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Discworld: Ankh-Morpork» Forums » Sessions

Subject: A report on our first 2 games and some impressions on the game rss

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Wendelius H.A.
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My wife and I had our first 2 player sessions with Ankh-Morpork last night. This is the story of how I became a tyrant once and was crushed under the boot of her oppression the next time.

First of all, a word of warning: I do not know and have not played Martin Wallace's other games. So I can not offer any meaningful comparison. My guess, however, is that Ankh-Morpork might be his most approachable game. There is quite a lot going on during the gameplay itself, but it's totally approachable for non gamers with minimal rule explanations.

The first page of the short rulebook tell you how simple the principle is:

"Ankh-Morpork is a relatively simple game. When it is your turn you play a card, do what it says on it, and then fill your hand back up to five cards. The next player then does the same, and so on until someone declares that they have won the game, or the deck of cards runs out. What you need to do to win the game depends on the secret personality that is assigned to you at the start of the game."

So each player is one of the possible Ankh-Morpork personalities vying for power. Some will try to take control of a number of areas, another to cause maximum to trouble, Vetinari himself might still be pulling the ropes and trying to extend his spy network, ... You don't know and guessing what your opponent is up to to block him is part of the fun.

The game means it when it talks about playing a card and drawing up. Because 90% of the gameplay is driven by what's on those cards. It took me 15 minutes to go through the rules and finish setting it up. And my wife had actually picked up half of those rules from the reference cards which explain the card icons to the players.



The top of the cards tells you what actions you can perform and in what order. All action types but one are optional. So The Seamstresses' Guild would allow you to optionally play the card text (that's what the scroll icon means) then optionally place a minion on the board. Or play it, do nothing and end your turn after drawing back a card if you are feeling particularly wasteful.

Rincewind, poor catastrophy prone Rincewind, is slightly different. When you play him, you must resolve the first icon. It represent a random event drawn from the deck and offers appealing prospects like Fire! Earthquake! Dragons! Demons! which will hit the board at random. So such cards are most risky to play. The story of Rincewind's life, really. On the plus side, his last icon tells you you can play a second card on the same turn.

Game 1: Control victory

This is what the game board looks like after you set it up:



Every player has a minion in 3 areas. There is trouble brewing (the black markers). And the race to victory starts. In that first game, I was trying to control 7 areas (so was my wife, I discovered later). Simply put, you control an area if you have more pieces in it than any other single player (or than trolls causing havoc there). So, as we started, neither of us had control of anything.

5 or 6 turns in, the eagle eyed among you will notice I (yellow) had control of 3 neighbourhoods, my wife (red) of 4, and that we had started building in some of them. While your building stands, it allows you to make use of a special ability associated to that area. This can allow you to place more minions nearby, draw more cards, create trouble or even dodge the effects of an earthquake. So you need to pick wisely.



A few turns later, I was controlling 5 areas to my wife's 4, but I was also out of minions. I needed 7 to win. So you can't just power your way to victory with endless armies. You need to place them wisely.



In the end, I redistributed my forces and won. I was partly helped throughout by the creepy clown you see on the table. This card basically reduced my wife's ability to draw cards by 1 every turn. And in a game based on cards, every little bit of card advantage helps.



Game time: About 70 minutes.

Game 2: The trouble maker

I won't bore you with the details. But right after we finished, my wife absolutely demanded that we play again (always a good sign). In that one, she played the exiled King who wanted to foment enough trouble (8 markers) to bring his return. While I, Lord Vetinary, was trying to cover part of the city with my spies.

During that game, she set up a deck mill (ie used ways to speed up her draws) with the use of 2 judicious areas she built on as well as her card plays that let her nearly renew her hand every turn. Lesson learned! blush

But beyond that, she took some serious risks playing 2 cards causing random events on the same turn. On that particular turn (shown below) she went through 5 cards and most of their abilities in 1 turn, dodging an earthquake and city fire no less!



