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Subject: Skeletons that keep going...and going...and going - and almost won. rss

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Greg Gresik
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Bolingbrook
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This was our 2nd play of Small World, so some of the strategies likely elude us.

This was a 3 player game - myself, my wife and 15 year old son (who received the game for Christmas - wooT!). What follows is a game that contained 2 very different strategies. Mine, was to decline very quickly. I ended up with 4 different races. My wife, who picked Swamp Skeletons early with plans to ride them off into the sunset. Which strategy prevailed? Well, just read on!

Early Game

The first turn I selected the free (as is usually my choice - what can I say, I'm frugal) Berserk Amazons. I did what is usual for Amazons, spread way too thin. But with the berserk bonus, managed to amass a hefty amount of VPs for turn 1, entering on the east side of the board - mainly because that was the side I was sitting on (like I said, not the most strategic session report you'll ever read).

My wife then snagged the Swamp Skeletons. With them she came in on the south side, making sure to take at least 2 occupied areas (along with two swamps) Upon redeployment, she ammassed them on the Amazonion doorstep (to my south), along with a bonus counter. Not a hige VP haul, but decent.

Then my son paid down a few spots for heroic orcs. After doing some modest conquest in the north and west he called a turn, then plopped the two heroes on the other Amazonion doorstep (to my west).

To begin turn 2 I had an interesting choice to make. Pillaging wizards were sitting at the top (for FREEEE!!!!!!) or push the berserk Amazons. Being our 2nd play, I decided to try something different. I flipped over the Amazons, and much to everyone's suprise (even mine a little) anounced that on turn 2, the Crazy Ladies were going into decline. I realize in retrospect, this is what created the situation of Swamp Skeleton promulgation - you see, leaving all of those singleton's (one of wich was on swamp), made for easy pickins - and thus easy bonus skeletons.

Midgame
The skeletons were going strong. The Pillaging Wizards followed the path of the Amazons - (well 1 extra turn) 2 turns of relevence, gobbling up magic areas, but quickly sent to decline after a mauling by skeletons and cut off by orcs heroes.

At this point two things had become apparent.

1) My wife and her Swamp Skeleton army were winning.

2) My son and I, fearing each other were letting her dominance of the board get out of hand.

At this point he sent his heroic orcs into decline and came in as Dragon Master Tritons. With the Swamp Skeletons spread pretty thin (especially after the dragon wiped out several stockpiled in a swamp area - my wife didn't expect him to pay down three slots to the Tritons), he focussed around the sea and lake areas, entering from the east. He dealt quite a blow to the skeletons but could only establish a foothold of 4 areas.

At this point I had a choice to make - join my son in the fight against the skeletons for the betterment of Small World as a whole, ridding it of the foul replensihing foe once and for all, or go for my own VP grab.

Well being of noble birth, I did what anyone would do. Chose the Stout Dwarves that at this point had some VP coins on them and went on a mine VP grab in the north - away from the fray.whistle

End Game

The Swamp Skeletons, while not totally regaining their former strength turned their attention east, drawing toward the Dwarves and grabbed some more swamp spots to continue to rack up VPs. The Tritons and their dragon continued to press the Skeletons for yet another turn. The Dwarves did one last mine grab for VP, and being stout went into decline (yes, my 3rd race in decline)

The Tritons laid into the Swamp Skeletons with ferocity, this time dealing a deathly blow. Leaving the Swamp Skeletons with 1 mere territory. With but two turns left, the Skeletons had a tough decision. Go into decline, getting only 1 VP hoping to come out stronger on the final turn...or come out fighting trying to capture as many VPs as possible and attempt to regain some Swamp land and extra skeletons? Well, she (in retrospect what she would admit was her fatal flaw) decided to dance with the one who brung her and let the Swamp Skeleton battle cry ring out one last time (much to the dismay of the Dragon master Tritons, who now feared what the declined Dwarves were going to do with their last two turns).

The Tritons, realizing that declining now, would put them in a bind - having to reenter on their last turn, decided to fight the skeletons.

As it turned out, the Dragon Master Tritons were right to fear the declined Dwarves, as they were about to pull off a huge upset.

(At this point, everyone did a VP reveal, just to see where we were at) - Skeletons were ahead of all, the Dwarves who had just declined (me) just behind, with the Dragon Master Tritons bringing up the rear...and sensing doom.

