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J. R. Tracy
We had fourteen gamers tonight for WWI, the Cold War, visits to Rome and Capua, and some fantasy action.
Scott, El Rios, and Campoverdi played a cooperative game of Mage Knight, with the players trying to conquer three cities before the clock ran out. They hammered the first city, with each player taking out a defender, but they got pretty banged up in the process. They stumbled on to the next and really got hammered, with El Rios both on fire and frozen at the same time. It gradually became apparent they just didn't have the juice to take down the city. They were hurt a little initially by a lack of towns for recruiting, which made this challenging scenario even harder. Still, a fun game judging by their comments.
Hammering at the gates
Steven and John wrapped up Paths of Glory, going all the way to 1919. The Germans captured Paris in 1918, but the Italians managed to break through into southern Germany to push the Allies into the lead. With time running out, Steven was left with a 50-50 shot at Verdun for the draw...and he pulled it off! An epic game, and I don't think they were disappointed in the outcome. It was an appropriate ending to a very tight contest.
La Dolce Vita in Bavaria
Conrad and Bill played a superfast game of Twilight Struggle, with everything coming up (red) roses for Conrad's USSR. It was a quick and decisive win. They then tried Arena (Roma II), learning the game and playing twice. Bill won both but they struggled a bit with the rules, which is a pity because we have a lot of experienced players. I think they were lukewarm on the game but I hope they give it another shot.
Sean taught us Spartacus, a GenCon purchase from last week. It's inspired by the Starz sex 'n violence miniseries, with each player running his own ludus, or gladiatorial school, in ancient Capua. Gameplay consists of drawing and playing Intrigue cards, which allow you to build Influence, gather funds, and meddle in the affairs of your rivals. It's pretty wide open and ripe for extortion and bluffing. For example, you might mention a rumor of a slave revolt, and suggest a token sum to help assure it doesn't progress beyond the rumor stage. After the Intrigue plays out, there is a Market phase where slaves and gladiators may change hands and four new Market cards enter play, which may be more slaves, gladiators, or weapons for the arena. Finally, games are held, with players bidding to see who hosts (the host nominates the two participating ludi), and two schools facing off for a one-to-one battle of the gladiators of their choice. Everyone can bet on the outcome, including bets on either gladiator and whether the match ends with a severe injury or a decapitation. After the fight, the winner and the host each gain Influence, and the next turn begins.
The first player to reach twelve Influence wins. Besides acting as a victory point counter, Influence allows you to play Intrigue cards and your hand size increases as your Influence goes up. We were all very close and Sean was positioned for the win, until GorGor hosted a match and sent his own Crixus in for the victory. That put him on the verge of a win, and a little subterfuge and shenanigans was enough to push him over the top in the following Intrigue phase. We all enjoyed it, and felt it had a good mix of double-dealing mischief and straightforward arena combat. Herr Fuchs thinks it might be too difficult to reel in a leader, and while I see his point, I discarded a lot of cards in the early going that would've allowed me to reduce a player's Influence in the end game. It's certainly worth playing again, but it's not for the meek as it is Gotcha City from beginning to end.
Finally, we had a Glory to Rome nightcap as more folks wanted to learn the game. John and GorGor grasped it quickly and were building like madmen. I was successfully building but my buildings themselves weren't all that good, while GorGor was getting double Craftsman actions and was stealing Clients and stuffing them in his Vault. He was running away with it but Sean had the Forum and had quietly Patron'd five of the six roles into his Clientele. All he needed to do was Patron a Merchant and he'd win. One popped out in the resource pool just before his turn but he didn't notice and chose a different role instead. Steve then won a couple plays later. Good game enjoyed by most, but we'll have to give Sean partial credit given his sleep-deprived oversight.
Yet more Glory to Rome