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Subject: First Session; Recovering From a Critical Mistake rss

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J
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So the other day someone brought this to my game group I played this for the first time and I have to say that I liked it a lot. I really like asymmetric games especially when it’s done well.

It would be a 4 player game and our first time playing for all of us. We each would ultimately make a major screw-up and looking back I believe that winning the game ultimately came down to came back from their major screw-up the best.

For reference here is the board



So we all started off grabbing the colors we liked

Game Owner (GO) - Blue: Mermaids; probably chosen because Swarmlings looked more difficult

Host - Brown: Halflings; Chosen at GO suggestion due to Cultists possibly having issues.

Random Player (RP) - Red: Giants; Wanted Giants

Me - Green: Auren; Seemed more interesting that Witches

So my favorite color is green and since it was my first play there was no real reason to pick any other color. Although Witches seemed really good, their strategy seemed a little too set for my liking (try to form as many Towns as possible). I chose Auren cause it seemed like most factions wanted to rush their stronghold and I liked the idea of getting a favor and an ability when I did.

So to start things off we placed our dwellings and this is when I made my critical mistake. I made my first placement on the far eastern forest in the middle (on the equator) and my second one was a forest also in the east but mostly surrounded by rivers (if you look on the board it’s the forest on top of the triangle in the lower, middle, east part of the board). This ended up hurting me very badly down the line cause I found I had almost no room to expand with my second dwelling due to opponents mostly placing in the middle of the board and getting surrounded. This would also cause me to be pretty much completely closed out of the western and northern part of the board.

Turn 1; 2 Points For Dwellings, 4 fire cults = 4 power:

This got started pretty nicely.

Red had placed in the center and near me in the east. Being Giants he naturally spent his entire first turn more or less getting his stronghold.

Brown had also played in the center and near me in the far east. At the start he mostly focused on his dwelling in the far east. He felt in danger of losing territory there so he focused there first. Being Halflings he wanted to get as many spades as he could.

Green (Me): Felt that my best potential for expansion would be south eastern. Not only were these cheaper terraform spaces for me but it would box brown in and get him near me which had power potential. I had batted the idea of rushing my stronghold too but not only were there bonus points for dwellings this turn but there would be bonus points for strongholds on the next so I decided to wait.

This is where I believe Blue made his critical mistake. Blue didn’t really give his stronghold nor his race overall that much attention early on. He viewed a simple increase on his shipping track to not be worth it and he overlooked the 4 power income it had. Instead he opted to focus on cults going out of his way to run up the water cult by making a temple and getting the 2 water favor and even giving up several of his power tokens to gain extra power so he could get a priest and place it in the Fire cult. By the end of turn 1 he had only 8 power tokens left and by the end of turn 2 he was down to 6. Looking back later we all agreed that he had focused a little too much on the cults in the early game for the faction he had and should have focused on his stronghold more early on. We also felt that he had bleed off too many power tokens for too small a benefit too early.

Turn 2; 5 points for Stronghold and Sanctuary, 1 worker for every 2 air.

Here I made my stronghold taking the 4 power income as my favor which would move me up air. I also gained access to the 2 free pushes on any cult ability so I also moved up on air using that to get some power. I decided I needed a temple too due to a priest shortage and after thinking about it I decided to turn my second dwelling into the temple. I thought that this might allow me to expand and make a town there eventually. While contemplating what my second favor should be (I was torn between 3 money a turn or 1 power + 1 worker a turn) the GO checked the rules and discovered something he had missed namely the cult bonuses were given out multiple times for your level. We had mistakenly thought that they were given only once if you were “at least” high enough. Instantly I changed gears and took the “free cult push ability favor + 2 water” which I felt would increase my ability to fight for cult domination and let me get more cult bonuses as the game went on. 3 pushes in the cults a turn would pay off for me greatly in the long run.

Everyone else did more of the same with Red crushing things in his path to expand his territory and Halflings continuing their terraforming Schtick while Blue focused a little more on building buildings but found himself a little pressed for resources.

