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The Scepter of Zavandor» Forums » Sessions

Subject: SR: Sceptre of Zavandor rss

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Michael Longdin
West Sussex
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I like the Sceptre of Zavandor. Or should that be I want to like it. There are some good ideas in the game, the theme fits quite well and it rewards longer term planning rather than a tactical maximisation of your position every turn which is often the case with many German games. However, it has some pitfalls. The German text makes the learning curve a bit harder than it could be; adding up all your magical energy to pay for something can be decidedly fiddly; even with the penalties / bonus for 1st/last places it can be very unforgiving if you screw up at the start (isn't that true Grant...). And it can drag. It took us 3.5 hours to complete. Admittedly there was some familiarity issues in here but it was still too long for this game and I often found myself wanting the others to hurry along. In that sense six players is too many but I can't help feeling that as a game, the full compliment is the optimal number. Oh and the Nine Sages knowledge track seems more powerful than the rest - as the fairy and with a leg up on this track, Paul quickly became the early leader and when everyone saw the benefits he was getting, they soon followed suit.

Thus for much of the game Paul looked like he couldn't be beaten. However, he went wrong somewhere around the mid-late game and Pete who had slowly been building a large energy source culminating in 5 (yes 5) rubies and advancing on all the knowledge tracks came through very strongly towards the end to win easily. Steve and I threatened to catch up briefly at various points but I had concentrated on artefacts and never had more than 3 gems in my possession - and had an energy shortage as a result - whilst Steve was a bit late jumping on the Nine Sages bandwagon and was probably always playing catch-up. Alan played conservatively and never really got anywhere. Grant just lost his way altogether and never recovered.
Final scores: Pete - 78, Paul - 66, Michael - 53, Steve - 50, Alan - 43, Grant - 27

The Sentinels are rather like the big buildings in Puerto Rico and, as in that game, it probably needs reasonably experienced players of roughly equal ability for it to really play well. Having only played 2 games there is a bit of a learning curve to get to this point and although the length of the game is sure to decrease with familiarity I can't see a 4-6 player game lasting less than 2.5 hours. Rating still 7. It has potential for higher but I suspect it will go lower unless I invest the time to play more often.
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