July 27, 2010

Participants: Jon, Gili, Miriam, Nadine

Game night was moved to Tuesday night at 7:30 owing to a conflict. And it’s summer, so attendance is bound to be down.

In the Shadow of the Emperor

Jon 25, Gili 21, Miriam 18

My estimation of this game shrank a little, though I still enjoyed it. I really don’t like game mechanics that put person A in a position of deciding to give a bonus to either persons B or C, where person A doesn’t even get anything for doing so. Ugh.

I would say that this is what happens in this game with three players, but the truth is that it happened with four players, too. Maybe the game only shines with five players? Being both an election and an area control game, this is probable.

One other thing to note about this game is that, like Greed Incorporated, how you actually get victory points seems non-intuitive. It’s not holding the electoral seats, but gaining the electoral seats that gives you points. Which means, it’s best to lose control and regain an area every round, rather than simply keep it. Which makes little sense.

Otherwise, victory points are sparse and hidden within all of the other mechanics of the game. That’s not necessarily bad, but it is, as I said, non-intuitive.

In our game, I did well in the beginning and then slid a little as the game went on. It appears that it is better to do better in the beginning of the game, rather than at the end, as it is worth slightly more points. Also a rather odd feature in a game.

Tichu

Jon/Gili 60, Nadine/Miriam 40

Miriam had time for one hand. They had nearly all of the good cards: Nadine had a bomb of queens, and Miriam had a full house of aces over kings, as well as the phoenix. Miriam went out first, but Nadine found herself left with a 9 and the Dog, which was not ideal.

Oltre Mare

Jon 107, Nadine 90something, Gili 70something

Nadine asked to try this again, and then complained at the beginning that it was too complicated, and then admitted at the end that it was good but too complicated. She is not good at games where a single choice of cards determines a number of different consequences; on the other hand, that’s also the story with El Grande, at which she generally wins. So I don’t know.

I don’t like the trading mechanic, where other players get a bonus for trading on your turn. First of all, it’s another kingmaker mechanic. Second, it discourages people from trading on their own turn.

I also didn’t like the end mechanic, where one player ends the game and the game continues until all players have had an equal number of turns. I don’t like it because many times you plan on one turn for the next turn, and it is not fair for some people to know that the game has ended when they take their last turn, while others don’t. To solve this, I had the game go around one more time after the game ending condition. This worked very well.

In our game, we all started off in close proximity on the board, which was a little unfair for Gili who was in the middle. Nadine was getting points from playing only one card a turn but having the “X-3” chip, which is not ultimately as powerful as simply playing more cards each turn. All of the chips are worth about 2-3 points, but the gold symbol one is the most reliable.

I’m still not decided on the idea of buying cards. Obviously you have to buy or get cards when you are required to play a certain number. But how often do they return their purchase cost, I wonder?

Still an interesting game.

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