Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 4, 2009 - Variety

Location: Michael and Danielle's House
Players: Yoda, Steve, MichaelP, Danielle, Kay, Mike, Dave

After our first foray into Illuminati, Danielle had expressed an interest in joining us for a game of it. Others expressed interest in repeating Iron Dragon again while the first game's learning was still relatively fresh. The thought was to put them both into the same day, expecting that each could be completed in a morning or afternoon.

After munching Munchers, Iron Dragon began the day. MichaelP, Steve, Kay, and Yoda played. The game went much smoother and faster than the previous game, since all had some idea from the start. Yoda won just before lunch. Kay was a close second. Steve and Michael claimed this was the expected result given the vast amount of experience those two had at the game.

Danielle returned with the baby and the pizza. Dave came over to watch the baby. Rules were explained to the Illuminati newcomers. A couple of examples were stepped through, and then we got down to business. Money was mostly located in little bowls in the middle in clear view to discourage pilfering. (Michael tried anyway.) The big 50 'bills' were off to the end near Steve and Danielle, and at some point someone noticed that they thought one of them was missing. We decided that Steve must have stolen it, so he became something of a feared target. Danielle had the group which gets to hide its winning condition, so we didn't know what she was trying to achieve. She did a good job of disguising her goal and pulled off a win that surprised all because we had no idea that she was close. (Transfer power Yoda sure she wanted. So sure no other goals watch did he.)

The abrupt end to Illuminati left us with a bit more time to fit in something short so we played a couple of games of Chronology. Mike had shown up late in the afternoon to meet Dave, and we enticed him to join the first game. And he won. He convinced Dave to join us for the second game. And Dave won in a squeeker. (Everyone but Yoda had nine cards and was ready to win with only one more card.) Maybe next time I should let someone convince me to play...

March 7, 2009 - A Day of Kingmaker

Location: Yoda's House
Players: Yoda, Steve, MichaelU

Ah, Kingmaker. A game of kings. A game of nobles and titles. A game of stamina and endurance.

Knowing that it was a long game and with minimal experience in its play, we started straight out. With the starting cards, Steve established a dominating position in the north. Yoda became the Welsh strongman. That left the south for Michael. Everyone grabbed a king or an heir forthwith and consolidated their nobles into large piles and waited for something untoward to happen to someone else. In the beginning, this consolidation process involved solo nobles scurrying from one town or castle to the next as they headed toward the bulk of friendly forces. (about the only time anyone bothered to stay in a town or castle since that's where plagues happen.) Steve proceeded to conquer towns on roads so that he could move long distances quickly. This turned out to be not so bad a plan since he forever was getting yanked back north by special event cards so that he could deal with those unruly Scots.

Morning turned to afternoon. All nobles titles and everything got distributed. An occasional fight would happen where someone would die and get recycled. Michael hid in France with his heir. Yoda lay waiting for someone to be foolish enough to wander into Wales. Steve roared around the board like a toothless lion. A parliament was called and favors were handed out. More death, more recycling. Steve cornered Michael's claimant and killed him off. Another parliament was called, with a different power broker. Steve made someone else be the guy who got jerked north to dance with the Scots. Slow attrition whittled away Steve's forces and grew Yoda's. Round about 18:00, endurance failed, and everyone agreed to end the game without declaring that anyone would win.

Of course, given that Yoda had 3/4 of the forces in the game at his command, the eventual result should be obvious. Unfortunately, Kingmaker isn't that kind of game. Any particular battle can cause either side to lose horrible things they don't want to lose. It doesn't matter how much of a force advantage you have, because even though you can be sure that you have a big enough margin that the other guy will lose, the card which is drawn to determine the 'victor' may dictate that half your force dies along with them. This can have the effect of making one rather reluctant to attack at all... Especially when the other person is the one who will get to hand out all the special goodies when he calls parliament again... Thus the stalemate...

No one is anxious to repeat this game.