Harvey's favorite number of players for a board game is four. That's a bit arbitrary but it has reasons. Six is great but makes a lot of games go way too long (six player favorites include Game of Thrones, Dune, Warrior Knightsand maybe some day, if the stars align, Twilight Imperium 3), three is a cursed number that creates awful dynamics in dudes on the map type games (though it's great for deck building and some worker-placement, and there are more games that make an effort to make 3 player dynamics work) and five doesn't seem happen as often (either you have four or that fifth person brings a friend). Four, however, is really great - it has enough people to create tension, interaction and unexpected strategies but few enough that the game moves quickly and you really care about what everybody is doing, because everybody is close enough.
But there aren't that many games that are designed specifically for four. The older Amerithrash games that Harvey loves, those that were designed for six players, don't really do well with variable number of players. Newer games, like Euro and Hybrid games, do much better at adjusting for the number of players - Kemet and Cyclades have special board for each number of players, but both suffer with less than five because the technology race and auctions (respectively) are not as competitive and tight with fewer players (though they are excellent games with any number of players).
That's the official reason why Harvey's collection has swelled with games designed for four players - Quantum, Wars of the Roses, Tragedy Looper, The Hobbit, Time'n'Space and he claims that even Dice Duel works with four. I know that the real reason is that he has an obsession that he cannot quench, and the truth is that he plays 2 player much more often than four. Which is why he decided to play some of these 4 player games with just his buddy Koala. Now, these games are not really made for two players - which is why Harvey wouldn't generally recommend them when you only have two players. He'd much rather play The Ares Project or Summoner Wars, or if there's time at hand - Mage Wars Arena or even Twilight Struggle. Yet he is buying these games, and they technically allow a 2 player game - which is why he sat down with Koala to play City of Remnants.
Now, the one thing you need to know about City of Remnants is... Well, there isn't one thing. The game is kind of a messy salad of various delicious components. It's a deck-building-area-control-bluffing chunky soup that is not at all smooth or uniform. Yet it is a rich experience, and you can easily immerse quite deeply in that soup, which is really a bizarre metaphor for a game.
City of Remnants is a pinnacle of design in that school of thought that is attempts to bridge the gap between those old caricature of gaming camps - the Eurogames and Amerithrash. It attempts to draw you into the story of that deserted city, where players lead gangs of angry refugees in fight for control over the underground crime scene of the city. And it does that with a ton of flavor text investments in the cards and components that give you characters, moments and a feel for the atmosphere in that dreaded city.
Yet it does so while ensuring that you go about this journey with a very clear vision of how you intend to efficiently manage your resources. Yet it is probably the opposite of streamlined - you spend a lot of time and energy mastering every little mini game, like the auction or the deck building, yet none of them can alone win you the game and it's never clear if it's worth your investment. Yet if you love doing all of these things, City of Remnants offers all of them with a great delight - you'll get to bid and build, fight and develop. And all in one unforgettable evening.
City of Remnants is quite an unforgiving game. First, it forces you to commit specific gang members to fights, and if you lose a figure on the board - you also lose that gang member card for all eternity. Second, while you and your friends develop illegal businesses and fight to death in the dark alleys, mechanical alien police randomly appear around the board to destroy whoever they happen to stumble upon. In such an unforgiving atmosphere, and with the great luxurious space that a 2 player game allows on a 4 player board, Koala and Harvey started the game with very humble expansions as far from each other as possible. Each started to set up a little money making operation that will allow them to gain confidence and venture further downtown.
Producing and selling illegal goods while staying out of trouble can be quite satisfying, Harvey realized; even if this really wasn't why we were put on this earth, that is, on this planet where the Yugai, a species of militant humanoids, leave the survivors of the worlds they have ransacked and destroyed. And of course, while you're doing your solitaire thing on one side of the board, you can't avoid the occasional bidding war on new gang members. True, we are not fighting now, but soon we will be - and I can't let you have that big scary dude if you're not going to pay for it.
