Bryan Nelson
Canada
Ladner
British Columbia
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This is a session report for my most recent game of TI, which was my fifth and first with Shards of the Throne... It would also turn out to be our quickest yet game of TI, at 7 hours counting set up and rules explanation, which is especially impressive as we had a new player at the table.

It was a four player game, with basically every optional rule (save Distant Suns/Final Frontier) and all the SE strategy cards, but Assembly 2 in place of 1.

We played with a few house rules. We used a trimmed Political deck, Choose from two Preliminary and two Secret Objectives (can claim them in either order, and upon claiming your Preliminary, you have the option of blindly trading your Secret for a new one). We also don't allow players to sell Political Cards for Trade Goods, but start everyone with 2 TGs to compensate a bit.

We'd hoped for 6 players, but ended up with 4, based on playing on a holiday on relatively short notice.

The races in play were (clockwise from the starting speaker):
The Ghosts of Creuss (played by my girlfriend, who was also playing her fifth game)
The Mentak Coalition (played by our new player, who handled the heavy rules really well)
The Clan of Saar (myself)
The Yssaril Tribes (another friend, this was his second game)

My Preliminary Objective was 'I attacked a player I had a Trade Agreement with this round', I can't remember my other option. My Secret Objective option were 'I control Mecatol Rex, have a Space Dock and 8 capital ships here' (actually a reasonably easy objective for Saar) or 'I control all planets in another player's Home System'. I chose the latter, since I felt like stirring the pot. I also spent the first hour of the game regularly explaining what a wise and peaceful nation the Clan is... I fooled no one.

When we sat down to build the galaxy, upon seeing my tiles, I wondered if the pile had been stacked (even worse given I'd shuffled them the night before). I had a dream hand (the empty end of the A wormhole, a nebula, the Rigel triple system, a couple of the 5 resource double systems, both the red and green planets with the double tech discounts, and my last was a single planet though it was still a decent single). I was lucky enough with building that I was able to place the really juicy tiles in my own territory, with a near total border of empty space around it... Was actually not what I was hoping for, given that it gave little reason for me to move my docks around the board.

The game was perfect starting out, our initial objective was 'I control 5 planets outside my home system'. I got Production and Bureaucracy as my first Strategy Cards, which let me build enough ground forces to expand to the triple planet system, and one of the rich double planet ones in the first round, plus when I played Bureaucracy, one of my options for objectives was 'I took control of three planets this turn'... I was up to two very early.

The game continued with early expansion, and not a lot of skirmishing for territory.

In round 3, I had Warfare 2, with the High Alert Token on a small fleet on my border of a Dreadnought (with Admiral), Cruiser, and Carrier (one GF and a Mechanized Unit on the planet). My neighbor, the new guy, had left a clear path through to his home system (not realizing my fleet could move 3) and had nothing but a Dock and 2 PDS there... I had a moral debate on my hands, smash the new guy to grab my SO (and my Preliminary, since we were trading), or let it go and try to grab it off the other neighbor where it was more sporting... that lasted all of four seconds before I jumped my fleet in... apologetically, since the Saar are such peaceful people. Though I did give him my stack of 6 Trade Goods, to pay for the Space Dock and PDS I destroyed. I did decide to move my fleet out right away the next turn, since I didn't want to make it a terrible experience.

The game lasted another two rounds, but had been for all intents and purposes decided by this point. The final score was Saar 9, Yssaril 4, Mentak 3, Creuss 2. The quickest and most blowout game we've had.

Creuss had an awful game with very few planets near her home system and slow expansion due to a bad build early on and misunderstanding the Creuss power to use A and B wormholes interchangeably (she thought she could use the D wormhole at home to access the others). Despite that, she liked the race and had fun.

Mentak played well, but had a lot of logistical issues that you would expect in a first game, and natural rules misunderstandings such as the one resulting in me taking his home system. He loved the game though, and insisted on an invite the next time we play, so I'm happy to have another gamer in our group... way bigger win than just the Imperial Throne .

Yssaril played really well, except for mistakenly taking both his carriers to the same system in the first round, he set a good pace points-wise, but I was a lot faster.

