Gamers: Alvin (keealvin), Wei Yii (weiyii), Ken (wolfx), Allen (blownfreaks), Cliff (cliff), Heng (ayheng), Aw (aw) and Jeff Au (jack208); and special mention to Wai Yan (waiyan), Isabel and Yee Ling (crabzai) who dropped by to chit-chat only. 😛
Games: Imperial, Cash-n-Guns, Dominion and Le Havre
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras Google Map
Date/Time: 2 January 2009 (Fri) 8.00 PM – 4.30 AM
Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 2/1/2009
|JAN2 MEETUP R1|
It has been a while since I write meetup reports… Well, we do post quick updates via the OTK thread but it’s not the same somehow as writing a full-fledge report. Now that I’m starting to move our photo gallery to Flickr, let’s get back into the report writing as well.
Here’s to another GREAT YEAR OF BOARDGAMING!
Imperial – just how do you start to describe this game? A game that combines an economic engine with military actions? One that fans of Axis & Allies may love – after all, what’s the objective of war? To control and manipulate so that you reap the riches of the countries you conquered… no?
A game that those who like 18xx games but find that it’s not confrontational enough would luv to jump in… forget about sending incompetent engineers to mess up your rival’s railway network… here in Imperial, you can just send your armies to invade and suppress your opponent’s factory!! muahahahaa……
We haven’t bring this to the table for some time… and since I heard it’s name mentioned twice; once when blownfreaks asked if we can do Imperial (he probably came across it while browsing BGG after we did Hamburgum, the 3rd game in the Rondel series), and the second time when our Imperial Lord (aka aanemesis) said he’s coming to OTK tonight and would luv to re-visit some old flames (ie Imperial). This was before MH233 took off from Putrajaya Airport.
As there were some newbies to Imperial, we recap the rules for them and then promptly set up the board and draw for starting bond distribution. We played with the standard Investor mode (yes, potential newspaper-reading time hehe).
I drew majority control in Russia ($9m) which comes with minority stake in France ($4m). The smaller number below the bond value is the potential dividend that you’ll receive if that country pays out (“Investor” action). The interesting thing about Imperial bonds is that the lower value bonds have higher ROI ie. the 4m France bond gives me a ROI of 50% while the 9m Russia bond only gets 44%.
ayheng drew Austria (minority: Germany) so he’ll start the game, while wolfx got England (minority: Russia), keealvin/weiyii got Italy (minority: England), cliff ran Germany (minority: Italy), and blownfreaks had France (minority: Austria)
wolfx was commenting on England’s options before the draw.. and well, he drew England so this means he’d full opportunity to try out his strategy (or not). England starts with two naval factories which is true to its nature as a naval force. The rest tend to be more balanced starting with an army and naval factory each.
This session started with Austria doing Factory then Production and everyone following suit. Hmm… groupthink at its zenith?
Anyhow England was smart to build an army factory and the rest all expanding to either army or navy depending on their expansion plans. Russia opted for an army factory in Kiev in order to expand south.
Unfortunately Austria (ayheng) was also thinking the same thing.. and her armies started capturing neutral cities south of her borders with her naval forces entering the Ionian Sea, and soon the Russian forces clashed with the Austrian in Romania and Bulgaria…..
Westward, England started her expansion once she has trained up sufficient armies…. and when England expands, that will either go into Germany or French territories. In this game, England went for France, and she went for the throat and landed her elite forces to take Paris and Holland.
Note: In such scenario, Russia (jack208) needs to switch her attention northwards to check Germany’s growth since a Germany unimpeded by England or France will expand rapidly into the Ultras! However the ongoing war with Austria south of Russia kept me pre-occupied there.
France were slowly reclaiming back lost ground – with some help from Germany – as she pushed back against the English (see below). France’s successful control of the English Channel and Germany’s powerful naval presence in the North Sea kept England pegged back.
The English then cranked up their ship production in an attempt to push out against the French and Germans on both sea fronts…. all parties gearing up for a fierce naval battle!
