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Subject: Not a great first experience rss

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Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
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Our major game of our last Boardgameday was Martin Wallace's "After the Flood". It, unfortunately, was not an experience that I enjoyed that much. At first blush, it seemed like a Wallace design that I should enjoy, but as the game wore on - and it took us a good three hours to play - I became more and more frustrated by the game.

Playing this game was Randy (purple), Rich (red) and myself (green).

The first turn saw us getting used to the mechanics of the game: you expend resources to place workers on the table, of which you have only a limited number each turn (10 workers in the first turn, 8 in each of the next two). These workers are mainly used to gain or trade resources, but can also be used to recruit an army. Having an army is an extremely important part of the game, as it can stop other people from trading and, perhaps more importantly, score VPs - 2 VPs per area conquered. Interestingly, armies do not remain on the board between game turns, although workers do (well, most of them - there are two turns in which a number of them are removed).

I was the first player, and so built cities to improve my trading, gain a scribe, and make my cities harder to conquer. Randy took one which would give him extra VPs and another that gave him an additional bolt of cloth, whilst Rich had Babylon - which meant that when he started up an Empire and gained his armies, he'd have two extra armies, a very nice bonus indeed. I'm afraid I can't remember the bonus given by Rich's final city, although it might be an extra metalworker. (Hmm, that seems likely).

I thought I was doing quite well in the first turn: I conquered some provinces, I was able to trade to upgrade and score one of my cities (from which I gained 7 VPs). Rich had less success, with Randy walking all over his army. Randy gained a lot of VPs from his army, and a lot of the pattern of the game was set.



The problem with my initial turn is that I'd used up a lot of my resources - although I ended with more workers on the table than my friends. From now on I was always struggling for resources, although my trading potential was high.

The trouble came with the attacking armies, who could stop any trading in my area. I was badly underestimating the use of Dilmun, which couldn't be attacked and had a lot of trade potential; then too, I wasn't planning ahead well: Randy was now seeding workers so that on the next turn he'd be able to start the best empire easily. By most accounts, I had a good second turn, gaining 12 VPs, but Rich had conquered some cities and also gained 12 VPs, and though Randy only scored 8 VPs for his army, he upgraded his first city now and gained more VPs than I did for mine - and thus maintained his lead.



Randy's seeding paid off in the third round as he came hard onto the table with his armies - wiping out a lot of my trade potential. I had a particularly weak turn with my armies, as did Randy - it was Rich who gained the lion's share of points this turn, but Randy was now gaining a lot of excellent resources, and I was expending too many of mine. Randy also placed four (4!!!) workers into the farming box, which had interesting consequences in the next turn's Decline.



At this point, some of the game's restrictions really came back to bite me: because I'd been efficient at putting workers on the board and keeping them there, I didn't get my full allotment in the next turn, whilst Randy who had to "expend" a lot of workers to get superior trade and armies, got them all back. Of course, all our workers then reset because of decline, but it's a limitation of the game that I consider dreadful design.

The limits on trading were also very frustrating: sure, you could have two workers in an area, but for many areas that'd still only allow you one trade. Only my control of Sippur was keeping my head above water as a result - and not very high above water, either!

All of us scored 8 points for this turn, as huge armies clashed and were mostly destroyed.



The final turn of the game saw Rich's armies sweep across the battlefield like the all-conquering force they were, whilst Randy and I clashed as I tried to stop Randy from winning - particularly unsuccessfully, at that. He had better resources, and his final city upgrade would see him gain a lot of points to take the victory.

Rich, at least, gained a massive 20 VPs from his final turn's army - enough to take second place. I had some workers on the table to give me VPs for areas (I'd placed four in Elom to make it very, very difficult for Randy to take the final army), but Randy had made sure I didn't have a great advantage there.



Final Scores: Randy 98, Rich 87, Merric 80

After the game was over, I looked back at the experience and felt that I hadn't really gotten any closer to finding a strategy to play the game than when I'd started. Perhaps my biggest problem with the game was the fact that it wasn't a game where you really built things: yes, you upgraded your resources, but mostly everything was very short term. The games of Wallace's I've really enjoyed have been those where you take a small starting position and build it into a great empire: games like Steam (any version) and Brass.

After the Flood really felt like a game where you spent a lot of time jockeying for what - in the end - were very slight points of advantage. A couple of extra armies on the table. A couple of better resources at the end of the turn. A huge amount of scheming through the game, but in the end the payoff was very slight.

As a three-player army game, it also very much had the problem that it was very easy for two people to make life very difficult for the third: especially as you could almost completely shut them down if you tried. We didn't (for the most part) this game, but the potential was there.

I like a lot of Martin Wallace's games, but this is not one that I'll return to quickly. It just doesn't appeal to me.
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John Bandettini
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This is a game I have had for about 18 months and only played once. I thought it was OK, but nothing special. I will try to play it again, one day.
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Andrew Young
Wales
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I agree that this isn't his best. It just didn't gel with me. I played it 3 times I think just to be sure. But, alas, it will sit.

devil
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Paul Bryant
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We stopped playing half way through the 2nd round, it hasn't seen the table since.
 
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Chris
United Kingdom
Birmingham
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Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars, where you will be forced to drift aimlessly farther into the vast, empty abyss of space until a lack of food, water and oxygen causes you to succumb to Death's cold embrace.
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gameslore wrote:
We stopped playing half way through the 2nd round, it hasn't seen the table since.
Well maybe it will now it's mine... Although probably going to stay at the lower end of the "to play" list!
 
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Christian Amey
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TheRocketSurgeon wrote:
gameslore wrote:
We stopped playing half way through the 2nd round, it hasn't seen the table since.
Well maybe it will now it's mine... Although probably going to stay at the lower end of the "to play" list!


Chris, you seem to be showing up on a lot of message boards of games I like/own on BGG. Although I don't own a copy of this particular Martin Wallace game, I do play frequently on SlothNinja. As unforgiving as this game is, I have come to really enjoy the different strategies found in the game. some play the heavy army whilst others are content managing the workers and resources. If you're ever interested in trying it out online, stop by SlothNinja. That goes for the rest of the posters as well.

Christian

By the way, I've dabbled with suborbital rockets as a "rocket surgeon" in the past. cool
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