Wednesday, 11 August 2010

boardgaming in photos

31 Jul 2010. Castle, played with Chong Sean, Wan and Shan. Bruno Faidutti's games usually don't click with me, not even the hugely popular Citadels. But I enjoyed Castle the last time I played it (a long time ago). I taught the game after a quick skim of the rules. There weren't many rules anyway. Most of the important text are on the cards themselves. Our game was a bit too peaceful. We simply tried to play our own cards as quickly as possible, and did not meddle with one another much. Chong Sean, who was start player, ended the game (playing his last card) before any of us could stop him. We only started interfering with one another towards the last quarter of the game. The game would be more interesting if we had been more aggressive earlier. Still, I like this more than Citadels.

6 Aug 2010. I joined the Old Town Kopitiam group to play. Henry, Jeff (pictured), Wai Yan and I played Endeavor while waiting for Han. Henry and Jeff look so darn serious.

Although I had played Endeavor once before, I didn't quite remember the details, and I didn't do so well. E.g. not getting enough people in the early game to fully utilise my buildings, getting more pouches (remove people from buildings) than I really needed. From my previous game I remembered most how one of Allen's well-timed attacks gained him a lot and costed me a lot. So in this game I made sure I had a Barracks that would allow me to attack. And this time I decided not to spend too much effort on cards.

The game turned out to be very very close. During the game I thought Jeff was going to beat all of us soundly, but surprisingly he came in last. He was familiar with the rules and Wai Yan and I kept asking him rules questions. That might be why I kept thinking he was doing best. Henry won at 52pts. Wai Yan and I had 51pts. Jeff had 46pts. I still liked Endeavor after the second play. This is one game I would have bought if not for my self-imposed game purchasing quota.

I brought Hansa Teutonica and taught Jeff, Wai Yan, Henry and Han to play. I have played it only once before (4P) and was keen to play again with 4P or 5P. Of all things that they learned, what they remembered most was how to screw with other people's plans. See how the routes are multi-coloured because of blocking. Well, admittedly that green cube in the foregound was mine, blocking Han's (purple) route. I guess I wasn't setting a "good" example myself.

More blocking. In this game when you block others, it doesn't mean they won't be able to complete their trade route. It only means they are forced to displace your cube before they can complete their trade route. Doing so is expensive for them (costing extra cubes), and is beneficial to you (you can move the displaced cube plus another one from the general supply to another path next door). So you are effectively forcing your opponent to use his action to bring your cube onto the board.

Even more blocking. We even had a tri-coloured path (purple-red-blue / Han-Jeff-Henry)!

I had established an office in the city giving extra actions, and business was good. I earned many 1VPs this way, until later when Han established an office and took over as city controller. You can still see a lot of blocking here. There's a tri-coloured path again (yellow-red-blue / Wai Yan-Jeff-Henry). I had to remind them the game was not just about blocking. If a Eurogame can be so vicious the way we played, we probably shouldn't play Diplomacy, lest we end up fighting.

Near game end. I (green) was leading in in-game points, at 19VP. Han (purple) was at 18VP. However after end-game scoring I came in a pretty distant 4th place. I had built early offices in lucrative locations, attracting many 1VPs when others completed trade routes next to my cities. However I never bothered to upgrade my number of actions much, which became a big disadvantage later. Once the others stopped their crazy blocking, they were able to very quickly build up their office networks. With four actions, it's basically place cube x 3 plus complete trade route. Han did not have a big network, but he had gained many 1VPs by controlling the improve-actions-skill city and completing trade routes there himself. He maxed out on two skills, gaining 8VP. Jeff won the game at 40VP, because of his large network and many cities controlled. Han was second with 37VP, followed by Wai Yan 34VP, me 28VP, Henry 26VP.

I'm still very keen about exploring the many possibilities in Hansa Teutonica.

8 Aug 2010. Latest version of the Race for the Galaxy program is out (, and it now contains the Brink of War expansion. It also supports playing against other players over the internet. I have been enjoying the new expansion a lot. I have already ordered a physical copy. Prestige is an interesting new aspect. The special search power is very useful. I don't have a very good grasp of the strategy yet, but I am enjoying it a lot. Many of the new cards have quite unusual powers.

In this particular game, I had Rebel Sneak Attack and could take over worlds from either red AI (left) or green AI (right). I targeted Rebel Outpost of the green AI (5VP), because that's worth many points, and also because that AI was leading.

To my surprise, although I succeeded in taking over Rebel Outpost from the green AI, red AI (which was previously trailing by a big margin) won the game, beating me by 2VP! It had also taken over a world from the green AI. Within that last round, it gained 13VP: 3VP from the two new cards, 2VP from the 2 prestige gained for the successful takeover, 6VP from two first-to objectives, and 2VP from becoming sole winner of a most-of objective. I checked that if I had targeted the red AI instead, I would not have won anyway. It had Pan-Galactic Security Council that could have denied my takeover anyway.


Aik Yong said...

One thing you should know is that OTK regulars are seriously cutthroat! :P unless they're playing Bang! or Battlestar Galactica

wankongyew said...

I'm not sure what the appeal of Castle is. I'm pretty sure Sean won because he was start player and he spent all his actions on placing characters, while you and me both had spent actions to exchange cards from the pool. It seems to me now that any action not spent placing cards is an action wasted.
I've only played Citadels once, but personally I liked it much more than Castle.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

The particular game of Castle that we played was pretty boring indeed. My previous experience was much better. There was much more interaction. Cards kept getting sent back to the players. There was a lot of tension at the walls (soldiers vs catapults). In our game, I think we were in too much of a Eurogame-efficiency mode, only trying to get cards down as quickly as possible. Many catapults were in the common pool, so that soldiers vs catapults aspect didn't come out at all.

I am a bit scarred by Citadels because of some very long and dragging games with too many players. When everyone takes too long to decide which character to pick, the game can be a pain. Also with too many players, getting hurt by Assassin or Thief is often something quite random. When most roles are in play, usually someone will be the unlucky one.