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Subject: Mounted Skeletons lead the charge! rss

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Nolan Lichti
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Indianapolis
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Small World has become one of my favorite games, especially since we can sit down and play a game over a long lunch. This was one such lunch session with myself, Mickey, and Brian. Preferring a more traditional means to determine a start player, we rolled and determined that I would start, followed by Mickey and Brian.

The initial race selections were:

1. Swamp Giants
2. Mounted Skeletons
3. Heroic Halflings
4. Flying Wizards
5. Spirit Sorcerers
6. Bezerker Dwarves

I felt there were several interesting combinations available, yet nothing so powerful that I knew I had to take it. I like to start fast, so I opted to take the Mounted Skeletons for both their attack bonus and their ability to grow.

After adding Fortified Elves, Mickey opted for the Heroic Halflings. Dragonmaster Trolls were added, and Brian took the Swamp Giants along with the 2 coins that had been added to them. Hill Amazons was the next available race.


Turn 1
I entered the Mounted Skeletons in the Southeast where I was able to conquer four lost tribes easily, including one on farmland and one in the hills. Mickey started the Heroic Halflings in on the easternmost mountain region, and expanded into the two mountain regions bordering the lake. With his holes-in-the-ground and heroes, he blocked me from expanding to the north. Brian's Swamp Giants entered on the western mountain, and quickly grabbed two Swamps and a second mountain.

Turn 2
Having no other option, I expanded the Mounted Skeletons across the southern banks of the lake, invading another lost tribe and the southern swamp controlled by Brian's Swamp Giants, opting to relinquish another territory to guarantee victory over the Swamp Giants. Mickey pressed his Heroic Halflings, pressed further into Southeast, taking a region from me. Brian opted not to retaliate, but expanded his Swamp Giants, to the north, grabbing another swamp.

Turn 3
Still unable to strike back against the Heroic Halflings, my Mounted Skeletons took two more occupied regions in the Northwest. The Heroic Halflings numbers were dwindling, so they took a couple of uncontested regions. Brian sent the Swamp Giants into decline.

Turn 4
With the Swamp Giants in decline, it was easier for my Mounted Skeletons to grab a couple more occupied regions. Mickey sent the Heroic Halflings into decline. Brian took the Flying Wizards at no cost, and used the flying ability to target only the magic regions. Commando Ratmen were added to the queue.

Turn 5
As Brian had a newly active race, and Mickey was going to be bringing in another active race, I was eying the Spirit Sorcerers. My Skeletons couldn't do much more damage, so I sent them into a fairly profitable decline. Unfortunately, Mickey opted for the Spirit Sorcerers at no cost. He brought them into the Southeast corner, and took a few regions from my declined Skeletons. (at this point I don't remember the exact order the final races were added to the queue -- none of them were used) Brian continued to target the magic regions and had secured all 5 by the end of the Wizards' second turn.

Turn 6
Not terrible enamored by the Bezerker Dwarves, I thought that the combination of the long-lasting Fortified Elves would be a good combination for a cost of one coin. I started slowly in the Northwest in order to avoid the Sorcerers, and only took two regions due to a failed die roll, including one of the magic regions. Mickey's Sorcerers took one of the magic regions from the Wizards as well as another region in the Southeast. The Wizards regained of their two lost magic regions.

Turn 7
I continued my slow conquest to the east, targeting mountain regions (and hoping that nobody would take the Dragonmaster Trolls!). I felt that Brian had been scoring higher than Mickey, so I targeted him when given the choice between the two. Mickey, unsatisfied with his Sorcerers, sent them into decline so that he was scoring on both his Halflings and his Sorcerers. I must have taken another magic region that Brian took back in this turn because he opted to keep his Wizards for another round.

Turn 8
Again, I spread out slowly eastward with my Elves. Mickey paid three coins for the Commando Ratmen, and brought them into the Northwest, immediately decimating two of my fortresses that I had foolishly placed adjacent to each other. With his declined Giants almost eradicated, and his Wizards unable to gain any significant ground, Brian sent his Wizards into decline.

Turn 9
At this point I was attempting to keep a defensive front against those pesky Ratmen while continuing to expand toward the east into the declined Halflings and the occasional declined Wizard. Fortified mountains really helped with this. My defensive stacks did the trick, and Mickey opted to expand his Ratmen to the south. Brian paid 2 coins and gained 1 to take the Hill Amazons. Due to his declined Wizards taking up one of the two eastern Hill regions, he opted to enter the board in the southwest hill region, and expand to the east across two mountains gaining a second hill region.

Turn 10
I opted in the last turn to attempt to take two regions from Mickey's declined Halflings, think that Mickey may have gained enough ground with his two declined races to be an endgame threat. I believe I failed the taking the second region, and only grabbed one more. I fortified my western border with fortresses and all of my Elves. This forced Mickey to press further south toward Brian. Finally, Brian gained a couple more regions -- possibly including another hill region, although I don't remember.

When all was tallied, the final score was:
Me: 97
Brian: 96
Mickey 82


Side note, the unused races were, in what I think was the final order: Berzerker Dwarves (3 coins), Dragonmaster Trolls (2 coins), Merchant Ghouls, Underworld Orcs, Alchemist Humans, and ?? Tritons.

