Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards...

"But I fele by thy wordis that thou haste agreed to the deth of my persone: and therefore thou art a traytoure ..."
Le Morte D'Arthur

Another enjoyable night of gaming at the Ribs, eleven in attendance with newcomer Ed - who vowed to return in a few weeks schedule permitting, and friend of Fletch, irregular Sam, who had visited once before pushing our numbers over the ten mark.

3012, Yedo and Agricola hit the table for the main events of the night - I had a hankering for Agricola, but as the numbers had it, I decided to decline and ended up playing Yedo instead.

Dean brought along the new and shiny 3012, a deck building game set in the far apocalyptic future where humanity has devolved to violent totem worship. Nicky, Robin, Ed and Dean were the battling tribes in this, each player drafting new tribe members, powers and weapons to bolster the might of their groups.

As in most deck builders, the core of this game is about improving your starting deck, managing card cycling, and developing synergies to get the more out of your choices than anyone else at the table can manage. The point of building a better deck is for the accrual of victory points - and these come from defeating the weird and wonderful beasties that roam the post apocalyptic land. The twist here however is that you can't see what it is you have to take on until its too late to back out. Four decks of challenge cards are set in bands of difficulty, so you know the lower and upper limits of how tricky a challenge is to be, but not the specifics that might change the variables of the fight. Add to this a fairly light mechanic where the other players can play a minor influence in either helping you or stopping you ( and sharing in the rewards if you succeed or fail respectively ), and you have a deck builder with a half hidden goal and a mild element of player interaction.

It's quite a nice game, on the lighter end of deck builders and has some nice production values to it. Direct player interaction in battles is a welcome addition, but as the game goes on this becomes less and less frequent - the cards that give you a chance to do it are limited to a few you get in your starter deck. This means although in theory you can help or hinder other players, in practice after the first baby steps of the game it largely falls by the wayside and you are back to a somewhat more isolated deck building game where it's pretty much all about what you do, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

Robin stomped to the win after a few hours of play, with Ed coming in second.

Yedo got to table for a second week running, this time it was Ewan, Richard and myself vying for most influence in the Shogun capital. Ewan had a very slow start and was trailing badly in the early stages of the game, but this turned out to just be a strategy for the long game, as he assembled his weapons and disciples to pull off a difficult black rated mission, and very quickly started adding monster victory points and huge hauls of cash to his clan. Romping to a final win against a stalled me and a struggling Richard, Ewan's long term planning paid off in spades.

Table 3 was the site of lovely Agricola. Fletch, Sam - not to be confused with regular Sam - Jennifer and Rich chose to dig the soil and raise animals and see who was the better farm builder. Given that Fletch, FlySam and Jennifer had never played before, and that Rich is somewhat of a master, the outcome was probably never in doubt given that Agricola can be unforgiving to newbies. Arguably one of the best, if not the best Euro style game in town, Agricola is one of those games that you should play at least a couple of times - it has a great theme, a farm building and improving mechanic that really has you caring about your little plot of land ( Agricola for my money probably has the best buy in where you actually connect with the theme more than any other game ), and builds to a satisfying albeit at times stressful conclusion.

All three games ended at approximately the same time, and so with Ed leaving us, we had a bash at a crazy ten handed game of The Resistance : Avalon.

Eschewing the more complicated multi role rules, we elected to go with the simpler single extra role - that of Merlin. As in a normal game of resistance, the bad guys all know each other. The good guys know nothing. However, with merlin in the mix, merlin - a good guy - also knows who all the bad guys are, but the bad guys don't know who merlin is. So unlike a normal resistance game, Merlin is the only player with perfect information. The bad guys have almost perfect information. And the poor good guys have no information at all, other than knowing themselves.

The game plays as per normal resistance - first to 3 mission / quest wins for either good team or bad team, but if the good team wins, the bad team get a final ditch effort to win - by assassinating merlin... assuming they can figure out which one of the good guys was merlin.

Tricky stuff. Great fun as ever. The addition of Merlin really does add a new and troublesome dynamic into the fray, although actually being Merlin ( in our case this was poor Jennifer ) is I imagine a high stress job. How to impart your perfect information without the bad guys figuring out who you are. It also should have knock on effects for the other good guy players. Case in point - first round, everyone votes for it to succeed - but in secret there are two bad guys on the mission. The bad guys know this and vote OK. The good guys don't know this, but with no information, why not vote OK ? This leaves poor Merlin. Who *does* know its a bad deal, but can't reject it, as they are in danger of being the only person at the table who rejects it, thus giving the bad guys a really good tell that hey, I am Merlin. By definition, the good guys should probably *always* lay down at least one reject vote - just to cover Merlin's ass a bit.


Bad guys won. Despite half the bad guys not realising I was on their team and not helping me out. On the plus side it really looked like I was a good guy because of it.

Fletch was a great fall guy again. Every quest he went on failed. With a single fail. Which really pointed at him being the bad guy,  despite him actually being a good guy. Suspicious Fletch.Very suspicious. Ha ha.

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