As things turn out sometime, when you're doing your own thing on one side of the board, the random evil mechanical robot-aliens that come to harass decided to distribute their fun destruction unevenly. As Harvey discovered their abilities, Koala discovered something much more interesting - those high-end expensive developments, which usually go in the dangerous center of the city, can actually be built nearer the outskirts of the city. And there is only a limited number of them. So there's good reason to race for them, and build them closer to your side of the city, where your dudes support your dudes and you can probably defend those really valuable illegal assets.
Hampered by the evil Yugai, behind in the race of production and expensive downtown factories, Harvey began to see his own demise. In City of Remnants the victory points, which are called renown, are gained at the end of each round for the properties you control - which means that an advantage in holding can quickly snowball into a gap that cannot be closed. Watching Koala's illegal empire growing was not what Harvey signed up for. He decided he had to move forward - marching on the downtown.
Going against the odds to contest that central square seemed a necessity to Harvey - there was no other choice. But Koala knew that time was on his side, which is why he spent his turns building up more production and moving into a defensive position. City of Remnants allows your dudes to support other dudes in adjacent squares, which makes attacking a position across the board much more difficult. Harvey went for it. And he had to spend some serious resources on the fight, because he couldn't afford to lose it. Koala could, and he did. But Koala also knew that Harvey needed more than winning a battle downtown - he needed to take over one of those expensive developments that Koala placed on his side of town. Given that Harvey spent so much of his resources on the first battle, Koala could sit back and gain a bunch more renown one more round before Harvey could attack again.
Battles are cruel in City of Remnants, and very high stakes. Losing figures means losing valuable gang members. But if you do not send your gang members to the fray, you will lose figures. And more importantly, you often have to fight multiple battles in a turn - so you need to spread the gang members just so or you'll lose everything. Harvey invaded the all important Fight Club - and multiple gang members were committed on both sides. It was done to the roll of the dice.
The battle was bloody. And many gang members died that day, on both sides. You would think Harvey's victory would be sweet, but it was sour. Having expended all these resources on the rush to take the all important fight club, Harvey was left in a position of great weakness. his lonely gang member left to protect the club was vulnerable - but more importantly, the gap in renown seemed too big to close. The blood shed did not make up for the illegal economic empire that Koala built on his shady side of town, which even without the fight club included some of the most expensive development in the city - sitting their uncontested, earning him tons of renown on a daily basis.
And so our story ended. Harvey fought fiercely, and won some battles but lost the war. Moving across the board and attacking was very costly - and did not, in the end, make up for the great disparity in production. The game was tense, and very fun. But one could not help but wonder - would Koala be able to build and maintain his empire if there were two more ganging in a more crowded city? Next time, when Tiger and Purple Monkey join, we'll find out.
A little while back, I went with Harvey and a few of his friends for a weekend getaway not far from the ocean. Since Harvey is a little obsessed, he brings with him a bunch of games everywhere he goes. Usually only one or two of the games actually gets played, and when asked which he wants to play, Harvey agonizes in a way that only someone who wants to play all his games all at once can.
This outing was very social and relaxed, and so there was lots of laughing, chatting and wine-drinking going on, when suddenly Harvey pulled out a game that he said didn't require any skill that a glass of wine wouldn't bestow on you. Of course, he meant it was a dexterity game. And not just a dexterity game, but one where you get to destroy a city and eat all of its meeple inhabitants. I am talking about Rampage, of course.
Harvey was joined by his friends Mousy and Tigger, who took opposite approaches to the game. Tigger really wanted to win, as he is a competitive kind gamer at heart, so he did his best to strategize his movements and destruction of buildings to get points, exploit his special power and not-secret objective and follow closely all the other players' meeple eating habits. Mousy, on the other hand, was focused on staying out everybody's way, destroying and eating whatever he can and basically having as much as fun as he can without letting the game get in the way of her wine drinking. Oh, and then there was Eisenhower the squeaky Dachshund. He was just the cutest of all.
