Shane Guthrie
United States
Duvall
Washington
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Or, "How I tried to pacify my militaristic neighbour, got burned to a crisp and still almost win"

First game of Twilight Imperium for most of us. Very tense, 7.5 hours, we called for round 8 to be the last since we were out of time (there were two more rounds based on the variant with the public objectives laid out from the start).

5 Player game
Rory Federation of Sol
Harvey Mentak Coalition
Niall L1Z1X Mindnet
Rob Emiratesof Hacan
Shane Naalu Collective

Rory and Harvey started off with a bit more territory than the rest, with a bulk of planets between Rob and Harvey. The rest of us got some amount of trade-goods which Harvey happily took his share of. The three best systems were close to Rory (2 of them) and one next to Shane.

Round 1:
Everyone expanded into their near systems, no battles to fight, just feeling things out. There was a significant buffer between Rory and me, but no buffer and some planets between Naill and me. It was clear that he was going to be a tiger next door to deal with. Harvey took the technology card, and would do so in several of the next rounds.

Round 2:
Shane expanded into the 3rd system next to Mercatol Rex. Rory made good time expanding with his two carriers and many ground troops. Rob got off to a bit of a slower start, but captured some good planets. Harvey gathered up more planets around him.
Then in a quick move (a strategy card that let me pick up a command counter back up) grabbed Mecatol itself.

Round 3:
Naill's fleets grew in size and dangerousness, I tried to encourage him to go elsewhere, even suggesting he to take a planet between himself and Rory that cut off Mecatol from the rest of my planets.
We made an agreement in principle that I would invade Rory next turn and he would take the planet behind it so he'd have somewhere to go. It was my hope he would continue on to Rory's 2 planet system. In retrospect, a bad idea.

Round 4:
This round saw our first combat, with Rob attacking with flank speed on some of Rory's undefended planets in the corner.
I also invaded as planned on Rory's two system next to Mecatol Rex with a moderately sized fleet. I was able to take one planet but not much more. I could see my fleet wasn't going to hold, and should have prepared to retreat, but did not.

Naill moved into the emptied planet as planned, putting him next to my newly conquered two-system.

Round 5:
Rory retook the system I'd taken last turn in quick fashion with little in the way of casualties. I was feeling a great sense of remorse looking at the board now, as my fleets were in tatters and I had Niall knocking on my door. I attempted to fortify my holdings with ground-forces as I didn't think my fleets could hold anyone out.
Instead of attacking the much better defended Rory, Naill turned south into my best system that was lightly defended. At this point, my chances took a decided turn for the worst.

Round 6:
I had drawn the #8 card that lets you get a point for Mecatol, which I did, then get multiple objectives. I had just gotten what I needed for 2 research items (have one of each color tech and have 5 techs), and was looking to get the 'three planets with different specialities'. But in the meantime, Naill had conquered the planet that had my 'green' colored specialty, so I couldn't claim it.
Rob, who had been lagging behind in the points got the Imperial strategy and claimed several objectives at once, bringing him back into the pack.

Round 7:
Rob and Rory were standing at the gates of Mecatol, clearly interested in taking it this turn. I took diplomacy to keep Rob out. I probably should have moved out and let them fight it out instead of having to blow me up first. I had focused too much on keeping it when it wasn't even my SO.
Rory finally made his move on Mecatol Rex, bringing a massive ground force and a large fleet. My space fleet went down easily; the troops lasted a bit longer. It was no match though, and the planet was taken.

Naill continued his conquering of the space around my homeworld, shutting out any hope for a counter attack.

Round 8:
This was a bloodbath.

Rory took the Imperial II card (clearly planning ahead he drew Initiative last turn), which, if things worked out for him, would have been worth 5 points (one for having Mercatrol Rex, 2 for his SO for having a spaceport and some amount of units, 1 for the public objective of holding the planet and 1 for the other public object he could claim because of having the 'multiple objectives' nature of the card). This would have put him at 10 points.

"Beware the Turtle":
The round started with a very provocative political card that Harvey chose from his Political Strategy. He had seen the deck earlier and knew what it would be, so started his big move. It said that a 50/50 chance of a roll would either:
A) Cause all units at Mecatol Rex to be destroyed, all spaces adjacent take 3 rolls of damage.
OR
B) Everybody gets 2 technologies for free.

