mike likes this (which is a bit of a surprise given his take on most Euro-fare) and agreed to explain it to the rest of us. The game has often been described as a bit of a rock-paper-scissors game, which is as good a description as any. You have a hand of artwork which you have to "exhibit" at a castle to score points. Of course, when you get to the castle, you have the option of trying to show (score points), play a thief (steal cards from someone doing an exhibit), or playing a detective (to catch a thief). The detective scores points if he catches a thief, but gets nothing otherwise. A thief that is caught still gets the goods, but is taken from the player an put in jail, limiting the player's choices later. Most of the game is about guessing what another player might do. I started the game doing nothing for about three turns. Bob's first show caused him to lose two cards - hosing him for the rest of the game. The rest of the guys raced around the track, with Justin being the eventual winner (easily I might add). I suck at these games, but this one is light and not terribly long. It still won't be one I up and suggest, though I'm ok playing it.