I've been Banished to Oregon... Gaming in Corvallis, living in Alsea... Need gamers willing to try new things...
The Splattered Imperium
We sat down late, the wife, our 8yo daughter, and I.
Setup took us from 19:30 to 20:10. Playing the first year took us to 21:10, counting the space taking/army deployment.
THe event cards up were ugly for the year-end: -1/3=3&2=2, -6/C=+1, -5/NT=-R, -7=-R...
We went through the space grabbing process. Nice. We all enjoyed that part.
In turn one, all of us, being attentive, were careful with our war-chests. The event was the 3ch=3cu... and I have realized and warned them about the rice.... I took the rice+1. All of us ended with no fewer chests than we started with. I took and got 5 rice, and 7 chests, spending only 5. I built a theater. I attacked empty provinces, but was rebuffed. My wife took one neutral province.
In turn 2, I overspent, despite my +1 chests and a second 7.... So did the 8yo... I had a buffer, and was left with 12 at the end, and the -6 was the event, and again, I rapidly raised rice; 4 more. My daughter attacked my strongest provinces... I won both, but in both was hurt badly. I attacked with a single cube a neutral... and came away with 4 cubes there... Must have hired rōnin and/or had local unaffiliated daimyō come to my cause. The 8yo, having no decent rice production, fought a rebellion in her best ricefield and won; she now had 5, since she had the rice+1. My wife took another neutral, and I took revenge and a temple from my daughter, plus a neutral
Turn three, I pulled 4 more rice; I had the 5cube=6cubes special, and the event was -7/NT=-R. I was rebuffed on both attacks of neutrals... but I expected that I lost one action to poverty, but the now tired 8yo lost most action to poverty. All of us were able to build theaters and remove rebels. the 8yo did grab a neutral...
Winter: Losing 5 rice hurt us all. ALL of us came up quite short; I had 8 of 11 needed after that... 2 at +2, and both draws were of strong provinces with no local rebels.
The 8yo lost both provinces she had rebelling; she was short 6 rice, and both draws had rebels and only 2 of her own troops. This dropped her to 8 territories.
The wife was down 5 rice of her 12 territories. She also faced two rebellions at +3, and one of those had a marker. Ironically, her first had 2 extra cubes since my last had resulted in them being in the tray. She lost that one. Her second, however, was weak, with 3, but came out with 5 of her own, and no green. Apparently, her troops regathered completely on the opposite side of the central Province...
Due to time and a tired and no longer able to focus young lady, we called the game at the halfway point. Final scores were 28 for me, 19 for the 8yo, and 24 or 25 for the wife.
Looking back, three hours later, I can say we all made a decent show of the first game, but we all need to thing about what we need. I need more temples and theaters, and fewer castles.
Planning is fun; the game itself is brilliant... tense but not cutthroat. Controlled PVP, in that attacking is limited. Good and simple economics. And it was the 8 buildings, and 9 points of majorities that won me the half-game.
Down the road, we will play this again. We have friends who will like it for it's being "risk-lite with econ", and others who will like it because it is "econ with a time-limit"... one couple is one each... and the 8yo can play effectively.
All of us look forward to playing again, with different strategies.
The only big disappointment, however, was the lack of plastic or wooden buildings.
The big surprises: the rice shortage did not leave us crippled;
Rice revolts in the first winter are not as painful as those in the second winter. With 3 more turns of build up and fighting, holding provinces through the 2nd winter can be challenging.