Turn 3; Each Terraform = 2 Points; 1 Coin for each level in earth

This turn was very very painful for me. I had a ton of workers due both to the cult bonuses and having a lot of dwellings but I was nearly broke in terms of gold (I had 4 coins) and really didn’t have the power to do anything. The reality of how badly boxed in I was had hit home. My second dwelling was completely surrounded by water and Blue buildings so I had pretty much no potential to expand. I had taken the +1 shipping bonus in an attempt to “break out”. I moved into the mountain hex in the center of the board hoping to move into the adjacent marsh hex and get myself accesses to the northern part of the board but the giants must have seen what I was trying to do cause he trampled it and took it from me. This left me with really nothing I could do so after thinking about it I decided to “stall” and try to get some power. I ended up using my priest and abilities to race up 6 spaces in the earth cult with but ultimately my waiting didn’t pay off as no one built next to me. I had to pass first but this was really me just hedging my bets. I took the 6 coin income bonus which on top of the money I was getting from the cult meant that I’d have a lot of money for next round. Having used nearly no workers I would have a lot of them too so I really just traded 1 round to supercharge the next.

Red finished a town by bridging his starting seletements. He went way over the requirements however as both his stronghold and his sanctuary were part of it. Brown continued his Schtick of terraforming. This was where Brown’s and red’s critical mistakes started showing. Although he was in the lead for points the majority of the game, brown was mostly terraforming a lot of stuff for points but not really building dwellings or expanding. He had a nice dwelling in the middle of the board but was almost ignoring it in favor of terraforming more in the east. On the other hand Red was building a lot of settlements but had no real good planning for how to get multiple towns.

Blue finished a town. He would eventually take over the Cult of water but I was really the only one who had gone up it at all but even I was no where close to the top (around 3)

****************

Intermission

****************

I’m going to take some time to talk about the cults as well as how we all were playing for them up to this point.

Fire:


The cult of fire was rather uneventful. Blue had made a big push for it on turn 1 by giving up (losing permanently) 3 power tokens to get a priest so he could get a big push up it. Blue was about halfway up with no one else really anywhere

Water:


Blue and Green (me) had both started on this track and had taken the “free cult push + 2 water” favor meaning we were a up this track. Blue had pushed a lot harder than I had since I was focused on getting benefits from other cults first. He would eventually take over this cult upon completing his town. For the most part there seemed to be no interest in red or brown to go on this track so I was left a pretty easy second and really only pushed it for associated benefits (power/bonuses)

Earth:

Equally uneventful. Thanks to the push in turn 3 Green (me) had a pretty commanding lead in this one. Brown had gone up it a little but really not that much. Blue and red had ignored it.

Air:

Here we actually had competition. Both Brown and Green (me) had taken the “4 power, 2 air“ favor but due to my abilities I was slightly ahead. I knew however that Brown would want to take it from me and I had no interest in letting him so I decided to keep my eye on him.

****************

Back to the Game

****************

Round 4: 3 points for trading posts 4 water = A terraform.

Due to having a lot of resources and even getting the 4 power-> 7 money on top of it I decided to stall a bit and I upgraded my shipping and managed to build an outpost in the lower left. I had planned on trying to turn this into a town but this would ultimately turn out to be an utter waste but it would teach me a very valuable lesson for next time as well as make things harder for blue and let me stall while my opponents with far less resources ran out of turns.

I also decided it was time to try and finish my a town. I was getting worried because Brown was looking to take the air cult from me although he wasn’t close enough yet. Due to the savings from my previous round I had no problem affording anything I wanted however I wasn’t really sure what I wanted. I upgraded 2 dwellings to trading posts including the one in the center of the board for bonus points and found myself 1 dwelling away from a town in the east.This was when brown finished his city and took the free push on all cult tracks. He also placed a priest to go up to 7 on the cult of air track. I had tried to steer him away from this but he didn’t take the bait thinking that he could take the cult from me. This sent me into high alert because I was only 6 and 1 favor could get him to the top. However his resources were exhausted and once he passed I breathed a sigh or relief. I then proceeded to finish my town, take the same key as he did and using my abilities to reach the top of the cult of air teaching him the futility of challenging me like that.