Before this game, I'd played the Jol'Nar, Letnev, Xxcha, and Naalu. Saar is by far my favorite race I played. I was really lucky this game, but I see that I had not only a set up that favored me strongly, but a really strong race to begin with. Grabbing 5 trade goods in the first turn alone was enough to give me a big boost over my competition, and those extra resources in the second turn just compounded on it.

It was almost a shame the game was over so fast, as I barely got to move around the board, nobody built a flagship (disappointing given that this was the first game with Shards), and only Creuss bought any racial tech (slave wormhole generator, on the first turn... part of why her expansion was a bit slow).

This was also our first game with Representatives and the trimmed Political Deck. I quite enjoyed the Representatives, thought they added a bit of flavor. I wasn't necessarily as convinced by the significantly trimmed Political Deck... I think it made politics potentially too important. I may try to add back around half the cards that were taken out, in order to dilute it a bit.

Overall, I had a blast. This was our first game in four months, after nearly a year the game before that. I'm hoping the trend toward playing more frequently continues.
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Thomas Robb
United States
Calais
Maine
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Bryan

Could you expound a bit on the use of Representatives?

How it played out
How they were used
Did other players like them
Did it change the way Politics works
Was it like rock, paper, scissors

thank you
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Bryan Nelson
Canada
Ladner
British Columbia
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thomasrobb wrote:

Bryan

Could you expound a bit on the use of Representatives?

How it played out
How they were used
Did other players like them
Did it change the way Politics works
Was it like rock, paper, scissors

thank you


Sure, I'd be happy to. I thought it played out alright, it added around a minute or two to each round of negotiations. Nobody in the group really got involved with the Promissory Notes. I offered one to the Mentak player, but he wasn't interested in the Monetary concession... then I bribed him with Trade Goods to vote my way, so I'm not sure he entirely grasped the value of the PN.

For the most part, the Creuss player and Mentak primarily played it 'safe' with their bodyguards (which nearly killed a Yssaril spy on turn 1, as the Mentak bodyguard has the power 'if targeted by an enemy spy, kill that spy unless the other player gives you 3 TG' which I bailed the Yssaril player out of as a gesture of goodwill). The Yssaril have two spies, one which assassinate, and one which halves another player's votes. That player played the assassinate spy early, nearly lost him, then played Councillors pretty much every turn after that (Yssaril have no bodyguard). I went for a balanced approach, using my Bodyguard early, and my Spy (which gives the Clan bonus TG for each player who votes in a specific way... I'm greedy).

I haven't talked to the Yssaril or Mentak players since the game, but my girlfriend said she thought they were ok. Said she wasn't convinced they added much, but she felt the game ended too early on the whole, so she didn't really feel she got enough chance to make an informed decision.

I don't think the Representatives totally change the way politics works. I do think they can change things up and make the process a bit more interesting, since they can change the balance of votes and some of the special abilities can swing the vote quite a bit (assassinate the influence leader's Rep when he thought he'd have voting power).

The system is no doubt based on rock, paper, scissors (Spy beats Councillor, Bodyguard beats Spy, Councillor beats Bodyguard), and you could make an argument that with only 2 people playing, it might be a bit too close to that. However, since you have multiple players (4 or 6, or even potentially 8) and the spies target specific players and there is a turn order to it, it's not quite as cut and dry. Plus, each representative has a special ability that changes things up slightly so that each race doesn't have the same abilities from their representatives (as I said, the Yssaril don't even have a bodyguard). I think there is more to think about than rock paper scissors... that's not to say that it's an incredibly deep mechanic, but it does add a bit of strategy to politics.

Like I said, I enjoyed it. I'd like to play with it again, but I'm not opposed to removing it the next time if the majority of the other players weren't fans.
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bob mackenzie
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just on representitives, our group played them using the original political strategy card, and when voting we merged in intrigue representatives to make voting more 'fun'.

they are fun to use, as if you dont care about a vote u can kill someone else dude (granted its not a bodygaurd) or some councillers give u free stuff.

rock, paper, scissors i can agree on, but it did make it funner, i dont think it really changes how politics work overall, to me it makes more sense really to send dudes to a galactic forum. (we exclude PN)
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