Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game Night

Friday Oct 10, 2008 - Gamer's Inn
I started out gaming Friday by teaching Bobby Warren (and others) to play Glory to Rome. Bobby had a copy, but wanted to try it before cracking his open. I made him a deal. If he didn't want it after we played, I'd take it off his hands, so away we went. Now, having only played it once back in June, I had to go through the rules, picking it back up - and while it is not hard to do, I was having a hard time remembering anything until the first round of play. Joining us were Dion Garner, Chris Schraml, and Matt Cullinan. Now, I don't think I bad butchered the instructions, but there were a handful of conversations going on as I went over the game, so I know a bunch was being missed. As usual, Matt declared he hated the game about 1/3 of the way through and then easily beat the hell out of us. Final scores were Charles:16, Dion:12, Chris:10, Matt:23, Bobby:17
There were enough folks milling around for three games to get going, so I grabbed Dion's copy of Galaxy Trucker to try out. I had seen Dion and others playing a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to give it a go. Dan Brugman and Erik VonBurg joined Chris and I and after a quick run through of the rules, off we went. Now apparently, I am terrible at this game. That didn't make it one I disliked any less though. In fact, this is one of those games that is fun despite being a load of random chaos pretty much the whole time (unlike say RoboRally, which is chaos and no fun the whole time). Erik was kicking our butts until the slavers showed up after the pirates used up all of Erik's batteries in the third round. He ended up with nearly nothing and quickly went from first to last. I managed to have a decent third round to stay in front of Erik by 5 points. Final scores: Erik: 28, Charles: 33, Dan: 57, Chris: 41.
We ended the night by pairing Erik and I against Steve Bauer and Rob Smolka in Tichu. The hands were pretty average for a long time (I had a Tichu call early in the game I botched), and bad as the game progressed. Erik and I were already getting killed (I think we swapped queens with each other no less than 3 times because our own hands sucked to badly) when Rob called Grand Tichu with a Dragon, Phoenix, + 3 aces. His hand actually got no worse, as Steve passed him an ace (he didn't have to play the ace bomb) and we couldn't slow him down at all. I need to check with Steve, but we might have broken 300 by the time Rob and Steve finished hammering us (maybe).

12 comments:

Jaybird said...

So, are you finally going to get your copy of Glory to Rome? Sounds like the foggy rules deliverance/reception was an injustice. The game is great. Race what?!

Jason Maxwell said...

I want to try Galaxy Trucker, the crazy randomness sounds like great fun, just like it is in RoboRally

Bobby said...

Jaybird said...
So, are you finally going to get your copy of Glory to Rome? Sounds like the foggy rules deliverance/reception was an injustice. The game is great. Race what?!


It wasn't the foggy rules explanation. It was the long, less-than-stellar game design with minimal player interaction... There is no more interaction than there is in Race for the Galaxy, and there might be less. I didn't feel like I needed to watch too much of what the other people were doing, except Matt who went before me.

In RftG, I constantly have to keep an eye on what the other players have done so I can best choose my action. Being able to predict the actions of the other players is crucial to doing well.

Red October said...

wow...in my opinion there is way more player interaction in Glory than RftG.

RftG ended up just being a bunch of math with little ability to combat against your opponent's plan while furthering your own. shoot...you even have to be careful about what you dump into the pool of supplies.

not to mention the fact that you can steal directly from the other players...that's more player-interaction in that mechanic alone than you find in RftG.

and being able to read what other players are doing is just as crucial in Glory as it is in RftG...possibly more so, i'd say.

funny how a game can be elegant to one and clunky to another. :)

Bobby said...

Agreed on perceptions.

Being able to steal one card, if the neighbor has it, and you play the one action that allows it, and the neighbor doesn't have one of the defense cards, doesn't seem like that much interaction to me.

The poor graphic design and color choices meant seeing exactly what red card someone had out was too hard. The laying out of the resources and completed items is quite fiddly and can be messy as the game progresses.

There are subtle ways of interfering with other players in RftG, but you have to be paying attention to what the other players are doing. Adding the goals in the expansion is going to add some obvious interaction.

I really don't see why so many of the supporters of Glory to Rome like to bash on RftG. There isn't that much similarity to them, except they are both fairly tactical games using cards for multiple things.

Jaybird said...

Hey Bobby, first off, I wanted to make clear that I wasn't faulting anybody for the rules--I know the game has a stiff learning curve, and, unless you have played it 3-4 times, teaching the game can be a bit rough.

Second, Glory to Rome is built around player interaction. Once you play the game a few times, you really begin to see how much attention you have to pay:

1. To what buildings other players are building. A great deal of buildings can affect other players, and if you aren't paying attention and protect yourself accordingly, you can get blindsided.

2. To who has jacks and how many. Following the jacks, and knowing when to play them can mean the difference between getting stuck with no useful clients and really cranking a great strategy out. Jacks are also great to use as bait, or to fend off someone trying to bait you into playing a card into the pool.

3. To who is sticking what materials into their vault. Forget about the vault, and you might as well forget about competing if someone is hitting the merchant hard.

I guess in my 20 some plays of Race for the Galaxy, I found that only considering what action I might take was not enough for me. Nothing else about the game was interactive--no worlds, no roles, nothing. In Glory to Rome, one role is entirely devoted to theft.

