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Subject: Archipelago - Game session - Short duration - 4 players rss

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Fabrice Wiels
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Hi guys,

Since there seems to be a lot of questions about this game, I've decided to play a few exemplary sessions and to report them on this forum.

This first game was played yesterday evening with mi wife, my 11 years old daugther, and a friend. From now on, the four players will be designated by their color : Blue, Yellow, Green and Red. I'm Blue.

Preparation of the game and Turn zero.

First, we set up the game, then play the first round of exploration called "turn zero". After this first exploration, all players have settle on a shore around the central sea, and the interior market shows 3 meats, 2 fishes, 2 woods and 1 of each other resources. There are 7 inactive citizens.

After that, the character and progress cards are revealed, and the tendency is drawn : it will be the fishes. Each player receive a short duration objective card. Mine says that I have to collect exploration chips and that the game will end as soon as there are 6 characters cards in play. Fair enough. Of course, I don't know anything about the objectives of my fellow players.

Turn 1.

No one bets any money, so the order of play stay unchanged: Red is first, Blue second, Yellow third and Green last to play...

Phase 1. Red begins the turn by exploring. Blue, Yellow and Green begin the game by a reproduction action, so the active population is now of 11 souls...

Phase 2. Red recruits 2 inactive citizen and pays 6 to the bank. Blue, Yellow and Green explore each one new hex tile. At the end of this phase, the first exploration pile is empty and each player receive a fourth action chip. Neat.

Phase 3. Red builds a Seaport, using resources she has received while exploring. Blue harvest 2 stones. Yellow and Green recruit some inactive citizen. At this point, the active population is 18...

Phase 4. Red harvests 4 fruits and sells 2 of them with her seaport. She gets 16 coins. That's good to be rich, especially when you want to buy some cards... Blue builds a ship with a wood he exchanges with Green. Yellow builds a market. Green taxes.

Now it's time to buy some cards. Red buys the explorer, a character that allows you to draw three tiles while exploring. Blue buys the progress card "Prosperity and Pacifism". Yellow skip that phase and turns 2 cards. Green buys the Headhunter, a character that allows you to buy a character at the cost of one action plus the lowest character price...

During this step, we encountered three immediate crisis :

Iron was asked for the interior market. One Iron fed 5 citizen... 2 irons came from the interior market, Red decided to sacrify one explorer chips to provide a third iron, and three citizen revolted.

Then, fishes were asked for the interior market. One fish for 6 citizens. 2 fishes came from the interior market, the third was provided by the Green player...

Then, two meat were required in the exterior market. No one was willing to give them, so two citizens revolted...

At the end of turn one, 8 citizens were revolted for a population of 18... Glups.

Turn 2.

Red wins the auction for the order of play. After a small negotiation, the new order is Red, Yellow, Green and Blue.

The population evolves and one more revolted and two more inactive citizens are added...

Then, we have to face a new crisis : fruits are required on the interior market. One fruit feeds six citizens. 2 come from the interior market, and Red provides the third one.

Phase 1. Red explores with her ship. Yellow harvests 2 fruits and activates her market immediately to sell on the interior market. Green harvests 4 woods. Blue explores and pays Red to use her character card : the explorer.

Phase 2. Red builds a ships. Yellow, Green and Blue build each a seaport...

Phase 3. Red harvest 2 fishes, remembering the tendency of the game. Yellow harvest 2 meats. Green explores and use his fourth action to activate the Headhunter character. He buys the Recruiter, a character that allows you to recruit one inactive citizen for no action. Blue Recruits 2 citizens. The population is now of 20 souls.

Phase 4. Red builds a Temple that protects two of her people. She also agrees with Blue to activate "Prosperity and Pacifism" and get her money back, so the number of revolted citizens drops by 2 units at no one losses... Yellow Taxes. Green passes since he has no action left. Blue harvests 3 stones.

It is now time to buy some cards.

Red buys a woodmill that will allow her to double the wood harvest. Yellow buys the Queen, in order to have an advantage when auctioning the order of play. Green buys the Merchant, so he can buy and sell resources on the interior market. Blue buys the roads, that allow him to move quicker when migrating... There are 5 characters in play, so at that time, I know that if someone uses the headhunter, the game will end immediately... In any case, the game will probably end at the end of next turn...

Fortunately, only one crisis appeared, easily lifted with the resources of the players, and the last card was an event : a drop of the revolted citizens by one unit due to the red temple. We are lucky.

Turn 3.

Yellow activates her Queen so she gets + 2 gold coins in her hand for the Order of Play auction. She wins, since no one is willing to pay to counter her. The new order is Yellow, Red, Green and Blue.

The population evolves : +1 inactive and + 2 revolted citizens.

No crisis on the interior market: the "red" event is still active and is ignored. Two fishes are required on the exterior market. One comes from the market, and we get another revolted citizen because no one wants to give his fishes.

Phase 1. Yellow harvests 2 fruits. Red harvests 2 fishes. Green builds a ship. Blue migrates his ships so he will be able to get fishes...

Phase 2. Yellow harvests 2 meats. Red recruits 2 inactive citizens. Green harvests fishes. Blue does the same, then activate the Merchant character so he can buy 2 more fishes on the interior market.

Phase 3. Yellow harvests 2 woods using the woodmill of Red. Red Taxes. Green harvests 4 irons and sells two of them through his seaport. Blue harvests 2 stones.

Phase 4. Yellow Taxes and use her market to sell some stuff. Red harvests one stone and use "Prosperity and Pacifism". Green Taxes. Blue builds a temple.

It is now time to buy cards. Yellow buys "Slavery". Red and Green pass, turn 2 cards each. Blue sells one of his fishes in auction so he can have enough money and buy the Inventor. Then, he turns his objective card and announce the end of the game.