The difference in attitudes between Mousy and Tigger is very typical to a game of Rampage, or as it is now called to avoid copyright issues, Terror in Meeple City. Because like some other gameswho try to walk the line of being both a family/light/filler game as well as gamers' game, the game has a bit of schizophrenia. On the one hand, it's all kinds of silly and most people playing it spend most of the time laughing, making wild attempts at flicking little wooden cars, drinking wine and laughing some more. On the other hand, the rules attempt to create a layer of strategic thinking - because if you're in points you have to collect sets of meeples; and if you're smart about when you knock meeples of the board you can avoid getting punished and set others to be punished; and if you work well with your power and superpower to advance your special objective, you can get lots of points.
It's very hard to satisfy two different audiences like that. And Rampage doesn't really succeed - the power cards are beautiful and very thematic but totally unbalanced, making the gamers crowd frustrated. The goals are not secret and it's very easy to prevent others from achieving their goals, which makes it even more frustrating that you have to have them in the first place. On the other hand, for family gamers - this is a surprisingly harsh game. When other people knock your monster off, which is easier than getting any of the buildings sometimes, you lose your teeth and are able to eat less meeples. When you're out of teeth, which happens pretty quickly, they start stealing meeples from your stomach when they knock you over, which means that you can, and pretty often will, finish the game with very few meeples in your stomach, not to talk about sets of meeples.
BUT with a bit of wine and the right spirit, this game is a ton of fun. Harvey destroyed the building next to him quite quickly and rushed over to Eisenhower's corner to help with that building. That didn't turn out too well, as he quickly discovered that he wasn't as steady on his feet as his monstrous facade would make you believe. So he ran away towards Tigger's corner, as Tigger was away, knocking people over with cars all over the place. Mousy was working on smashing the big stadium in the middle and ended up knocking out all three other monsters in one blow without even intending.
Much laughter followed the tears. Yet Harvey kept running around the board, attempting to get away but was knocked out time and again. As the knocking out tit-for-tat escalated, Mousy had no choice but to corner Tigger and fling a car at him, overlooking the knocked out bodies of both Harvey and poor Eisenhower, who was knocked out very aggressively, having accumulated a lot of Meeples early on with his diligent building smashing.
Harvey was having a rough time as he spent many a turn with his monster lying on the floor. He knew it was lost for him, but he was well aware that one of the main reasons he was doing so badly was that he kept moving near other monsters and then attempting to knock them out with a car only to fail and have them knock him on the ground. It was quite typical for him to be on the ground while all the others were standing over him.
Yet before the game was over, Harvey had his last hurrah. As Tigger and Mousy were both knocked out, his last move had to be an attempt at targeting Eisenhower. Harvey was still under the impression that Eisenhower had a ton of meeples in her stomach but by then her reserves were depleted by the bloodbath. He stood up and aimed for what felt like forever, and was able to finally hit one shot with the bloody truck.
With all the other monsters knocked out, Harvey roamed the city alone and ate some meeples. Yet the game was over and Harvey was, expectantly, in the last place. Poor Eisenhower, though she ate most meeples, did only somewhat better. Harvey overlooked the devastation all around him, pondering the extent of madness to which monsterkind has deteriorated in this game. Also, he needed something to do while all the others counted their dozens of meeples.
Tigger was counting his points, grinning assuredly that he won due to Eisenhower's robbed tummy. Yet the grin evaporated from his face as Mousy announced her score, which was higher and got her the first place. She was very pleased with her success, flapping her big white ears as she presented two complete sets of meeples and no less than four teeth. Tigger joined Harvey and Eisenhower's drink of sorrow, as they all cheered Mousy's superb victory and took a long breath - well, that was a lot of laughing to do in one evening.
Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:23 am
This was a little while ago, but I got to see Harvey confronting his favorite foe for the battle of wits, filled with terror and error that is Mage Wars. Now, Mage Wars is a brilliant game, but it really requires dedication. What's cool about it is that you get to have your own spell book, and each turn you choose two spells that you'll be able to cast that turn. But if you don't know your own spellbook very well, you'll be flipping back and forth through these pages quite a bit. And if you don't know your opponent's spell book that well... Well, you'll be playing blindly against the unknown.
