Friday, 18 July 2008


Yet another game played at Carcasean. Mordred is another Martin Wallace game which has some twists in the game end conditions. Like Byzantium, Liberte. The setting is Wales. Mordred is a bad guy spreading bad influence in Wales. The players are King Arthur's knights coming to spread good influence (by building villages, towns and fortresses). Every turn you choose 1 out of 3 risk/reward rows and roll 2 dice. You earn money based on what you roll, and then you use the money to build. Depending on what you roll and the row you have chosen, you may accidentally (or sometimes not so accidentally) help Mordred. The risk of helping Mordred is proportional to the potential reward. If you have helped Mordred, you must place his men first. You can conveniently use these to attack the other players. Then you spend your money to place your pieces and/or to attack Mordred's men. All battles are resolved by die rolls, and are quick to resolve.

Everything sounds straight-forward so far. What's interesting is the game end conditions. Before getting there, it is important to talk about the Mordred track. This is a track (similar to that in Lord of the Rings) used to track how much you have helped Mordred. Each time you accidentally help Mordred, you move forward on this track. Each time you defeat one of Mordred's minions, you move backward on this track. So you can say this track is used for tracking how corrupt you are. It is tempting to "accidentally" help Mordred destroy your opponents' pieces, but it also means you are getting corrupted on the Mordred track.

The game can end in a few ways. It ends when one of the players fall off the end of the Mordred track, i.e. corrupted beyond rescue. It ends when a player has used up all of one type of buildings and this lasts until his/her next turn (i.e. the other players fail to destroy it and return it to his/her stock). It ends when all the Mordred minions are placed. It ends when Mordred himself is killed. When the game ends, you check whether Mordred or King Arthur has won, by counting who has more pieces on the board. If King Arthur has won, the player with the most victory points wins. Different buildings constructed give different VPs. If Mordred has won, the player who helped him least wins, i.e. least corrupted on the Mordred track. If Mordred himself is killed, then the Mordred killer is the winner.

These various possible ending conditions create quite a bit of dilemma for the players. It is very tricky to nudge the game towards the ending that you want. Our game really really dragged. Chong Sean had told us this was going to be a quick game, but it surprised even him by taking so long. All his previous games were quite fast. I guess we were all very competitive, and whenever the game was about to end, giving the win to one of the players, the other 3 players quickly "remedied" the situation. It was a painful stalemate. Eventually Han killed off Mordred to win the game, and we were all relieved.

Early in the game and Mordred is already spreading his bad influence around a lot. Chong Sean (blue) chose to build furthest to the south and thus safest from the black horde. He was the first to threaten to win by building all his villages, and we quickly ahem did-not-discourage Mordred from mercilessly destroying quite a number of his villages.

Close-up of the game board.

Michelle was the first to build a big fortress. Ooh... looks so dominating...

Later everyone had many big fortresses.

Boom! Han's big fortress punched Mordred in the face, and we all cheered for the end of the game.

Mordred is interesting, but I think it is not so good with four players, because it is probably too easy for the other 3 players to bring the winning player back in line. The game becomes a long and painful stalemate. The other thing I don't quite like is having to count how many Mordred pieces there are and how many player pieces there are on the board all the time. Maybe some kind of track along the side of the board would have helped. The actions that you can do in the game are simple enough. So you can focus on the big picture and the strategy and the tricky end game conditions. Unfortunately the game for us seemed to not want to end. Maybe this will be better with three players.

But one fun thing is I get to say "我是好人" (I am a righteous man) every time I choose Row A before rolling the dice.

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