J brought along his shiny new copy of Attika this evening and after needing a couple of 3 player games to handle everyone, we got it out. S hadn't seen it before, and I'd been keen to try it for a while (since I own an unplayed copy)
After a quick rules explanation, pausing to try and come up with a clearer way of expressing the 2/3 actinons non-mixed, draw cards last mixture, we collected our tokens and set off.
We try to keep colours mneumonic, so J played yellow, and B blue. S took green because red wasn't any better.
In the first game, with J as starting player, each of us ended up building in relatively isolated areas. J was lucky to draw his city and some surrounding tiles that he used to monopolise a resource-rich area in the corner of the board.
B and S started their own slightly disconnected areas and struggled gamely towards a connection victory with little or no blocking while J stormed to unstoppable victory with a combination of no opposition and very helpful tile draws.
We resolved, now understanding the rules, to play again.
In the second game, We each started near the middle of the board, taking opportunities to get into each other's way. S ended up going after B and hemming him in along one side of the board. This stopped a relatively easy connection victory, but his placement of new tiles on the board left J a way through to set up his own connection. In his frantic push to win (taking a long-shot 1/8 chance to make it) B left himself with no cards and unable to block J from completing a connection path between the two uncontested corners. Still, 1 in 8 isn't bad, right?
Clearly noted that not only is J the greatest threat (with his many dozens of previous plays of the game), a concentration on just one player, or not making sure to completely block off a temple when you have a chance just leaves too tempting an opportunity for the 3rd unwatched player to make a sudden death victory.
The second game ran much longer, without a trivial victory and with a lot more thinking about how to place pieces for blocking, even though the balance between players blocking each other was a little off.
After a longer second game, while waiting for the other group to finally chew through Endeavor, we dithered a bit and then decided to finish rotating the start player around, this time letting S start and leaving B last with 6 cards. The initial board was fairly rich in the centre, with one temple left in a fairly barren area, which all players initially shied away from.
J and S both dashed for the middle of the board leaving B the slim pickings along one edge. B's initial draw quarry-fortress-tower combination made an early game 3-build actually possible and while the others started building in the resource rich areas. B started a slow push towards a nearby temple and up along the vulnerable side of the board.
After the mess in the mid-board left J cut off, he split his settlements to try cutting S off from the lower left temple and used resources from a newly laid tile to build the critical block in B's way to the top temple. B replied in the only way possible by laying his two streets across the two access hexes to the top temple, leaving J no access. A few more blocking pieces in S's huge settlement in the east left J with no credible connection chance and left him chasing a full-building win.
J and S fighting over the lower half of the board left B without any credible way to build to the SW temple and ended up with both pretty much blocked there as well. B meanwhile used a new plate lay to start building a path the long way around from his main settlement to the streets in front of the temple.
The cost of all these expensive builds left B far behind in the building stakes and with no alternative but to figure out some way through for the connection victory.
S laid a couple of high-value cards in the south and then found J muscling in to the most profitable areas as they struggled to get all their buildings down. Many carrots were collected as both S and J were able to group the related buildings together in their various large regions. J went to block B's access to a temple by placing his new card with only a tip against the temple forcing B to go around the long way. Fortunately, there were some resources in the tile B drew to plug the gap.
Final game state. After pausing for a couple of turns to draw cards, B made a final last carrot-fueled dash to place his last 4 buildings from his mat to capture the temple with zero cards and carrots remaining in hand to win with a connection victory, while S and J competed for the building prize (J being probably 2-3 turns away from winning, S perhaps 3-5)
Balancing all the threats correctly seems to the heart of the 3-player game as well a judicious use of carrots for those last-ditch moves. Getting that wrong can lead to a very short and unsatisfying game, but at least it's easy to start it over being more careful.
The tech-tree opportunities for free builds coupled with the random draws that can be placed on your mat for later use are a really interesting idea, as are the resources on the board and the scarcity of resource cards. It's also interesting to consider
I'm quite keen to try this with more players. 4 being reported as more chaotic and 2 vastly more confrontational and stabby, since with only one opponent, there's no opportunity for distraction.
Overall a quite elegant and engaging game for three players. I'll actively seek it out and will try it with two sometime soon.
Great session report!
This is a game that has really grown on me. I've only ever played it two-player, and most of those games are tense and interesting. Although the game initially feels straightforward, it is actually very deep. There is rarely a right answer to any situation, and you are always playing your opponent as much as the game
http://www.lautapeliopas.fi/ - the best Finnish board game resource!
Good report, thanks. Attika is one of the few games I've played over a long time, every year since it came out actually, and I like it a lot - but mostly with two players. Three is good, but four is too chaotic for my tastes.
Interesting report. It seems your focus in all three games was on getting a connection - not in building all your buildings.
I play the opposite - with a focus on playing all my buildings first, with only a secondary focus on connecting temples. It has been my experience that the person who plays for connection will lose to experienced players more often than he will win. I would say that 90% of my games are not ended by connection.
I personally think that the "threat" of a connection is important as it keeps others playing defensively. However, those who race for connections are usually thwarted by experienced players and then find themselves behind in the race to get all buildings constructed. And the player who focused on building all his buildings first, is thus in the best position to win once all the temples are essentially blocked.
[Confession - I won my last game via connection! But that was purely "accidental" as I wasn't even trying for a connection. I just got an extremely lucky draw (the Fountain with the rest of the Fountain family on my mat). I played the fountain, then used an amphora to play another tile, leaving me 3 tiles short of a connection. However, NONE of the other 3 players had a card in hand (!), and thus, could not block on their turn! So on my next turn I played the rest of the Fountain family and won. A rare win via connection.]