Harvey and his best gaming buddy, Dino the Dinosaur, have been playing Mage Wars for a little while and so were getting the hang of it. I obviously had no idea what was going on, for the most part, as I watched them eying each other from behind their respective spell books, looking suspiciously at each other and worrying a lot. It looked like this:
If you look at a game of Mage Wars from the sidelines, a lot of it is very quiet. Depending on how fast you want the game going, how well you know your spellbook (and your opponent's), how competitive you are and how prone to A/P you are - most of the time will be dedicated to the planning phase, when Harvey and Dino were going through their spellbook between phases to make their plans. It sounds boring, and it was to a spectator, but it's really the most interesting and tense part of the game.
Dino played the Wizard, who doesn't field many creatures but instead messes with your spellcasting and basically anything you place in the Arena. Dino was particularly animated for the battle, since he lost the previous encounter. He was able to make some critical modifications for his spellbook before the battle, to ensure maximum efficiency. Here he is, grinning for battle with his best wizard outfit:
Harvey was worried, and for good reason. He knew full well what it's like to endure Dino's wrath, and for some reason - he loved it. Yet as he shuddered with awe and anticipation, he prepared to battle to with the Warlord from the Forcemaster v. Warlord Expnasions, which is much more exciting than the original Warlock that comes in the base set. The Warlord likes to field lots of troops but also has awesome buildings that buff up his units or attack the opponent's enchantments. Harvey gained confidence from the knowledge that he at least can hurl boulders at Dino when he feels overwhelmed, and looking at those giant pieces of rock relaxed him.
The details of the battle are blurry in my memory, so I can't tell you what happened at each stage of the game. But there were some memorable moments that should be reported.
It started with Harvey fielding some creatures while Dino summoned his deplorable mama crystals, making his already obnoxious mana advantage into a snowballing catastrophe for Harvey.
The fear of the Mana conjuration pushed Harvey to put out Akiro's Hammer, that takes care of these pesky conjurations, albeit slowly. The idea was to bring with it a Goblin Builder that will fix it every time the Wizard tries to damage it, and bring along the Warlord and Goblin Slinger to secure the area. It sounded like a good plan.
It didn't quite work that way. The Wizard summoned a poisonous gas cloud around that Hammer which killed everything in site, and even dared to come closer himself, standing in range of the mighty Warlord, leaning backward with intimidating relaxation, grinning threateningly with his pointy wooden hat.
The poor goblins weren't doing so well. The hammer wasn't done destroying the mana crystals and Harvey knew that he had no replacement for the expensive and uniquely useful contraption. He fully expected Dino to destroy it and expect Harvey to do what he can to protect it. For that exact reason Harvey decided to sacrifice the Hammer to make a push for the victory, while the wizard was still vulnerable, not having equipped any good armor yet. Harvey decided to hurl a boulder over and above the Hammer, surrounded by the poisonous gas where the goblins were suffocating as they made efforts to maintain the mechanical contraption. It was a risky move that could have paid off beautifully, as Harvey imagined the unexpecting wizard looking into the sky over the green poisonous gas, seeing a giant rock falling on his head from the sky.
As he looked over the horizon, Harvey couldn't quite see what was happening beyond the gas cloud. He channeled his mana to hurl the giant boulder, ignoring the spell the wizard had just quick casted on himself. After all, part of the problem in Mage Wars is as soon as you chose your spells, you are committed to it. Not hurling the boulder meant Harvey wasn't going to be able to do anything that turn, because he didn't choose any other spell that could have been useful.
Suddenly, a small dot appeared on the horizon. As Harvey was blinking, it grew fast and it was very quickly apparent to him - the plan has, quite literally, backfired. The wicked wizard was able to outguess him - his spell was a reverse attack, and Harvey found the giant boulder on its way back to land on the head of his Warlord. Not only did he spend a boulder not damaging the slim wizard, but he had to endure the damage himself.
