Wednesday, 14 November 2012

All warfare is based on deception

A relatively quiet evening at the Ribs where seven and a half attendees made it to the Wherry Room to play some games.

Cautious exploration of the outer rim
Pete, Matt, Sam and Nicky clashed in a war amongst the stars, Eclipse hitting the table with its now familiar mix of exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination.

Eclipse is a rather spiffy board game rendition of the so called 4x genre set in deep space, where players compete to lead their clan of nascent space farers into the unknown, developing star systems, building ships and taking dominance by might or perhaps diplomacy. There have been a number of games over the years to tackle the interesting topic - from the classic 1975 Stellar Conquest ( which arguably spawned the computer game series Master of Orion, the original rule book of which kept referring to 'dice rolls' ) through to 1997 Throne World and beyond into Space Empires:4x and of course Eclipse.

Eclipse is definitely a product of its time however - it has picked up more than a flavour of Euro centric games with its action selection optimisation, 'worker placement' resource gathering and other such teutonic mechanics, but it also has one foot in the past with its pure trash dice combat and fleet movement. This gives it a different feel to its siblings, part Euro, part trash, but managing to pull it all together in a very elegant way. It condenses what other games can take many hours to do into a much more reasonable time frame and has some clever mechanics that mean a runaway leader never really occurs.

The game unfortunately failed to finish on time, but with a quick tot up of points, Matt was revealed to be the leading would be galactic ruler.

Table 2 saw Archipelago once again thrown into the mix, Rich, Moritz and myself settling down to the problem of managing the colony.

Things were going spankingly well in our new colony, exploration was proving to be a breeze as everyone quickly expanded out, and yet total population and resources were well under control. All too soon however things took a  turn for the worse as a breakdown in community spirit saw a crisis hit the colony hard, jumping separatists numbers to a dangerous level. Rich at this point decided to stop any pretence of co-operation and had his workers go on a mass riot, refusing to placate his rebelling citizens. Forced into trying to keep a lid on things I spammed resources to smooth things over, but it was no good. The separatist Rich gained Dictatorship, letting the colonists feel the taste of his iron fist and to add insult to injury decided to tax them for good measure.

This was too much for the troubled islanders and the new colony collapsed in rebellion. Evil Rich walked away with the win - all too easy.

Given the game was so short, we reset the game and had another blast. This time the colony went in a completely different direction, exploration was much slower and more tricky, but separatist numbers were never a threat, and the colony grew and thrived until game end when 5 town had been built.

A review of points revealed I had secured top place in all VP conditions - a nice spate of building and some brutal pineapple mass sales helping me along.

Finally Libertalia had its first outing at the Ribs, the three of us donning pirate hats to squabble over the rights to the booty before us. Freed slaves and Daughters of Governors were put to the sword, treasure maps were secured, curses suffered but the most piratey of the pirates turned out to be me ! Arrrrr.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, which has nothing what so ever to do with the fact that I won everything. Apart from the aberration of the first game of Archipelago which clearly doesn't count. That was the practice lap.


Mr Bond said...

I will get to play Archipelago one day.

Who was the half?

Minitrue said...

The half was Alina who turned up to watch the game selection whilst finishing her drink and sporting a new hair cut, but then departed.

Archipelago is cool, if you are free some other - gasp - non Tuesday we can set it up if you continue to fail to play it at the NoBoG evenings.

I was actually surprised in the second game of Archipelago, in that I reached for extra meeples to expand my burgeoning empire only to find I had run out. Had to rethink about what the hell I was going to do to optimise what I already had.

Cool stuff. I don't think I have seen two games played the same way yet - and I think I am up to something like a dozen plays.

I have tentatively ordered Merchant of Venus, Space Alert and Mice and Mystics ( all the way from the States... don't ask... ), so Archipelago might get thrown into the You Are Not New ( to me ) And Worthy pile of games.