Session Report – 13 September 2011

There were five of us this week, and after debating what game to play, Yehuda graciously offered up Empires: The Age of Discovery because Peleg and I both felt recent games had been lacking one vital ingredient: war! And so, off to discover the New World and other such places we went. (Yehuda’s session report is available here.)

Empires: The Age of Discovery is a worker placement game. You start with five colonists and a range of options, such as discover, transport, get goods, build a property and others. You are competing with your fellow players for some of the options which are limited in numbers. For example, there are only limited spaces on the boats shipping new arrivals to already discovered colonies. And, as well as the variety of options, there is a variety of workers: colonists, soldiers, captains, merchants and missionaries, each with their own ability. For example, placing the missionary in a colony brings in an extra (free) colonist. Placing the merchant brings in money, and so on. Finally, there is also a variety of way to score victory points: control colonies, discoveries, wealth and special awards from purchased buildings.

It’s a big boxed game, packed with nice plastic pieces for the worker types and boats. (Yehuda’s missionary pieces have had their crosses removed as it offended one of his players a while back…) The money is designed to look like old coins. The board is big and colorful and the other cards and playing pieces are high quality.

Although there were some times when play slowed to a crawl because of ‘analysis paralysis’, it wasn’t as bad as some games of that type. But, also like many of its type, the combinations are difficult to unravel in a first playing. (Certainly by me; I have a unique talent which prevents me from picking up any game well enough in my first play that I win. And often the second play is not that brilliant either…) Abraham and Yehuda played the game really well and maximized their advantage. Peleg, Laurie and I did not do so well. One reason is that, on the face of it, there are good points available for controlling colonies. But Abraham and Yehuda both picked up about ten times as many points as my colony control points from stuff happening off the board.

However, Peleg and I did get to make war. It did not do either of us any good, but it was fun. Yehuda did point out that warfare was pretty rare in the game and I can see why. Next time, I’ll be staying away from Peleg and his soldiers and let some other poor bastard get it in the neck!

Abraham won and Yehuda was a close second. The rest of us were not close. But it was fun. A few hours gaming passed like a few minutes. Magic.

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