Well, at least I tried to keep up. As it is, I will be desperately trying to remember what it was I did each day now that the Con is over and my brains are just starting to recharge.
Tuesday was A Time Of Crisis, a game that I initially wrote off as yet another weak GMT attempt at a Euro, although this looked very heavy for a euro. The core mechanism is a combination of deck-building and a card based rondel system, where you always get to choose which available cards to put n hand at the end of your turn, and in what order to discard your cards. Beyond that it’s an area control game that tracks both military and political strength. Frankly, it sounds like a recipient for disaster. Fortunately, it’s the opposite.
I’m pretty sure that I was playing with KenC, MattR, and Greg. We played the full game, more or less learning as we went. I had gone through the first portion of the example of Play and felt I had enough of a grasp on the rules to teach and get started, and I figured I’d look up the rules for things like Rival Emperors when they came up.
The game went pretty smoothly, in part because of the excellent play aid/mats, although there are about three things I felt would have been nice to have had at hand. The rules are pretty good, although I did have some trouble finding some rules that had one part of the answer in the Components section and another in the section devoted to the mechanic in question. I found downtime to be more than acceptable, although toward the end there could be a fair amount of analysis paralysis. We also had a lot of trouble remembering that you get governors on the board with blue points for some reason, and I’m sure this got screwed up repeatedly when I was not at the table, and maybe a few times when I was.
After our initial establishing of three provinces each and building up the deck, I had an extra blue point, and Italia was at 1 support, so I figured I’d take a shot at getting Italia, although with only a single die to roll I’d need a 6 first. To everyone’s surprise, including mine, I took Italia. Support shot up as I already had four other provinces, and I promptly moved in a big army to defend the capital. I held it for almost the entire game, even with my other provinces slowly getting eaten away by the other players.
After a few turns Greg became a pretender with two of his four provinces and my points for each turn started to drop. I had a good lead, and there was no question that I’d get the ten points for being emperor the longest, and no one else was going to get points unless they deposed me. Which Greg did on the very last turn, and then played two of the cards that take four points from the current emperor. I went from winning by one point to coming in dead last with that one play, and even if only one of the cards had counted I still would have been third. Greg improved to second. Well played!
This game is an excellent example of a relatively simple game (in wargame terms), and equivalent to a game like Power Grid. There is a lot going on despite a relatively compact ruleset, although like most wargames there’s quite a bit of historical chrome, mostly in the form of event cards. There are mechanisms for screwage through mobs, taking over governorships, and fighting between armies. There are mechanisms to help you keep your provinces, and you will need to devote effort to keeping your support values up. While the Barbarians didn’t play an enormous role as invaders, they did get Foederatied into our armies regularly. The biggest thing we struggled with was mob effects on support, which were clear in the rules but difficult to remember when that effect took place. Once we started playing those down things got much more complex.
The game has an excellent arc, moving through expansion to wealth building to conflict. This makes it fairly easy to teach, you can start with getting governors and generals to placing them on the map and building support up, then move to improvements and fighting barbarians, to emperors and pretenders. Andy like all good games, it is more than the sum of its parts. I pushed hard to play this game, and I was pleased to see that it again during the week (along with Talon, a game Alex C taught so many people that I gave him my copy). With people who have played before, this could be an excellent Tuesday night game.
Here’s a shot of us playing…
After we finished, we took a walk to the beach as it was a beautiful day, although very cold. We had snow one morning, and this is the Oregon coast, where it snows very rarely. Lincoln Beach is pretty rocky, and a lot of spray and interesting terrain. And a ton of people looking for beach glass for some reason.
That night’s Medal Event was TeeKO, a game that I wasn’t particularly keen on adding, but another person at the con who was familiar with the Jackbox titles swore it was excellent. Not for this kind of event, unfortunately. Scoring was completely opaque, and no one seemed to have a good sense of what the goal was. We didn’t even know who won or lost without looking at the leaderboard, and then we didn’t know how people had scored points. We pulled out Drawful from an earlier pack but kept the TeeKO scores. I’m sure TeeKO is a fine game in a social situation, but not so good for a Medal Event.
I will post results for all of the Medal Events toward the end of my blog posts.
We also did a gin tasting this night. I’d brought four selections, Nolet’s, The Botanist, Tangeray Ten, and Big Bottom Ninety-One. Some people really enjoyed these, but for some the nose was too floral. I was just happy to get some good gin and an excuse to try them all. My favorite is the Nolet’s for sipping, maybe a bit better on the rocks. The Botanist will be excellent on ice in the summer.
Finally, it was time for bed. I brought in my emergency sleeping bag from the car and discovered that the dye on the inside hadn’t really gotten a chance to escape the fabric, but it sure did once my stocking feet got in the bag. Good news was that it worked well under the covers, although I tried using it as a top blanket after that for a few nights and the results weren’t as good. The temperature of the room, clearly not intended for off-season use, and the extremely weak WiFi were the biggest issues, as was parking, which was ridiculous for a ten bedroom house for a group bring as many tables, chairs, games, and food as we did. Otherwise, the house actually worked pretty well.
Tomorrow, Gloom finds its Haven!