Peter Walsh
United States
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Hoc Spatium Mercede
This is another fine mess you've gotten us into.
Just after the Christmas holiday some poor TI-addicted souls got together for a five-player game.

The races shook out as follows:

Jol Nar was playing his second game
Naalu was a first time player
Sol another first time player
Arborec was a TI3 veteran
Saar (me)

First round was largely uneventful. The opening objectives were "6 planets" and "spend 8 inf.". Despite taking Warfare, Saar was unable to grab six planets in Round One with only one two planet system nearby. Sol and Naalu had six planets in easy reach, but Naalu lack enough carriers to do the job and Sol chose not to build a third. Sol allowed everyone to take commodities to get the flow of trade going.

With round two the Galaxy got noticeably less comfortable as the factions began finding their borders. Saar and Arborec cut a gentlemen's agreement on their border, but made no transactions. Jol Nar and Saar created a peaceful frontier and made a mutually lucrative deal - in exchange for TGs and PNs we set up a DMZ and I agreed to pop Warfare quickly enough to help Jol Nar's expansion. My prize was the Jol Nar technology PN, which enabled Saar to gain a second Yellow tech for free and Floating Factory II as my regular tech buy for the round. With everyone else expanding to grab 6 planets in their pie slices Saar made the predictable rush for MR.

And so began the "Great Political Smack Down" of the Junkyard Dogs.

The first revealed agenda was Public Execution. As the faction in the lead with 2 VPs at that point, it was obvious who's head was on the chopping block. So obvious that I decided to play a Rider on the outcome predicting my own execution. In exchange I got a DN, which I promptly placed at MR. Arborec also played a Rider gaining 3 CCs for predicting my Shave with the Galactic Razor.

Round 3 saw a coalition emerge with the goal of preventing the Imperial SC from ever finding its way into the eagerly perspiring paws of the Wandering Dog People. In practice this meant that everyone picked their SCs and then pressured Jol Nar (one seat upstream from the Saar) to "take one for the team" and grab Imperial. Jol Nar made bank on this pledging his support for the anti-Saar league while quietly running tied for the lead in VPs.

With the Agenda phase the next chapter of the "Great Political Smack Down" of Canis Horribilus was written.

The first agenda was Ixthian Artifact. The Galaxy fell all over itself to reach for the Ticking Box of Doom with whatever scaly appendages, leafy tendrils or robotic pseudopods were available, promptly evaporating my main fleet over MR because of course it did. The irrelevance of the Saar in Galactic affairs seemed assured.

Round 4 was where the Saar start to look overpowered. Allowed to take Leadership, my first move was to rush an SD to Rex with some fighters and GFs and belch out another fleet (mainly cruisers and fighters) to forestall a rush by anyone else's fast movers. For the most part everyone's fleets were still hobbled by slow ships in one category or another, or a difficult path to reach the center of the board. Chaos Mapping allowed the fleet at MR to slowly become more formidable each time Saar got a turn.

Sol and Saar exchanged fire as I moved to score "Unveil Flagship" and Sol followed on to try for the SO that scores if you kill an enemy Flagship. Although I didn't have many Action Cards as the only faction without Neural Motivators there were just enough to get my fleet back out of danger without Sol getting his VP.

By Round 6 it seemed fairly clear the game was going to either go to Jol Nar or Saar. Sol, probably unwisely, agreed to trigger Leadership early-ish in exchange for my Support for the Throne PN. There were a lot of moving parts to my plan for the Round and grabbing a VP moved Sol closer to contention, but I think I'd have been stuck at 9 VPs had he told me to pound sand and delayed Leadership. The Saar fleet abandoned MR and the Arborec rushed in to fill the void just ahead of Naalu. As it turned out the Saar were able to score two secret objectives and the 2 point tech objective just ahead of Jol Nar to hit 10 pts.

It was a good time - I can't decide if the Clan of Saar is truly overpowered, or if it can be contained with adequate counter play. I'll know when I get to play against them I suppose.
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Esben Heick
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Very humorous writeup, enjoyed the read. Appreciate seeing the underdog faction win. Not so underdog anyway. Just dog.
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