Boardgamecafe.net Meetup Report @ Old Town Kopitiam Cheras 15/10/2010
Gamers: Teddy Pang, Lee Ching, Jimmy, Hiew (hecose), Samuel Chua (samuel), Waiyan and CK Au (jack208)
Games: Hansa Teutonica, Zooloretto, Citadels and The End of the Triumvirate.
Location: Old Town Kopitiam Cheras Google Map
Date/Time: 15 October 2010 (Fri) 8.00 PM – 3:30 AM
Hiew’s in attendance today and he has his Hansa Teutonica with him. Since BGC has not yet been able to bring this game in, we are relying on playing his copy. Teddy, Lester and Jimmy have not done Hansa too therefore it’s everyone’s choice for the first game to start off the evening.
Hiew going thru the Hansa rules with Teddy, Lester & Jimmy
Road-blocking quickly became the norm. As I later found out, the game is nicely balanced in terms of you having to decide if you are going to spend cubes blocking others or use them to claim roads (and privileges plus VPs) for your own benefits. Interesting balancing here.
You get a Player Dashboard (below) in which you track which technology you are advancing. When you advance on a technology, you get additional privilege (or power) and also an extra cube to use which is equally important.
Player Dashboard for Hansa Teutonica
The 3 newbies to this game
Jimmy (purple) quickly jumped onto the Token strategy (ie collect as many tokens as you can) which scored him 15 pts, an unassailable lead going into the final stage of the game. Very good play.
As with all Euro resource management game, it’s important to make sure no one gets an “exclusive” take on any winning path, but I felt Hansa is balanced enough to ensure a very even game for all once you are experienced enough with the game flow.
Jimmy’s winning Token strategy
While we were doing Hansa, the ladies were having a quick light game of Zooloretto. I didn’t take much picture of that game as I was tied down in the Hansa session but here’s one… 😛
After both Hansa Teutonica and Zooloretto have concluded, we are now up to 7 gamers (with Samuel having joined us while we were at Hansa’s end stage). This is Samuel’s first time to OTK Cheras and he hails from Ipoh but is occasionally around KL. Am sure the rest of the OTK regulars will welcome him soon enough. 🙂
Samuel (the guy in the middle) between Teddy (left) and CK (right)
There’s not many games that can fit 7 players – Long Shot, Bang!, Take 6 all sprang to mind – and luckily I did pack my copy of Citadels for today! Surprisingly, except for the veterans like Hiew, waiyan and myself – the rest have not yet played Citadels before!!
Citadels present great looking artwork in their cards
Hmm… think we need to bring out some oldies on a more regular basis as some of the newer wave of gamers have not had the chance to try the classics. Which is also why our Boardgame Retreat (and to a certain degree our weekly Meetups) is such a good opportunity for gamers to sample the new and old.
Or if you are unable to attend either our Retreats or Meetups, next best is to read our blog (this one) so that you can check out the games we play! 😛
THE END OF THE TRIUMVIRATE
After Citadels, the Cinderellas (hehe) have to call it a night… bye, good nite, sweet dreams. Which left only three of us! While it was difficult to find games to play in a large 7-player group, it’s equally as difficult selecting a good and balance game to play for a 3-player group.
What do I mean by “balance” in 3-player?
When you have 3 players in a game, it’s important for the game to be able to prevent the situation where Player1 & Player2 gang up to take Player3 out of the game first, before fighting each other to be the winner – which is a “valid” winning strategy. Well, “valid” as in depending on which Player’s perspective you are looknig from. Certainly not if you are Player3.
Samuel playing as Pompeius (blue)
As such, most 4- or 5-player games don’t work well with 3-players. One of the BEST 3-player game and one which is perfectly balanced (in the above gang-up respect) is The End of the Triumvirate, a little known game published by Lookout Games back in their early days (2005) before they became a household name with a little game called Agricola. 😛
Note: This game is now distributed by Z-man and BGC is planning to bring in some fresh shipment to restock our inventory. J
We play one of the three Triumvirate who ruled Rome in 56 BC. I was Caesar (red), while Samuel was Pompeius (blue) and Jimmy was Crassus (black). While on the outside, these three ruled by consensus, each was just waiting for the chance to take out the other to become the sole ruler of Rome.
The initial setup with each player having their influences distributed across Rome’s domain
There are three ways to win the game
1. Get elected as Consul twice (winning by politics),
2. Control 9 provinces outright (winning by might), or
3. Be the most competent of all three in matters of politics and military (winning by competence).
It is worth noting that even if two players gang-up on you, it’s still very possible – and even chance with the other two – that you can still grab victory (in this case,most likely by route #3 above).