Everyone does the same, and the points are the following :

The tendency is the fishes. Green has four of them, Blue and Red have 3 each. Yellow has none. Green scores 4 points, Blue and Red 3 points. Yellow 0.

Blue card is the exploration chips. Red and Yellow have spent theirs, so they have none. Green only have 2. Blue have 3. Blue gets 3 points, Green gets 2 points.

Green card is the character cards. Green has 3 characters, each other player has only one character. Green gets 3 points. Each other get 2 points.

Red card is the temples. Red and Blue have one temple each. They get 3 points. The other players have nothing...

Yellow card is... the separatist. It is not taken into account.

So the final scores are :

Blue 11 points
Green 9 points
Red 8 points
Yellow 2 points
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Samuel Van Beneden
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Thank you for the review!

I'm pretty much sold on the game, but could you clarify how long the game took?
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Fabrice Wiels
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I did not timed it precisely.

Between 1h00 and 1h15, I believe, the fact that I was taking notes while playing did slowed the game a little...
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Jimmy Okolica
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Thanks so much for the session report. That helped a lot. It's interesting how quickly the short game plays. Only 3 turns sounds really quick.
 
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Dave Martin
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Thank you.

I noticed that blue never sacrificed a resource...

Can you describe which parts of the game are 'fun'?
 
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Fabrice Wiels
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Dave Martin wrote:
Thank you.

I noticed that blue never sacrificed a resource...


I'm pretty much sure I sacrified a stone at some point, but I failed to report it, shame on me... What I didn't sacrificed, it's exploration chips, because that was my objective and I didn't want to explore too much (it would have been too obvious)...

Quote:
Can you describe which parts of the game are 'fun'?


"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that..."

Allways wanted to use that line...



Seriously speaking, we, as players, find the fun in our games in very different ways, so it's a tricky question. For example, I find Dungeon Twister to be a "quick and fun", but I know a lot of people that find that there is too much reflexion in that game. The think is : I like my games to offer me some intellectual challenges...

What I find pleasing in Archipelago cannot be easily summarized. First, it's modular. Because of that, you don't have the same board twice, and you don't have the feeling you're playing the same way again and again. It's like Catan meeting Agricola.

Second, it is a semi-cooperative game : we are in touch with each other, and the game forces us to collaborate, to exchange, etc. When I play Agricola, I allways regret there is no way we can exchange resources between players to maximise our action. In Archipelago, you can do that, and it's really a blast when the "human factor" in a game can be more than just a nuisance.

Three, there is the secret objective thing. Archipelago is a deduction game as well. Look at the example of play. At some point, I built a temple. Why? That was not necessary : I was pretty much sure the next crisis could easily be averted, and that the game would end at the card buying session. But since Red had built a temple, I had some doubt about this victory condition being in play. I had the necessary stones, so I took the chance. Of course, that third aspect is not easy in the short game, because everything unfolds so quickly (I knew a short game that lasted less than two turns).

Four, I like the game world that is constantly "unbalanced". This mechanic reminds me of Antiquity: at times, you really have the feeling the game works against you. The only difference is that the consequences are collective and not individual, hence the collaboration...
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Iron James Rackham
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One thing that struck me when reading the rules is that it seems really hard to complete the separatist objective when the benefactor trend is in play. Any comments on that?
 
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Fabrice Wiels
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ironJames wrote:
One thing that struck me when reading the rules is that it seems really hard to complete the separatist objective when the benefactor trend is in play. Any comments on that?


Well, you are right about this : depending on the trend and the conditions in play, the separatist will have an easier job.

If there is a benefactor trend, a pacifist, or a condition regarding temples, the revolt won't rise so fast.

On the other hand, if the trend is to have as much stones as possible (making the building of temples more difficult), the separatist will have a smooth ride, same goes if there are characters in play that allows you to raise the revolt...

So, the conditions of the game influence the way it is played. Sometimes, one player gets some advantages that are just "random". In that sense, the game is not a "pure" euro / german game where every single player has the same chances, at the beginning.

In my opinion, that's what makes it fun : you have to adapt to your situation, try to guess what are the various conditions in play, and make the best out of all this...
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Iron James Rackham
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Sherinford wrote:
So, the conditions of the game influence the way it is played. Sometimes, one player gets some advantages that are just "random". In that sense, the game is not a "pure" euro / german game where every single player has the same chances, at the beginning.

That's fine with me (not a fan of zero luck games), as long as the advantages/disadvantages aren't too drastic.
 
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Marcus Spinner
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Quote:
Phase 1. Red begins the turn by exploring. Blue, Yellow and Green begin the game by a reproduction action, so the active population is now of 11 souls...

Phase 2. Red recruits 2 inactive citizen and pays 6 to the bank. Blue, Yellow and Green explore each one new hex tile. At the end of this phase, the first exploration pile is empty and each player receive a fourth action chip. Neat.


How can you receive a fourth action token if you need to empty the first pile of tokens that excist out of 8 from the 24 so three piles in total when you only did 4 explorations?
 
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Nicola Bocchetta
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MarcusSpinner wrote:
Quote:
Phase 1. Red begins the turn by exploring. Blue, Yellow and Green begin the game by a reproduction action, so the active population is now of 11 souls...

Phase 2. Red recruits 2 inactive citizen and pays 6 to the bank. Blue, Yellow and Green explore each one new hex tile. At the end of this phase, the first exploration pile is empty and each player receive a fourth action chip. Neat.


How can you receive a fourth action token if you need to empty the first pile of tokens that excist out of 8 from the 24 so three piles in total when you only did 4 explorations?


Because during turn 0 each player explores one hex and receives one exploration token.
During turn 1 each player explored once and got another 4 tokens, that's 8 altogether.
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