Italy (keealvin) – which has been building quietly – launched a quick raid when her armies went eastward and attacked Austria from the back while she’s engaged on the Eastern front with Russia. The Italian forces were swift, merciless and quickly cut-off Austria’s main naval forces from its mainland leaving it stranded in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Italy’s conquest of North Africa was left uncontested by a France who’s occupied on her northern shores (with England).
keealvin’s strategy worked well as Italy’s first taxation yielded 14m and keealvin received a bonus of 9m for his good work! Most of us were taxing at around the 10m mark (with personal bonus to the President of around 3-5m) with the exception of wolfx who was true to his unethical nature delivered about 4m of net tax for England while he himself pocketed 5m bonus!! <grin>
By now, it’s too late for Russia to switch it’s war to the northern Front as Germany (black) had then grew very strongly controlling both the Baltic & North Sea; while England and France were engaged bitterly over the English Channel.
Being shrewd investor, ayheng then quietly shift from warfare and started picking up stocks in Germany as by this time, Germany were leading the ROI chart with her bonds being worth x3 on the Yield Factor! Me on the other hand were busy taxing and paying out dividends from Russia’s treasury…. and slowly investing into Italy.
Italy after having had Austria on its backfoot, then did something .. unexpected. Instead of going for France whose back’s were exposed, she wanted to negotiate a pact with the French Government to use the Bay of Biscay to attack England? This is baffling as keealvin has a rather significant minority stake in England.
But on the other hand, this is a typical oversight made by most ppl new to this game. They take this as a “wargame” and set about using their starting countries to conquer others. keealvin did make an interesting observation at the end of the game – that there’s a distinctive absence of the players going for aggressive take-over of another’s country by buying up bonds (compared to the last session where aanemesis was playing)!
There was an attempted buy-out by cliff (Germany) on Italy during mid-game, but that was quickly rebuffed by keealvin upgrading one of his Italian bonds and regained control. After that, no one attempted another take-over.
After almost drying up Russia, I made a grab for a high $20m Italy bond towards the end (making my Italian investment at $26m) when I see Italy can make her home-run (which she did) but my 26m is still way short of taking over keealvin’s 29m stake.
The objective of this game is to have the most of the high-yield bonds at the end of the game; “high yield” being defined as bonds from countries that are doing well on the economic front (ie. they managed to raise lots of tax!) which is measured by the bond’s credit score.
Military expansion obviously helps to increase your tax yield.. but having ONLY shares in one country won’t necessarily win you the game coz the rest can easily see your country is winning and start buying up bonds in your country, therefore closing the financial gap with you.
A high taxation (and investment return) doesn’t necessarily win you the game; it only helps make your country more attractive to bond raiders (like aanemesis if he’s playing) who will snap up bonds in your country. You’ll then need to be able to have the cash to defend your position. 🙂
Italy ended the game by reaching the 25 credit score on her last taxation (just after Russia did hers to push her bonds to x4). Italian bonds now yielded x5 value while German and Russian bonds were at x4.
cliff (Germany) – as expected – won the game with ~158m while jack208 (Russia) has ~148m and keealvin (Italy) ~138m. An unchecked Germany is simply too strong. My 20m investment into Italy allowed me to leapfrogged keealvin into 2nd, which serves to underline the economic objective of this game (vs the military focus).
I also suspected – and aanemesis can confirm this for us – that the difficulty in timing the take-over is also due to the fact we played using the Investor card and even if we’ve the money, we dun get to invest (ie buy new bond) until the card comes around to us.
We’ve been talking about playing the non-Investor card variant but have not gotten around to doing so. One of the reasons obviously is that if there are newcomers to Imperial, we play with the Investor card to familiarize them with the game. But hey, since this group of 6 now already knew the game – so next game, no Investor card? 😉
You can discuss Imperial strategies here.
|CASH & GUNS|
After Imperial, keealvin suggested Cash & Guns… yeah good fun game that doesn’t need to do much thinking.
keealvin quickly walked us thru the rules, and after selecting our character, off we go for glory and money! In the end, wolfx won this hands-down.
R2 report coming next; Dominion (so what do I think of this game?) and Le Havre with 5 players. Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this meetup report.
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