I will grant that it is much longer than Race--most of the time. It is harder to learn. It looks worse. It is chaotic teetering on the brink of brokenness.

It is tough for me to play Race anymore for the fact that I just can't get into a game that is that streamlined, that mechanical. Once I played GtR, it took all the fun out of Race for me.

Race is the better design, it is a study in efficiency and rapid development.

It is just too quiet for me.

But really they are two completely different games. You can't play Glory to Rome expecting Race for the Galaxy. It's uglier. It's longer. And it is far less polished. I guess the rougher nature and seething interaction (because it does teem with interaction) make it such a great game to me.

There is no way to play Race for the Galaxy with any sense of paranoia. It is far too contained for that. I like a bit of paranoia in my games. It brings the game to life for me.

Glory to Rome is Mike Golic: big, lumering, jovial, and at times rude and and antagonistic.

Race is Mike Greenberg: crisp collar, great haircut, at his ideal weight, a gentleman.

Bobby said...

First off, thanks to all for the reasonable discussion and acceptance that there are different views, unlike Skull One in the thread below.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/346743

Hey Bobby, first off, I wanted to make clear that I wasn't faulting anybody for the rules--I know the game has a stiff learning curve, and, unless you have played it 3-4 times, teaching the game can be a bit rough.

I didn't find it to have a learning curve, except for learning what the cards did. It was pretty intuitive, but then I listened to Charles' mangling of the rules. (You should fault him for the rules. His explanation was almost as bad as one of mine when I am prepared!) :)

Second, Glory to Rome is built around player interaction. Once you play the game a few times, you really begin to see how much attention you have to pay:

I didn't see that and didn't see it in the buildings I looked at building. Following the jacks was easy since there are so few of them.

I guess in my 20 some plays of Race for the Galaxy, I found that only considering what action I might take was not enough for me. Nothing else about the game was interactive--no worlds, no roles, nothing. In Glory to Rome, one role is entirely devoted to theft.

And that one role was the only interaction I really saw, other than choosing roles which is like RftG, but you and every player always have access to the same actions every turn, unlike in Glory to Rome.

It is chaotic teetering on the brink of brokenness.

I wouldn't say it is broken, but it is chaotic, which makes it very tactical and that is why I cringe when someone says it is a strategic game.

There is no way to play Race for the Galaxy with any sense of paranoia. It is far too contained for that. I like a bit of paranoia in my games. It brings the game to life for me.

For me, the chaos of the cards doesn't cause paranoia, it causes aggravation because nothing you try to do feels like it can be really planned. Maybe my complaint is like so many people who feel like RftG isn't worth playing because of the learning curve of knowing the symbols speeds the game up?

Bobby said...

Race is Mike Greenberg: crisp collar, great haircut, at his ideal weight, a gentleman.

Dude, did you call me a whiney metrosexual? :)

Jaybird said...

Nobody was calling anybody a whiney metrosexual! I think that is what Greeny sometimes promotes himself as, if only because that is the complete opposite of Golic. I was simply referring to the cleaner, more polished nature of one (because Greeny is a classic radio interviewer, even insisting on asking Bobby Knight questions he knows won't get answered). GtR doesn't have as much a graceful gait--it plays more bruisingly.

As for following the jacks--yeah, it's easy to know who has them, but knowing why they have them, and what they are hoping you will play so that they can play them at the precise right time--knowing those things, that is the challenge.

The legionary is not the only thing that is interactive in the game. Several buildings allow you to steal opponents clients, opponents materials, and I think there is even a way to swipe somebody's building. Another building allows you to add material to a building someone else completed so you can gain the benefits of the building. There are all kinds of offensive and defensive moves in the game.

Chaos and paranoia are two different things, at least relating to Glory to Rome. The paranoia is not caused by the cards, though the chaos is. The paranoia comes from trying to protect yourself from the other players, and what they might do to foil your plans.

It's good to hear thoughts from the other sign of the fence on this game. I do believe that I am such a strong supporter of it for two other as-of-yet unmentioned reasons:

1. I kind of like the independent-ness of the game--small publisher, self-done artwork. It kind of lends itself to cult-hit status. Like independent music (such as The National), independent video gaming (ever play Rez for the PS2?), or independent movies (ever see Junebug?). And then there are the niches of the niches (i.e. those people who love Splotter games....). All of those things are beloved by their supporters because some people just love odd-ness. Heck, tell anybody you love boardgames, and you are sure to get some looks like you are a wierdo.

2. There are certain games that are partially driven by immense hype. Some of them live up to the hype, some of them turn out to be OK. I guess I feel that Race has benefited a bit from the hype is has gotten--even if the hype is justified. Look at the hype Agricola got--do you really think it is that good? I mean that good? I like it, it is a fantastic design, but it can quickly get run into the ground. Sometimes I get caught up in the hype, sometimes it just doesn't sit well with me. Now that might be a ridiculous reason to not like a game, but I will admit it happens from time to time.

But really, I just find myself wanting to play Glory to Rome again and again. And for me, that is kind of rare. Maybe that fact has really gotten my attention.

sourwyrm said...

you lost me at drawing comparisons between the two games and football players...

Jaybird said...

Mike,

Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg are the hosts of Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio. Their gimmick is that they are two very different people--Golic is a former NFL lineman and Greenberg is a sports nut who doesn't play sports but knows quite a bit about them.

sourwyrm said...

i'm pretty much indifferent to sports