Friday, 9 March 2012

boardgaming in photos

Warning: Spoilers related to Risk Legacy in this post.

17 Feb 2012. Once in a while I play Ra on the iPhone. It's a good implementation. Too bad the AI's are a bit weak. I scored 124pts in this particular game. I don't think I have ever scored more than 100 before.

18 Feb 2012. Risk Legacy again with Allen and Han, this time intentionally getting both the mutant faction (bright orange) and the alien faction (white) in play. Both these factions are hidden when you open the game, and only get introduced when certain conditions are met. The third faction we used was the Conclave of the Bear, which was the faction that collaborated with aliens in our previous game, so they also have some additional rules.

As the attacker I rolled three 6's, and still lost! AAAaaarrrgghh!!!

That black-and-white target-like space between South America and Africa is the alien base, and was pasted there by me in our previous game. The alien faction gains a bonus if it controls this space. I made it adjacent to Argentina, which has a very strong city that only Han can start in, in order to make Argentina more vulnerable to attacks. I also made it adjacent to Russia, because all the cities in Europe are Allen's, and I wanted to make Europe vulnerable too.

18 Feb 2012. Nightfall with the first two expansions. Making use of Wight Trash, which has a high attack value of 6, was not a good idea. I ended up painting a big fat target on myself because both Allen and Han perceived me as the biggest threat, and they always prioritised killing off any Wight Trash minions that I played.

20 Feb 2012. Although I like Innovation a lot, I have always been lukewarm towards Glory to Rome. Maybe it's the artwork. Maybe it's the slight similarity and thus inevitable comparison with Race for the Galaxy. However after a few recent plays, I'm starting to enjoy it more and starting to be able to strategise better.

24 Feb 2012. Ninjato played at OTK Cheras. On the left are the envoys of the blue clan whom I have bribed. The upper row are special skills I have learnt from the sensei, and treasures I have stolen / robbed. The lower row are elite guards I have defeated, and my fighting cards (card back).

This was the second play for me, and now that I have played a second time, I feel I should apologise to the designer for saying that the rumour scoring felt artificial and rather loosely integrated after my first game. The rumour scoring is important for players to cash-in treasures, and it can make the 2nd place position during the intermediate scoring rounds lucrative. In our game Allen fell behind in scores, but he switched to focus on rumour cards, including spending just enough effort to gain 2nd place during intermediate scoring rounds. By game end, he had a huge hand of rumour cards, because noone else had been systematically collecting them, and he scored about 45pts to overtake all of us and win the game. Who knew spreading gossip could be so deadly?

24 Feb 2012. My new high-score of 77pts for solo Roll Through the Ages on the iPhone. I don't quite remember how I did it. I was surprised when I saw the final score. It's still quite fun to play a quick game of this once in a while.

17 Feb 2012. Ticket to Ride on the iPhone. I think it was free when I downloaded it. Again, nice implementation, but weak AI's. The user interface is good. No problem playing it on the small screen of an iPhone.

27 Feb 2012. The Ticket to Ride AI's are so bad that they often cannot complete their tickets. In this particular game, the red AI scored negative! The AI's play style is not confrontational though, i.e. they won't try to intentionally block you (at least not that I noticed). They also won't try to hide their intentions (to avoid hostile blocking). Quite often I see them completing routes from both ends, leaving the incomplete middle bit vulnerable. When I play with Michelle, we don't play in a confrontational way either, so this style is fine with me.

2 Mar 2012. I've played Mage Knight quite a number of times now. This was Allen's second game. We picked a confrontational scenario which had many mage towers and keeps that we must conquer. They were the only source of victory points. Allen (elf on the left) came to one of my keeps with the intention of attacking it, so I (green dragon on the right) attacked him before he could do so. I rarely do player-to-player combat, and had to look up the rules as we played. Eventually I just pushed him away to a far corner of the board, since he didn't have any artifact I could rob.

For this scenario the game board is of a fixed shape, and the tile mix is also predetermined to include every mage tower and keep. Allen was unlucky with his exploration. When he conquered the mage tower and then the keep in the lower left corner, next to the two mountains, he further explored only to find his way blocked by a lake. He had to retrace his steps. So he had to spend much effort on movement, which slowed him down.

4 Mar 2012. I bought Tigris & Euphrates on the iPhone when it was discounted. I own the boardgame version of this Reiner Knizia masterpiece, but have never spent enough time on it to learn the strategies properly. Playing the iPhone version was a great way to learn the game and its basic strategies. I must say I have learnt a lot from the AI's.

I have also grown to appreciate the beauty and depth of this game. It is very confrontational. Often even one single move has many implications to be considered. The board position can change drastically, sometimes due to major wars, and yet also sometimes due to just one cleverly placed disaster tile. I must also say the game is very thematic. Your leaders need to worry about both external conflicts and internal usurpers. There are many tough decisions to make, e.g. do you build a monument for a steady VP stream and risk your nation being attacked after being weakened? In the first few games that I played, sometimes I won without really understanding what I did right. Now I have a slightly better idea, but I still feel there are higher skill levels I have not reached. What a wonderful and tense game!

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