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J. R. Tracy
With ten players tonight we had two large multiplayers plus a nightcap.
Dr. Rob led John, Jim, and Natus in a game of Successors, using the latest and greatest tweaks. John, with Perdiccas and Craterus, controls the southeast and the eastern Mediterranean coast, as well as Egypt. Natus' Ptolemy fled Egypt but took Rhodes and her fleet, and is looking good with a decent lead. Rob and Jim are not far behind John, and it still looks like anyone's game.
Putting the suck into Successors
Sean, Campoverdi, Dutch, Bill, and I tried Academy's recent 1812 game. Campo had the US Regulars while I had the US Militia, while Sean had the British Regulars, Bill the Canadian Militia, and Dutch the Native Americans. This is a very simple game with about four pages of rules (spread over six pages given the ample illustrations). Forces are represented by cubes, and moves are card-driven, with unique decks for each faction. Within a given 'round', each faction has a turn, with turn order determined by random draw, one player at a time. A given move card designates how many 'armies' may move and how far. The map is split into areas and you can move until you encounter enemy forces. As long as you are moving troops of your own faction, you may scoop up cubes of your allies.
The Canadian General Staff prepares to eject the upstart Americans
Battle is interesting, with each faction having a unique battle die. Possible results include 'hit', 'flee', and 'command decision'. A hit inflicts a casualty on the enemy, a flee means one of *your own* cubes is placed in the 'fled units' space to return next turn, and a command decision allows you to retreat one cube for each such result. The different battle dice distinguish the factions, with British regulars having three hits and three command decisions, while the militias each have two hits, two flees, and two command decisions, and so forth. Each faction rolls one die per cube, but the Regulars roll a max of two dice each, while the other factions top out at three dice apiece. Combat is sequential, with the 'home territory' side rolling first. Therefore, even if the Americans control a Canadian space, the Canadians will roll first in that territory. It is a very simple system but provides for some interesting decisions on whether to fight or run.
In addition to the movement cards (some of which allow waterborne movement across the lakes) there are 'special' cards which impart some sort of temporary superpower or rule-breaking ability. Play proceeds until one side plays all of its truce cards (each faction deck has one such card). However, the game lasts at least three turns, so each side has a chance to recover from early misfortune. Victory is determined by who has captured the most enemy victory spaces - victory is at the 'national' side only, so there isn't competition with either allied command for a win.
In our game, Chris and I immediately drove for the Fort Eire/Queenston space, the only double-VP space on the map. We captured it easily and enjoyed a brief celebration before being hurled back across the border before we even had a chance to check out the Canadian Ballet. In the east our gains were also quickly erased, though we lasted longer in the west. Our biggest problem was the damned Native Americans. Normally a cube can only use a command decision to retreat to a friendly area, but the Native Americans can withdraw to *any* adjacent space as long as it doesn't have enemy cubes. This makes them extremely difficult to kill, and furthermore, they can create friendly spaces themselves, affording their comrades a safe haven. This proved crucial when the British and Canadians drove for Albany. We chased them off, but their Natives infiltrated forward and ultimately doomed the American cause for a Canadian Turn 3 win.
Uh oh in Buffalo
This was a lot of fun - 90 minutes for a five-player game of all newbies. I think the American side is the more difficult to grasp - in a large battle of diversified forces, the Canadians will be throwing eight dice to five for the Americans. However, the Americans have much more strategic depth, with VP spaces several moves from the border, while the bulk of the Canadian objectives are adjacent to the border or at most two spaces away. There is a pleasing asymmetry between the two sides, and a distinct feel for each faction. I look forward to trying it a few more times and applying the hard lessons I learned tonight.
We had a quick 7 Wonders nightcap, with Sean dominating with a 65 point win to Bill's solid 58 and Dave's 57. Campo, Dutch, and I dragged along in the 40s.
Next week, Tannenberg 1914!