The rest of the battle is even more of a blur. Harvey suffered some serious damage from his own boulder and his goblin builders were dying in the attempt to maintain the Hammer. Dino was scuttling his plans one after the other. Yet another aspect of the beauty of mage wars - which is also its downside - is that even such a big blow is not enough to finish the game. Mages have quite a bit of life points and they are notoriously hard to kill. The spell books are large and are almost impossible to deplete. With the hammer tittering on the edge of destruction and his boulder used up, Harvey decided to change strategy and concentrate on the Warlord's relative advantage, building Garrison Posts and summoning a bunch of Goblins that would go around the poisonous cloud to reach the Wizard, forcing the Wizard the cast another cas cloud on his flank. With an army of Goblins, the Warlord charged with his army, cleared the gas and formed a fortified position around the damaged hammer.
The goblins are cheap, and Harvey was able to deploy them despite his manage disadvantage. With his Warlord in the fray, he was able to enhance the ability of his creatures and clear the area around the Hammer from the Wizard's creatures, even sending one goblin grunt to bother the wizard face to face, dealing some damage and dragging the battle into attrition mode. He was saving his last boulder for a better opportunity.
After some more blows were exchanged, Dino was able to break up Harvey's fortified position yet the Hammer was still intact, slowly hurling its boulders on the Mana Crystals as the remaining goblins charged the Wizard to die with valor, face to face with the wizard whose grin was wiped, but still had the upper hand.
After three hours or so, the game had to end without a clear victory. Did I mention that the game takes a while? Harvey and Dino agreed that the day was one by Dino, as he inflicted 14 points of damage and suffered only 11. But the balance of life points could be misleading - Dino was ahead on mana and still had many of his strongest spells in his spellbook. Yet it is the nature of Mage Wars that a mage can come from behind and steal the win, if he or she is tenacious, cunning and not without luck. Yet it takes... well, a while. The combatants called it a day, commemorating the most dramatic moment of the battle as they laid to sleep, cuddling with their spellbooks.
Meet Harvey, a Pink Plush Puppy.
Recently he documented his travels across the country on his way to Law School.
As it turns out, Law school life is busy and stressful, and doesn’t leave much time for anything like writing a blog. Recently, the stress has been getting to Harvey and he found himself in need of running away into imaginary worlds, where he could find some engrossing story to sink his teeth in and forget about civil procedure, torts and property law.
So Harvey got into board games. Turns out, board games are awesome and there are lots of cool ones out there. For a while now Harvey has been nagging me to document his exciting adventures. I tried telling him nobody is interested in hearing how he defeated the Cloaks with the new Second Summoner Phoneix Elves of Summoner Wars, what deck he was going for in his most recent solo Thunderstone game and that his cube formations in CubeQuest aren’t so special. Besides, I told him, if you want to write a session report or review, you can just sign up to BGG and write it up there and many fans of the game will be there to respond.
No no no, he barked in his pink terrible voice, you don’t really understand. I don’t want session reports or reviews, I want to document the players as they play the game, not their strategies or the mechanics of the game. I want to show what happens to the people and plush animals as they play the game, what emotions it brings out of their pink plush chests as they move around even smaller plastic pieces and pretend like they’re not in it to win. I want to capture the theme of the game as it is reflected by the people playing their roles and the mechanics of the games as they are reflected in what they make the players do.
Whatever Harvey, I said, law school has surely made you a pretentious little puppy and I don’t even know what you’re talking about half of the time. What you’re talking about sounds A LOT like session reports mixed with a bit of a review of the game in question.
Nevertheless, next time Harvey invited me to his game night I came over with my camera phone and a semi-serious intention to document what was going on. Unfortunately, Harvey himself never showed up (said something about being in law school and stuff) and I ended watching the deteriorating relationship of two of his friends, Rhino and Purple Monkey, as they vied for control of the little archipelago known as Cyclades.
