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Subject: First play tonight (3p) - report & thoughts rss

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Paul S
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DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?
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Our usual 6/7 people group was in post-xmas diaspora tonight, so with just 3 of us at the table I was keen to try my 2011 Secret Santa's gift, the CE of Ankh Morpork.

I am a big Pratchett fan, having read all the Discworld stuff, a good portion of it more that once.

But of the other 2, one is a fan-ish, the other not at all, so a good crowd to see how it might work across the Practchett-fan-spectrum.

Pretty well, it turns out.

This is an easy game to teach. Took 10/15 minutes and unusually that covered the lot - I felt no need to leave anything till later "when it crops up" and that's good, especially in a competitive game where my players are quick to lynch me if they suspect I've missed out a vital rule.

I had one of the "control 5 areas" personalities - and it was pretty clear early on that Mark did too. He was quickly convinced that Steve was Vetinari, looking to populate the whole board. As so often, I am a sucker for Mark's take on these things, so the 2 of us were quickly looking to stop Steve's expansion towards a 10-area base.

Steve drew great cards. Mark not bad. Mine were a washout. I think that in the whole game I managed to play maybe 2 or 3 green/follow-on cards. Disappointing start. It is plainly an advantage to play 2, 3 or 4 (5!) cards per turn; playing 1 per turn for most of the game left me a slightly unhappy camper. But hey, this is random, and dice hate me too, so I figure it'll balance as we play more games. Tonight though I was dreaming up house rules to give an extra turn to any player who played 4 turns in succession limited to one card per turn!

The board looks lovely, and the card art is spectacular. For those familiar with the books, this is the real deal. But even the less fanatical fan will get a kick out of them, I think. If you've seen on TV say Hogfather/Colour of Magic/Going Postal, or any combination thereof, you will "get" some of the places and cards and that all adds to the fun. Thematically the cards are just great. The assassination cards are just the sort of characters you'd expect. And Death had Steve practically choking on his own laughter.

So to the crunch: the game ran for a good 2 hours, but will be a lot shorter I am sure, once AP reduces and now that the rules are second nature.

Turns out we were dead wrong about Steve, of course. He needed 8+ trouble markers to win.

Problem was, he declared his victory at the END of his turn. Oh dear. I had been at pains to point out the importance of the start of the turn for victory conditions. So now Mark and I knew what we needed to do.

Several turns later - it turns out that by a process of moving minions and assassinating 'em you can get rid of a good few trouble markers...

The deck ran out before Steve could score 8.

The points were totted up. Steve's minions were everywhere, surely, we thought, victory is his?

It would've been too - but for the Bank card that took 15 points off him.

Mark wins. Ouch.

A great first session. We all enjoyed it enormously, and my only gripe was the poor hands I drew - it felt like I was having one go in 5, with the other 2 guys taking 2 apiece - since the "refill your hand" mechanic means there's only benefits to be had, by playing card after card during your own turn.

But as I've said, that's a random thing, and I expect over time you'll have more balanced hands, than rubbish ones.

Loved the theme. The components are really nice (I could covet a Deluxe edition, but figure that could buy 2 or 3 other games!) and the game plays quickly - or will once we sort it out - and is funny and competitive and chaotic.

I thought the random event cards might ruin it, but in fact they are perfect to play deliberately to "mix it up" a bit especially if you're thinking someone else is pulling ahead. Though it was painful to rain random death & destruction on the only building I had in play... (did I mention dice hate me? )

It's cutthroat - but in a nice way! Nothing you do to another player destroys their chance to progress, as far as I can see. They are inconvenienced, not battered. And pretty soon they will get revenge - the game comes round quickly enough, and the cards are so often biased to mutual destruction, that you'll rarely be unable to return the favour if another player is giving you pain.

We didn't bog down with rules issues, though we did wonder - does the card that lets you choose 2 minions and "exchange" them with another 2 result in 2 trouble markers appearing through the exchange? In other words, is "exchange" a "move"? We ruled it was, though by then we were hoping not, since Steve was after his trouble.

Great first session. We liked it enough that we're going to team up next time we have a full house, and play it in "pairs." I think the whole team will enjoy it, and I suspect it'll be playable in 60/90 minutes which will suit us fine.

I like it a lot.

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Richard Morris
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Interestingly, A-M is reviewed in the latest (issue #6 of 2011 (ish) ) spielbox. Everyone and his mother seems to have had a vote, and it doesn't come out all that well - votes from 4 up to 8. Comments include
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I prefer the basic mechanism stripped of all the Discworld trappings. In other words, I prefer Fluxx
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Lo Ma
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It sounds oddly reminiscent of Wallace's London bu with considerably more chaos.

I'll soon see how it plays for us. I am hoping it will be a lot o'fun!

Clearly though, this game isn't for everyone, especially hard-core Wallace-ites.
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James Fung
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If your hand is cramped, try to get The Scours so you can discard every turn, 2nd choice Unreal Estate (it's far more expensive). But considering your hand is cramped, people probably won't let you have it easily, so look for cards that let you discard cards: Harry King is best, but even cards related to the Seamstress' Guild that let you give a card to someone else in exchange for $2 are useful. Also laugh gleefully when people demand you give them cards.

A-M is no where as chaotic as Fluxx. For one thing, your victory condition doesn't change every couple turns, and buildings are fairly permanent. Can you depend on trouble not being their next turn so you can build a building or your minion being there to exert control? No, there's too much Take That to be certain.
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Douglas Glisson
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Great review. My secret Santa scored me a copy of this (along with Kingsburg:To Forge a Realm expansion) and I am really looking forward to giving it a go. Love me some Pratchett!!!


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Stefan Kaiser
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Thanks for the great review ! We too liked the game really much.

The thing with this game is that you need to take the chaos and randomness not too serious... if somebody wants to play a competitive game this is not the one to play... there are enough others out there... but if you play this game with the right mind then this is a blast....

Happy gaming!
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