The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Gathering Final Thoughts

Looking back on the games I played …

  • The dogs that didn’t bark in the night … I turned down chances to play Tribune, Change Horses, The Ticket to Ride Card Game, and countless others. In general, I had my full curmudgeon on for any game I wasn’t specifically looking for.
  • I pretty much stuck to my “No Prototypes” rule, which continues to serve me well. I did try one game that was described as “like Race for the Galaxy.” It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t suggest it enter a vice-presidential debate, if you know what I mean.
  • You know, by not actively trying to play every new game (some of which are fairly old), I had a pretty good time. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind trying Cuba, In the Year of the Dragon, etc etc etc
  • I was pretty good at the flea market, getting rid of 10 or so games and only buying one. The prize table? The 10th anniversary edition of El Grande, and some Blue Moon expansion decks.

Individual Game thoughts:

  • Brass — I could play this again, but it’s off the purchase list.
  • I ordered Wabash Cannonball. Very heavy, for such a fast game.
  • I’m tempted to buy Galaxy Trucker … but my wife doesn’t like it. Onto the “Want” list … we’ll see if I can trade for it.
  • No other new game even makes it onto the want list (remembering that I’ve already ordered Agricola). I probably could trade for a few of them, but I’m not desperate.
  • Oops. Palastgefluster probably goes on the want list.
  • That being said, I’d play almost any game again … I’d probably beg off Hamburgum, but I just don’t like those Rondel games.
  • Jamaica was the prettiest (published) game. All of the cards can be laid out to form a diorama. Who knew that all pirates had huge schnozzes? Game play is OK.

I’ll review Wabash in a few weeks, after I’ve gotten my copy and played a few more times.

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Written by taogaming

April 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Posted in Convention Reports

3 Responses

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  1. I played Tribune twice and quite enjoyed it; it’s on my buy list.

    Some criticized its theme as pasted on, but it struck me as being both abstract and deeply integrated. There’s little actual simulation going on, but all the elements of Republican Roman government are present and their powers make sense both historically and within the game: control of the Vestal Virgins faction helps you earn the glory of the gods; control of the Senate allows you to issue a writ of appearance (first step in becoming Tribune); control of the Gladiators faction gives you extra money and the option to off a faction supporter each round; etc.

    Its worker placement is mostly to get resources, money and cards, in various ways, plus to signal which factions you intend to take over and to gain laurels (one of the seven victory conditions). This results in less direct screwage of plans than in most worker placement games, for when someone unexpectedly takes a spot that you thought would last until your next placement, you can often respond elsewhere, perhaps at a greater cost or an uncertain result. This capacity to respond, rather than to have to switch plans or delay your plans a turn, I found quite refreshing and it led to some interesting threat and counter moves within a series of worker placements during a turn (more so than I’ve experienced in Pillars, Stone Age, Caylus, or Agricola).

    When you successfully declare for a faction, you have to commit your strength (you can’t shore up a faction on a later turn), so you have a decision whether to slip in and out of control for a turn (gaining a faction marker — a step towards one of the victory conditions — and its power for one turn) or to play big and hope to use the faction’s power for several turns in a row. This in turn feeds into the two powers that can assassinate a faction support card (making it harder to hold on to that faction) and the chariot auction (which is placed by the winner to indicate which faction cannot be taken over during the next turn).

    Add to this that money is both one of your two primary resources and one of the victory conditions (do you eschew it and use your money, knowing that you will need one more victory condition or do you hoard and go for one less with fewer resources?) and the result is a lot of interlocking systems to manage. Similarly, you have tough decisions about whether to take down a leading player’s faction (to deny him or her its power) or to hope your plans elsewhere will mature faster.

    Lots of fun in a tense, brain burning fashion. The game comes with various scenarios; the learning scenario is very quick (3-5 turns), so the question for me is whether the other scenarios (more/tougher victory conditions) make a good game for experienced players? As an aside, Mik indicated that he thought part the slavery rules in the expansion worked quite well. Of the published games I played this year (not that many), I thought Tribune was the best.

    Of the prototypes, to the limit we can discuss them, I thought the Matt Leacock dice game was very good, particularly if the player group think favors trading. I didn’t get a chance to play Heads of State. Project X’s central idea has a *lot* of potential. I can see some players really getting into exploring its game space. Whether the game is fun to play after this exploration phase is over (which the projected expansions may reignite) is the big unknown (I dunno; I can see it going either way). I think its long-term success will ultimately depend on how well its “metagame” is developed and presented.

    Tom_Lehmann

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm

  2. I played Tribune twice and quite enjoyed it; it’s on my buy list.

    Some criticized its theme as pasted on, but it struck me as being both abstract and deeply integrated. There’s little actual simulation going on, but all the elements of Republican Roman government are present and their powers make sense both historically and within the game: control of the Vestal Virgins faction helps you earn the glory of the gods; control of the Senate allows you to issue a writ of appearance (first step in becoming Tribune); control of the Gladiators faction gives you extra money and the option to off a faction supporter each round; etc.

    Its worker placement is mostly to get resources, money and cards, in various ways, plus to signal which factions you intend to take over and to gain laurels (one of the seven victory conditions). This results in less direct screwage of plans than in most worker placement games, for when someone unexpectedly takes a spot that you thought would last until your next placement, you can often respond elsewhere, perhaps at a greater cost or an uncertain result. This capacity to respond, rather than to have to switch plans or delay your plans a turn, I found quite refreshing and it led to some interesting threat and counter moves within a series of worker placements during a turn (more so than I’ve experienced in Pillars, Stone Age, Caylus, or Agricola).

    When you successfully declare for a faction, you have to commit your strength (you can’t shore up a faction on a later turn), so you have a decision whether to slip in and out of control for a turn (gaining a faction marker — a step towards one of the victory conditions — and its power for one turn) or to play big and hope to use the faction’s power for several turns in a row. This in turn feeds into the two powers that can assassinate a faction support card (making it harder to hold on to that faction) and the chariot auction (which is placed by the winner to indicate which faction cannot be taken over during the next turn).

    Add to this that money is both one of your two primary resources and one of the victory conditions (do you eschew it and use your money, knowing that you will need one more victory condition or do you hoard and go for one less with fewer resources?) and the result is a lot of interlocking systems to manage. Similarly, you have tough decisions about whether to take down a leading player’s faction (to deny him or her its power) or to hope your plans elsewhere will mature faster.

    Lots of fun in a tense, brain burning fashion. The game comes with various scenarios; the learning scenario is very quick (3-5 turns), so the question for me is whether the other scenarios (more/tougher victory conditions) make a good game for experienced players? As an aside, Mik indicated that he thought part the slavery rules in the expansion worked quite well. Of the published games I played this year (not that many), I thought Tribune was the best.

    Of the prototypes, to the limit we can discuss them, I thought the Matt Leacock dice game was very good, particularly if the player group think favors trading. I didn’t get a chance to play Heads of State. Project X’s central idea has a *lot* of potential. I can see some players really getting into exploring its game space. Whether the game is fun to play after this exploration phase is over (which the projected expansions may reignite) is the big unknown (I dunno; I can see it going either way). I think its long-term success will ultimately depend on how well its “metagame” is developed and presented.

    Tom_Lehmann

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm

  3. Actually, I thought Project X was clever, but didn’t feel the instant pull that many others felt. We’ll see how developmental polish changes it.

    Brian

    April 18, 2008 at 6:11 pm


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