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Subject: Night of the Skeletons rss

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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
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On Wednesday, we have a game night at our house. My two housemates are casual gamers, not too competitive. One of my co-workers came over, too. He's more competitive but hadn't played the game before.

So in the first round, I take Merchant Skeletons. I'm not overly excited because you only get 2 from merchant, but I figure it doesn't take too many territories to make it decent. And, hey, if I can generate a couple more skeletons, it could really work out.

It starts out well. I get three non-empty regions and produce a new skeleton. I start out pretty slowly, getting one or two regions a turn while the other players get off to fast starts. But none of them come after me; I'm in a complete opposite corner of the map from everyone else. I get attacked once but avoid the others for the most part. Halfway through the game, I have more than 10 skeletons. People still won't attack me. I'm possessing 5-8 territories a turn (depending on how close others get to me) and, because of the merchant ability, making 10+ gold a turn. Because I have so many skeletons, I can defend all my regions well. Nobody wants to mess with me. I roll to victory with 109 gold. The next closest had 80-something.

That alone isn't all that remarkable (though it was funny this happened one night after a manager at the local game store said he didn't think Merchant was useful). What is remarkable is the next game.

My girlfriend joined us for this one, enabling a full five-player game. I get to go first and take Wealthy Sorcerers. With help of the reinforcement die, I get four regions (including two mountains) on the first turn. My girlfriend takes Commando Tritons and has an incredible turn, taking over 10 territories. There were a couple good good other combos that got taken, like Spirit Trolls.

As the races are picked, Pillaging Skeletons came up. I got excited. I went into decline my second turn, followed immediately by my girlfriend (as there was no way should do any better). I wanted the Skeletons. Bad. But I was a little hesitant because there was no way the others were going to let me get any momentum with them. However, I *really* didn't want my girlfriend to get them. So I took them. And because they're Pillaging instead of Merchant, I start with 11 tokens instead of 8. Seeing a bevy of in-decline Tritons, I strike. Again, thanks to the reinforcement die, I get four territories. Two more skeletons. My girlfriend takes Merchant Amazons and instead of going after me takes on another player. Others go into decline. Next turn, the skeletons go nuts again. More skeletons come around.

By turn 8, I had the maximum possible tokens, 20. And because I was Pillaging, I would just pull all my tokens off the board, pick a place, and completely wipe someone out. It's the kind of thing you wanted to do but never thought you actually could. Well, I did. And it was awesome. I got to just pick a player and totally cripple them. Needless to say, I won again.

But I don't think I can ever take Skeletons again with that group and expect them not to all gang up on me.
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Blake Stetson
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Singapore
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This is the definition of "livin' the dream"! Nicely done. It takes skill to recognize OP combos and then pilot them without your opponents countering them by ganging up.

On a side note, what do you think is the best combo with skeletons? Berzerk and commando seem pretty good.

blake.
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Scott Wheelock
Canada
Woodstock
New Brunswick
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happycannibal wrote:
This is the definition of "livin' the dream"! Nicely done. It takes skill to recognize OP combos and then pilot them without your opponents countering them by ganging up.


Not to take anything away from Jeffrey, but it really seems like his opponents dropped the ball in these two games. Especially in game #2, those Skeletons should have been target numero uno.

Quote:
On a side note, what do you think is the best combo with skeletons? Berzerk and commando seem pretty good.


Definitely; any power that reduces the cost of conquests is great.
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Jeff Dunford
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Kemptville
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swheelock wrote:
happycannibal wrote:
This is the definition of "livin' the dream"! Nicely done. It takes skill to recognize OP combos and then pilot them without your opponents countering them by ganging up.


Not to take anything away from Jeffrey, but it really seems like his opponents dropped the ball in these two games. Especially in game #2, those Skeletons should have been target numero uno.

Quote:
On a side note, what do you think is the best combo with skeletons? Berzerk and commando seem pretty good.


Definitely; any power that reduces the cost of conquests is great.


Agreed. Sounds like terrible threat assessment by your opponents. Skeletons are very strong; usually the only way to compete with them is to reduce their numbers (or eliminate their in-decline race and try to outscore them... but that's not going to work if they're Merchant on top of that).

For example, we played a 5-player game recently and somebody picked Commando Sorcerers as his first race. That's a very powerful reproducing race, probably on par with your Merchant Skeletons. He refused to decline them for the entire game, often leaving the board and re-entering wherever he could "zap" a couple of units... so the rest of us had to work hard to keep him in check by taking away at least as many units as he gained the previous turn. He came in dead last (I think the scores were something like 70-62-61-60-59). The player who won had started with a weak Hobbit race, then Swamp Dwarves (which scored pretty well in decline), and finished with a Cursed race (picked up a bunch of coins just for taking it). We didn't think she was a threat so we left her alone for most of the game.

Moral of the story: Once players realize how powerful some combinations are, the strong races will get assaulted without mercy... and you'll never see a 100+ score ever again.

P.S. Those Merchant Amazons should have wiped you off the map!
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Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
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I agree with everyone. I was extremely worried when my girlfriend took the Merchant Amazons behind me; I thought she was going to hammer me. I think what happened, though, was that the performance of the Merchant Skeletons intimidated the others instead of making them realize the Skeletons needed to be confronted.

As noted above, Berserk and Commando is a good power for Skeletons... Pillaging is good too because it gives another bonus for taking non-empty regions. Skeletons are already aggressive; Pillaging makes them moreso.
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Bally Man
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Yeh Skeletons are great. So fun to use. My trouble with them is knowing when to go into decline.

Had a great 5 player game of small world a couple of weeks ago. One guy took the skeletons. (I'm afraid I can't remember their ability, it wasn't a great one though) He went the whole game with the one race having reached the maximum number of skeletons quite early on and lost miserably.

Great race but you have to know when to go into decline. I would say though that it is extrememly tempting to just keep going with them. Especially if they're commando/ pillaging/ berserker etc
 
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