Since Kevin had not been with us for over a year, we thought it only fitting that we give him the choice of the evening's game. He waffled between Air Baron and History of the World, ultimately choosing the latter. The participants were Eric Alleman, John Moore, Lenny Leo, Kevin Ladner and I.
It's been quite some time since I've played HotW and it was fun to be involved in the struggle again. Everyone had played before, so it was easy to get the game up and running. In spite of my absolutely pathetic dice rolling (which was a source of much humor for my opponents throughout the game), I still had a fun time and was actually leading entering the 5th Epoch. However, in this game, leading is NOT the position to be in!
Eric used the strength of the Egyptians in Epoch 1 to take an early lead and held on to this through Epoch 2, scoring impressively with the Vedic City States. John Moore closed within one point of Eric with the Carthaginians, while I was within two points on a nice score with the Assyrians.
John was elated in turn 3 as he drew the Celts during his card selection (which was last in that round due to his strength). Normally, the Celts aren't too attractive a civilization to play, but since they appeared first during Epoch 3, all of John's pieces from the previous turn, during which he did quite well, were still intact and on the board. Thus, round 3 proved to be a windfall of points for John as he scored 50 points and emerged the leader.
I received the 'good news, bad news' card: The Romans. With there awesome strength of 25 points, they are always sure to generate huge quantities of victory points. However, this usually sets that player up as the perceived leader and makes him a target over the next several rounds. I opted to keep the card anyway and take my chances. I managed to conquer all of Southern Europe and North Africa and make inroads into many other areas, scoring impressively and keeping pace with John.
Eric also kept pace with the Mauryans, while Kevin was a bit more back and poor Lenny was far back, having scored poorly with the Babylonians, Chou Dynasty and Hsiung-Nu.
Following Epoch III: John 56, Greg 53, Eric 50, Kevin 45, Lenny 25
John's luck of the draw during the previous round landed in my lap during Epoch 4 as I drew the Guptas. Again, this is usually not an attractive nation to lead, but since they arrived first in Epoch 4, most of my Roman presence was intact. This gave me another 41 points and the lead with 96 points following the Epoch. John led the Byzantines to 29 points and was my nearest competitor with 85 points.
Epoch V proved my undoing as I was savagely dealt the Sung Dynasty. I was surrounded by Eric's armies of previous epochs and these areas were all protected by forts (Eric LOVES forts!). Coupled with the abundance of difficult terrain in the area AND my continued horrid dice rolling, my point total was abysmal. Plus, by that time my Romans had been swept from the world, so I had no 'base' on which to continue scoring. I was finished.
Eric and Kevin both scored impressively with the Mongols and Cholas, respectively. The front-runner board had altered dramatically:
Following Epoch V: Kevin 122, Eric 115, Greg 107, John 105, Lenny 84
Epoch VI proved a windfall for Eric, as he drew the Timurid Emirates and built on the foundation which had been laid by his Mongols from the previous epoch. He scored an impressive 46 points and overtook Kevin for the lead by four points heading into the final epoch. Due to my lack of significant presence on the board, my point totals remained depressed and I slipped further behind the front runners. Now I was battling to remain out of the cellar. Lenny was making impressive gains, but it appeared to be a case of 'too little, too late'.
Following Epoch VI: Eric 161, Kevin 157, John 141, Greg 130, Lenny 115
Everyone (except me!) performed admirably during the final Epoch. John amassed 51 points with his Aryans and set the target. Kevin, leading the Manchu Dynasty, scored 47 and was the man to catch with 204 points. We all thought Eric had been stuck with the United States, normally the kiss of death, but were shocked when he gleefully revealed Great Britain. Our fate was sealed. He matched John's epoch-high score of 51 points, finishing with 212 and the victory.
Final scores: Eric 212, Kevin 204, John 192, Greg 168, Lenny 156
Ratings: Kevin 10, Eric 8, Greg 8, John 7, Lenny 7
In spite of many previous playing of History of the World, Eric's effective use of forts really opened my eyes to the power of good defensive positions. He repeatedly was able to protect his territories using the natural terrain and his forts to his advantage. I'm certain this will alter my tactics in future games.