Why, why, why?

Avri, Azriel, Sheer, and I played Caylus in this week’s regular gaming session. This is an old, but venerated game. (Avri calls the two player version ‘better than chess’ so he is clearly a fan.) It uses worker placement and a combination of different resources and converters (stuff that uses the resources to generate better resources, victory points, and so on) to give you a game where there are a lot of choices, but never enough time. And those pesky things called opponents keep getting in the way.

I had played the game a long, long time ago, and I wasn’t that taken with it. But Avri’s enthusiasm appealed to Azriel and Sheer, and I was willing to go along for the ride.

Avri’s explanation of the rules was good, as attested to by the fact we had very few questions during the game, and got just about everything right. Of course, the one thing I didn’t get right was my strategy, but no surprise there.

Avri’s familiarity with the game inevitably led to him winning. But Azriel’s ferocious building program gave him a wee fright, and Sheer came even closer by dint of his usual powerful analysis. Unsurprisingly, having made all the wrong choices, I was in last place. And I still didn’t like the game.

So, why don’t I like the game? That’s for another post.

Meantime, note that I still enjoyed the night. It gives me pleasure seeing gamers having a good time.

 

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First Cristot

Ran and I played the ASL scenario First Cristot, a June 1944 encounter between the British and the Germans. I was the German player, and Ran the British.

The British infantry start at one end of the board – eight squads, two leaders, a hero, three LMGs, and a PIAT – and have to break through the German line to climb the hilly terrain at the other end of the board to claim victory. The Germans have two SS squads, three SS half squads, a couple of leaders, a medium machine-gun, a panzerschreck, and a 50mm anti-tank gun.

Both sides have tanks. The British tanks – four Shermans and a Firefly – have advanced too far ahead of their infantry and are sitting close to where the infantry have to reach. The German tanks – two Panthers – enter on the first turn to face up to the British tanks.

The scenario – played in wet weather conditions – has one quirky rule: the British player has to choose in each turn if he will move his tanks or his infantry. Since his infantry need to get across the baord, they should get most of the movement opportunities, leaving the British tanks as sitting ducks. That simply means the British tanks have to set up well, and Ran managed it in his typically skillful way.

The scenario began with a weather roll that worsened the rain. That didn’t really affect the outcome. If it had changed by having the rain stopped, that would have hevaily favored the attacker since they could then use their smoke capability to mask their advances.

Unfortunately for me, Ran’s twin pronged approach breached my thin line on one side of the board. Led by his PIAT toting hero, he had soon cleared enough room so that the victory area was in sight.

Worse, one of my tanks had its gun malfunction. Things went from bad to worse. The Firefly killed the gun capable tank, then the other gun broke completely and it had to be recalled.

By then, the British forces were well on top and I conceded.

The next day, after checking, Ran was a gentleman and told me that his overachieving hero should have died. (It was wounded and wounded again.) That did have a major impact in cracking my defense open, but given the dreadful state of the tanks’ performance, I doubt it would have made a difference.

The posted results of the scenario favor the Germans, but I think we agreed the setup challenge for the Germans is a hard one.

As usual, I learned a lot from the game. If only I could remember it…

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Running out of time

This week’s session got off on the wrong foot as we set up the excellent Terra Mystica, only to realize we wouldn’t have time to finish it. Instead, Azriel, Roy, Sheer, and I did a five lap version of Automobiles. This was new to Roy, but Sheer did a great job of explaining the rules and we were soon off and running.

Unfortunately, Roy ran out of time, so we crashed his car and had the three survivors battle it out.

Azriel was out in front first, and was steady, steady, and steady. He just wasn’t fast enough. Sheer and I overtook him on the second lap or thereabouts, after which we took it in turns to have the lead. Just as it was getting to the final lap, two awful draws by me meant my car was stuck and going nowehere, leaving Sheer an easy run to be first across the finishing line.

My pet hate about Automobiles is that with the wrong cubes drawn, there is nothing you can do. That luck element – supposedly – balances out. But I am not convinced. I wonder what would happen if we allowed a player to play two for one (or three for one) so that he could always trade for one or more cubes that would allow movement,

I then introduced Azriel and Sheer to Ivanhoe. This is a fine filler from Knizia, being a trick taking game with a tournament theme tacked on.

Azriel again was out front first, but was overtaken by Sheer. I caught up a little, but had burned my cards in too many lost challenges, and could not keep up with the pace, allowing Sheer the win after a struggle over the final tournament.

Lots of losses, an element of frustration, but also lots of fun.

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Down Mexica Way


Avri, Azriel, Sheer, and I had fun this week with two closely fought and tense games.

Dominion: Prosperity was first, using one of the suggested preconstructed decks that allowed for much friendly interaction. Sheer got off to his usual quick start, and was soon amassing all the money he needed to buy the necessary victory point cards. Avri, Azriel, and I were slower in starting, but managed to generate some momentum and grab a decent amount of victory points. After a while all of our hands – suitably stuffed with VP cards – started to slow down a bit. It was at this point that I though we might catch Sheer, but alas it was not to be. Sheer held on for a win by four points, with Azriel and I behind, and Avri only one point further back.

Next, I introduced everyone to Mexica. This is a classic action point area majority game where, as usual, you can never quite do enough to advance your own plans and, simultaneously, beat up your opponents. Everyone picked up the game reasonably quickly, though Azriel struggled somewhat with the scoring. We tried to help him out, and by the end he was in contention if not enlightened. The game has two rounds of scoring, and after the first my advantage was reflected in my leading position. In the second round, Avri did all that he could to haul me back, so it was no real surprise to me that this allowed Sheer the win. Again, a tight game. And the stabbing and backstabbing – metaphorically of course – was great fun.

Thanks to my three plucky visitors for a fine night of entertainment.

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