November 26, 2008

Participants: Jon, Nadine, David K, Avraham

No Gili, but Avraham came, so we still had four. Maybe I need to advertise again?

Antike

David K 9, Jon 7, Avraham 6/7, Nadine 4

I bought this game knowing it wouldn’t really be my type of game, but hoping it would appeal to some of our players who might want more in the way of civilization/conflict games. It seemed something of a hybrid, which had worked ok for Wallenstein.

I figured that David would win, and when Avraham came, that he would come in second. Turns out I was right, although I came in second, barely.

Antike uses a nifty “rondel” mechanic which forces you to take a spectrum of actions in sequence unless you pay to skip some. And the game is not about conquering territory, though that is helpful, but about acquiring victory points, which is more about resource collection and management. Some of the victory points are easy, and then you have to figure out the quickest path to the rest of the points, while not incurring aggression from your neighbors. That means a) laying low, and b) not building too tempting a target. Turtling is prevented by the fact that you simply must expand and build temping targets if you’re going to get the resources you need.

One of the biggest problems I have with conflict games is the negotiation aspect tends to play the same in all games: some have it, and some don’t. I tend to burn out quickly and then have no chance for the rest of the game. A partial solution for me to to insist on enforcing agreements made by players. In other words, I will only enjoy the game if, when two people make a non-aggression pact, they are bound to hold it. War gamers like to break pacts and laugh about it. I simply don’t enjoy playing games like that. If people want to play that way, do it without me.

David and I made a non-aggression pact for the entire game, which worked to both of our benefits, but, of course, even more to his. Nevertheless, it allowed me to enjoy the game. Avraham and I almost made a pact close to the end of the game, but we couldn’t work out the details.

Nadine didn’t quite grasp the conflict mechanisms, so had problems building the resource engine she needed. I let David take a better position on the board, and that left me having to deal with Avraham, the aggressive neighbor, while he had time to expand his kingdom. Still, I remembered fairly early on that victory points were the point of the game, not aggression, and I headed for the Known-Hows early, gaining several before David swept in and started doing the same.

Avraham was too aggressive in the early game. It took a coordinated effort by all three of us to prevent his winning too early, which occupied too much of his time.

David liked the game, after some initial hesitation. I liked it more than I expected too, so long as the house rule about pacts is in place. Avraham really liked the rondel. I’m not sure about Nadine’s feelings.

Tichu

David/Nadine 400, Jon/Avraham 400

We played three hands to wrap up the evening. I considered calling Tichu in the first, but decided against it, which was a good idea. David and Nadine both went out first.

In the second hand, I called Tichu, but a series of unlucky card positions let David go out first. 170 to them, 30 to us. In the last hand, I was seriously considering calling Tichu again, bu Avraham called Grand Tichu, to give us a chance of winning. Naturally, I was easily able to go out first this time, but had to work hard NOT to go out first. Avraham managed to pull it off in the end, and I went out third. 270 to us, 30 to them, ending the game in a tie score.

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