SOG SR: 6/27 in Westford
- We had four people at my place in Westford for gaming: Mike, Evan,
Chris and myself.
Mike and Evan showed up right at seven, but we knew that Chris wasn't
expected until about 9:30, so we set out to do some three-player
We started with a game of Der Flaschenteufel (The Bottle Imp), a great
card game for three. Rather than playing to an arbitrary point limit,
we usually play two rounds per player so everyone gets two chances to
be dealer. Well, Evan owned the bottle for the first three rounds,
while Mike was cleaning up in points. I was doing OK, but nowhere
near as well as Mike. Things started to turn around in the fourth
round, where Mike took the bottle and a large Imp's Hand. I managed
to get a good score and I was ahead of Mike for the first time. Evan
managed to dig himself out of his hole and was back to 0...gotta start
somewhere. The fifth round was not so good -- I ended up stuck with
the bottle. On the plus side, I was able to take a lot of cards and
prevented the others from scoring too well. Now I was back behind
Mike (by 20+ points) with one round to go. In the sixth round, I was
able to stick Mike with the bottle again and rack up a sufficient
score to put myself in first. Evan grabbed an impressive number of
points in the last round and managed to end with a score of 77 to
Mike's 99 and my 120+. Great game...
Next up we played Mordred, a Martin Wallace game. Each player is a
Knight of the Round Table trying to win the countryside for King
Arthur. The game is very luck-driven. Each turn you have to roll
two dice on your choice of three tables. Table A is very low risk and
has low rewards. Table C is very high risk but has high rewards.
Rewards come in the form of build points. On Table A your best roll
with two dice will net you 6 build points, whereas on Table C you can
get 20. The risk is in form of 'Mordred Attacks'. Each die you roll
has a chance of causing a number of attacks -- on Table A, a roll of
'1' causes one attack. On Table C, a roll of '1' causes three
attacks, a roll of '2' causes two attacks, and a roll of '3' causes
one attack. This causes Mordred to spread out across the countryside,
often overrunning villages which have been set up by your fellow
knights. Mordred attacks also cause you to advance your marker along
the Mordred track, which is an indicator of how much you've helped his
Build points are used primarily for establishing and reinforcing
villages. The board consists of two types of terrain: hills and
forest. Hills cost 5 BP to build a village in, while forest only
costs 3. However, you can build as many as three levels of castle in
any village, and that's at a cost of 1 BP/level in hills or 3 BP/level
in forest. So hills are generally cheaper to defend but with a higher
initial cost. The other thing you can use BPs for is to attack
Mordred -- if you have a castle adjacent to a space he controls, you
can roll dice and try to knock him back. This is good because it
lessens his influence and also moves you backwards on the Mordred
The game ends in one of three ways: a player reaches 14 on the
Mordred track (most common), all the BPs run out, or all of the
Mordred pieces (a lot!) get placed on the board. At this point, you
have to determine whether Mordred or King Arthur won the general
battle -- this affects the victory conditions. If Mordred controls
more areas than all of King Arthur's knights combined, then Mordred is
the winner, and the player who helped Mordred the *least* wins the
game. If King Arthur controls at least as many spaces as Mordred,
then King Arthur wins and the player with the most villages on the
board is the winner. Tbese two different victory conditions can make
for some interesting tensions as the game progresses -- usually the
two sides are fairly closely balanced, so one has to evaluate who
would win in either situation.
I managed to get an early advantage as both Evan and Mike were having
bad luck on their dice rolls, putting them far ahead on the Mordred
track. My superior position allowed me to make riskier rolls and I
managed to roll very well, having several rounds where I generated
16-19 BP each. This allowed me a good number of well-reinforced
villages and eventually we made it to the point where Mike was very
close to hitting 14 on the track and I would win whether Mordred or
King Arthur won the ultimate victor (most villages in play, furthest
back on the track). So Mike threw the dice and, sure enough, the game
Mike and Evan immediately demanded a rematch. This one didn't go
nearly as well for me. Mike hung back and built on the bottom of the
board (furthest away from Mordred), while Evan and I took riskier
strategies. This time it was Mike sitting pretty when I ran over the
end of the Mordred track, although there wasn't any question as to
whether Mordred won -- something like 15 Mordred markers against maybe
eight or nine of ours.
This is a fun game -- it does have a lot of randomness to it, as I
said, but it's also got some strategy and interesting decision making.
It's also fast...I think we finished both of those games together in
under an hour.
We next set up Andromeda, something I'd been wanting to have another shot
at again. Chris showed up as we were setting up, so he joined us.
It's a funny game -- I never know exactly what to think of it. It's
got set collection (cards), area control (sort of) and a big healthy
dose of randomness courtesy of the Magic Spirit Hockey Puck.