Red finally asked for clarification on how towns worked and realized why his “super town” had been a mistake.

Blue decided to try and set up shop in the western part of the board but he was getting low on resources too.

Only Blue and Green (me) got the cult bonus. I used mine to turn more land in the south west into usable land for me. This turned out to be a pointless move.

Round 5: 5 Points for building Stronghold or Sanctuary; 1 Worker Per 2 Fire cult

In round 5 Blue, Green and Red were all vying for their second town in deserted areas of the board. This was when we all learned a very valuable lesson. Trading posts in deserted areas are really annoyingly expensive. I had kinda forgotten this when I had laid my original groundwork for my town and I realized I would have no way of getting the necessary money.

Blue had already gotten a good start on this but was encountering similar problems. He only had 6 power chips left and had to pass several times on taking power.

Red was having a ton of trouble. He also didn’t have anywhere near the money needed for the second town either.

Brown kinda threw away a chance to get a second town by focusing way too much on terraforming his town in the east and not enough on building up the one in the middle.

So there I am stuck trying to figure out the next best course of action when all of a sudden it hits me. It was so obvious I wasn’t sure how I had missed it. I already had a temple and a trading post near the middle of the board but they weren’t connected. However the sand area in the middle right side of the board was still open. Though it would be expensive, I could in 3 turns

1. Terraform and Place a Dwelling there.

2. Place a Bridge between this new Dwelling and my Temple to the south connecting these 3 buildings.

3. Upgrade the Temple to a Sanctuary, take the “2 Fire push+ only need 6 building power to erect a town”, and declare it a town due to the Sanctuary reducing the building number requirement and the favor reducing the building power requirement.

BOOM!!!!! 3 turns with the appropriate resources and I would have a town. It seemed so obvious I cannot believe I didn’t see it before. Terraforming the dessert was going to be annoyingly expensive but fortunately no other players had any interest in that spot (giants were the only ones who could reasonably reach and terraform it but it would have been part of his “super town”). Added Gravy would be the fact that it would push me up in the Fire Cult. At this point the Fire Cult was the only one really worth going after. Water and Air was locked while I had a pretty good lead (though not insurmountable) in earth. Only problem was I was on step 1 of the cult and all the other players had started moving on it.

Things went pretty well for me as I was able to not only get both that Dwelling and the bridge but I ran up to level 6 in the cult using my abilities and a priest (cult of fire would be the only cult to have 4 priests), and the player on my right (Brown) passed first making me second in the final round. Blue was on my left and was the only one close to reaching the top but he needed another town and after looking I saw that he was a few turns away.

Round 6: 3 Points For Trading houses

I need 2 turns to max out the Fire Cult and I’m pretty confident that no one else can match that. I’m very strapped for cash but I have enough power and resources to make it up. Sure enough, turn 1 Temple -> Sanctuary, +2 fire favor, declare a town. Turn 2 Fire Cult is mine.

For the most part turn 6 was uneventful for me after that.

Red and Blue were vying for area scoring though blue was in the lead. Due to never upgrading his ships Brown’s territories were split so he wasn’t even in competition for it and I decided to settle on an easy 3rd.

Brown spent most of his time building trading houses for the bonus points. Had he tried he could have taken the Earth cult away from me but I got lucky and he missed it.

I used my last few resources to dump them into whatever points I could. I was a little worried cause Blue had a slight lead on me and after winning the Area bonus I wasn’t sure If my Cult Points could surmount his Area + Cult Points. However I had a trump. Blue was third to pass on the previous turn and had been forced to leave me the:

“In Phase I “Income”, collect 2 additional Workers. Also, when returning this card after passing, get 4 Victory points if you have already built your Stronghold and/or 4 Victory points if you have already built your Sanctuary.”

Bonus meaning that I had an extra pocketful of points coming in that I felt would be enough. It wasn’t until later on that I learned how lucky I was. At the time I didn’t know that there were actually 9 bonus tiles and that 2 had been removed in a 4 player game. The 2 removed were the 2 other bonus points bonus cards making the one I got pretty valuable.

