Last week was another great game night! I got to play the Game of the Month! as well as two of my all-time favorites, and had a fantastic time in all three!
As I arrived at Hypermind, Alton and Chris were deeply involved in a game of Agricola. Initially, I thought that Britt was playing as well due to the constipated look on his face, until I realized that there was no player board in front of him. I don’t want to speculate, but perhaps I should say a little prayer for his intestinal health after all. Anyway, Chris laid the agricultiural smackdown on Alton, winning 39-26.
Having 5 ready players and a Game of the Month! that handles 5, we jumped straight into an all-inclusive game of Small World. Despite the fact that Britt also appeared to have the pointy-est “fairy-like” ears, I was chosen to go first by random selection. For my first race, I chose the Berserk Trolls, and started at the bottom-right corner of the board in an attempt to claim as many mountains as I could to leave behind a formidable declined race in a turn or two. Britt chose the Hill Halflings, digging some hobbit holes near the center of the board, Chris picked up the Alchemist Ghouls and started in the bottom-left corner with a modest first turn, and Alton chose the paradoxical Diplomatic Ratmen, sweeping across the entire top of the map. Finishing off the first turn, Chip used the Swamp Giants to take over the right side of the board.
Most everyone continued expanding their primary race in turn two, but Chris immediately put his Ghouls into decline (since it really doesn’t affect them anyway). On the third turn, I decided that my Trolls were safe in their mountain lairs and sent them into decline. Alton joined me in decline, but Britt and Chip continued to proceed with the beatdown using their races. Chris chose the Forest Sorcerers and used both of his races to dominate the bottom-left corner. Fortunately, all of the races near him were in decline, so the Sorcerers had little opportunity to use their power.
As the next turn started, I made my move by picking up the Mounted Orcs, claiming a modest territory in the upper-right corner. Alton assumed command of the Pillaging Dwarves, and made a similar move in the upper-left corner. Britt and Chip declined their first races, and Chris continued his tag-team attacks with his Ghouls and Sorcerers.
From there, I emptied all but one area and used the full weight of my Mounted Orcs to ride roughshod across the board, picking up 18 points in the process. Unfortuantely, almost everyone else felt a little too threatened by this, and went after me like a monkey on a cupcake! Britt launched his new Heroic Tritons at me first, splitting my force in two and placing his heroes so that I couldn’t attack either of his most vulnerable spaces. Alton’s Dwarves followed suit, smashing more of my territory and sending more orcs to the great beyond (also known as the chit holder). Chip used his opportunity to pick up the Spirit Amazons and grabbed as much area as he could as well. Chris, of course, continued to play his own game, using the ghouls to clear out easy territory and get his Sorcerers into forests wherever he could.
So there I was, again in a quandry. My Orcs were decimated, but I was still making 7 VP a turn from my declined Trolls! So on turn 6, I kept the Orcs around and did what I could to pick up a few easy territories. Britt’s Tritons, apparently brought out only to piss me off, immediately went into decline, as did Alton’s Dwarves and Chip’s Spirit Amazons (which therefore didn’t cause his Giants to go away). Chris, unmolested by any of the other players (you know, the ones who had all gone bananas killing off my Orcs), continued to claim areas and pick up boo-koodles of bonus points from forests.
Chris’ unopposed, game-winning races!
In a ridiculously weak move, I sent the Orcs into decline on turn 7, and scored miserably because of it. Britt got a nice end-game bonus by picking up the Wealthy Skeletons, but again, for some unfathomable reason, refused to launch them at Chris’ Sorcerers! Alton’s Bivouacking Ratmen (who had apparently given up their skill in diplomacy to learn how to make fortified camps) and Chip’s Dragon Master Wizards did the same thing, leaving the woodsy Sorcerers and their Ghoulish thralls to have unopposed control of our tiny planet.
As the game ended, I decided to stop and smell the flowers, choosing the Fortified Elves and the 6 VP in coins on them as my last race, ending with a modest 79 points. Alton and Britt did even worse than me, though. Chris, of course, won the game with 97 points scored over just 8 turns, but Chip made a surprising run at it, picking up 90 total points with his 3 scoring races.
