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Colin Marsh
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Portland
Oregon
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my group completed 2 games this past weekend where we used these tiles for the first time. both games were 5 player games done with faction bidding. we had avoided repeat races and so we've seen 10 of the 20 tiles in action so far. while its far too early to comment on what kind of effect they will have over time I thought i'd share some thoughts on how they were used in our game and how those games played out overall.

game 1: swarmlings / auren / dwarves / chaos magicians / fakirs

all 5 players did build their special landscapes at some point during the game. the dwarves built theirs very early and placed it on the central continent (we typically play with side 2 of the F & I) board. he used it to jump an extra space only once and in general did not find it terribly useful or game-changing from a strategy perspective.

the auren built their special landscape and did use it to score an additional 4 points. they came very close to making that 8 but the game was very competitive on the cult tracks with swarmlings, auren , chaos magicians and fakirs each taking 1st in one of the tracks. it very nearly was an 8 point swing. had the game had only the chaos magicians or swarmlings I suspect he would have easily taken 2 tracks. this was a tough game in general for the auren. hey had neighbors on both sides and two other strong cult races. they were taken last in race bidding but the point advantage was not enough.

the chaos magicians did use their special landscape to start a cluster that did become their 2nd town. i think this was one of the very few times i've seen the chaos magicians have their stronghold ability and it was very intimidating for other players. seeing them use both the double shovel & 7 coins or 7 coins and one of the 4 cost actions in the same turn was rather game changing. it seems to me that chaos magicians usually do not chase their stronghold and this may give them more reason to do so. that makes being an opponent harder to plan around.

the fakirs got their special tile out quite early and used it numerous times through the game. the fakirs won the game by two points with a total of 148 points. (we were playing F & I end game rules) we tried to keep track of carpet flights reliably after it was placed but we got pretty engrossed in the game so i'm not certain of the final number. that said we believe he flew 7 times post placement. given how often the 7 coin power action influences games and how tight coins are in rounds 4 through 6, we felt this made a pretty significant difference. in particular it allowed the player to conserve power which he needed to pop out two bridges to create a town and eventually take the win.

i played as the swarmlings and planned around using my special landscape from the start. part of that was certainly just a desire to try something new but i also felt like i had a good opening dwelling combo to build a sprawling mega-town across 3 continents. it did not quite work out as i was beaten to a crucial hex by the chaos magicians and was not able to link all my structures together. that said i pivoted by taking Fire 2 in the mid game and had a fairly easy time stringing together a 12 point double-town made of Stronghold / Temple / Trading Post x 3 / Special Tile. i did need to build a bridge so it cost me extra power but i didn't take me too far off my game plan. had i managed to get the bridge power action in round 6 i'd have been able to add a 3rd town and would have secured the win but all in all i scored 146 points and felt like the landscape helped.


game 2: mermaids / giants / alchemists / nomads / halflings

the halfling player was pretty underwhelmed with the driller from the start. he did use it on the eastern most continent late and it created some real competition with the nomad and alchemist players that were clustered over there. in the end though he didn't feel he ended up with more digs or more structures than normal. it also was a game which did not feature the spade bonus scoring tile and he thought if it had, he might have felt better about the driller. he did score very well but that did not have much to do with this tile.

the giants got their special tile out in round 2 and then maxed out digging. this allowed him to be super aggressive in cutting off other players. the game had end game scoring for structures on the edges. the giants cut through several other civs with cheap digs and their SH ability. the giant player won connected structures with 15 and managed to get 6 on the edges - good for 2nd place. the tile was central to his strategy and we all had a good chuckle at the "cave of wisdom" which is clearly a pile of sticks. their final score was 120 - good for 3rd place.

the alchemist player did use their special landscape and upgraded both digging and shipping. the player felt he waited too long to hit this combo though and by then had been cut off as he was close to the sprawling nomads and the halflings. he wasn't sure it helped him and felt like it might have been a trap.

the nomad player got their camp out and used it for coins a bit less than half the time. ours was a game with lots of bonus coins (we had +6 , +4 and cult along with shovel +2) so that could have been part of it. it probably would have been used more in a coin poor game. in general the nomad player focused too much on edge structures and while he won that condition he got cut off twice - once by halflings and again by the alchemists. he wasn't able to link this 3 towns.

i played as the mermaids and the coral town was pretty central to my strategy. i used it to found a town that crossed two river spaces. this was very important as it allowed me to focus on the one town where i had to beat the giants to a hex. knowing i had the flexibility to jump two river spots to link my 2nd town together let me focus my digs where i needed them in the first two rounds to counter the giants. i did very well in the game, scoring 148 and the victory. i was without question helped by the presence of the shipping bonus tile and some round end bonuses that favored water but the coral reef was very important to my plans.

all in all i think the special tiles are a great addition. my group always plays with race bidding and the nice part of that was we only had to read through 5 special rules at the start of each game. i think it would be pretty overwhelming to have an open draft where you needed to look at 20 new rules but with the bidding variant i don't think it added really any time to set up. i'm looking forward to trying out the others.
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Robert
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Thank you, this was very interesting to read. You used the bonus landscapes with auction, which seems a wise approach, as any imbalance between the bonus landscapes can be factored into the bidding process.

Do you auction as per the rules, or do you use a different system (e.g. EVO style)?
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Colin Marsh
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Robert,

We play the auction as the rules are written. I'm not sure what EVO style is. None of us play extensively online so I wouldn't say anyone is an expert level player. We often realize at the end of games that a certain race should have been forced to bid more but the auction really speeds up setup and gets us to play races we'd be much less likely to.

Is there a link to EVO style somewhere?
 
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Robert
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colinmarsh wrote:
Is there a link to EVO style somewhere?
I described it here: Re: Some exercise in auctioning
 
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