End Game:

Sure enough my 8 bonus points jetted me in front of blue.

In order Area Scoring was 18 Blue, 12 Red, 6 Green

I don’t remember everyone’s cult points but mine were 28 (1st 2nd 1st 1st),

I think that the others were:

12 Blue (2nd 1st 4th 4th)

12 Brown (3rd 3rd 2nd 2nd)

4 Red (4th 4th 3rd 3rd)

Sadly I didn’t get to record everyone’s exact score but our ballpark was

Red: Low 80s

Brown: High 80s-low 90s

Blue: Low 90s-Mid 90s

Green: High 90s

Giving me a small win.

Overview:

For the most part I really liked the game. I really like Asymmetric games because of the replay value however I was a bit worried about the balance. All 4 of us played but ended up screwing ourselves in one way or another by failing to properly secure a good way to get a second town.

Green’s (My) game was not very smooth. My critical mistake of placing a dwelling without any real space to expand and my opponents blocking me nearly cost me my second town and dominance in the Fire cult. This would have given the game to Blue had he been able to take the top position. The only reason I managed to recover was because I was the only player to take advantage of the Sanctuaries ability to require only 3 buildings thus I was the first to get a second city. All the other players had more or less ignored this and had built their Sanctuary willy nilly for the favor and level 3 building and were unable to get the necessary requirements for a second town early enough.

Blue was second and I thought that bleeding off so much power so early was a mistake but maybe I’m wrong. He did come in second afterall. What I DID feel was a huge mistake was underestimating his race’s abilities. In the early game he focused on running up the fire and water cult and not so much on expanding his territory and upgrading his buildings or his shipping. Since his faction specializes in forming towns and moving around I felt that this would have been a stronger area for him to focus on than the cults.

Brown was third and for nearly the entire game he was ahead in points but that was mainly because he focused more on tiny point gains from terraforming a lot and the round bonus points. By the end he had terraformed a ton of things to his home turf but hadn’t really built many dwellings on all of them. He also threw away a good chance at a second town by focusing only on one of his starting dwellings. He also never upgraded his shipping so by the time he started focusing on his second dwelling it was too late. Since they were split he had no chance at area points. He tried to play the cults but too often he found himself trying to challenge the cult I had my sight on and with my abilities taking a cult from me was fairly unlikely and didn’t really pay off for him in the end.

Red learned way too late exactly how towns worked. His first town was essentially a super town cause he formed it by linking his starting dwellings. It included both his level 3 buildings and he kept adding onto it for a while. By the time he started on his second town it was really too late and he didn’t have the money or time to finish it.

I liked the Auren but after doing some research I see they are often labeled on the weakest races. Looking at them as a whole I guess I can sorta understand. Having no ability is a bit of a pain and had my opponents been hitting the Cults harder I probably would not have won. That being said the stronghold ability is pretty stellar. 2 Free pushes means you’ll usually be able to get an extra cult bonus each turn plus extra power. An extra favor only further helps them since it effectively attaches an additional ability to their Stronghold and makes them even more competitive in the cults.

Mermaids seemed really cool too. Due to their high power Stronghold, increased movement, and ease of forming extra towns it seemed like forming 3 towns with them wouldn’t be too demanding. I would be interested in trying them sometime.

Halflings struck me as a little boring but not bad. Being able to terraform easily has it’s perks and had he tried the Halfling probably would have gotten his second town first and possibly even a third one. Cheaper upgrades to terraforming is great but he really needed to upgrade his shipping as well.

Giants were the only faction I didn’t really like that much. Were they terrible? No. But I didn’t like the fact that their ability was equal parts helpful and hurtful. That being said their stronghold is very nice. Not only is it really cheap making it easy to rush but it gives very good power and it’s ability basically lets the Giant’s go wherever they want and mess with whoever they want.
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Enon Sci
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If I knew how in the hell anybody is supposed to make GeekGold, I'd tip you some.

Nice report.



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Pieter
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Good intentions are no substitute for a good education.
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Interesting to see all the tactical mistakes that first-time players make. It starts by thinking that the witches need to focus on towns, and thinking that the mermaids make a mistake by not concentrating on their stronghold.

