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Subject: Back to Bellwether rss

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Peter Schell
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
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(I mentioned some rules and gameplay in my previous General article. Father Geek posted a great comprehensive review filling in the rest of the details on this game. I recommend you scan through those two posts first before reading my session report.)

John, David, Michael and I played our second session of Bellwether. During our first game, Michael had won because of a VP bonus from the last card in the spell deck. We feared this made the game too random. Would history repeat itself?

John surprised me by taking single spell cards on his first couple of turns instead of taking chips. I took green chips on my first turn in hopes it would afford me greater flexibility later on. Michael took chips for the first few turns. David took chips and then began collecting a lot of spells.

John eventually split his strategy between collecting spells and hunting. David collected spells almost exclusively. I chose to hunt and was lucky enough to draw the Dark Hunter +2 attack card after just a few turns. Michael collected a lot of chips and built four buildings including Bellwether on his second-to-last turn. He was low on spells and there were 7 or 8 buildings were covered by monsters which allowed him only one more building after that.

Final scores:
David: 35
Michael: 41
John: 49
Me: 54

I killed five monsters and had the Gilded Cup which gave a 10 VP bonus for killing at least 4 monsters.

John had about 10 spells collected including the ones with what we considered easy bonuses: having 10 chips leftover; having one of each color chip and having 8 spells.

David about 15 spells but possessed cards with bonuses that seemed a lot harder to attain: having all monsters cleared from the board; having one of each color building and building all six of your buildings.

I've only played the game twice as I've said but I think ending the game with no monsters on the board is impossible. I wonder if the VP bonuses need some adjusting based on difficulty.

Once again the specter of randomness reared it's ugly head. David collected more spells earlier on that John but still did not achieve the bonuses he needed to win. Could he have adjusted his strategy somehow midgame based on his acquisitions? David felt the unbalanced bonus cards made the game too dicey and he vowed never to play Bellwether again.

I like this game's strengths including multiple victory paths, low wait time between turns and a short overall play time (under 1 hour). I want to try it again and somehow prove that some of these spell cards cards are not overpowered luckfest fodder.
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Cyrus Kirby
United States
Farmington
Minnesota
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We found it was possible for a player to win by only focusing on gathering Spell cards and not spending any of them on fighting Dark Creatures or building.

Totally legal play but goes against the spirit of the game.

We created a simple house rule to handle this type of play that states the game ends and no one wins if the board is ever fully populated with Dark Creatures. Themeatically, this works out very well, too. With the return of the Dark Powers and one player doing nothing more than grabbing magical power, it recreates the very condition that caused the wizards war to begin with!

Give this a try the next time you try Bellwether, if you think it will help.

 
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