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Twilight Imperium (Third Edition)» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Trial of errors - an unfinished Winnu story rss

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Chris Crowder
Canada
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Ontario
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Tonight was our group’s fourth game in a year - our fourth game ever - and the first to incorporate the expansion. We all five of us are older than we were as lads and have to ease our tired minds into these games gently; thus we used only the original set of strategy cards and dispensed with the new - even the Imperial replacement - but used most everything else from the expansion. None of the Distant Suns or Leaders for us, however.

We were randomly assigned two races in advance from which to choose. I was dealt Winnu and Sol, from which I selected Winnu after reading many astute analyses on this web site and noting the power of their race-specific technology. We received our locations by random assignment; I won the area with the most planets, and the Mentak took up the feared ‘fifth wheel’ location. My opponents at the table became Yssaril (to my left), Letnev (to his), Mentak, and Xxcha (to my right). This felt comfortable; the most militarily powerful opposite me, the docile Xxcha for neighbours, and I felt I could hold my own against Yssaril expansion with the help of my Stasis Capsules.

Almost immediately, my mistakes began. Mentak won first strategy selection and took Imperial. Xxcha (our rustiest player) took Logistics. This afforded me an obvious opportunity to obtain Initiative - which I forfeited to take Technology. I had over-thought my game; it had occurred to me Technology would make me unique among Round One players in that only I could obtain a technology (Neural Motivator), for surely no one could muster eight resources better spent on building? Unfortunately the bonus trade goods that Letnev, Mentak and Xxcha received did not figure into my calculations. Yssaril accepted Initiative, giving me a pitying look, and my first mistake was complete.

The Yssaril expanded directly towards me with a force equivalent to all I started with to occupy a system two moves from my own. I had not negotiated with them quickly enough (mistake number two) to feel comfortable with doing anything less than expanding into one system only, between my home world and the Yssaril’s new property, hampering my own expansion. Letnev, Mentak and Xxcha were less awkward and more up-front agreeable with each other in staking their own claims.

On the second round, Mentak snapped up Initiative after Letnev (our second-most rusty player) let it slide; very ominous. Later, a near-fatal mistake: a withdrawal of my forces to expand away from the Yssaril, virtually abandoning what I had taken next to them, exposing my jugular (mistake number three). They mercifully skipped taking advantage of it, but I was forced to move up my remaining forces into that abandoned property to remove temptation rather than expanding elsewhere with them: hampered again. Given my compromised situation, I had to skip acquiring technology this round to build up my forces instead. My first round technology pick had lent me little advantage.

On the third round: something going right at last. Yssaril were feeling threatened by Letnev as well as Mentak who had planted two cruisers in the Nexus, and the peace on their border with me was becoming increasingly solid. On my right side, the Xxcha were expanding only extremely slowly. I scattered my forces thinly to claim all the many neutral planets remaining in my range (making good use of Stasis Capsules), nearly doubling my property. Now I was getting somewhere, able to brush off my earlier mistakes as jitters and get on with business. I confidently laid claim to my racial tech and immediately made use of it, trading action cards for command counters. I was able to claim my first objective this round by spending ten influence, and even had a bit of resources left to build with.

It was not until the fourth round that I was able to truly settle in to building up my empire: a space dock next to Mecatol Rex, but just a tad too late to attack Rex before Letnev defeated the guardians with a too-sizeable force for me or anyone else to contest. I quietly obtained XRD Transporters, and looked for less powerful targets. Yssaril was watching its border closely, Mentak were pouring the last of their cruisers onto the board, but Xxcha … possibilities proffered. On the fifth round: a powerful Winnu presence now outside Mecatol Rex, and I used it to seize my opening - a sidestep with a small force, defeating a token ground force on a Xxcha planet to claim an Objective point (‘defeat at least one ground force’). They quickly eliminated my fleet there in retaliation, but lacked the ground forces to dislodge my own. I pick up Type IV Drive. The next round (sixth): a similar attack on the Wormhole Nexus, removing Mentak cruisers and planting my flag. My confidence is increasing! I have claimed the Imperial card and I’ve risen to five points (“I have five technologies”), tied with Yssaril. Mentak are immediately behind us but their empire has run out of steam while glowering at me for the Nexus loss; Letnev would have played a secret objective by now if it had centered on Mecatol, and while they‘re blocking me from mine at least they may be blocking others; Xxcha are relatively weak, they know it, and they are making assurances they bear me no ill will for my recent escapade. The icing on the cake: I have acquired Advanced Fighters, which makes me feel immortal.

