Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Super Hansa Dungeon

Nine this week, Sam - fast turning into a regular, Stu, Rich, Phil, Pete, Moritz, Matt, Nicky and myself.

The special levelling device attended but had a night off, viewing the action from a nearby table.

Phil returned after a hiatus of a few weeks to bring Super Dungeon Explore to the table, explaining that the missing weeks were partly down to a malady that had most of the symptoms of being hung over. But honestly, it wasn't actually being hungover.

Pete took on the role of dungeon master, or whatever the funky new age equivalent is - Subterranean Minority Manager-  and in what has to be said as something of a typical outing of this game, managed to cook, eat and hug the poor adventurers to death with the aid of a late arriving dragon and ogre.

Victory for Evil Pete. On a roll, Hansa Peteonica followed but turned out to be a close contest in which, unusually, Pete did not win. Deciding to feed Phil victory points from his camping of the Action Points the scoring was relatively modest, with both Rich and Pete getting to the golden five actions, but in their greed for more things to do let the win slip away.

Phil declared it good to be back with a win.

Meanwhile, the brand spanking new game, Archipelago, had its first run with five of us. The game is branded as 'semi co-operative' in that whilst you are all competing, you are also trying to not upset the delicate balance of the islands which results in a loss for all players. Unless of course you are the evil Separatist, in which case you are quite happy to see the islands ignite in rebellion.

After a rules session and a couple of turns, our initial colonisation attempts of the new archipelago ended in utter failure. Two turns in, and the islands were in revolt, no goods were in stock, the natives unhappy with their lot. Everyone loses. Except Stu, who turned out to be the separatist. The abrupt end of the game seemed to be quite a shock to all players, including Stu who had won.

Vowing that we now knew what we were doing, Game 2 kicked off with a whole different bunch of strategies. And once again in short order the islands were near revolting.


Turn 2 or 3 - and the game was all over, one of the random end game conditions triggering. A quick tot up of points and wily Moritz had won.

The game can be played as Short, Medium or Long - different cards for each game mean that the end game criteria change and so length of play is adjusted. The short game, advertised at anything between 30 minutes and 2 hours can be harshly short. Concentrate on what you are doing, time is shorter than you think !

The game has hidden VP scoring - each player gets a VP score card indicating what scores points for this game, which is then kept secret. At game end all players score from all cards, meaning what scores you points is largely unknown to a player.

A single face up VP score card is also placed on the table, giving everyone an obvious goal to hit, but with a five player game you are left with knowing only two of the possible 6 scoring cards that are in effect.

If that's not enough uncertainty just when the game ends is also secret, each player having a secret condition that will end the game.

Who's winning ? How long have I got ? Do I need to worry about an Evil Separatist making things more difficult ?

Tricky. A lot more tricky than it first looks. And it looks kinda tricky to start with. Cool stuff though and something different. There's definitely the usual Euro competitive who can manage resources, choose actions and place workers the best, but, crucially, that's not your biggest worry - keeping the islands ticking over is. Which can be tricky to get your head around, as keeping the islands running can mean making personal sacrifices that would otherwise help your own cause. It's easy to get caught up in your brilliant game winning empire expanding strategy only for the game to suddenly end because no one was keeping an eye on things.

Everyone agreed that a longer game should be played, so you can really sink your teeth into setting up your colony.

Finally after all the colony management we managed to get in a short game of Bonanza Dice, with Matt doing particularly well and scoring nothing at all. Huzzah.

1 comment:

Mr Bond said...

Sounds like a good evening of games. I'd like to give Archipelago try.