Saturday, 21 March 2015

boardgaming in photos: China, Samurai Spirit, Agricola, Through the Ages

27 Feb 2015. China is my favourite Michael Schacht game. I have played its predecessor Web of Power, but only once or twice, on the internet, and I don't remember what I thought about it. My copy of China is the version published by Uberplay, which I like a lot, especially the box cover. Uberplay has closed down many years ago, which is a pity. They had some pretty decent games and had good production quality. The latest version of China is called Han and is published by Abacusspiele.

In the 5P game we played, many were new to the game. They remembered to block me (green) from making long road connections (4 or more linked houses). You can see that on the right side my chain of three houses had been cut off by the yellow and blue players. The purple player was new but had succeeded in forming a scoring chain. Five houses now, and no sign of anyone blocking her yet. At game end I managed to win, mainly because of points from the emissaries. This is an aspect which new players often fail to fully utilise, despite reminders when teaching the game.

1 Mar 2015. This was the first time I won a game of Samurai Spirit fair and square - I am sure I got all the rules right this time. It was a close thing - I had only one farmhouse left in the village. However I did have two barricades still standing which would have helped protect it. I didn't use the solo rules in the rulebook. I controlled 4 samurai and used the normal rules. I think fewer than four samurai makes the game less interesting.

All four of my samurai had transformed into beast form, which I think is important. But then of course you'd need to be careful not to let them take much more injury. Games can be easily lost this way. Any samurai getting killed means an instant loss.

I played the normal difficulty level. It is tough enough. I don't feel ready for the next level yet. Just reading the rules makes me dread it. At the next difficulty level, whenever a farmhouse is razed, you need to apply the penalty specified at the back of the farmhouse token.

14 Mar 2015. Michelle suggested Agricola, which she hadn't played for quite a while. Of course I said yes. This was one of our spouse games which we played heavily for a period. My previous few games of Agricola had always been with the children, and we used the family game rules, i.e. no minor improvements and no occupations. Now that I played the normal game again, I suddenly found the minor improvements and occupations rather overwhelming. There was so much more to think about, so many more possibilities to consider.

Through the Ages is another one of our spouse games. Bringing it out is like reminiscing about old times. It's always fun to give it a spin once in a while. I read that there's a new version coming out this year, probably with some streamlining.

We play with an unwritten rule - no aggression or wars. So the leaders, wonders and techs we pick tend to be not related to military. However military still comes into play, because it often determines how events affect you, and you also need it for colonisation. So playing peacefully doesn't mean you'll lose too big a chunk of the game (but you do lose some).

In this game I managed to put together the Michelangelo + St. Peter's Basilica combo, which is a powerful scoring combo in mid-game. The Hanging Gardens helped greatly in this combo too. Later an event card seeded by Michelle caused my Hanging Gardens to go out of fashion, so I lost the two smiley faces and the bonus four culture points per turn.

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