Friday, 18 November 2011

boardgaming in photos

23 Oct 2011. Playing Automobile with Han, Allen, Wan and Shan. I like this game a lot but have not played it for quite a while. My recent revisiting of my 2009 games eagerness ranking prompted me to bring out this game again.

I positioned myself well in the first round, grabbing the newest model (at the time) of mid-range cars. However this also became my undoing later. I invested heavily in it, building a third factory and also a parts factory. By late game, it was too costly to shut them down. Many others have built mid-range car factories, making mine very very obsolete and costly to maintain. I can only blame myself. I got myself into this hole. I had underestimated how stiff the competition would be in mid-range cars.

In contrast the competition among distributors was not as fierce as I thought it would be. Although many of us had placed distributers, most of the time the types of cars we wanted our distributors to sell were different, so most of the time they were able to sell cars and not get fired for non-performance. I should have placed maybe one more distributor.

30 Oct 2011. 5-player game of Perikles (didn't realise I have always pronounced it wrong until Wan mentioned it; it should be "Peri-cleese") with Han, Allen, Wan and Shan. This is a Martin Wallace design which I have played once before, a few years ago. There are only three rounds, but the length of "only three rounds" in a Martin Wallace game must not be underestimated. The first half of a round is about fighting for political control in the six Greek city states, and in the second half you lead armies of cities you control to war.

Cubes here represent political influence or politicians.

Every round, 7 battles will be fought, and players can send their armies to fight as the attacker (left, purple side) or defender (right, white side). Every battle is worth a number of points, and is claimed by the winner.

I had a successful first round, but that also meant I became ganged up upon afterwards. My politicians tended to be the victims of assassinations. When the game ended, I was in last position. Well, it's also partly due to bad luck. In the last battle of the game (i.e. the 21st battle), it was me against Allen. I had invested much military power in this, and unless the die rolls were unusually unlucky, I should win comfortably. And it turned out that my die rolls did suck. Allen would still have won the game even if he lost that battle, but at least I would not have come last.

Perikles has Martin Wallace's unique style all over it - Euro-ish yet rich and complex, abstracted yet thematic.

I have played 7 Wonders more than 100 times, mostly on the computer. This was the first time I played my own copy after finally buying it. Mine is the second edition, i.e. cardboard coins instead of wooden coins.

6 Nov 2011. Han, Allen and I played our fourth and so far most exciting game of Maria. Han played Prussia/Pragmatic Army (blue / grey), Allen played Austria (white), and I played France (red). This was the same configuration as our third game. We wanted to do it again because that game ended prematurely due to a rule mistake.

Here Austria (white) was already surrounded by the wolves - France (red) and Bavaria (orange) attacking from the west, Prussia (blue) and Saxony (green) attacking from the north. We were all very careful in this game, manoeuvring our armies and supply trains and accumulating cards before committing to battle. However once the battles started, many of them were big ones. Here's the first battle fought between Han's Prussian army and Allen's Austrian army.

Card play was fast and furious.

More and more cards were played, each one-upping the other. So much was committed that there was no backing down now.

The number of cards played was shocking! And of course as the bystander I was cheering them on gleefully. Them spending lots of cards meant I would likely have an easier time when I needed to fight them.

This was the site of the battle. It was in Silesia, which belonged to Austria. Silesia was Prussia's first military objective.

In this game that we played, battles were few, but many were big and crucial. Unfortunately for me (France), I lost two very important battles, and my plans were all out the window. In one of them I was quite confident, and had left my supply train in a slightly risky but convenient (for further advances) location. If I won the battle, I would force the Austrian army to retreat and my supply train would be in no danger. Unfortunately I lost that battle, and my supply train was subsequently destroyed. Allen had to fight many tough battles on his homeground, and lost many armies. However he not only managed to destroy my French supply train. He also managed to destroy my Bavarian supply train, and Han's Prussian supply train. So our advances would be severely set back, and he would have time to recover.

The only invading army with a supply train left was the Saxony army. The green cube is the supply train. What's funny is soon after this an event card caused Saxony to become neutral. It became controlled by Allen, and its army returned to within the borders of Saxony. So there were no more hostile supply trains in Austria.

Since everyone's armies were badly depleted, it would take some time for us to rebuild our strength. Now it was a race to grab the remaining victory points (i.e. place the remaining victory markers onto the board). Maria encourages offensive play, because conquering an enemy's fortress gives you points and defending your own only prevents your enemy from gaining points. We were all down to just a few victory markers. Eventually it was Han's Pragmatic Army which won him the game. My French army, could not stop him. Allen's Austria suffered many losses, but fought well and had a decent chance of winning. We all have been secretly rooting for Austria, because Austria is the protagonist in Maria and the Austria player is the only one who has not win yet. Now that I think of it, although the Prussia/Pragmatic Army player has won, on both occasions the Pragmatic Army was the winning nation.

Afterwards we discovered one rule mistake - it should have been easier for Saxony to shift its allegiance towards Austria. If Prussia loses a battle against Austria, Saxony's allegiance marker will shift. No wonder it has been so tough to play Austria. It's embarassing that we still made rules mistakes in our fourth game.

7 Nov 2011. Power Grid on the Korean map. Coal in the North Korean market was completely sold out. Michelle and I played this because our 6-year-old daughter Shee Yun said she wanted to be the banker.

It felt great to be able to buy that super power plant on the right. It could power 9 cities! But I still lost the game to Michelle...


Anonymous said...

Hi Hiew,

Just wanted to let you know that this post got me really interested in Maria, and after some more research I ended up buying it.

I've only played a couple of games of the 'introductory' version so far, but I'm really enjoying it.

Thanks for the review!

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Hi Porges, glad to know that this post helped you discover a game that you enjoy. Do try the full game. There are more rules but they add much context to the game and make it even more interesting.