Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Kemet, Core Worlds & Terra Mystica

Nine for the evening, and whilst I dithered on whether to choose Kemet or Terra Mystica, Dean opted out of Kemet to play Core Worlds with me.

Kemet on table one saw Matt, Sam and Ewan vie for Egyptian supremacy, and after balking at half the rules for Terra Mystica, Ed also joined in to make it a four player affair. Sam and Ed having previously played and seen the aggressive churn rate, started hacking and slashing right out of the gate, but Matt and Ewan elected to play more cautiously. Ewan went for an entirely defensive turtle strategy, and managed to avoid combat for most of the game - which paid off, as he came in with joint first VPs.

Sam won the game, beating Ewan on a tie break, but it seems all enjoyed the outing.

Terra Mystica on table 2 was Tom, Stu and Pete.With a small house rule for no settlement VP objective in the final two turns, settlements were spread and cults fought over. Pete tromped in a fairly decent win, Tom in second some way off, and Stu behind Tom.

This left me and Dean to play Core Worlds. I had fancied a go of Core Worlds - a card deck builder type game, which is not my favourite thing, but I liked the look of the theme.

Looking back on the game I think at some kind of mechanics level it's actually very similar to Ascension - which is something I wasn't particularly keen on ( lack of interaction, lack of ability to judge what would be able to be bid on, lack of ability to put any kind of plan into place other than taking the 'obvious' card on your turn ). Core Worlds has a similar central pool of cards to bid on, but unlike Ascension its not refreshed after every single purchase, instead it forms a fixed pool from which to buy from - so long as you have the actions and energy left. This for starters makes it a deal more interesting and tactical than Ascension. Then there is the buying / fighting for cards - most of which you can probably get your hands on, but in which order, and which ones do you pick. Again this offers more flexibility than Ascension - because you know what you are getting, rather than turning over a card on your turn and snapping it up.

Three resources are available in Core Worlds, energy ( your economy driver, so, cash in other words ), Fleet Strength and Troop Strength. Fighting cards can be deployed to your war zone at a cost in energy - at which point they can be used to fight ( 'pay' ) for a planet, and each planet you obtain feeds back into a higher energy income ( plus some end game VPs, and if you are really lucky a special ability ).

The aim of the game is to increase the capability of your deck, which means buying better cards in, and weeding out the weaker one and deploying energy generating planets in front of you, so that ultimately you can grab as many VPs as possible.

As far as this is concerned there is a little - but only a little - similarity with Race for the Galaxy here. Deploy cards in front of you, watch out for synergies of certain cards for increased capability. Core Worlds is however far lighter than Race for the Galaxy in this respect - whilst there are synergies they are fairly modest two tier affairs, and it doesn't require a great deal of thought or planning to make the most of them. Race for the Galaxy can have a complex interweave of production planets, goods consumers, special powers and combinations that make synergies the absolute heart of the game.

VPs are counted with what's in your deck, and what's laid out in front of you planet wise. Most VPs will be hauled in from planets - with the final rounds of the game revealing planets that will allow you to capitalise on certain kinds of cards for VPs.

All in all the game was cool. I made some mistakes paying for things I shouldn't have, but it was fairly straight forward, Dean hauling in the win on 39 points, whilst I trailed on 27.

This is imo way better than Ascension, though at its heart quite similar, the choices you make are much more meaningful. The theme is nice - if you like a Starship Trooper kind of dealio - and the expansion which we played with is really very good indeed at meshing with the base game ( probably due to the fact that it was designed from the get go with it in mind ).

I am not sure how replayable the game is - it's easier than Race for the Galaxy, but at the cost of having less permutations, and ultimately just being a gear up to have better energy, better fleet, better infantry. There is little complex maths to do here, just grab the things that are nice - and if you know your end game bonuses, concentrate on a certain VP grabbing way forward. My fear is this game gets old real fast.

Despite that, nice game, worthy of some play.

The houses of Terra Mystica and Core Worlds combined for a few rounds of Saboteur 2 at the end of the evening, the crafty Pete coming from behind to steal the most gold.

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