February 25, 2009

Participants: Jon, Gili, Nadine, David K, Bill

David suggested that we play a 2-player and 3-player game, rather than a 5-player game. Turns out he was right, but our game night was still enjoyable.

Fairy Tale

Jon 41, Gili 41, Nadine 37

We exchanged games from the Beit Shemesh group: they got Saboteur and we got this in return. I like this game, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to be a big hit with our group, owing to the chaos of blind placement and card flipping.

It’s pretty good for a filler game. It’s lacking something: the flip and unflip mechanic is not that thrilling, but easy to grasp, at least. The first few games seem random, but by the end of the second I was starting to grasp that there is some control. Synergy is hard to achieve with drafting, since not all the cards are used in each game. In Magic, unless you’re trying to get a specific combo, drafting doesn’t kill you if you get it wrong; here it does. But it’s also not impossible, and that’s the point.

I played this once before a long time ago. First game for everyone else. None of us knew what would work and what wouldn’t, and we struggled with the pictographs a bit.

Jon 45, Gili 39, David 36, Nadine 33

David had a super combo going, but my second-to-last card play screwed him out of one of the key cards in his combo and he lost 12 points. He would have won, otherwise. I think the other players didn’t pay enough attention to attacking cards.

With my 12 cards and 45 points, it looks like 4 points per card is a good target score to shoot for.

La Citta

Jon 40, David 35, Nadine 28, Gili 26, Bill 23

First play for both David and Bill. Third game for the rest of us. This game ran a tad long at 4 hours – about 1.5 hours longer than it should. This was partially due to new players, five players, Nadine’s calculations, and the game being chaotic and calculating. It’s a little like the Game of Life: simple rules create complex interactions. Lots of recounting the number of people you have and are likely to get. Good thing they give you those food counters.

Ours was a strange game with much food grabbing by the others right at the beginning of the game, only later trying to grab markets and baths. I grew my food supply at a slower pace, and only held two cities throughout the game. This allowed my cities to be strong and steal people away from other players’ little cities. I had to concentrate on food growth in the last few rounds, while others, who had enough food, were building arches and so on.

It worked, though I didn’t think it would. After all, your score is equal to the maximum of the number of citizens / food that you have. I was simply going for food when they were going for citizens, and vice versa. I had no mines the entire game, and gained two coins twice by using cards.

Gili built an awesome first city that allowed her to get two mines each between two mountains, for four income in the first few rounds. But she didn’t have enough food, and the city wasn’t attractive enough to keep its citizens so she lost the mines in round 4. David built an awesome first city with several spots for 4 food production, which gave him massive food supply. But his lack of markets were limiting, and his central city kept losing citizens to mine; this was only his first game, after all. My central city was leaching 4 people a round in the last few rounds; one of the benefits of having a strong central city.

Because of our strange play, we ran into problems with the available power cards. At several points, none of the seven was worth anything to anyone. Which meant that whenever anyone took a card, he or she simply made the card that flipped up available to the next person, which was a boon for them. Gili was the one with the cash, so her buying a 3 arch building usually made a medium sized building available to me as I was sitting to her left. It helped; a lot less than others made it out to help. Sometimes a useful card flipped up, but people (including me) often didn’t have the cash or food to utilize it.

Despite this, and the long game time, David liked the game, and would be willing to play again with less than five players.

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