Essentially, you try to build up a majority population of cubes on a
planet and then take your chances in attempting to establish a station
there. You get between 1 and 4 attempts (based on the size of the set
of cards you play) and you place the Magic Spirit Hockey Puck over all
the stations on that planet, shake it around a bit, and move it until
the requisite number of cubes come out of the hole. If one of yours
comes out, you establish one of the three stations available on that
planet (scoring points for doing so). If someone else's comes out, it
gets sent back to Earth...so at least your chances of succeeding in
future attempts are better.
The game ends when three planets have all of their stations built.
There's more to it, like the fact that you get bonus cards for playing
large natural sets, and the technology line you can advance
along...but that's essentially it. At the end of the game, you score
points for established stations, bonus cards you have left, technology
advancement, and cubes left on Earth.
Mike and Chris started out establishing a lot of very juicy,
high-point-value stations, marking them as the clear leaders. Evan
chose a strategy of hanging back and doing nothing, which, well, at
least it kept him from being painted with the leader brush. I had
some initial difficulties, as my initial setup had me heavily
concentrated on a planet I could never seem to get any cards for. I
did get a few lucky breaks and took advantage of my downtime to
advance along the technology tracks, making later station attempts
easier. In the end, Mike and Chris both attempted to end the game and
failed, and it fell to me: with five total cubes on the yellow planet
(one of them mine), I played six yellow cards (giving me three
attempts, a 60% chance of success), claimed a 4-point bonus card, and
prayed to the Magic Spirit Hockey Puck. Fortunately, providence
smiled upon me and I was able to establish the final station on the
Yellow planet for another 8 points. When all the points were counted,
Chris had 60 points and I had 61...so it was a very close game. Mike
ended with 55, and Evan was back somewhere in the 30s, never having
had much luck with the Puck and so not really in contention.
Another game with a good dose of randomness, but also some good
choices. I think that the most interesting part of the game is
actually the trading round, which is feels somewhat similar to the
trading phase in Mare Nostrum. We don't play it very often, but I'm
happy for the few times that we do manage it.
Next up was a game of Drahtseilakt. Four rounds. Mike and Chris both
scored 0s in their first round and then proceeded to maintain low
scores throughout the game. I had a couple of good rounds (no 0s,
though), but a couple of bad ones as well. Final scores: Mike: 9,
Chris: 11, Evan: 22, Josh: 30.
Deciding what to play next, we decided on Louis XIV. Thsi was a
pretty good play of this game, and it felt a good bit different than
my previous tries. Part of this was that the Intrigue cards got used
a lot more. In my previous two games people hadn't really used them
much, and having them in play led to a much different feel to the
game. I lost several contests due to a sudden influx of markers to a
noble due to an Intrigue card. Curses.
I was way behind in marker generation, so had to switch to trying to
get more shields. In the end, I did OK, but nowhere near Evan or
Mike. Final scores: Evan: 61, Mike: 55, Josh: 49, Chris: <40?
I was somewhat happy with my score just because I only managed to
build six mission cards while Mike and Evan both had nine and Chris
had seven. I still like this game a lot...
We closed the night (morning?) out with a round of Tichu, me and Mike
against Chris and Evan. It started out fairly one-sided, but then
Evan and Chris found their groove and managed a successful Grand (by
Chris) and a 1-2-Tichu (also by Chris). This broght them to within
100 points of us. The final round ended when I was able to succeed at
a Tichu call and we realized that the minimum points we could get
would bring us over 1000 and the maximum points the other team could
get wouldn't. So we called it at that point without finishing play,
as it was quite late and we were all pretty tired.
Thanks for coming, folks! I will be out of town next week but look
forward to more gaming in two weeks!
- "If Mordred controls more areas than all of King
Arthur's knights combined, then Mordred is the winner,
and the player who helped Mordred the *least* wins the
Whoever helps the winning side least, wins? Maybe
Wallace should retheme it as "The Ahmed Chalabi Game."
Rekindle the Rivalries. Sign up for Fantasy Football
> From: Christopher Lockheardt <clockheardt@...>You're playing the role of a Knight of the Round Table. If Mordred
> "If Mordred controls more areas than all of King
> Arthur's knights combined, then Mordred is the winner,
> and the player who helped Mordred the *least* wins the
> Whoever helps the winning side least, wins? Maybe
> Wallace should retheme it as "The Ahmed Chalabi Game."
wins the conflict, the winner is the person who contributed least to
King Arthur's loss (who helped Mordred the least). If King Arthur
wins, the winner is person who helped King Arthur the most. Think of
one as an award ceremony, the other as a blame ceremony.