I, in a rare move of over paying, spent down to pick up Mounted Elves! With the Tritons and ever-present Swamp Skeltons battle-beaten in the south east, the Mounted Elves shot across the open farm and hillands in the north - going from the North East to the Soutwest, creating an "active civ" shield to protect the declined Dwarves and their mines. "13 VP please!" was the triumphant announcement, upon adding up the swift conquest of the demi-human combo.

The Skeletons pulled a firt-time seen at our table (although we've only played twice) - the complete removal and re-entry...in the Northwest corner. Realizing, the only chance they had was to somehow penetrate the dwarf mines and try to punch through to the swamps. It was a nice idea, but the Skeletons lacked the numbers to make enough VP to quell the tide.


Final Score and Summary
The final scores were:

Dad (me) who was the Berzerk Amazons, Pillaging Wizards, Stout Dwarves and Mounted Elves: 91

Mom (my wife) who was the Swamp Skeletons - beginning to bitter end: 82

Son (my son) who was the Heroic Orcs and Dragon Master Tritons : 76

The interesting thing about this particular game was the way we each used vastly differing strategies in regards to decline - and yet each seemed fairly effective based on bonuses. My son admitted that he did not take full advantage of the Tritons (he was more focussed on hurting the Skeletons, realizing they were ahead, then maximizing his VP each turn).

One other interesting this about this game was that it was played on a school night - almost never allowed by my wife. She obviously likes Small World.

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Jonathan Holen
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A session report like this makes me think I really need to put Small World on my list to get.
 
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michael ray
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Sounds like it was a fun game, but you may be playing it slightly wrong

(especially after the dragon wiped out several stockpiled in a swamp area - my wife didn't expect him to pay down three slots to the Tritons)

The dragon would only kill 1 of the skeletons, the rest would go into your wife's hand, to be redeployed at the end of your sons turn.
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Jim Smith
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Interesting report. In your position I would have taken a different early game approach. I would have pulled out my Amazons from the board and attacked the skeleton's rear lines - from your description it would seem reasonable to assume that the early conquest areas were left with 1 (maybe 2) tokens in each area, giving you 14 Amazons with which to ruin the Skeleton's day, ensuring that you take one or more of the Swamps. They'd be left pretty vulnerable but you've then managed to score some points and deny the skeleton player points.

Similarly, your wife's decision to not decline probably robbed her of some attacking clout later in the game, which she would have been best to use to ultimately attack the winner, i.e. you.

I'm not saying my tactic's best - that's the beauty of SW, in that every turn is a different beast in terms of the best thing to do. Just thought I'd offer an alternative perspective.
 
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David Debien
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squegeeboo wrote:
Sounds like it was a fun game, but you may be playing it slightly wrong

(especially after the dragon wiped out several stockpiled in a swamp area - my wife didn't expect him to pay down three slots to the Tritons)

The dragon would only kill 1 of the skeletons, the rest would go into your wife's hand, to be redeployed at the end of your sons turn.


Was going to point this out as well. To be clear, you only ever lose one token when you lose a province regardless of how many pieces are on that spot at the time that you lose it. The Elves do not lose any tokens unless they are in decline.
 
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Greg Gresik
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Thanks for the responses, all. Actually we did play the dragon correctly - what I meant was that he used the dragon to help crumble her hold on the swamp areas (specifically the one in the northeastern corner) while using the Triton's advantage on the swamp area near the center lake, thus splitting her force in half and forcing her to focus elsewhere, as he stock piled in the one near the lake (the dragon swamp area being unassailable). Sorry if I worded it in a confusing manner.

In terms of the strategy suggestion to pull of the board with the Amazon's and attack, the thought had actually never crossed my mind. In fact, until my wife did it, withdrawing completely to re-enter somewhere else hadn't been tried. It is certainly a strategy to remeber though, as it worked well for her (and would have likely worked well for the Amazons). In fact, I am now mad that I didn;t think of it, as Berserk Amazons is a powerful offensive combo. Next time. arrrh




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Eric Serna
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Holland
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Sessions like this are why I love boardgames
 
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Mike Stevens
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GREAT session report. I have played about 5 games of Small World face to face with a buddy who owned the game and I enjoyed it. I loved all the different startegies available with the mix of races and special abilities. I never purchased the board game but just recently downloaded it on my Ipad. What a fun game. If I knew I could get my family to play it with, I would go buy the board game in a second.
 
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