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Subject: 4 Players - 4 Paths to Victory- First Game for all rss

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Jeremy McMahon
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Last night I had the pleasure of trying Clash of Cultures for the very first time.

Overall, it was an interesting and close game. All four players had very different approaches to building their civilisations, and yet the game ended up quite close.

To give you an idea of how we played, this is our first few turns:

From my perspective, Yellow (me) was South West, Green was NW, Blue NE,and Red SE.

Yellow Player (me) went first:
Action 1- Buy a settler
Action 2- Move settlers to my starting mountains and forests (aiming on a tax engine- didn't think I needed resource rich locations or space, which was just as well given my surroundings, as it turned out...)
Action 3- Found the mountain city

Green (my brother- who isn't usually a fan of civ games):
Action 1- Buy irrigation
Action 2- Make city happy
Action 3- Move settler, revealing mountain ranges between Green and Blue

Blue (a friend who is usually good at building economic engines but doesn't like conflict in games)
Action 1- Buy a settler
Action 2- Move both settlers- revealing lots of water- adding to the barrier between Green and Blue
Action 3- Move again, further south (from my perspective), revealing a mix of land types closer to the red player.
He explained he was trying to have cities close to us so he could establish trade routes, and encouraged us to have trade routes back with him.

Red (a friend who likes to turtle)
Action 1- Buy Myths
Action 2- Move settler to reveal water and fertile and mountains North, making narrow pathways of fertile land towards Blue.
Action 3- Collect food (only 1) this didn't seem optimal to me, and Red found a lot of the times he couldn't quite produce what he wanted from misreading the tech tree or not taking a cost into account, and yet he prospered with smart tactical play of units.

Yellow- found city 2, collect food and wood

Green- Found city (by the sea), collect food, buy fishing

Blue- found city, move, found city 2 deep into the map

Red- Move settler to reveal mountains and seas between Red and Yellow, found city, collect food

So, Yellow had 3 cities all adjacent, a few resources, and was aiming for taxation. Red had explored the region between them revealing a corridor of mountains between them.

Green had 2 cities spread a little, with nice resources nearby, ready to expand their size and was aiming for a nice few cities and lots of advances.

Blue had 3 cities spread right through the map, was trying to set up trade routes, but was a bit behind in resources.

Red had 2 cities but was "boxed in" by blue expansion and terrain. Red was aiming for a temple/theocracy approach and wanted to set up the sanitation settler/cheap temple/theocracy combo.

We all felt we had a lot of freedom to guide our civilisations, with some restrictions/guidance from our objective cards and terrain. And our starts were really all quite different.

How did this affect the rest of the game?

Well, in the middle turns, Yellow developed a cluster of small, unhappy settlements to tax, with Free Education to get the mood tokens, and a focus on acquiring techs. Yellow was boxed in with barbarian villages and had not developed irrigation or sanitation, so was also knocked back a few times by events. My objective cards required I try a really tech high approach, or some (to my mind) really hard military objectives. Unfortunately, my brother (green) also had to get a lot of techs and was stopping me from completing tech objectives.

Speaking of which, green had 4 cities nicely spaced, all about size 3, was collecting food and advancing, no player was near him and he had a very small army (developed to kill a barbarian village.

Blue was spread with lots of settlements and was trying to get trade routes going, but had a good taxation base and was doing well in resources. Blue had a very small army and was relying on red to continue his normal turtling behaviour to keep his happy trade network free from disruption.

Red had taken a while to get started, and had 3 small settlements and a lot of barbarians nearby. Red had a few warfare developments and a decent army, ostensibly to kill the many, many barbarians he had around him.

Towards the end of the game, yellow was worried he was never going to out tech green, and had a small defensive army in the mountainous, settled corridor between him and red, and not many prospects for military expansion to the west (towards red and the barbarians).

Green had a lot of tech (over 30 into round 5), 4 nice cities, no one near him, a few completed tech objectives, and no army to speak of (1 unit parked in front of his cities).

Blue had trade routes, as well as many spread out, small and a lightly defended (1 army and a fort in a few, nothing in the ones closer to his start location) settlements, and a great economic engine.

Red had the smallest and least settlements, and had converted a fort in blue's "advance" trade routes city. Blue thought this meant the city was safe, especially from turtling red.

It looked like the two more spread out, peaceful nations (green and blue) were racing to victory.

Then (normally turtling) red struck, attacking blue and taking his "trade routes" base city, and having an army near two other lightly defended blue settlements. Red had left his settlements open to launch the attack, and blue was like "You're crazy, Jeremy (yellow/me) will take all your cities" (and I would, I never leave a gift like an undefended city in 4X games). Red played an action card that meant I couldn't attack him next turn. Red then revealed several aggressive objectives, and commented "I like how these force you to change your play style"! Nice play!

Blue and red seemed poised to fight for 2nd, as green now was developing with no resistance.

Well, I had to step up. On the 2nd last turn I built up a city near to green and assassinated him to reduce him to 2 actions on his last turn. He knew what was happening, but didn't have a lot of defenses in 2 actions (he had only 1 army most the game, and four undefended size 4 cities). On my last turn I invaded and took one of his cities, which was effectively an 8 point swing, and then that enabled me to play 2 objectives and prevented him from playing 2 (so another 8 point swing- me vs him).

One thing I'm not sure about- the rules weren't clear, but I needed to do this- I attacked his 1 forward army to clear the way with 2 of my armies, then moved two more into the vacant hex and then in my next action used those two that did not participate in battle to attack his city (we thought that seemed right, otherwise to be consistent, groups moving into other groups would "exhaust" them and prevent them moving).

