Thursday, 25 February 2010

Where are all the Richards????

Is Richard the new bus? we had three the other week and none last Tuesday night!

Seven gamers in total so we played a 3 and a 4. Matt led and won Medina with Ben and Lukes girlfriend (sorry cant remember her name right now). Whilst Jimmy wiped the floor with the two Lukes and Kat at Notre Dame. A game I had only played when it was a new release two or was it even three years ago. Jimmy had got an expansion pack that added extra elements to various rio grande games, in this case some extra cards. Notre Dame is played over 3 rounds (A,B,C) each round consisting of 3 turns (containing 2 actions) and each turn sees 2 regular cards from a deck of 6 (each round you see all the cards) and 1 card from a deck marked either A, B or C depending on the round (certain cards balanced for early or late game). There used to be a pool of 9 cards for this meaning every card would come out. Now there are additional cards adding variety and varying certain tactics players may opt for.

Jimmy stuck to and won the game using a 'cleanliness' strategy. This is where you try and limit your exposeure to the rats (a mechanic at the end of each turn which cripples naive players). The two Lukes went VP heavy in the first round due to the presence of a new card and as a result at the end of the first round they had a commanding lead of Jimmy. However experience told and through the subsiquent rounds Jimmy clawed it back for an eventual comfortable win. Kat set up a VP engine and did very well, I believe she was second but all the 'runner ups' suffered from not having played the game before and making silly mistakes.

Seating order has a big impact on this game and whilst I liked the mechanic of passing action cards to your left for the next player to use, I felt this limited the game immensly. Clearly you needed to think about what your oppenents might pass you, or what you should not pass others but ultimately Im not a fan of games that prevent or curtaile me planing and implimenting a goal as dramaticaly as this game does. The random nature of drawing from your own deck meant I frequently got 3 cards I needed in one draw and none in another and as Jimmy was a strong player and sitting to my right I found that I would fail to make any progress during a 2 turns in a round. Bad draws are something you can live with in a game like dominion when there are multiple draws and having a duff turn has little impact but in a game with only 3 rounds a duff draw effects one third of the game. A possible interesting, although slightly more complex method, might be to pass cards in a variety of patterns, first to you left, then to your right and finally to your diagonal neighbour, ala the card game hearts ( the later turn could see you getting back your 3 pick card) this way each player needs to think about a different oppenent for each turn and seating position matters less. An additional or alternative approach would be to draw 4/5 of your cards from your pool of 9 and choose the cards with which to play, discarding the extras. this would lead to your deck being cycled through faster and would still limit your actions based on what other players sent you.

I really like the notion of player interaction in Notre Dame where you get to impact what actions other players get to do. But the number of rounds and the medium weight of the game dont quiet gel with this mechanic. As ever a second play in a reasonable timescale may change my mind or cement my findings.

Please feel free to keep this blog alive by adding your own gaming thoughts and impressions of the nights events down at the ribs.