I am on my 15th game or so, and I am quite sure I made the same mistakes early on.

High 90's is pretty good for a first game (even though it is a bit easier to get with 4 players).
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Robert Stewart
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An example of a possible tactical mistake: the round you mostly passed on due to shortage of coins and surplus of workers, you could have converted workers to coins to fund some expansion - whether or not it would have actually been worth doing depends on the situation - as you said, passing early got you initiative in the next round, and it also allowed you to spend your workers more efficiently - but at the cost of not getting the immediate income and board-position from the buildings you might have built.
 
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Anarchosyn wrote:
If I knew how in the hell anybody is supposed to make GeekGold, I'd tip you some.

Nice report.





Thanks for the complement. Also don't worry. I accept IOUs

Flyboy Connor wrote:
Interesting to see all the tactical mistakes that first-time players make. It starts by thinking that the witches need to focus on towns, and thinking that the mermaids make a mistake by not concentrating on their stronghold.

I am on my 15th game or so, and I am quite sure I made the same mistakes early on.

High 90's is pretty good for a first game (even though it is a bit easier to get with 4 players).


Well we all trip up somewhere. It just so happens in this game we all tripped up by not laying proper groundwork for a new town. I also overvalued how good giving power to someone would be and how good getting power myself was which is why I made my second placement where I did.
 
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rmsgrey wrote:
An example of a possible tactical mistake: the round you mostly passed on due to shortage of coins and surplus of workers, you could have converted workers to coins to fund some expansion - whether or not it would have actually been worth doing depends on the situation - as you said, passing early got you initiative in the next round, and it also allowed you to spend your workers more efficiently - but at the cost of not getting the immediate income and board-position from the buildings you might have built.


It was a consideration but you see I went into that round with 4 coins, 1 Priest and only 1 shipping from the bonus tile I had selected on the previous round (no natural shipping). My power was low too and the 4 power -> 7 money wasn’t there for me anyway. Due to my low money expanding my shipping right then seemed rather pointless.

My main priority at the time was figuring out a way to expand to get a second town and on the board the only places I could reach that I could reasonably expand and gain access to new lands without having to give up a large magnitude of workers from terraforming was the mountain and the marsh in the center of the board



It just so happened I had enough money for 2 dwellings so I decided that it would be better to gamble on getting those 2 dwellings rather than expending a ton of resources elsewhere. Of course as I mentioned above, after taking the mountain the Giants immediately responded by trampling that marsh so I didn’t get it.

So on my following turn I had to figure out what to do but remember the cult bonus for that round was:

1 Coin for each level in earth

and the 3 earth cult priest was open. Since I was strapped for cash rushing up that cult with my priest and abilities while stalling to try and get power didn’t seem like a bad move.

3 turns later and I’m on step 6 of earth with no more power than I had before and I weigh my options. I decided that it wasn’t even a contest.The bonus tile for +6 income was available with a coin on it plus I would have first dibs on the 4 power->7 coins space next turn basically sending me into next round with 22 coins. Having not used many of my workers I would have a giant pile of those too. Plus to top it all off the next round there was bonus points for trading posts so it seemed just like everything fit together to sacrifice the current turn for the following one.
 
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Jason Kratz
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One rule mistake it looks like you made - you said you were at the top of 3 cult tracks, but only had 2 towns. You can only top off 1 cult track per town you own.

Awesome session review though.
 
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Stryker1979 wrote:
One rule mistake it looks like you made - you said you were at the top of 3 cult tracks, but only had 2 towns. You can only top off 1 cult track per town you own.

Awesome session review though.


Where did I say that? I'd like to correct it. I wasn't at the top of 3 tracks. I was at the top of 2 tracks (Fire, Air) and I ended up being first in Earth Track. The only Cult I didn't win was Water cause Blue closed that one out early. In fact the entire reason my second town was so pivotal was it allowed me to nab the Fire cult away from Blue. Blue was the only other player even close to the top but he didn't have his second town. Me getting my second town was what let me take it from him.
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J
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Just finished another session. Anybody want me to write that one up too?
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