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Subject: My 2005 in Review article posted rss

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Chris Farrell
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For those of you who are interested, I've put up my 2005 in Review article:

http://homepage.mac.com/c_farrell/games/articles/2005.html

Chris
 
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Alan Richbourg
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I'd suggest giving Wellington a try, then comparing it with Hannibal. Wellington has quite a different feel than The Napoleonic Wars, imho.
 
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Chad Marlett
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Good overview of the year. I agree with your viewpoint on Empire of the Sun and Triumph of Chaos; if you had had a chance to play Fire in the Sky, I think it would have made a good impression. It also really highlights the problems with Empire of the Sun...

 
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J C Lawrence
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Conversely I found Reef Encounter so glaringly better than Euphrat & Tigris that had I'd owned a copy of E&T it would have been for sale the next day and never played again.

Antike has been solidly popular and given the brief time it has been out, the most requested of any game in 2005. Admittedly there isn't a single original element to the design, and calling it a Civilisation-lite is a severe disservice to both games. However as an austerely muscular little logistics game it serves well enough, plays enjoyably with a light negotiation element, and it is surprisingly elegantly balanced. To address your specific concerns of compound interest and conflict cost:

0) Yes, there is a compound interest aspect to the game, but it is heavily damped both by the investment curves required and by the sympathetic relationships each player's investments must bear with their immediate neighbours. Antike is a game of action point efficiency: who can build N VPs for the least action points. A simple logistical game. Unless the players base have a wide skill range in understanding how to optimise the system, then runaway leaders are both rare and fragile.

1) As you identify, conflict is a losing proposition. Potential threat of conflict, especially as a distractive force is however very powerful. It is a game of many small detentes and short lived equilibria.

2) Yes, there is nothing original in the game. Nothing at all other than this particular permutation of old standards not behaving been done before. If you value novelty much and have the experience base to honestly detect it, this could be significant. Few do. Shrug.

3) Yes, the three player game as published has problem (it needs a smaller VP total). Other player counts are fine. No, temples are not only valuable late due to early available expansion. Early game expansionism is not a rote decision, especially with lower player counts, and beyond a small base is not necessarily required for victory. Picking one viable strategy among many, consider the VP earning efficiency advantage of a player who has built two or three gold temples in the early game: They can buy a new technology and thus a VP every 2 turns, likely guaranteeing themselves 5 or 6 of the 8 available VPs. Other similar patterns can be constructed for the other VP sources, or combinations of sources. It is a question of simple efficiency.

4) No, combat expense is not a huge dampner, and most especially not in the early game. It is frequently logistically more efficient in the early game to build a military unit and conquer an opponent's city than it would be to build you own city.

5) Don't play with whiners.

My largest surprise however is your enthusiasm over Louis XIV, Tower of Babel and Palazzo which I respectively rated at 4, 3.5 and 3.5. None of them are terrible to be sure, comfortably outside Sturgeon's 90%, but I can find little to praise after that.

 
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Marshall P.
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The thing I appreciate are the 2003 and 2004 retrospectives. Too many people are focused on the "next big thing". Games aren't like movies, they're not disposable after one use.
 
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Richard Savage
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Chris,
I always eagerly await your reviews and replays. As an avid wargamer myself, I feel that your analysis of wargames is "spot on" with my views
so you save me a lot of time and money. I think that you should try "Fire in the Sky" also, I'm eagerly awaiting your take on it.
 
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