Since Rory was on the planet, we all voted for it, but it didn't explode and we all got two technologies.
In the next go-round Rory's newly conquered Mecatol Rex came under attack by Harvey in a massive and well orchestrated attack that saw two actions played (flank speed and one that destroys all ground troops but leaves a radioactive marker). This meant however, that Harvey couldn't land ground troops (they died when they landed). He had the SO that said he needed Mercatol Rex and large fleet there.

Rory was now unable to take the primary 'if you own Mecatol Rex you get 1 point' action on his card (Imperial II) the SO, or the public objective.

Harvey was promptly attacked by Rob. Harvey wasn't out of tricks though, as he had one action card (mine field) that damaged most of Rob's ships, and a recovery card that saved two of his own. Unfortunately for him, a loss of a cruiser kept him from his SO.

Naill was locked down from an attack on Mecatol by a card from Rob that froze the system he could attack from. It was a messy round with mostly frustration for all. We took a few more actions realizing none of them were going to give us the points we needed.

Found myself basically out of options, only my home-system and one planet with space occupied by a large fleet of Niall's. I was at the mercy of Niall, his fleets were poised around my home system and an invasion was sure to keep me from scoring any points. However, he took pity on me and didn't march in for the Coupe De Grace.

I saw I had one more possible objective for 2 points, if I could get 20 resources. I had 3 resource worth of planets left in my home system and 3 in the one space occupied by Niall. I took trade, which game me 7 trade goods (and 2 bonus counters I turned into trade goods). We also had the law that lets you scrap a technology for 6 trade good. Unfortunately, Naill took the last 3 resource planet in the next space over, shutting me down to 18 resource, and so I took the 1 point 'spend 10 resource' instead.

This allowed me to tie for the lead at 7 points (we didn't figure out the tiebreakers, I 'm sure whatever they were it would be Rory that came out on top, since I had nothing left).

I enjoyed the game very much, though I should have had less faith in fighters and ground forces to protect me from my very powerful neighbour. Earlier harassment/expansion into the more empty regions of space across the board or letting people fight over Mecatol Rex in the mid to late game may have saved me from the my eventual marginalization.
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Harvey O'Brien
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Thanks for the report, Shane. Good fun.

It's a shame we didn't have another hour to finish it, but we would have been too tired to concentrate much longer, I'm sure. It would have been interesting to see how the endgame played out. I'm pretty sure I could have managed my SO in the next turn, though no doubt Niall would have swept in on me with all those Dreadnoughts as quickly as Rob withdrew. I think Rory was nursing his wounds from the artifact devastating his ground forces, and might have sprung revenge attacks on my planets nearest his borders. Rob certainly did have a shot at my home world as his last action, which indicated that though my snapping turtle strategy actually worked on the whole, I had (literally) played my hand (six out of seven action cards) and would have been very vulnerable. I might have snatched the VPs, but if Rob had persisted in attacking my homeworld, Niall had gone for Mercatol Rex (we never did find out his SO, did we?) and Rory had revenge-struck some of my other systems, there was a real chance of me being eliminated altogether.

Anyway, this is the kind of game that really fires up your 'what if' brain, doesn't it? We have to get it on the table again soon.
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Shane

Cheers for the report. I really not that bad a neighbour but there was nowhere to go. With both you and Rob getting ministries I was largely you both were to strong for me early on and Harvey sat on the other end of wormhole A. Even my SO didn't allow for Metacol Rex. I should have moved against Rob and grabbed some of his planets for my SO and the win.

I'm keen for another game of it soon too. Maybe after the June bank holiday. I reckon we could shave a few hours off now everyone has an idea what happens as you go along. I also reckon 4 or 6 would be better numbers than 5.

I shall try the pusscat approach instead next time. (And I'll be reminding everone not to let that turtle alone)

Niall aka "the living room tiger"
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Harvey O'Brien
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Nogser wrote:

I shall try the pusscat approach instead next time. (And I'll be reminding everone not to let that turtle alone)


Hey, my upgraded PDSes in the three surrounding systems were waiting for you to come through that wormhole at any moment during the early phases. There are good reasons why turtles retreat into their shells, you know.

Hope you're feeling better. You missed a good session of Galaxy Trucker last night. Shane's also given me his copy of Android for inspection, pending possible trade.
 
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Shane Guthrie
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Duvall
Washington
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I would be very sorry to see a shrink into passivity, even should it keep me from being attacked. Part of the fun of the game is the interaction of battle.

That being said, I wouldn't mind if you should decide to share this fun with the other players a bit more liberally. I will certainly try to encourage you to do so next time, by making myself less tempting to attack.

I would also love to see more of the late game 'snapping turtle' activity from Harvey, that was great.

-Shane

 
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