Cyclades is a beautiful game, which is something you ought to expect from Matagot – they produce beautiful games. Though it’s not really clear why there’s such beautiful art on the bottom of the board as well, where it really never sees light of day. Part of having a beautiful game with truly remarkable art on the actual board, Matagot produce terrific little miniatures that are a huge part of the fun. In Cyclades, these are Mythological creatures like the Medusa, a Kraken or centaur named Chiron. They stand beautifully on the board, taller than the other pieces you move around. They also know that identity is important, so each army’s unit have different miniatures – thus my little soldiers on the board are not like your little soldiers on the board. And they differ not only in color, but also in shape – mine may have a spear while yours a sword, or I would have a different shield with the symbol of my city. That’s a great way to encourage patriotism among the troops in what will soon be a fight to the death.
Purple monkey and Rhino soon started exploring the different cities of Ancient Greek to choose their sides. It was obvious that they wanted to reenact the Peloponnesian war, it just wasn’t obvious which is which. The rulebook says the five cities in the box are Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Argos and Corinth but which is which?
Turns out, it’s not easy to tell but that’s only because the designers never assigned each army to one of the cities. To be honest, I really cannot comprehend that. Why bother giving each army a different type of unit if you don’t bother to match that unit to the city? That didn’t bother Purple Monkey and Rhino, who argued about it quite a bit, quoting Herodotus from memory and debating the merits of Thucydides’s attitudes towards Athenian democracy. That would turn out to be quite an important turn of events, as the game would drag late into the night and they would wonder how come they have ended sooner. Well, if you just started the god damn game instead of talking about the Ancient Greeks guys, it would have been much faster.
Anyway, Rhino was adamant about him being Sparta. He immediately found around the house a Spartan helmet that he keeps just for occasions such as these and wore it proudly. The problem was, it was way too heavy for his neck and he had to choose between spending most of the game with his nose on the table and just holding the helmet in his lap. Rhino is a proud guy, so he spent much of the game with his neck flat on the table. It is probably wise that he chose to finally take it off after a few rounds, because it seemed to have improved the flow of blood to his brain and his armies certainly performed better when he could see them not only with the use of his peripheral vision. He picked up the blue soldiers which for some reason come with the letter Gamma in our set, deciding they would be Sparta. Purple Monkey took Athens, picked the red letter alpha and the Red amazons of our set and they were finally, finally – ready to battle.
The first round or two were relatively amicable. Jockeying into positions in the typical dudes-on-a-map kind of way while Purple Monkey laughs and Rhino grimaces, carrying the weight of Sparta and that Spartan helmet on his shoulders, muttering – I made a huge mistake... I should have done this... arghghgh...
Pretty soon the first blood was drawn. Ironically from a thematic perspective and to the great ire of our Greek-loving stuffed animals, it was Sparta that dominated at sea while the Athenian army crushed the Spartans on one of their islands, outnumbering the Spartans.
The Athenian move resulted in Athenian domination of the board, which produced more giggles from the already overly-joyous Purple Monkey and more groans from the overly-grim Spartan Rhino. But that was only when the game started, not when it ended. As Athenian spread around the islands, building more buildings and taking more income, the Spartans fortified themselves on one island and enjoyed the benefits of Apollo. You see, the game has this neat catch-up mechanic that gives any player who is behind an opportunity to get back on his feet. Here’s how it works. Regularly, each turn begins with bidding over the favors of the gods. Zeus gives you temples and priests; Poseidon produces ships and allows you lead naval expeditions; Ares gives sends troops and lets you lead ground invasions; Athena gives you philosophers and universities. But if you don’t want to bid, you can go hang out with Apollo: get a gold coin (or a cold goin), save your money and increase the income of one of your islands. Now, if you only have one island – you get 4 gold pieces instead of 1. It probably works better when there are more than two players, as in the two player game you still get to do an action when you rest with Apollo, while in the 3-5p game it costs you your entire turn.
