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Subject: Session Report rss

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Tony
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We met last night for a game of Manifest Destiny. This was the first play for all, though two players have a significant amount of experience with Age of Renaissance, the forerunner to MD.

We played a 4 player game - Laars, Bruce, Paul, and I. I'm going to skip a detailed description of gameplay, as that is covered very well in the Reviews. I believe that we got all of the rules right, with the exception that we did allow tokens to carry over from one turn to the next. This had minimal effect on the game IMO, because we rarely had cause to carry over.

I say that "I believe" that we got the other rules right, and that's exactly what I mean. We found that many of the rules to be poorly written, and many situations that we came across had clearly ambiguous text. Despite our best efforts, we had to make "spirit of the game" decisions on at least 4 or 5 occasions.

For all of Era 1, things were pretty harmonious. We filled up the board, each of us staying (mostly) in our own areas. We had a few payouts, but not nearly as many as we expected going into the game. Post-game review of our collective strategies revealed that we all felt that most cards "event" text simply was more powerful and more beneficial than the payouts - this was often due to the fact that the payouts simply helped our opponants more than ourselves. One comment made was that there didn't seem to be enough time to plan to use a payout before a card became obsolete (due to the changing eras). During this Era, my "Profit" was low, but I held with the pack in VPs. Laars created a noticable lead in VPs. This didn't serve him well later...

Era 2 saw an increase in the conflict, and an increase in the overall "nastiness" of the cards. As I said above, Laars had jumped out to an early VP lead - so Paul and I proceeded to bash on him mercilessly. Bruce did cooperate with Laars for a while, providing him with a couple of "Unity" opportunities and paying out resources that were mutually beneficial, but eventually Bruce joined the quest to knock Laars down.
My observations at this point led me to believe that Laars was going to fall down fast and hard, and I thought that Paul would begin to outstrip everyone. We had effectively decreased Laars' "Profit" to about $30-$40, and at the same time, Paul's increased to the $80-$90 area. Bruce and I were comfortably in the middle. Laars continued, however to stingily hang onto the VP lead despite having very little income. His cardplay and tobacco payoffs helped him tremendously.

Era 3 took the "screw everyone else" factor to a whole new level. The beatings on Laars finally took their toll, and he fell from first place. Paul, however, wasn't able to gain nearly as many VPs as I expected. Bruce and I leapfrogged past both Paul and Laars, and made a break for the homestretch. Bruce used "Electricity" to build a mass of cities (he held the "most cities" chit for a LONG time), and I concentrated on gaining VPs, both through Breakthroughs and Progressions. In the last 2-3 turns, Laars stole several of Bruce's cities, I played "The Great Depression" card which devestated the Northern US, and Paul and I fought tooth and nail to buy up progressions.

The end result was Me: 33, Paul and Bruce: 31, and Laars 24.

Observations:
goo This game has a big "Gang up on the leader" factor. Being the percieved leader early on was deadly to Laars' hopes of winning. If you don't like confrontational, nasty games - look elsewhere.
goo The "Breakthroughs" are achieved through die rolls. It is very random. Laars progressed quite far on 2 different breakthroughs, and lost out on both of them over the first half of the game. He wound up wasting lots of time due to unlucky rolls.
goo Many people have stated that fighting favors the attackers. This is simply not true. Defenders have the HUGE advantage of winning ties (except in situations defined by some cards). Attacking VERY RARELY paid off, and I suspect that a purely offensive strategy would be a great way to lose miserably. When we attacked, we generally counted on losing at least once or twice before winning. That's a lot of lost tokens.
goo As mentioned in other places, the board isn't mounted. Now, I understand the economics of mounting the board, and I understand that this is standard fare for wargames. I still don't like it. A few plays, and the map will rip. We played under plexiglass, and it worked well, but I would still rather see a mounted board.
goo It played pretty long (5-6 hours), but we had a couple of kid-related interruptions and we were first timers (though all very experienced gamers). The play-time will go down with replays.

Final Thoughts: I don't see this as a game that will get a lot of table time in our group, just simply because of the length and complexity. The fuzzy rules are a strike against it as well, though I'm sure that an FAQ will show up soon.
Despite these issues, I'm looking forward to giving it another shot. After 1 play, I'm quite sure that there are lots of subtleties that we missed. There are strategies to be concocted. There may be greater depths to plumb. I think that we'll be trying again in a week or two...

My initial rating: 6. This game will ONLY appeal to gamers who enjoy long, complex games with a serious "Screw Your Neighbor" edge. And even with that group, my initial thought is that they will, in the end, say that there are better titles out there. As always, I reserve the right to change this rating upon future plays...
 
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Adam Ruprecht
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Re:Session Report
Sal M wrote:
goo Many people have stated that fighting favors the attackers. This is simply not true. Defenders have the HUGE advantage of winning ties (except in situations defined by some cards). Attacking VERY RARELY paid off, and I suspect that a purely offensive strategy would be a great way to lose miserably. When we attacked, we generally counted on losing at least once or twice before winning. That's a lot of lost tokens.


If I'm doing the math correctly, on a standard attack (no city, home area, telephones, television, or special cards) defender has a 91/216 (~42%) chance of winning the roll. Every modification except a city or home area makes life harder on the defender.
 
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Tony
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Re:Session Report
OK, I will admit that (a) I didn't do the math, and (b) stats isn't my forte. I will however stand by the statement that unbridled offensiveness is not a good strategy. Even using your numbers (which upon reflection seem reasonable), you have just short of a 50% chance of losing whenever you attack. If memory serves, we didn't have more than 1 or 2 attacks that didn't have at least 1 loss, and several had repeated losses. Given the small number of tokens available to each player on each turn (in a 4 player game, maximum of 7), losses are very costly.
As a complicating factor, attacking also creates hard feelings, which can lead to other players extracting vengence though cardplay and return aggression...

I may have overstated the "huge advantage", but it still doesn't pay to attack unless you need to.
 
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