By the time she was done, there was trouble all over the city and I had lost.



It was, I must admit, quite a sight to behold.

Game time: About 60 minutes.

So, what do we think?

We both enjoyed the game a lot. We believe it might be better with 3 or 4 players. But it plays well with 2 as well. The game is also pure chaos, just like you would imagine life in Ankh-Morpork to be. Trouble springs up everywhere, minions get assassinated, buildings burned down, money stolen, and control of an area is a tenuous thing at best. So you spend a lot of the time trying to implement a strategy without tipping your hand on an ever changing board.

The game is also very simple (play a card, draw a card) and very much based on what you draw. While many cards allow the same kind of actions and are pretty much interchangeable, there is no denying that drawing the right interrupt or the card which gives you an extra 4 cards at a critical moment will have a big impact on the game. So if you like your games to be all strategy and no luck, this might not be your cup of tea.

On the plus side, this means that any non gamer will pick it up in minutes. But while I'd happily play it with my 13 year olds, my 10 year old might struggle more to cope with the constant changes.

One thing that must be mentioned is how well the theme is implemented and integrated. You will obviously only get the most of it if you have read Discworld novels. If you have, you will really enjoy the integration of theme in the game play. I mentioned Rincewind above. Captain Carrot restores order, while cut me own throat Dibbler may scam you for money or may actually lose some. And you know that if someone plays a card with a simple, all capitals, "HELLO" flavour text on it, someone else is in trouble.

It really makes playing the next card quite an enjoyable experience. You are in Ankh Morpork and those cards bring the flavour of the characters they represent. So, for that, the game gets a big thumbs up!

I can't tell you about longevity yet. But it's clear we'll play it more. And certainly so when I have friends visiting who do not want to play rule / set up heavy games.

Wendelius
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Michel Sorbet
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Great session report and great pictures.

I must admit that the "card period" in Martin Wallace's design life is soooo great! London is fantastic, A few Acres is great and Discworld seems to be so too!
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Geoff Hall
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Nice report. I attended the launch at Eclectic and took over a friend's hand for a few turns whilst she was getting her face painted. She was also playing the Dragon King at Arms and I also managed a ludicrous turn involving random events. It didn't win my friend the game outright but getting to play 9 cards, destroy buildings, wipe out everything in an area and put your own building in The Shades is a pretty impressive turn! My friend actually went on to win as well, which was nice.

Quick hint for people, apparently the trouble markers are designed to be placed on the building costs for each area, covering them up to remind you that you can't build in an area with trouble. I hadn't realised that at first but I thought it was fairly neat and your pictures indicate that you haven't been using them like that either.

One, final question. When were you checking for victory? Your second game makes it sound like your wife had her turn and won by the end of it but you check for victory at the beginning of your turn, so if you achieve your victory condition on your turn you don't win until the start of your next turn (giving your opponent(s) time to prevent your victory). I assume that's how you were playing it but thought that I'd check.
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Chuckhazard
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Nice review, thanks. I've been thinking about a DW themed game but wasn't real excited about what I read of Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Sounds like this is the one though. Board looks great, too.
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Wendelius H.A.
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DreadFuzzy wrote:
One, final question. When were you checking for victory? Your second game makes it sound like your wife had her turn and won by the end of it but you check for victory at the beginning of your turn, so if you achieve your victory condition on your turn you don't win until the start of your next turn (giving your opponent(s) time to prevent your victory). I assume that's how you were playing it but thought that I'd check.

You are right. I took a lazy shortcut in my writing. blush I tried to remove trouble counters on my turn but couldn't bring them down to under 8. So she won at the start of her next turn.

Thanks for the comments, guys. It's a fun game to report on. Very chaotic.

Wendelius
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Paul Mulders
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In the 3rd picture of your session report you have the Chrysophrase personality card laying face up in the box there on the right?? Why would you do that? You should keep them face down if you want to reduce the knowlegde of the other players personality.

