It had been a while since I last met Kaarin and Karsten for an intense gaming session, so I was happy to join them last Saturday.
The game to be played was Shogun, and I was happy to try it for several reasons. First, I had already played Wallenstein once and enjoyed it. Second, because I had bought the game myself and wanted to know if this was a keeper.
So we started the game at around 1:30 pm, and after a brief, but efficient rules explanation, Kaarin (player A), Karsten (player B), Bob (player C), Gordon (player D) and I (player E) began the game. We agreed to use the recommended initial setup for our first game, using the sun part of the board.
Not surprisingly, in the first turn, everyone tried to grab some of the undefended reachable provinces. In my case, I laid my eyes on Settsu and Awa-Shikoku. I managed to conquer Settsu, which has a great income value (7), but unfortunately failed to capture Awa-Shikoku, even though I attacked with four units and they only defended with one… Sometimes the tower just isn’t your friend!
The rest of the players more or less succeeded in conquering most of the neutral areas.
Karsten was player B, and therefore had some areas next to mine. As in many other multiplayer wargames, we both counted on the other attacking, so we started a build up of armies in the neighboring areas. In my case, though, to make an attack on me less attractive I did not build any buildings in those areas. That probably saved me in the last turn from being attacked since my territories were not very valuable.
It’s kid of funny… The main reason I did not attack him is because, since we usually engage in conflict in this kind of game, I did not want to fight him once again, and he didn’t either, but that kept most of our troops out of action for a big part of the game.
The rest of the turn saw a huge expansion of Kaarin, who ended up with 10 areas, and lots of buildings, after attacking Gordon in the southwest. I finally managed to conquer Awa-Shikoku, which Bob tried to steal from me later but miraculously (from my point of view, of course) failed…. This time the tower did favor me.
Winter phase arrived, and I was short on rice by one single unit. I had to face rebellion on Shima, where I had four troops and had built a castle… The rebellion wiped out my troops and the castle. The first turn was pretty rough on me!
When we scored, it was obvious that Kaarin was in the lead, with almost 10 points more than the nearest other player (Karsten). BTW, I was last of the pack.
So we started the next turn, and I really saw very little to improve my score, but I started taking some risks (like collecting money twice in the best regions, etc). The rest of the players ganged up on Kaarin, and eventually, in the end, she ended with only four provinces. Of course, Karsten was the biggest beneficiary of that, but a series of devastations occurred when he tried to take valuable areas away from Kaarin, and he did not really get many points from that.
In the last turn, everyone went crazy with their attacks, trying to scratch points until the last second. I made an attack on Bob and on Kaarin, stealing two castles, which, believe it or not, put me in second place. That really surprised me and made me realize that a come-back-from-far-behind is possible in this game.
I think that the rest of the players kind of felt sorry for my horrible first turn and did not really want to attack me… plus my areas did not have many buildings (except the northern ones, but nobody really had troops near enough to conquer them). Maybe they felt sorry because I have a “serious” facial expression when I’m concentrated, and I was trying to think of a way to have a shot for victory at the beginning of the game, and later on, when I felt I had no real chance, just trying to get out of other players’ way to winning. I guess I’ll have to work on a happier face!
Kaarin was doing great in the first turn (not surprisingly, because she is a great player), but as usual, whoever starts leading in these multiplayer wargames is rarely the winner in the end. It’s usually up to whoever is “flying under the radar” for the most part, to win this type of games.
This game is one of those that leave you tired after playing, probably due to all the planning involved, so I did not even try to make the others play “Warrior Knights”. Instead we tried "China", a game I have mixed feelings about, and "Ave Caesar", a neat, simple race game.
All in all, it was a good gaming session, a good new game, and a chance to see some friends.