10/20/05 Gaming Recap >> Tyros, Alexandros, Medici & More
Tyros (Chester 94 - Michael 88 - Jay 78)
An interesting new Martin Wallace game, which at first made me think of Acquire, but that was soon banished. Forced expansion of empires that soon butt against each other, where players need to ply their influence among the large and small civs alike. I put all my eggs in 2 baskets -- the single largest civ had all but 1 of my cities and boats (which are used to score). There are bonus points for having the first city in a given region, and for having the most cities in a given region at game end... Chester used this to his advantage, being the sole person scoring in the two smallest regions -- a smart and rewarding move. I'd definitely play this again, but with only 3, there was virtually no trading of commodities between players.
Alexandros (Jay 63 - Chester 61 - Michael 57)
A Leo Colovini game I had wanted to try for some time. Took several turns to get the hang of the main mechanics -- move Alexander around the map, cutting regions into smaller and smaller portions. Then place your soldiers (NOT centurions, as Michael will be quick to point out) inside regions. The more empty spaces in a region, the more it scores, but the harder it is to acquire. Also, you can choose Scoring as one of your actions -- the wrinkle is when you choose to score *everyone* in the game scores. You have to pay a card to score and allow your opponents to earn points, so you need to make sure you have a good point advantage to do so. In our game, Chester had low scoring for a few early turns, then took over some territories and had a huge scoring advantage during the scoring phases -- if the game had lasted one more turn, the scores would have been closer to Chester 85 - Michael 72 - Jay 70 ... A completely different outcome. Definitely want to play again.
Medici (Jay 146 - Chester 130 - Michael 120)
An interesting push your luck/bidding/investment game that Chester was really interested in trying out. We played a quick aborted game to get the feel for it, then started over. Several disagreements about the best use of turns, actions and bidding strength, which I think was a healthy discussion and showed that the game actions were not as obvious as I first thought they were. I ended up winning, but can't explain how or why -- I didn't feel like I necessarily made better choices than Chester or Michael. Overall, I wasn't that impressed, but I think the dynamic with more people would be more interesting -- so I'd try it again with 4 or 5.
High Society x2 (Chester won game 1, Jay won game 2)
Brutal game with three, since you could easily hold back cards and force the others to resign themselves to one of them having to lose. It's awkward holding their fates in your hand, which doesn't necessarily feel the same with 4 or 5. Still, for a light, quick-playing game, I really like it. And wish more games had the "least money auto-lose" condition worked in. It works well with the theme and the gameplay. Definitely would play again, though more than 3 would be preferable.
Sleuth (Jay screwed up, Chester and Michael share a joint win)
I suck at deduction games. I make faulty conclusions based on flawed logic. As such, I am not a fan of Sleuth. It's a cute little game in its own way, and it certainly removes some of the flaws of Clue. But that doesn't salvage the fact that I'm not a fan of the genre. I drew several wrong inferences from the answers they gave me, and blurted out my guess (instead of secretly writing it down and looking) which Michael promptly showed me he had in his hand. Weeee.
Torres (Michael 224 - Jay 208 - Chester 175)
Michael's first time playing, but he sure played like a pro. Michael made great use of his cards and quickly grasped the strategies. He established a 20 point lead after the first scoring round (which is very significant) and by the end of the game, I was only able to make 4 points up from that lead. We played with the stripped down basic version (where all the action cards are shuffled together in one pile). I agree with Chester that this leads to a more chaotic game where luck plays a bigger factor (by virtue of card draws) than it should in this sort of game. After thinking about it, I think I'd prefer the Draw 3 Choose 1 variant, rather than having access to all your cards from the get go (so players still need to invest some time and precious action points to acquire cards rather than having all of them available for free). A wonderful 3 player game. I can't believe it took so long to get this to the table again. Definitely want to play again, especially with the Draw 3 variant.