Wednesday, 16 September 2015

boardgaming in photos: the trio

There was a period when Han, Allen and I gamed together regularly, usually at my place or Allen's. Our play styles are similar. We tend to play quickly, sometimes taking actions even before our turns come. Sometimes we are so self-conscious about not playing speedily enough that even before others tease us for thinking too long, we already start apologising "Sorry sorry, AP AP" (Analysis Paralysis). I enjoy our brisk pace. Han is now living in another city, so we don't get to play together often, but when he's in town we try to meet up. On his recent visit we managed to game for two days, playing both old and new games.

This is God's Playground by Martin Wallace. My previous play was probably two years ago. The game is about the history of Poland. Poland has always been sandwiched by bullies. Players take the role of Polish dynasties, working together to defend Poland while at the same time competing to be the most powerful clan. This is a game where you sometimes sacrifice the greater good for selfish ambition.

The situation in Prussia (northwest) and Greater Poland (west) is not good. Only Allen (blue) is invested in Prussia (the discs are estates), and only I (white) am invested in Greater Poland. This means only one of three players has strong incentive to defend these regions. This is dangerous. If an enemy successfully invades and sets up camp, it can spread to neighbouring regions.

The Hapsburgs is an unusual enemy. For the first three rounds (of four) they don't launch military attacks, and instead exert political influence, reducing the influence of Polish nobles. Only in the fourth round they may attack Poland. In the third round, the Ottomans attack the Hapsburgs instead of Poland. You can try to help the Hapsburgs by fighting the Ottomans. However the Hapsburgs are not grateful people. If you don't defeat the Ottomans in Round 3, they will conquer the Hapburgs, they will be militarily stronger in Round 4, and they will attack from two fronts in Round 4. If you manage to defeat the Ottomans, they will be weaker in Round 4, but they will still try to attack you. The Hapsburg, instead of thanking you for saving their backsides, will instead think you are ripe for military conquest. So you have a lose-lose situation. In our game I was the only one heavily invested in Greater Poland, which was the entry point of the Hapsburgs. So I had to deal with them every round, and I saved their butts in Round 3, and I had to endure their attack in Round 4. Very annoying!

This was Round 3. My personal army (white) supported by the national army (grey) beat up the Ottomans kau-kau (severely). We placed many white and grey success cubes in the Ottoman box. One funny thing in our game was I kept rolling 1's during battle, which was very bad because it meant losing units. The national army was a shared resource. All three of us could use our influence to borrow it. Han and Allen kept screaming at me "what are you doing?!!". Each time I led the national army in battle they had to pray hard I didn't get more soldiers killed, leaving them a much diminished army when their turns came around.

This was the middle of Round 4, i.e. final round. Most of the spots for estates were occupied. The only remaining vacant spots were in Prussia, because that region was pretty doomed. The enemy was strong, the defenses thin.

The enemies (black cubes) had invaded Prussia. They were many, and we only had two nobles (the blue and white cubes) to tie them down. All the enemies that we could not pin down would spread to the neighbouring regions. Many of our estates were soon burnt down. It was not a pretty sight. Earlier during the game we thought we did quite well. Not many enemies managed to break through our defenses. Little did we know they had saved the best for last.

This was the final score. It was amazingly close. I (white) only won because of the tiebreaker rule - whoever has more nobles remaining on the board wins.

I taught Allen Machi Koro. This was his first time playing. We played using the Harbour expansion straight-away.

Han has played Machi Koro before with other gamers in Johor Bahru.

The three of us are now playing a game of After the Flood online at Sloth Ninja Games. I fared horribly, and even before mid game we all knew I was screwed. Han played the best. Now Allen and I are trying to see whether we can turn the tide. After the Flood is an intricate exactly-3-players game. If I play as a neutral party, Han will cruise to victory. If I team up with Allen, Allen has a chance to win. So I'm playing the troublemaker now (or if you want to put it nicely, the balancing factor). But perhaps I'll backstab Allen at the last minute. Just for kicks.

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