Sheer gaming success

Here be no dragons!

Here be no dragons!

A quiet but intensive session this week, with Sheer and Yehuda joining me.

We started with Lords of Waterdeep, a Dungeons and Dragons themed game with a worker placement core mechanism and one or two interesting tweaks. I was keen to play this again because Yehuda had discovered we had been playing it incorrectly. We were both curious what the impact would be of, er, using the rules correctly. Sheer was new to this and Yehuda did his great job of explaining the rules.

In essence, you use your workers to generate resources. And you use your resources to complete missions. Missions bring you victory points. I think it was in the first or second round (out of eight) that Yehuda successfully completed a 20 point mission (aka “Quest”) and no matter what I did, I could not quite catch up. In that respect, the game has some luck – the availability of the missions of the right type – but that’s not to take away from Yehuda’s win, as he played well to keep just enough ahead of us.

Sheer, for his part, was doing badly, then better, then brilliantly. He didn’t quite catch up, but it was a damn fine performance. (That’s the last time any of us take pity on him!)

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The game does have mandatory missions which can throw a spoke in your plans. Neither Yehuda nor I are convinced they are necessary. In our game, only Yehuda was on the receiving end, and it did not prevent him winning.

Playing with the rules correctly meant the scores were much higher – previously we had incorrectly only allowed one mission completion per round – and that was probably a good thing. It encourages gamers to score points!

After that we switched to Dominion.

In short, Sheer crucified us both – primarily playing a succession of Militia cards – and ran out an easy winner.

Yehuda went home at that point, and left me to try again. While I did postpone the agony, Sheer did win again, completing a good night for him. A very good night.

Thanks for coming guys. Great fun.

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How deep is your game?

Dungeons! Dragons! Not! Quite!

Dungeons! Dragons! Not! Quite!

This week’s session started with a five player encounter at Waterdeep – with the Lords of Waterdeep, to be precise – in a game that is labelled as having a connection to the famous role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. There is a loose connection, but the theme is a facade for a neat worker placement game, with some devilish backstabbing and wrecking potential.

You score victory points mainly by completing quests. To complete quests you have to acquire certain resources. Match the demanded resources to those on the the quest card, and you’re done. However, your fellow players can dump a mandatory quest on you – one you must do before any other – and blow you off course. And your fellow players can also trigger Intrigue cards that see you lose those precious resources, or at least enough of them to sabotage your quest completion for another round. Damn and blast!

I had not played it before, thus obviously explaining my last place finish (ahem). I don’t think Rochelle had played it before, but she picked it up better than me, and did quite well. David was a bit of straggler in the first half of the game, but made up for it with a better second half showing. With a decent lucky break, he could have been up there with the winner. Yehuda sauntered along and finished second. Oh, Laurie won ahead of Yehuda. Well done Laurie!

I did wonder about the skill and luck balance. This is not to take anything away from those who did better than me, but the swings of fortune did seem ferocious. For example, in the last round of the game, I had a mandatory quest in my hand. I could have dumped that on any of the other players and forced them to complete a quest for 5 victory points instead of the likely 15-25 they had lined up and ready to go. And there would be nothing they could have done about it. So my play could have determined the winner.

The funny thing is, I don’t think the game needs these negative actions. For me, there’s enough of a gaming challenge to put together the resources to complete quests in an efficient manner.

Yehuda came up with an interesting suggestion of having a house rule that allowed you to pay a monetary penalty instead of forfeiting a resource when triggered by an opponent’s Intrigue card.

The negatives here did not stop me enjoying the game. It is fun. As I remarked to the others, when it had last been played I was doing something else, and I didn’t especially like what I saw. However, it plays a ton better than it looks, and I really quite enjoyed it. I would play it again, warts and all, but would prefer some kind of smooth solution.

We finished with David, Yehuda and I playing San Juan. David rocketed off to  a great start, and was in a position to build his twelfth structure, end the game, and win. However, he dallied just too long and this allowed Yehuda to build some big victory point buildings that gave him the win ahead of David.

Thanks to all who came. A highlight of the week.

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You play games?

dominionlordsofwaterdeep

A casual conversation by Sarah-Lee with some of her friends produced the radical revelation: they played games. Some more than others, but they played. And so, this week’s gaming session featured newcomers Erez, Omri and Yoni. Sarah-Lee, Laurie, Susan, Yehuda and I made the numbers up to eight.

Yehuda, Laurie, Erez and Yoni played Lords of Waterdeep. Yehuda was the only one who knew it, and he did his usual excellent job of explaining the rules. From what I saw from the sidelines, it looked interesting and enjoyable, and the players were all focused on the task at hand.

I think it was Erez who said he thought it had not very much to do with Dungeons and Dragons (which is what it says on the box front) but that made no difference. It was just a good game. Yehuda won, but there were smiles all round at the end.

Just out of picture, Yoni,  Erez, and Laurie watch Yehuda stab them all in the back at the same time!

Just out of picture, Yoni, Erez, and Laurie watch Yehuda stab them all in the back at the same time!

Omri, Susan, Sarah-Lee and I played Dominion first. Omri picked it up quite easily, but none of us could match Susan’s play and she won, again. Susan has an amazing winning record at this game. We really must hunt down more of the expansions.

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Next the same four played Through the Desert. Again, no problem for Omri. This time I won, though just by a couple of points ahead of Sarah-Lee.

Susan dropped out and Omri, Sarah-Lee and I played R-Eco. Again, Omri did well, In fact, so well that he won!

Thus ended another great night’s gaming. Thanks to all who came.

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