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Subject: 5 Player - And the Monks almost had it rss

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Rich Radgoski
United States
Gouldsboro
Pennsylvania
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Last night, we played a 5 player game of Ortus Regni. It was the first time for 3 of the 5, so we consider that a teaching game.

My son built a deck that had 4 monks in it and proceeded to influence the Vikings almost from turn one. My deck was fairly balanced, but I decided to throw in an extra vassal and banner. (3 banners total).

Player 3, to my left, had a strong standing army and the fields to let them work. Player 4, to my far left, had a cathedral (blocking my bequeath) and several well played fiefs. player 5, to my right, built one of the example decks...the one with no lands. (we didn't know that at the time).

Just before the vikings started their rampaging, we had only a few minor skirmishes - nothing that shifted the balance of power. I also just completed my bid for King (which my son failed to respond to with the banner in his hand). With the king in front of me, several towers and several lords, I was set.

By this time, 4 monks had been sent as emissaries to the vikings (we think we played the timer wrong here...) and Red had 9 cubes to everyone else 1. What a strategy! With Six cards for the Vikings (player Num + 1), they were a force. He hit me first, knocking out my towers and some armies, but I was able to wipe out the Viking first wave.

In the intervening 6 turns, I played an intrigue on Player 4 for his castle and was able to bequeath. [Question - What are the effects of bequeathing with the king on the table??] He, on the other hand, no longer had the ability to bequeath and died of old age. Player 2, attacked player 5, who had a mass of towers around his landless fiefs and was surprised when the defender won by virtue of the battle cards. This made player 2 weak when the vikings attacked next. After they were done, he was too weak to mount a defense and was summarily wiped out.

I decided I had to use the intervening time to my advantage and take out the earl who controlled the vikings (we assumed that death would see the removal of that color squares)At this point, I started living a truely charmed life as I continued to get Attacker or Defender wins results just when I needed them. My army remained intact and either the other players or the vikings were usually decimated.

Ultimately, I wiped out my sons fiefs (monk man) and then the Tower lord (no fields) and I was victorious. All in all - a really good game! They all said they learned a lot and would play different the next time. I'm looking forward to it!

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Chris Montgomery
United States
Joliet
Illinois
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The Coat of Arms of Clan Montgomery - Scotland. Yes, that's a woman with the head of a savage in her hand, and an anchor. No clue what it means, but it's cool.
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There is a bit of a rock, paper, scissors aspect to this game, but since you want all three, it's picking the right mix of them that seems most important. I have played probably 20 games of the beta test of the app when it was going on and I really enjoy this game. I am concerned that with 5 players, the game might drag a bit (especially if there were lots of battles), but your report doesn't make it sound that way. How long did the game take?

The Vikings are very important - it's important to at least make sure one player doesn't dominate in that area. But in a five-player game, I am concerned I would think their efficacy would be somewhat limited - they can hit hard *once*, but if they are wiped out, you have 30 more cards to burn through before they are able to make one more attack. Typically, if those attacks are against a player with a lot of fief, he can afford to sacrifice a fief or two . . . and so the Vikings seem most useful at hitting one player really hard, and hitting him in an area that he has to fight for. But it's a *great* strategy to explore. I like intrigue + viking decks, but I quickly learned that you have to have at least some type of army or a lot of cards you can throw up for towers with a robust bequeath engine.

Cheers! I am very glad to hear that your opponents enjoyed the game.
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Ortus Regni
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Massachusetts
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Rich, that is a great game report.

It is interesting to see how people develop when playing several multi-player games.

Often players go in either of two directions in their thinking.

One direction, they start to play much more conservatively, a truly balanced deck that covers almost every possible angle (to a limited extent, of course, because you then become a jack of all trades, with a very wide card base). And they build-up more than fight, well into the middle game.

Or, second direction, they start to take extreme almost crazy risks and use some edge case strategy. Maybe tons of Champions or Monks or Intrigues, etc. And then pray for the perfect combination of other Earl decks, to take advantage of, and… otherwise they just enjoy the crazy ride they have chosen to take. No matter what, they are probably going to surprise some of the other Earls who were not expecting their deck design.

A third level of experience brings another layer of nuance. In this case Earls start to watch the others’ early development carefully, and the minute they “think” that they have identified an opponent’s deck that is their nemesis - that they are particularly weak against - they will try to knock them back. Maybe weaken them enough so that the other Earls decide to strike as well. In practice, this seems like a normal free for all. But sometimes there are "poker bluff" style elements, since you also don’t want to telegraph what you are cautious of, if you see what I mean.

I kind of skipped over one other meta that is quite common if someone had a lot of fun playing a powerful politics deck, for example, in one game… you can be pretty sure that in the very next game the first Earl who starts making multiple Vassal Lord Fiefs is going to get jumped on by everyone. “Not again” they are all thinking, “this time we stop it before it starts!”

The way the Vikings scale is interesting. With 5 or 6 payers they can be very formidable right out of the gate. And can cause serious trouble to an Earl with that first blow. But, right, when they are wiped out they will take “Num of starting players +1” to be on the attack, for a second time. Which is a nice breathing space, for Earls to prepare for them.