The Forum of Rome, where you jostle to get the majority to be elected as Consul
If you wish to win thru the political way, you need to “invest” in either influencing or outright bribing of your fellows in the Forum. The game has a timer which counts down to the next election. The number of voters you managed to get over to your camp (those yellow cubes above) will decide who gets elected as Consul. Get elected twice in the game (not necessarily back-to-back) and the game ends with a victory to you.
You can also win by conquering a majority of Rome (ie 9 provinces)
Each province in Rome produces much-neeed resources for you in your quest for ultimate power in Rome – coins and legions. Beside the more peaceful and political way of winning by being elected as Consul, you can also amass your legions and have them take by force the provinces of the other two Triumvirate. Control 9 provinces and the other two will quiver under your military might, and thus you become the Supreme Ruler of Rome.
The Competence Track for Politics (top) and Military (bottom)
The last approach to win the game is to develop your competence on two areas – Politics and Military. Achieve this and you’ll be recognize as the most-fit person to rule Rome.
Crassus (black) has dominated the southern region and has taken over one of Caesar’s province (Egypt)
I won’t go too much into the gameplay but the game is designed such that even if you are not strong militarily, you can still focus on the other victory paths, which is as viable and balanced as a military victory.
Pompeius (Samuel) growing his legions….
Pompeius (blue) was the first to be elected Consul; he has four citizens in the Forum compared to Caesar’s (red) three (see below).
Your opponents need to watch what you are doing coz if they do not, you may very well force a victory faster than them! As such, if you start to manipulate the Forum for a Consul victory, they will need to stop whatever they are doing and intervene in your Forum play as otherwise you’ll rush to a quick two elections and win the game.
The Forum prepares to welcome it’s first Consul – Pompeius!
The shift of power is also swift in this game, with players gaining quickly and losing as quickly provinces. Military power might look impressive on the board, but logistically it’s difficult to maneuver quickly for a fast kill as you get a limited 4-movement points per turn.
Pompeius (blue) stacking up it’s legions to frighten it’s neighbours
But getting your legions from one end of the game map….
… to the other end can be time consuming (ie. It can take your entire turn) and possibly leave you defenseless on your base or other provinces.
For those who do not like blood to be shed for their victory, and neither do they like to talk bull-n-shit at the Forum, they can opt to build up their “professional knowledge” in the areas of Politics and Military. This is the 3rd path to victory and also the key design of the game, where if you were continuously “bashed” by the other players’ legions, you’ll get to make progress by improving your competence levels in these two tracks.
At one point of time in our session, Pompeius was on the verge of a military victory by controlling 8 provinces and only needed one more, which forced Caesar and Crassus to cooperate (albeit briefly) and jointly and forcefully took back provinces from Pompeius.
Uneasy alliances like this… which are formed and ended just as quickly are part of the game flow. There are no permanent enemies (or friends) in Rome, as they say.
The game continued to draw all our attention as it swung back-n-forth between the Triumvirate with the fight going on at both the provinces and Forum.. until it reached it’s climax in Caesar’s turn where anyone can win the game on their next turn.
Caesar (red) and Crassus (black) can force a Competence victoy if unchecked….
While Pompeius (blue) can take it’s 9th province by force to win.
In the end, Caesar and Crassus were powerless to stop Pompeius (Samuel/blue) racing his legions into Cisalpina to oust Caesar and gained his 9th province for a military victory!
This is one of the early games brought into my Games Library and also one of the few that plays well for 3-player. I understand Wallace’s After the Flood is a solid 3-player game as well but I’ve yet to try that.
There’s a uniqueness in 3-player games which requires a well-balanced design to ensure two players can’t gang up on the 3rd, and to provide all players an engaged gameplay for them to feel they are constantly in the game with a chance to win. The End of the Triumvirate delivers this aspect of the game design very well, and if After the Flood does the same, that’s another “buy” for my library.
WELCOME TO THE NEW “OLD”
We did one new (or recently published) game today – Hansa Teutonica – and two “older” games – Citadels and End of the Triumvirate. However the two “older” games are only “old” to gamers like myself as the rest of the gamers at OTK tonite have not had the chance to play Citadels or End of Triumvirate before therefore to them, they are as “new’ as Hansa Teutonica.
I looked into my collection and realized that indeed there are a lot of such “old” games which would for all intent and purpose be considered as “new” to most of the gamers. Which reminds me of a format, my old gaming buddy Edwin used to do. He calls it the “Something New, Somethnig Old and Something Classic” format in which for every meetup, he brings out a brand new game, followed by something that’s not so new but still in recent memory, and something classic (ie released more than 5+ yrs back).
I would keep that in mind and continue to bring out some older games to the OTK tables in our future meetups. See ya all next time!
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