In the end- Yellow 37 Points
Red 35.5 Points
Blue 34 points
Green 27 points (would have threatened for first if I didn't attack him on my last turn).

We all had fun, even Green who was talking about how close he was until evil yellow attacked him. Red nearly won with bold attacks that he rarely makes in other 4X games, and everyone felt they'd played differently from each other, had a chance to develop as they wished, but still we were close in final scoring. This speaks of a well designed and balanced game.

Personally- I loved the game, and it is mechanically different from Civilization (FFG version) but IMHO it plays very similarly. It is probably slightly less "mathy" but both games require a fair bit of forward planning and thinking about optimizing every move (which is how civ type computer games play out also- at least the ones I love).

The game had a definite mix of diplomacy, threat, bluff, development, and a smattering of crucial combat, which was a great mix. If you like Twilight Imperium (1,2 or 3) or Civilization, I'm sure you'll like this. It feels slightly more "Euro" than either of those (with the 3 actions per turn thing- though in the end you get about the same number of actions as in a game of FFG's Civ if you count resource collecting, moving and researching as separate actions as in CoC- so this is probably a bit of an illusion), but the combat is still an ever present threat and a viable path for getting ahead/knocking an opponent back (as it should be, in a good 4X game).

I loved it, and would rate it at least an 8/10 on one play, probably more if I can play it some more and unfold more of its layers.

EDIT: fixed some spelling/grammar issues
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Carsten Jorgensen
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Interesting that neither of you collected two resources in the first turn. It is important to activate your city each turn (since doing it twice in a turn will get the mood down). So the usual opening for me is:

1. Advance which gives a mood token
2. Civic improvement
3. Collect two resources

This is also because there is no "reward" for early exploration - you only risk getting barbarians, so for me that can wait a little.
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Kent Pritchett
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Randor20 wrote:
Interesting that neither of you collected two resources in the first turn.

Not really, this was there first play and no one who had played before to give starting tips.


Randor20 wrote:
It is important to activate your city each turn (since doing it twice in a turn will get the mood down). So the usual opening for me is:

1. Advance which gives a mood token
2. Civic improvement
3. Collect two resources

This is also because there is no "reward" for early exploration - you only risk getting barbarians, so for me that can wait a little.


They will get there. Part of the greatness of this game is exploring your options.
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Carsten Jorgensen
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I know it was their first game - exactly why I find it interesting, that neither of four new players saw this option (player B was so close but curiousity got him in the last action ).

But if all had played SM: Civ before, I can sure understand why - in that game it is a race to the huts and best city places. Also because each city always gets an action in that game, so you really need that second city fast. In CoC you just need it when you are ready to expand your first city.
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George
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Great Session Report! Really captures what I love about this game!

(The move you questioned sounds fine to me… as long as no terrain penalties were involved. But yes, only the units that actually battled are not allowed to move again that turn.)
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Jeremy McMahon
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TheImp wrote:
Randor20 wrote:
Interesting that neither of you collected two resources in the first turn.

Not really, this was there first play and no one who had played before to give starting tips.


Randor20 wrote:
It is important to activate your city each turn (since doing it twice in a turn will get the mood down). So the usual opening for me is:

1. Advance which gives a mood token
2. Civic improvement
3. Collect two resources

This is also because there is no "reward" for early exploration - you only risk getting barbarians, so for me that can wait a little.


They will get there. Part of the greatness of this game is exploring your options.



Randor20 wrote:
I know it was their first game - exactly why I find it interesting, that neither of four new players saw this option (player B was so close but curiousity got him in the last action ).

But if all had played SM: Civ before, I can sure understand why - in that game it is a race to the huts and best city places. Also because each city always gets an action in that game, so you really need that second city fast. In CoC you just need it when you are ready to expand your first city.


Thank you for your replies, I had hoped the diversity of our opening moves (even if it spoke of our newbness) would be interesting.

We actually had played SM: Civ and we knew from the rules of CoC there would not be the same rewards for exploring, but the chance to orient tiles to your choice and scope out city sites was too tempting for some players. Turns out that often there was no choice in placing tiles, but the players who explored and spread their cities most at the start (Blue and Green) certainly had better resource options and looked to be winning with just a few turns left.

We had discussed "optimal" opening moves together as a group before the game, after scouring the tech tree for 10 minutes and discussing viable long term goals (hence we focused on tax/trade, science and free techs, and theocracy), and we had agreed taking irrigation, making the city happy, and taking two food seemed a pretty safe and solid first move.

Which is probably why none of us did that. I think we wanted to see if our own individual plans could "beat" the safe option we all came up with.

Blue and myself also reasoned that getting two moves from the first move action, by building a settler first, was efficient, though I found I had early resource issues compared to green who just set up taking 2 food a turn and advancing right from the start.


soosy wrote:
Great Session Report! Really captures what I love about this game!

(The move you questioned sounds fine to me… as long as no terrain penalties were involved. But yes, only the units that actually battled are not allowed to move again that turn.)


Thanks, we loved the game and felt it gave us both freedom to explore, and direction to try something we otherwise mightn't (if that self contradictory statement makes sense).

I hoped the move was fine, since it was pivotal to the result. There was actually terrain involved, but I moved from my city to the battle site with roads and paid the extra to negate terrain, so I think that was OK.

One minor quibble I might have with the game, is that the movement rules were not quite as clear as the rest of the rules. What exactly constituted a group, especially when it joined with other units like when my group went to the same hex as my other group that had battled, was not entirely clear. In the end though, we were all happy with the rulings we made as they seemed to make sense and matched the spirit of the rules.
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Moe45673
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Love this game and loved your session report. May you have many frequent opportunities to explore what the game offers
 
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