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Spheres of Influence: Struggle for Global Supremacy» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First play impressions rss

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Levi Hobbs
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I got Spheres in the mail yesterday and immediately played a 2-player game with a friend. With 2 players it gives you the option to control 3 factions each or 4. We opted for 3 because it sounded easier. In hindsight I think that is true--less to keep track of.

The rules didn't take too long to learn and I'm confident I can teach this to new players in 5-10 minutes tops. It is deeper than basic Risk but most things are very easily identifiable on the map or on this board to the side, which keeps track of production points, oil points, and how many capitols and spheres of influence you control. I especially like how the combat bonuses for different situations are displayed right on the corner of the map so you don't have to look them up in the rules.

We found ourselves consulting the rules only twice, which I consider very good for first time playing a war game. The combat rules are very simple but vastly superior to Risks rules. You also don't end up with armies that are quite so massive as in Risk, although they do feel massive. Our biggest battles didn't take that long to go through; maybe 5 rounds of combat max.

I want to talk about the territories, because the way they are handled made the game feel very thematic and we felt like options of where to invade were very interesting. First off, every territory has a production value from 1-5. Also, there are three different symbols that pop up on territories.

Some territories have the Capitol symbol and those give you a bonus troop per round. Some have oil and those give you, basically more turns per round (you start off with a measly 2). And then there is the "point of interest" symbol; these territories give you a special card when you take the territory.

My faction that was in Europe had a lot of production (troops per turn) but because I didn't get enough oil, I ended up not being able to move enough and get more spheres of influence. On the other hand, my faction in Africa had lots of oil, so lots of turns in a round, but hardly any troops to move! So I had two great examples of how not to do it, and it really shows that you need to think about getting a balance of both in order to have a really winning empire. My opponent had a faction that started in China, came to dominate 3 spheres, and was leading in production points the whole game. But he also incrementally gained a little more oil every couple of rounds, and this is what game him the mobility to end up dominating--having both oil and production.

We also had some interesting naval situations. My South American faction got walled off, so I sent people to invade Australia early on. I made the mistake of only defending the very top province in South America, so my opponent sailed around and attacked behind enemy lines, taking my Capitol. But he made the same mistake, so I counter attacked him in mexico, which has high production and is a point of interest.

His North American faction ended up spread too thin because he tried to go after South America and Japan. After a while he regrouped and then did well because be did have solid production and oil.

He had another faction in Africa and Central America that, like my Africa one, had oil but too little production.

The game was a bit long. We were at it 2-3 hrs and then realized what time it was and truncated the game by cutting out a couple turns. I felt pretty happy with doing that actually. The game will be much faster next time but I still think it will take 2 hrs. That's totally fine with me, much better than other games of this scope.

We had fun with some of the special cards. We used nukes twice. He used one that allowed a surprise attack from the ocean, bolstering his tiny army to be a real threat. I discarded several of my cards for extra movement. I was glad for that option, because you could really slow the game down by trying to play all the cards you draw. This is something that I expect to be much better with more players, so each player isn't looking at 4-8 cards at a time! Having that many cards was one of the few things I didn't like.

Oh also, you do have to constantly fiddle with the board that tracks production, oil, spheres and capitols. I did a pretty good job but it's probably impossible to do it perfectly. The hardest part is remembering that when you take a territory from someone, not only do you gain it, but they need to lose it on the boards.

Overall we felt that we had a thematic experience and the game really delivers on what you expect--a modern domination of the world.

--NOTE: we discovered halfway through the game that we played with one of the rules wrong. You can discard special cards to get an extra unit during the first phase, NOT to get an extra movement during the second phase.--
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Cameron Rothlisberger
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You definitely need to get a few more players to the table when you can! I have played several 2 player games and they were fun, but it is much better with 5 or 6.

Our games usually take 1.5 - 2 hours.

One question: What did you mean by "I discarded several of my cards for extra movement."

The board that tracks production really isn't necessary, but it speeds up the mobilization phase a lot and downtime between rounds if it is updated faithfully. We actually don't bother updating the spheres and capitals section until round 5.
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Levi Hobbs
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crothlisberger wrote:
You definitely need to get a few more players to the table when you can! I have played several 2 player games and they were fun, but it is much better with 5 or 6.

Our games usually take 1.5 - 2 hours.

One question: What did you mean by "I discarded several of my cards for extra movement."

The board that tracks production really isn't necessary, but it speeds up the mobilization phase a lot and downtime between rounds if it is updated faithfully. We actually don't bother updating the spheres and capitals section until round 5.


Thanks for the feedback!

Yeah, it says in the rules that there is an alternate use for the special cards. And now that you mention it, I'm remembering that we had it wrong...we thought that it said you could discard a special card for an extra movement, but discovered halfway through the game that I read it totally wrong; it says you can discard them for an extra unit during the phase where you produce your units.
 
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gary g
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Try to grab more players to participate!
I haven't tried having to manage several factions per player each. I can see where AP could be an issue.

Have only run 5-6 player games(that usually go a solid 90-120 minutes), and recently finished a epic 8 player game(that pretty much only added an extra 30-40 minutes). Alot of backstabs, table talking, forged alliances, bluffs, and the final couple end round pushes. The game really shines the more people are around. I cannot recommend upping the player count enough.

I ave cubes bought from BGG store for the extra 2 factions. Am trying for a 10-man this weekend! Or maybe teamplay. 3vs3vs3. 5vs5. 2vs2vs2vs2vs2. The possibilities are endless with this great game! I am definately obsessed!

Keep on sharing them session reports though! Looks like you guys had fun!
 
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Storgar The Viking
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The most I have done is a 12 faction game - we had to leave it set up on the table and finish the next day but it was good fun. We had 4 players with 3 factions each. 1 faction from each player quickly became fodder and was used to hinder other players or to sacrifice for easy bolstering of another faction.

I think in total I have played with 10 different people all enjoyed it.
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Ryan Hanson
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Thanks a lot for the report!

I'm pretty sure only the STARTING capitals give an extra unit during mobilization, not every capital. So in a 6-faction game, only the 6 starting capitals that you kept as cards and had armies on at the beginning count for the +1 unit bonus. The other 12 capitals that start the game unoccupied still count for the victory conditions though.
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Ryan Kelly
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Hansolo88 wrote:
Thanks a lot for the report!

I'm pretty sure only the STARTING capitals give an extra unit during mobilization, not every capital. So in a 6-faction game, only the 6 starting capitals that you kept as cards and had armies on at the beginning count for the +1 unit bonus. The other 12 capitals that start the game unoccupied still count for the victory conditions though.


Yes. That is the case. The way I've played it, as starting capitals change hands on the board, we pass the cards around between players. That also seems to be the purpose of the dark numbers on the SOI/Capital tracker. If you have 3 SOI's, you can't have less than 3 capitals to go with them, but you can have a capital without controlling the entire corresponding SOI.
 
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