Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What Did I Play This Week: May 1 - May 15

Life is still busy. This past weekend I had two family birthdays plus Mother's day. We're still unpacking from our move, so there is still a lot of chaos and very little time for games. Mostly I'm getting in a couple digital plays here and there. This post technically covers two weeks because in the week of the 1st-8th, I only managed one little game of Cthulhu Realms. Speaking of...

Cthulhu Realms
As before, I got in a couple more games with my friend on the iOS app. One thing we kind of decided was that if a player managed to get very early 7 or 8 cost card buy in the first couple of hands, you typically destroy the other player and quickly. It is a decisive advantage. We ended up trying a game where we agreed not to purchase a 7 or 8 for the first 6 hands. I lost by a wide margin (not because of this rule, but just because my deck sucked and his didn't). The games are fast enough I don't care much, but I have to wonder if this version (vs Star Realms) is too luck dependent because of this. Having a broad range of experience with Star Realms through a large amount of league play, I know that skill overcomes luck over the long haul in Star Realms. Maybe my sample size is too low, but it feels like it is easier (because of the less varied shared deck) to gain a really powerful card early through luck.

My friend Robert was back for another beating. This time we skipped winter and played with Traders and Builders, Inns and Cathedrals, The Phantom, and The Princess and the Dragon. This game ended up even more lopsided. Robert vowed to practice some more and started another game with me that is unfinished. It has started out much closer, but we'll see how it plays out. For the record, the interface for Carcassonne is STILL one of the best that has been done for a table to application game.

Race for the Galaxy
This might be a surprise to those that know me. I haven't been a big Race fan over the years. While I do enjoy San Juan (there are some interesting designer dairies out there about where Race and San Juan came from), for whatever reason, I never really enjoyed my playings of Race. Recently the app hit iOS, so despite my earlier misgivings about the game, I download the app and began to play a good deal of this on my iPad. After revisiting it solo and getting to a point where I generally beat the medium AI, I played against my friend Matthew Frederick (who does like and own the game). I was able to get my engine going in both games and won (though I still don't know that it was skill and not luck of the draw).
I can also say this - I only beat the hard AI about 1/3 of the time, so my approach to the game doesn't appear to be the best one (unless the AI seriously cheats). So am I now a fan? I think the jury is still out. I will say that the fast play against the AI has allowed me to get a better familiarity with the cards and some of the strategies (much like playing a load of Star Realms let me start understanding that game at a different level). I still doubt very much that I play ideally. I've been mostly playing 2-player as well (vs 3-4 players when I played with actual cards). I like the two player version better I think. I also still feel like the early luck of the draw is too hard to overcome. Start out poorly and you can't catch up nor recover. I'll keep playing and see if I can't uncover better play, but so far this is only barely holding my interest more than Cthulhu Realms did.
One last note - I mentioned the interface for Carc above and the main reason I did was because it has been out since forever ago and it still has a better interface than a game that has been out like a week. How hard is it to highlight that your opponent is online when you are playing a game? If I can see that my opponent is in the game, I won't take my turn and leave to wait for a notification. The rest of the interface isn't too bad, but this one simple thing shouldn't be something I have to point out to a game that just came out.

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