Time: 73 minutes
Score: Chris 97, Chip 90, Me 79, Britt 71, Alton 50
Ratings: Chris 9, Chip 7, Me 7.5, Britt 7.5, Alton 7
Ratings for Small World seem to be dropping slightly. It’s definitely a solid game, but it just doesn’t seem to be living up to its production level or its hype. And if the games I’ve played in are any indication, the powers that let things stick around and score (ghouls and spirit, for example) seem to be a bit overpowered compared to the average power. We’ve still got three weeks to play it, however, so I’m not going to make up my mind about it yet.
Tribune: Primus Inter Pares
From there, Britt and Chip joined me for a game of Tribune: Primus Inter Pares. Britt had been wanting to give it a try, and I was more than happy to get it to the table again. We played Pecunia Non Olet, which was a medium-length scenario requiring 5 victory conditions with a mandatory 30 denarii for 3 players. Unfortunately, I was so into the game and it moved so quickly that I didn’t even think to take any pictures!
Early in the game, I picked up the Praetorians using their leader and had the Legion condition completed by turn two. I also claimed the Vestal Virgins in the early going, using them to get the Eternal Favor of the Gods and, with the help of winning two chariot auctions to buy me time so I could grab the Senators, a Tribune. On turn 4, I claimed my 5th faction control marker, followed on the next turn by taking lots of money to get the mandatory 30 denarii for the win. Chip and Britt both finished with 3 victory conditions, but Chip would have had 5 as well had Britt not taken just one faction that he needed.
Time: 53 minutes
Score: Me 5 (39 points), Chip 3, Britt 3
Ratings: Me 9, Chip 9, Britt 8
I am really loving this game. I bumped it up to a “9” after this play, and even gave it a spot in my all-time top 10. I’ll write a full review for it sometime (hopefully after it’s a future Game of the Month!), and I’ve already talked a lot about why I like it in previous posts (click on the tag to see!), so I’ll not go into any more detail about it now.
The Princes of Florence
Speaking of great games, my next (and last, for that matter) play for the evening was of my favorite boardgame of all time, The Princes of Florence. I’ve decided to make more of an effort to bring and get to the table some of my all-time favorites, and this week I had brought along both Princes and Arkadia. Princes was actually our Game of the Month! way back in May of 2007, and of the 5 players we had for the game, one of them (Brad) was totally new to the game.
Since it had been so long since I’d played, I decided to work the rust off of my (I might even say THE) Jester strategy. Despite several of the experienced players jacking the auction price up to 1,000+ Florin, I picked up Jesters in the first three turns. Over the course of the game, the only thing I built in my principality was a forest, but I did pick up the Freedom of Travel because most all of my Professions wanted it. By the end, I completed 8 works and had the “Most Works” Prestige card, scoring 65 Prestige Points and taking the win.
The freaky thing was that Brad finished in second place, and if I hadn’t had the Prestige Card, he would have beaten me. Brad often has a habit of doing well in games where he doesn’t necessarily know what he’s doing. Not that he was acting randomly or blindly, but there was just no way that he could have predicted exactly how well his Builder/works strategy could have worked when he started heading down that path. Frankly, he made some of the best use of Bonus cards that I’ve ever seen, taking the best work bonus all but one time that he completed his four or five works. It was really cool, and gave me some ideas for the next time that I get to play this wonderful game.
Overall, everyone but Chip had a good time. He’s just never jived much with Princes, even back to when it was GotM! Nobody’s perfect, I guess, so I can forgive him.
Time: 67 minutes
Score: Me 65, Brad 59, Alton 52, Chris 49, Chip 46
Ratings: Me 10, Brad 8, Alton 8.5, Chris 9, Chip 6
It was a little earlier than normal, but Denise wanted to close up shop, so we all headed home. But it’s almost time for another session, and I’m bringing a good mix of new and old to try and get to the table. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write about what happened before next Tuesday!