And then … what all TI players dread … the clock is winding down on our limited game time. We have time for one more round. And when that knowledge is in the air, people will do stupid, stupid things. Me not least among them. All of my earlier clumsiness returns: I play an action card against Yssaril, my victory points competitor, to prevent them from acquiring technology this turn. I follow his gaze to the unclaimed strategies this round, and see Technology lying there. Right. Wasted action card. But at least I have Diplomacy! I play it quickly against - the glowering Mentak, the one and only race as it will turn out that has no intention of attacking me this round.

Xxcha rides up with a carrier of troops they’ve assembled and, following bombardment, rescues the hostage planet from my grasp. Right, should have seen that. Letnev points to his fleet in Mecatol Rex, points to my (completely surrounded by my forces but utterly undefended) homeworld and announces two action cards simultaneously - one that allows him to pass through my forces that lie in the way, and another that gives him the three moves required to reach it. It is a master stroke that will acheive his now-confessed secret objective (capture another’s homeworld). By a stroke of dumb luck I still have the Sabotage I picked up three rounds ago and was tempted to use many times, and I cancel his first one - whew, bullet dodged, especially when they redirect their aim to the weaker Xxcha in a subsequent action. Then: the Yssaril, who had frightened me into expansion errors in the beginning but I had since let me guard down against - swoop in to destroy a lesser fleet of mine, directly next to my home world. My third space dock is now space dust, and my Objective point for this round along with it. The Yssaril move a point ahead by other means and I “lose” by that one point (to the extent one loses an unfinished game).

There is nothing satisfying or fulfilling about leaving a game at this point. It is like longing for the perfect meal all week and then pushing back from the table when you are only half done and, if no longer hungry, not yet stuffed either. I respect and like the Winnu; a strong race with their racial tech in play. But I have to disrespect my own playing skills and will have to sharpen up next time, whichever race I may then be.

(Edited for spelling/grammar)
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Mike Coulam
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As the Yssaril player in this game, I had a close-up glimpse of the comedy of errors that was the Winnu strategy. Don't get me wrong though, the Winnu weren't the only ones making mistakes. I was fortunate not to be smacked down in a big way when I didn't have the resources to build enough forces to reinforce my rapid expansions. It wasn't until round three that I felt somewhat secure. The Letnev and I had agreed to a reasonable line in space that neither of would cross (at least when it mattered). That saved my butt. His four dreadnoughts in the Mecatol Rex system fortunately didn't move towards my totally imposing fleet of a carrier, fighter, a destroyer and two cruisers. I think I had him scared.

Winning the game was actually a bit of a surprise for me. I had assumed that the Winnu and the Mentak were going to get at least one more point each. I knew I had one of the public objectives (5 tech advances), but that still would have left me tied with the two of them. So, I went for broke during the final round and went for my secret objective (four planets with the same tech). That was the reason I hit the Winnu's space dock. That gave me a third red tech planet. And, as luck would have it, there's a sparsely guarded red planet belonging to the Letnev within reach of a carrier with a lone soldier. Woohoo! Two victory points, here I come.

And, then it happens, my final mistake. The Letnev point out the five(?!?) PDS's that I somehow overlooked. Son of a ..... My poor carrier took four hits and my last chance to get my secret objective went down in flames. At least, I unknowingly cost the Winnu their final victory point.

Overall, it was a fun game with a lot more battles than we'd had in all of our previous games combined. A rematch is definitely in the cards. I just hope that it isn't another three or four months before the next one.
 
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Chris Crowder
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Our normally passive group crept a bit out of its turtle shells this time. Our confidence in attacking one another must be growing (and the more aggressive objective cards from the expansion sort of prompted it as well).
 
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Joel Thomas
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As the Letnev player, being in a position where I was able to capture a fair amount of resource planets early in the game, I came to a point where I ran out of pieces (PDS, dreadnoughts, space stations and the like) for me to buy.

OK - great - I can now declare some very satisfying battles. Weaker races to my sides, they are withing easy reach too. devil

However, reason creapt ove me. What's the (victory) point? Yeah, I could have taken an entire race out of the game (should I really wanted to) but that would not only be unsporty, but would weaken me from the other players while not granting me any additional victory points.

Therefore, until some of the aggressive objectives came out, there was no added value...

Note to self: Never leave Initiative on the table after Imperial has been selected... This would have given me an extra 2pts - and the game. angry
 
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