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Subject: Sun Tzu vs. King Shao Take 2 rss

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Bob Flaherty
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In this second playing of Dynasties between my wife and I, we chose to use the advanced rule set which decreases the number of available armies to 18 and adds two suicide cards (+2 to opponent’s card – sacrifice one army, +3 to opponent’s card – sacrifice two armies). She chose the armies of Sun Tzu (white) while I took command of King Shao’s men (black). Here is a retelling of that war [editor’s notes placed in square brackets] …

In the first year [sometimes referred to as a turn] of the conflict, the armies tried to position themselves well to set them selves up to plunder the provinces of their gold [points] in the third year [first scoring turn]. After a long year of fighting, only 1000 men from each side [represented by one cube] were garrisoned in the provinces – 1000 in Tibet for Sun and 1000 in Qinghai for Shao.

Both Warlords had to rethink their long term strategy in order to try and accumulate the most gold to fund their war machine. Three unclaimed provinces stood before them, with the provinces’ resources to be plundered in a couple of years. The armies were deployed throughout the second year of the conflict. Again, it was a hard battle, with an additional thousand men occupying Tibet as well as two thousand in Xingjiang for Sun. Quinghai was held onto by Shao, increasing the garrison by 1000 and Mandrin was occupied with 2000 of Shao’s men. The rich resources of Mongolia, 5000 tons of gold [five points], was still unclaimed.

The third year of the conflict saw both sides dig in to try and solidify their standing in the appropriate provinces to maximize the level gold. Both Warlords knew that a 10000 ton lead of resources over their opponent assured victory. The third year of fighting was harsh. A plague struck Qinghai, which reduced the garrison to 1000 men but assured Shao of the resources. Shao also saw the garrison in Mandrin increase to six thousand. Tibet’s garrison was maintained at 2000, and Xingjiang was reduced to 1000, but control of both territories remained Shao’s. The battle over Mongolia was fierce. Sun sent an army of 10000 men. Shao knew that Mongolia was key to his war machine and sacrificed two thousand of his men in a desperate suicide maneuver. The tactic paid off resulting in Shao’s control of Mongolia and her resources. At the end of the third year, Shao had commanding control of resources, controlling five thousand tons more than Sun [score marker moved five ticks toward Shao].

The fourth and fifth years of the conflict had the Warlords contemplating best use of their forces. Both Mandrin and Qinghai had been stripped of their resources and were looking to be barren in the next couple of years [both had one point for the sixth year], Mongolia was looking a little better than expected, but the real boon was happening in Tibet. Shao saw a long term strategy and nature helped him as a Plague struck Tibet this year. In addition, Sun forced 6000 men into Tibet which decreased morale and his men would refuse to march under force into that province again. Since there was a plague in the province, these men were turned away. In addition, plague struck Mandrin reducing the garrison there as well. Ultimately, by the end of the fifth year Sun had gained control of Mandrin. Mongolia had been lost by Shao and remained uncontrolled. Tibet, with its wealth increasing was only garrisoned by 1000 of Sun’s men.

The fighting in the sixth year was fierce. Sun decimated Shao’s forces in Qinghai claiming absolute control. Sun also maintained control of Mandrin. Fighting over the resources in Mongolia was again fierce, but the sides were evenly matched resulting in Mongolia being uncontrolled for a second consecutive year. Fighting was also fierce in Xingjiang, where Shao ousted Sun, and could barely control the rioting peasants with one thousand men. In a last ditch effort, Shao knew he needed to control Tibet so sent his forces on a suicide mission. Again, the tactic played off, giving Shao firm control of Tibet. After the sixth year, Shao claimed another two thousand resources over Sun [the marker moved from five to seven in favor of Shao].

The seventh and eight years of the war were spent gearing up to wrestle for control of Tibet. This tiny province had seen a gold boom over the last couple of years and was key to victory [Tibet had five points available in the third scoring round]. Shao was concerned because Sun had played conservatively. He hadn’t pushed his men too hard nor sacrificed them for the glory of his work. By the end of the eight year, Sun had a commanding presence in the barren wastland of Qinghai [worth only one point] and Mandrin, while Shao controlled Mongolia. Xingjiang was sill uncontrolled. As expected, the battle for Tibet was fierce. After the eighth year, Shao held control but it was tattered and his men were exhausted.

The ninth and final year of the conflict was decimating to Shao. Knowing he had been too aggressive in the early years of the war, he thought long and hard about how best to deploy his armies to contain Suns gains to only six thousand resources. However, Sun had played his [her] cards well [pun intended] and spanked Shao’s armies back home with their tails between their legs. Sun’s armies conquered the rest of China, save Tibet. The battle over Tibet was hard fought. Sun tried a suicide attack sacrificing two thousand men [+3 attack], but Shao was ready for that and fought hard with a pressed attack [+1 attack]. Coupled with the two thousand men garrisoned in the province, Shao lost Tibet, but Sun couldn’t control the chaos. Tibet was uncontrolled. Sun gathered up seven thousand tons of resources [moving the scoring marker seven ticks toward Sun] and the resource race was even.

After nine years of fighting, Sun’s men garrisoned most of China while Shao’s armies stewed in their humiliation…

[The rules state that if at the end of nine turns, the score is tied the Warlord with the most armies in reserve wins. However, the two games I have played with my wife have ended with ties and her controlling most of the board. It was my aggressive play early and not having the cards to maintain control that ended the game in this manner. In my opinion, her play was better than mine – managed throughout the entire conflict. In my opinion, the tie breaker rule needs to be reevaluated.]
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Jeremy Carlson
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I've stated else where, and it might have been you who post in the forum, I've played about 30 games of this, and not once have I seen a tie. Nice report.

I do the site for Jolly Roger Games and am good friends with the owner, so I know this game fairly well. I think the intent was, you are rewarded with the win, because you need less men to do the same thing. Which seems fair, in my opinion.
 
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Alan Newman
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Great narrative! Love it!

I have also never seen a tie and the rule was implemented only as an industry standard (i.e., supposedly most gamers prefer a game that is not tied).

Imho, ties are fine and under other circumstances, I would have been happy to let ties stand. After all, there are ties in war, when both both armies slink home without a clear cut victory.

That said, given the game and the 9 Dynasties leading up to the conclusion, I think just about any solution would find many dissatisfied parties.

The thinking here was that if you had more armies in reserve, you had accomplished the tie with less effort - a better result.

- Alan Newman

P.S. I believe the King Shao cards are stronger than Sun Tzu. Your wife did well!!!
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Mike Holyoak
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Al Newman wrote:
Great narrative! Love it!

I have also never seen a tie and the rule was implemented only as an industry standard (i.e., supposedly most gamers prefer a game that is not tied).


I love this game, and played it a lot, but without the Tzu and Shao cards. The first game we played with the leader cards resulted in a tie. It was such an incredibly tight game, we just let it stand as a tie. An experience that amazing is truly a win/win.

Quote:

P.S. I believe the King Shao cards are stronger than Sun Tzu. Your wife did well!!!


I've read that elsewhere on the geek, and is probably why I avoided the leader cards for so long. Now that I've played with them a few times, I don't know if that is all that true. I think you just have to adapt your strategy to the strength of your special ability.
I do however think it would be a bad idea to adopt a King Shao strategy of play if you are holding a Sun Tzu card.

All in all, an awesome game!
It's the perfect balance of strategy and game time.
 
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