In any case, the Spartans drank from the light and music of Apollo as they built more troops and fortified their one islands. The rules do not allow for player elimination, so the Athenians could not just go over there to destroy the surrounded Spartans – they had to build 3 Metropolises on their own islands. And that when you realize that this game is not what you expected it. At first you think, this is a move and conquer game. Like all others, I just need to get enough troops and spread them around the board so that I can dominate my enemies. But as Purple Monkey soon discovered, it really wasn’t enough. The heart of the game is not at all on the map but rather in the psychological warfare of the bidding before each round. What god are you going for? And how much are you really willing to pay for it? Typically it is clear to see which god any player needs (especially in a two player game), and Purple Monkey and Rhino did all they could to bid high on each other’s desire to force the other to shell some of these lovely golds. But they also knew that they were doing it, so they typically exposed each other’s bluff and didn’t outbid the gods they really needed, opting instead to pay low for what they didn’t need as much. The game was prolonging, as Rhino accumulated cornucopias on his one island while Purple Monkey collected priests and built buildings on various islands. Was it working in the advantage of the sieged Spartans or the great Athenian empire? It was really hard to tell.
Things finally came to a head when the Athenians built their first metropolis on an island near the Spartans. They still had some other buildings and a few philosophers and things looked grim from the Spartan perspective, not that Rhino was ever not grim since the first moment he laid that too-heavy-of-a-helmet on his little fluffy head.
Finally the Spartans saw their opportunity – they had accumulated enough money to outbid the Athenians with all their priests for the first god of a round when the Pegasus was around to send them somewhere for victory. Purple Monkey weighed the situation carefully and did his best to force Rhino to pay as much as possible for that favor of Athena. He considered the options that the Spartans had, thinking that it perhaps not a bad idea that they would have a second island to counter the advantage they have been getting with Apollo. Purple Monkey had forts providing him with military advantage on most of his islands (including the Metropolis that counted as a fort), so he thought his chances in battle were good enough.
He was wrong. Rhino groaned loudly as he made a great bet, sending all of his army (of 3) to attack Athens’ only metropolis. With a 3v3 battle, the Spartans had everything to lose and everything to win. They left their own island-fortress empty and risked everything, literally rolling a die by assaulting the strongest stronghold of the Athenian empire.
As the die were rolling and the troops were dying, our contestants, locked in the terrible struggle were starting to grow tired. Their prolonged discussion of mythology and the success of their attrition tactics made it the case that it was pretty darn late as the battle took place. It was a close call – of the five troops participating in the battle, only one survived. Fortunately for the mental health of Rhino, it was a Spartan troop, and he reigned supreme over the one Metropolis in Cyclades.
Purple Monkey was still joyous, as he thought that the Spartans have doomed themselves with their risky bet. Yet he underestimated the importance of that Metropolis – it gave the Spartan a second temple and made mythological creatures cheap, and gave that one troop on that island the protection of a fort. Soon both Rhino and Purple Monkey were exhausted by their own mind games, swearing to end the game every turn yet holding on to the grind as they insisted on waiting each other’s out, playing the long game – Rhino collecting cornucopias, Purple Monkey collecting priests and practiced a strategy of fleet denial – preventing Spartan from building any fleets, forcing them to stay on their only two islands. At some point, Purple Monkey sacrificed some of his trade income to play Polyphemus on the Spartan islands such that only Spartan ship on the board was destroyed.
Much has happened while our fluffy players were growing tired, losing their grip on reality. Rhino called a well-timed Kraken to swap down on two Athenian ships and Purple Monkey recalled him with a Chimera to eat the lonely ship the Spartans had on the board. Rhino built a second metropolis on his first island, giving him a second Metropolis, totally turning the table on what seemed like a looming Athenian victory. Purple Monkey responded by splurging on a philosopher and stealing one, giving him 3 philosophers in one turn. With an added university, he was at two metropolises now as well and the game was tight.
Bidding was only harsher as the game dragged into late at night. With two metropolises on either side, it seemed every turn like it would end soon, yet it didn’t. Rhino had managed to equalize his income from two barren islands to that of Purple Monkey’s five fertile ones, while Purple Monkey gathered seven priests.
But none could prevail, and the hours turned by. The twice agreed to end the game at the end of a round, spending all their money and accusing each other that they wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t agreed to stop the game, but the state of affairs in the end was still a stalemate with two Metropolises each. They went home dissatisfied and angry, as only ancient rivals can.
Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:34 pm