Race summary by turn (negative numbers are coins paid, positive numbers are coins taken):

1 - Mounted Skeletons (-1), Heroic Halflings (-1), Swamp Giants (+2)
2 - no change
3 - SG declines
4 - HH declines, Flying Wizards (0)
5 - MS declines, Spirit Sorcerers (0)
6 - Fortified Elves (-1)
7 - SS declines
8 - Commando Ratmen (-3), FW declines
9 - Hill Amazons (-2, +1)
10 - no change

20/20 hindsight

The Mounted Skeletons turned out to be a great combination. The lost tribes were positioned perfectly for me to gain two tokens on my first turn. I did not have to decline them until the 5th turn, and even then I gained around 8 points for them. I was nervous that the Fortified Elves would not be effective for 5 rounds, and that I would be stuck either declining them early in the 8th round, declining them in the 9th round and only having one round with a new race, or stretching them into an unproductive 10th round. As it played out, they did their job even though I was a bit foolish in the placement of my second fortress, making it easy for Mickey to take out two of them in one turn.

Mickey's play with the Heroic Halflings was interesting, but I'm not convinced that a race that is defensive when active makes for a good first race. It was hard for him to gain ground. He may have been more productive if he had expanded to the north into regions that were easier to capture instead of attacking me. He was also hoping that Brian and I would engage each other, but Brian foiled those plans by staying passive and expanding across the north side of the board. He also admitted to me after the game that he misunderstood the Sorcerer's power, and did not know that it only worked against active races. He may not have chosen it when he did had he been aware of that. His Commando Ratmen were spectacular, but his slow start had doomed him from the beginning.

Evidently it was even difficult for Brian to determine how well he was doing. He chose three races with point bonuses (Swamp, Wizards, and Hill), which meant he would have swings of generating double-digit points to turns of declining for just a half dozen or less points. Midway through the game he was declaring that I was the definitive leader, but I questioned this because while my points were steady, they were rarely above 10. In the end it appears that we should have been targeting each other -- which was the case for the most part except on the last turn when I opted to take a region from Mickey instead of Brian. I would have been a bit disappointed if he had won by a point.

I love this game, and look forward to playing with more than three players! It might get a bit chaotic with more, but I'm sure I'll still have fun playing regardless of the outcome.
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Adam Daulton
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Good report Nolan! Hope to get a chance to play this with you sometime at a 13th Tribe Game day.

The Skeletons & Ratmen are my favorite races in this game, especially first races. Heroic Halflings would be awesome, but I agree with you, they would be better as a second race, that way you could protect your declined race with 4 areas that could not be attacked!
 
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Will M. Baker
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Nice session report. I was very invested in the telling and had to exercise restraint to not look ahead to who eventually won.
 
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Werner Bär
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FunkCracker wrote:
Turn 2
Having no other option, I expanded the Mounted Skeletons across the southern banks of the lake, invading another lost tribe and the southern swamp controlled by Brian's Swamp Giants, opting to relinquish another territory to guarantee victory over the Swamp Giants.

Maybe you could have instead abandoned all your regions and started new at another part of the map? With skeletons and an attack power, it's likely that you would habe been able to slay 4 tokens again, gaining an extra token at the cost of one point. Works well in a 4-5 player game; don't know about 3 players.
 
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Nolan Lichti
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Werbaer wrote:
FunkCracker wrote:
Turn 2
Having no other option, I expanded the Mounted Skeletons across the southern banks of the lake, invading another lost tribe and the southern swamp controlled by Brian's Swamp Giants, opting to relinquish another territory to guarantee victory over the Swamp Giants.

Maybe you could have instead abandoned all your regions and started new at another part of the map? With skeletons and an attack power, it's likely that you would habe been able to slay 4 tokens again, gaining an extra token at the cost of one point. Works well in a 4-5 player game; don't know about 3 players.


I suppose that would have been an option, but I'm not sure it would have been better than what I did do. I couldn't have attacked Mickey's Halflings regardless (I think he only held 4 regions), and Brian's Giants were stacked with some on a mountain or two. I guess it really could have hurt Brian for me to abandon all regions and re-enter into his regions, but I would have had to take one of his mountains, which means I might have only been able to grab 2 or 3 regions. Without a declined race, that's only 2 or 3 points.

But it sure would have made him mad. devil
 
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Trevor O'Keefe
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The skeletons can be devastating in a 3 player game if left unchecked. Had a game last night where my friend used them for all 10 turns with pillaging, and each turn abandoned everywhere and just struck wherever the going was good. With the smaller board, it was impossible to hide from him, and so the only option was to either spread out and take as many as possible, planning on declining next turn; or hold onto very few territories hoping that he couldn't overtake you. This meant that about half the board at any given time was completely open, and that attacks each time consisted of something like 8 tokens. I was finally able to stop the madness towards me with diplomatic elves, but the damage was too far gone by the time I got to that point.

This was the first grossly overpowered game we had played yet. At one point he had literally eliminated EVERY SINGLE OTHER TOKEN from the board by relentlessly attacking until we went into decline with 2 spaces apiece, then wiping those out his next turn. He never spread out far enough for us to significantly hurt him, and was able to recap any of his losses the next turn. Has anyone else had an incredibly overpowered game yet?
 
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