1. Another great show, Chris. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts on games and the news from the Unpub Mini has me thinking of new games that I’d love to play. I am particularly intrigued by Daniel Solis’ Suspense card game.

    I was excited to hear your thoughts on Courtier, but was disappointed that it has, so far at least, fallen flat for you. I am glad, however to hear that you are still going to give it a few plays before giving up on it completely.

    I got Courtier recently and have only been able to get a few games under my belt at this point. After reach play, I am more intrigued than the last. At least to me, it seems like there is a pretty large play space to be explored in the game.

    In a recent game, one of our players quickly took over the Commerce coterie and then used its power to leverage influence across the board. That and some skillful use of powers cards and the Minister as a substitute to quickly expedite a couple of petitions in short order. She got a bunch of cubes out if reserve and used cards to move them around the board. It opened my eyes to some of the possibilities that I hadn’t considered.

    I have been thinking about this game a lot lately and I’m looking forward to getting it to the table some more to see if a player can actually manage their play in a deliberate manner or if is just completely random with no chance of mitigation or directed play.

    For my next play, I want to try to take over commerce and solidify control over it early. Then I want to get a but of low value, easy to accomplish petition by manipulating cubes on the board with power cards in hopes of running out the clock (the queen’s favor deck) as quickly as possible. Not sure if it is possible, but I like the idea of having a specific strategy and trying to implement it to success.

  2. Chris Norwood

    Thanks for the comment, Jim!

    Yeah, I agree that there’s definintely some space for interesting and clever play with Courtier.  In the second game I played, I started with getting control over the Commerce coterie and then used that to help influence the Church.  And once I had a commanding lead in both of them, I was able to drop 3 cubes a turn to gain a significant advantage almost anywhere I needed to go.

    But still, even in that game, the Fashion cards and all their neutral cubes had a huge impact.  Thankfully for me, I was the beneficiary of probably the biggest windfall in terms of using all-neutral characters, but it could have just as easily been someone else that picked up a random 14 points to take the lead away from me.

    So yes, there’s definintely room to explore in Courtier, but I’m just feeling like the random and swingy elements of the game are so strong that they dominate the tactical and strategic decisions you make, either invalidating or overshadowing them in a way that makes me wonder if anything I chose to do really mattered at all.

  3. I can see that. I wonder how much playing against similarly matched players would change the game. If I am against a good opponent who is trying to thwart me and I still figure out how to outmanuever them, then I would say it is propbably a good game. If that is the case, then I think it fits the theme very welll; your having to figure out how to work within your spheres of influence to get what you want while being blocked at every turn.

    Like I said, I am thinking about it a lot and would like to get in some more plays with similarly matched players to see if I can force situations. I’d love to hear how things progress from here.

  4. Chris Norwood

    I just don’t know that that will be the case, though.  The issue I have is more that if I complete a petition, I have no idea what effect the next fashion card will have.  And some of them fill up all the spots in 2 or 3 coteries.  

    So maybe I’ve been working really hard to thwart you at every turn, playing a really close match and using all the neat little tactical tricks that I’ve admitted are there.  But then, I make the “mistake” of completing a small petition card, and the fashion card we flip over fills up lots of spots that lets you as the next player complete a big 4-person, 14-point petition that you weren’t even trying for before that point.  
    And that example isn’t a far-out stretch or anything.  I’ve seen it happen in both of my last 2 games.
    My point is that I feel like the random swingy-ness of the fashion cards and how you use neutral characters greatly undermines any advantage that you may gain through actual skillful play.  That’s why I want to try out the “No Cheese” variant to see if it strikes a better balance between maintaining player agency and still not letting the game bog down in AP.

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