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Subject: The power of incentives ( a 4 player game report) rss

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Alex Rockwell
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Lynnwood
Washington
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Seth Jaffee (sedjtroll) was visiting the Seattle area from Arizona, and came to our saturday game night.

I got a chance to play a 4 player small world with him. The players were:

Seth,
Myself,
Julie,
Jeremy.


We started out with Julie taking Commando Amazons (!!), she captured 10 spaces on turn 1 (11, and then had to lose one when picking up 4 amazons), to start out with a great position.

Jeremy went second and took Seafaring Halflings, taking 4 spaces which were all immune from conquest. Seth started out with some Stout Orcs, but didnt decline turn 1.

I had several decent options, but the best of them was to pay $2 for Wealthy Trolls. My goal at the beginning of the game was to get a race that I would want to decline fast, so that I could get two races on the board for extra scoring, and which would provide some other benefit.

Wealthy Trolls had two additional benefits: The +7 points from wealthy is great on a race you want to keep for only on turn (in this case it was basiclaly +5, since I paid two for the trolls), and the troll defensive power remains after decline, which would keep my tokens on the board longer!

I took two mountain spaces and two other spaces behind them in one corner of the board, the mountain spaces largely shielding the others from attack. This meant that after declining, I would have two spaces that would require 5 units to attack, and two behind those that would require 4. This is a powerful incentive to other players to attack someone else's guys instead, thus allowing me to score well for a long time.


Turn 2 Julie declined the amazons, scoring about 8-9 (one or two had been picked off). Jeremy continued to expand his halflings, and Seth expanded his Orcs again and then used stout to decline.

I declined my trolls (to the surprise of the other players, who expected me to use my 6 spare trolls to take a couple places. However, my goal was to get two races scoring ASAP, not to spread trolls all over such that some would likely be killed.

Turn 3 Julie came in with Mounted Giants, another very fast expanding race. She took a bunch of territory and scored 15, taking a huge early lead. Her spread out units, plus the number of amazons left on the board, became a target of everybody, and we all picked away at one or two giants or amazons with our expansions. Jeremy continued to expand the halflings for another turn, taking only one territory. I felt this was definitely too long to stay with the first race, you really want to get two on the board asap! Seth came out with some Pillaging Wizards, attacking halflings and amazons to score points and also take magic spaces.

I then came out with Fortified Sorcerers! I paid about $2 again for these, but they seemed much better than my options. My goal at this point was to take a race with very high longevity, so that I wouldnt have to decline and lose my trolls, which as expected were remaining untouched in the corner of the board, much more expensive to attack than everyone elses guys, and less threatening as I had scored less points initially than others.

I brought my sorcerers out through multiple mountain spaces, and was able to convert one halfling, growing them to size 10. I stuck the fortification in a mountain far from anyone, and put two units on it, such that it would require 6 to attack.


Turn 4 the giants spread some more, becoming very thin. Jeremy declined the halflings finally, but they were pretty weak already, except for the water spaces they had taken. Seth continued to take magic spaces (which I was avoiding moving into), and I expanded my sorcerers again, converting one giant to go to 11 units. I placed a second fort in the mountains and bunched my guys such that it would be expensive to attack me, except for one sorcerer that I left open somewhere where I knew it would be taken. (I wanted to bunch my 2s together so that Jeremy wouldnt feel like he could come in and attack all my sorcerers. I fianlly socre 10 or more points this round.

Turn 5 Julie declined the giants. She had the most points by far right now but we had weakened her amazons a lot, so her scoring was reasonable again. Jeremy came in with Alchemist Ratmen (!), and started immediately scoring scary numbers of points. He killed my one sorcerer. Fortunatley he had been way behind before. Seth was really wanting to attack my sorcerers, as he saw the juggernaut they were becoming, but they were difficult to attack profitably, and the ratmen were a threat as well. So he attacked the rats instead.

The game went on with Julie getting skeletons and growing them into a powerhouse, Jeremy stuck with his ratmen but eventually had too many get killed and scored poorly at the end, and Seth declined his wizards to take Ghouls.

On turn 6 I made an important decision and picked up half my sorcerers, and then spread elsewhere, allowing me to convert, and leaving me mostly on mountain spaces, with my forts on mountains, and enough units per space to make them extremely unappealing, instead of being spread very thin. I scored less points that turn in order to do this, but it left me with great defenses and left everyone else not wanting to pay 6 to attack my forts. I lost only one Sorcerer when a couple new races came onto the board, leaving me with 10 sorcerers, and I started to score 14+ a turn off a bunch of forts, and my 4 trolls still thriving in the corner of the board.


In the end the scores were:
Alex 112
Julie 99
Jeremy 89
Seth 87

The defensive strategy had pulled ahead! During the game I lose only 3 units in total, all 4 trolls remained forever, and I only had to use 2 races all game.

The keys were playing very defensive positions, on mountains with defense bonuses, and not spreading my guys thin (picking up guys when spread thinly to redeploy to mountains and attack enemies, and then leaving 2 guys and a fort per space).

Julie did very well with quick spreading races allowing her to score quickly and keep a lot of guys on the board after decline, but since her guys were then more vulnerable, she was attacked more and ended up slightly behind.


The defense strategy can win by giving opponents a strong incentive to attack someone else, weakening opponents and allowing your guys to stay on the board, building up a strong scoring position!






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Joseph Cochran
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Costa Mesa
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I did something very like that on Saturday with the Stout Ghouls on turn 1 (due to a misread none of us realized that the Ghouls could be an active threat so I ended up with four very tall defensive stacks that were just not worth taking). My next race was Hill Halflings, and this was a 5-player game so I used the Holes to create a wall between the coast and the lake and push the Dragonmaster Sorcerers out of my way. It was close (the Sorcerer was really good at using the dragon to drill to singles for conversion), but I managed it in the end.
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Dave J McWeasely
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Alex,
I quite enjoyed that session report, not least because you seem to have been such a good steward of the Sorcerers.

But it just leads me to increase my malaise towards Small World. The game seems almost like a popularity contest. Or a perceptual contest. All players have sufficient mobility to attack and catch the leader, if only they could agree on who that was! This is isomorphic to Munchkin.
cry
 
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