One thing to look out for is a magic tipping point that can happen with the Vikings, particularly in larger games. If the first couple of Earls that are targeted decide not to put up a real fight, then the Vikings can grow to a size that no one can (or wants to) engage with in a real struggle. In that situation the Vikings can become this unstoppable horde that truly rampages though the land. I’ve seen it happen several times. And if an Earl has control in the bag, when this occurs, they are pretty happy about it all.


In answer to your questions: The King card is the “secular” power, often in dangerous opposition to the Archbishop, and does not have an impact on Bequeathing. But as your house is then the universally recognized leading claimant, and the one marching around with the crown (even if it is dented or tarnished in the struggle!) your young Prince-made-Earl is also given that crown. And you are indeed correct that when an Earl is off the table their cubes are immediately removed from the Viking bag.


Chris, you are probably aware of this, as I think you would have gotten an email from us, but there is a new app of Ortus Regni that is free to download at:

http://ortusregni.com/software

And a step forward from the beta version
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John R.
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Toronto
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I'm still only playing the software version, but online opponents are multiplying and I've played against probably a dozen different people now, with about 50 games under my belt (mostly 2 player but some with more against the AI). I'm hoping to bring the print-and-play to my gaming group this week. OR definitely plays differently with more players, and the Vikings are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

I tend to see a lot of players with political decks, and it's tough to deal with opponents who have fistfuls of Treachery cards and who start dropping them on you from turn one. At that point you're pretty much dependent on lucky combat results and card draws to have a chance at surviving, so thus far my feeling is that you need to have a similar deck in order to give one of them a run for their money (though I suspect that heavily political decks could actually lead to a pre-emptive bashing in a multiplayer game, as suggested in the previous post). This propensity for nasty political decks also has me thinking about point-based builds, but I'll have to play more multiplayer games before I can determine whether or not that's a viable option.
 
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Ortus Regni
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Massachusetts
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John you bring up some good points. And actually one is revenant to how we are probably going to run duels online in the future.

This is a bit of workshop talk... but appropriate for BGG. We have a proposed set of "tournament rules" for duels that we think plays well in the context of randomly matched opponents competing strictly for quick one off wins; i.e. strangers playing in a theoretical match type environment.

And this is essentially the environment of the Quick Match online world.

It turns out that there are a couple ways to confront either rushing decks or heavy politics in this situation, but it constrains you into playing "their" game to some extent or reacting strongly to it. And we prefer to keep the field as broad as possible when creating decks.


These rules are not as valuable when friends are playing each other, or over a couple games, say, if such a "tournament" setting was a series of 3-5 games, etc. maybe with a sideboard limitation or some other full Earl card set access condition. In most cases it is more fun not to add any special restrictions on duels.

So, the proposed rule - posted previously on BGG - is that no attacks *or* political attacks can be done by either Earl for the first two rounds. No messing with your opponent for two turns, in short. There is also the free single mulligan rule, but that has been implemented across the board in the app already.

What this does is allow both Earls to set-up a bit, in whatever direction they want to go, initially. It makes the straight rushing deck less desirable, and also softens early Treachery plays a bit. Overall it makes super strong aggressive decks think twice about their chances for success, but (importantly) without really removing their ability to ultimately win. They just have to work harder and get luckier. They have to earn their victory more

We think it is likely that we will implement this in Quick Matches online. While it would be an option for Challenge Friends matches. As a side note, we also would like to offer the same "game timer" features seen in Quick Match as an option in Challenge Friends. Chuckle, maybe just in case you have a friend who plays too slowly for your taste (!)


Also, yup, politics feels very different in group games. It depends on what other people are playing, true, but it is often the case that you are a marked man (or woman) if you start showing off many Treacheries in a 3+ player game. Then suddenly no one wants your Earldom to survive for long; be careful! Because of that, one classic strategy is to hold such resources as long as you can, and only reveal that strength until the last possible moment, the perfect opportunity (wink).


[ Edit: Can't help myself, just had to add one further detail on politics in group games. The other tricky bit is that you can't easily hide your setting up of a nice row of Vassal Lords. Which is always a good sign that someone might be preparing to unleash some crushing politics. The Vassal Lord count on the table is usually important. You can always claim it is "purely defensive, only to back up my Allies cards" and they might believe you (grin). ]
 
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Rich Radgoski
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Gouldsboro
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Thanks Ortus Regni for your response (and to the others as well!)

A quick point - if there are two turns with no hostilities...should we hold off on the viking timer?

 
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Ortus Regni
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It's a good question, and of course you can experiment and decide how you'd like to play it.

When we play tested the tournament-style rules for dueling we did not stop the Viking timer. That stayed the same. There were a couple reasons for that choice.

Overall, we like to have a light touch on rules changes, or have a strong thematic reason for them. It is true that, in this scenario, already two black markers will be out "when the gates of war have opened" (so to speak) but that has some possibly beneficial effects towards the goal we were aiming at.

The Vikings are a tad (one marker, really) closer to arriving in that duel than they might otherwise be. So someone sending Emissaries has a little more chance for a pay off. Plus the Vikings have a slightly higher chance of arriving, generally, and overly aggressive rush deck styles often find themselves at greater risk of falling completely under their axes than do more defensively laid out Earldoms.

In short, it either makes Emissary plays more necessary or otherwise shortens the timespan that super aggressive decks have to win, before the madness of the Viking arrival puts everything into doubt. Which seems appealing (!)
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