I like you sessions report very much, I tried the game with 3 and 4 players only, don't know yet how it plays with 2 but I didn't expect it would be as nice as you describe.

Oh and nice ikea folding table haha
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Kevin O'Hare
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Thanks for the great pictures. I had the pleasure of playing a playtest copy (2, 3 and 4 player games) and it's nice to see the finished version.
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Dan Schaeffer
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Bacchus wrote:
Thanks for the great pictures. I had the pleasure of playing a playtest copy (2, 3 and 4 player games) and it's nice to see the finished version.


::shakes fist at Kevin::

Well, I have some hope that my Collector's Edition is on its way and will arrive shortly.
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Ben Bateson
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This is NOT helping my eager anticipation of the arrival of my Collectors' Edition.
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Wendelius H.A.
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16 Ft Pauly wrote:
In the 3rd picture of your session report you have the Chrysophrase personality card laying face up in the box there on the right?? Why would you do that? You should keep them face down if you want to reduce the knowlegde of the other players personality.

That's because Chyroprase (and 2 of the brown cards) are always removed in 2 player games. So sayeth the rules. Who am I to argue?

Quote:
Playing with just two players
– You will need to remove the Chrysoprase card before shuffling and dealing out Personality cards. You will also need to remove the Hubert and Cosmos Lavish cards from the draw pile (both are brown bordered cards)


16 Ft Pauly wrote:
Oh and nice ikea folding table haha

Let's be honest. We all have one of those. Ikea must have an earth domination plan which involves tables.

Wendelius
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Wendelius H.A.
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Bacchus wrote:
Thanks for the great pictures. I had the pleasure of playing a playtest copy (2, 3 and 4 player games) and it's nice to see the finished version.

My pleasure. I saw the playtest versions and, crude as they might have looked compared to the final product, I'm sure the theme and fun of the game came through clearly.

It's a VERY nice finished product too. High production values even for the standard edition. That being said, I'm sure those who ordered the Collector or Deluxe edition will not be disappointed one bit. I'm looking forward to pictures of those in use.

Wendelius
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Daniel
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Nice report! I'm eagerly awaiting my copy in the mail....

Why don't you upload those pictures to the game gallery, they look beautiful!
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Paul Mulders
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Wendelius wrote:
16 Ft Pauly wrote:
In the 3rd picture of your session report you have the Chrysophrase personality card laying face up in the box there on the right?? Why would you do that? You should keep them face down if you want to reduce the knowlegde of the other players personality.

That's because Chyroprase (and 2 of the brown cards) are always removed in 2 player games. So sayeth the rules. Who am I to argue?

Quote:
Playing with just two players
– You will need to remove the Chrysoprase card before shuffling and dealing out Personality cards. You will also need to remove the Hubert and Cosmos Lavish cards from the draw pile (both are brown bordered cards)


16 Ft Pauly wrote:
Oh and nice ikea folding table haha

Let's be honest. We all have one of those. Ikea must have an earth domination plan which involves tables.

Wendelius


Indeed!! I totally forgot since I haven't played the game with 2 players yet!! stupid of mine.

And Yes I also have that table how the hell would I recognize hehe.

ty.
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David Gardner
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Re: the table...

... is this the one?



http://www.ikea.com/us/en/images/products/norden-gateleg-tab...
 
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Michael Nerman
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Wendelius wrote:
16 Ft Pauly wrote:
In the 3rd picture of your session report you have the Chrysophrase personality card laying face up in the box there on the right?? Why would you do that? You should keep them face down if you want to reduce the knowlegde of the other players personality.

That's because Chyroprase (and 2 of the brown cards) are always removed in 2 player games. So sayeth the rules. Who am I to argue?

It would be near impossible to get to $50 in a shorter 2-player game, I think. I guess they couldn't balance him for the 2-player game.
 
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