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Subject: A critique of a recent play. rss

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Ken Lee
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I met Andy, Adrian and Sng for a game of Tempus on Sunday at PI. It was a very good game, and I believe we all throughly enjoyed ourselves. It's was also the first oppurtunity I've had to play a game with Andy. I had played this game wrong the 1st time, and I've wanted to try it again with the correct rules. And I must say, I haven't been disappointed by this game at all.

Tempus is a Civ-type game, in which one is trying to cultivate one's civilisation, and trying to claim dominance against other players. As this game is lighter than say... Civilisation... there are multiple elements that have been abstracted. There aren't any real Civ-type game elements such as exploration or techonological advancements. In this game, each player essentially just tries to increase their population, which would then allow them to build cities. One could potentially win this game without getting into confrontation with another. It's all about placement of your pieces and your cities.

And in that fashion, one could see where the theme in this game lies. The success of one's civilisation isn't about the number of fights one is in, but rather based on where one establishes one's foothold. When you decide where to establish your city, you must consider whether that particular move would have any effect on future builds. You could rationalise this as your people finding suitable, and fertile lands for your cities. In the game, as each city cannot be built adjacent to each other, the placement of the city could potentially either lock yourself or your opponent out of an area.

In the game that we played, Adrian won with a total of 23 points without being in a fight even once. And though Andy lost a huge fight against me, he ended up in second place with 22 points. I was in last position with 16 points, and Sng had 19. I think that in the end, the game was pretty close, and had I planned my moves more carefully earlier, I might have stood a stronger chance and a better placing. Fighting Andy helped my position a little, and may have delayed him a little, but it was the bad placement of my cities and people that lost me the game.

Near the end of the game, Sng suggested that he was in a king-making position, whereby his actions could have adverse effect on the lead player, and that action would have given the win to another person. He also noted that this was a common problem noted in by other players. I still remain unconvinced that a king-making problem exists in this game. What he didn't realise at that point, was that he was still in a strong position to win, even though he thought he was out of the race. Had he chosen a slightly different course of action, and spread his people to capture points, rather than attacking Andy in the end, he really could have stolen the win. There is one important thing to note here: The point differences between each player is actually quite close, and spreading out your people could easily capture more points than destroying another city would. It's a toss-up between a confirmed number of points through finding fertile to settle in, or a risky attack which would could potentially have no impact on your score.

All in all, I think this is a good game and one worth putting on the table again. I definitely noted some problems in my gameplay early on, and by the time I realised it, it was too late to mitigate my own mistakes. What made it interesting was the tenacity of my opponents, and each mistake I made is an opportunity for them to seize upon.
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Shawn Low
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Great session report.

I found the game to have a king making element as it's possible to see players positions at any given time. It's also obvious when a player is developing faster than others.

Having said that, I won a game without getting into any combat! I think that's important. Hold the good cards to aid your combat and deter people from attacking.

Also, it's more about tile management. How you build your cities matter a lot as you might shaft yourself over with poor placement (and not be able to have babies!).

It's ok but not as hyped up a game as I found it to be.
 
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Ken Lee
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I've only played this game twice, so I guess I'd probably see this king-making element if I played this more often.

But in this particular case, I think Sng had this king-making situation more in his head than what was actually on the board. During the game, he commented how he had heard about this problem before playing this game (this was his 1st try, I believe), and that he saw himself in such a situation.

Had he spent his last two actions just moving people out to occupy free lands, it was more than possible the cover the ground between himself and the 1st player. Instead, he spent those turns manuvering pieces to launch an attack on an opponent, doing himself no good at all. He admitted just as much when the game was over, and realised that had he considered other methods to improve his score, he most probably would have won.
 
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