Thursday, November 16, 2006

Game Night at the Condo

We had 8 show up, so we split into 2 groups of 4. Mike and I played a match of Subbuteo before and after, but I'll talk about that last. The heavier gamers went down to the big table...

A Game of Thrones: First time for two of us, including myself. Second time for the other two. As usual, I had read the rules, but that was about 20 rulebooks ago, so it was all a little fuzzy. Despite the rather heavy looking rules and busy looking game, it's quite simple. Westeros Phase (random events set the stage for the current turn, except the first), Planning Phase (negotiate and secretly allocate actions for all your units), Action Phase (execute planned actions). Do this for 10 turns, or until one player has 7 territories with cities or strongholds.

Jim (me) played Stark, Mike played Lannister, Josh played Tyrell, and Mike played Baratheon. Since it was a 4-player game, Greyjoy becomes a neutral player, which gives Stark (me) a nice break at the beginning. The first 4 turns played fairly quickly since little or no aggression occurred. Stark grabbed the north and descended into the bottleneck, leaving Greyjoy alone. Lannister expanded outward in the center. Tyrell took the southwest. Baratheon took the southeast. This was about as far as anyone could go without some form of confrontation.

Turn 5 took as long as the first 4 put together. There were many attacks, especially by Lannister. He was looking particularly focused and frustrated. It turned out he had plans for a win, but didn't realize how much support was available to his targets and played some action tokens incorrectly. He took his 6th city from Stark, but lost it immediately on Stark's next action. Being taken by surprise at just how close the rest of us came to losing, we finshed out turn 5 and some of turn 6 by picking on Lannister...a little too much.

Lannister started turn 6 with 9 power tokens. He had the Throne and the Blade. We conspired to force him to commit his tokens to one or the other. There was a miscommunication (intentional?) and Lannister retained the Throne, but Stark grabbed the Blade. We were so busy beating down the red menace that we failed to see the rise of the yellow menace. There was nothing we could do to stop Baratheon from taking his 7th city.

I think our next game will see much more negotiation. I didn't realize how quickly the game ending condition can occur if you aren't paying attention. I would have thought it a rare thing. It's probably more difficult with 5 players. A Game of Thrones is a little on the heavy side mechanically to pull out on a whim, but I'm definitely looking forward to trying it again.

Subbuteo: Two more matches of this. I've been reading specific sections of the full rules to try to flush out all the error situations. What happens when multiple moving players collide? What is the minimum distance to the ball for free flicks, flick ins, and goal flicks? I've also been trying to overcome that natural gaming tendency to let the opponent take their turn; the attacker can flick as fast as they want; the defender has to flick quickly or they lose their chance. Because of this, you can bluff either way. The defender can go for a quick flick making the attacker want to shoot sooner than they are ready, etc.

Our pre-game-night match was two 10-minute halves, and ended 0-0. We didn't play overtime because others started to show up. Our post-game-night match was two 10-minute halves ending 0-0, with a 10 minute sudden death. Mike scored the game winning goal about 2 minutes in. I really enjoy the combination of dexterity, quick thinking, and slow thinking.

A Game of Thrones image by jenoe


At 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the Subbuteo, I think there has traditionally been two versions of rules, fast and slow. Fast is the official version, played in the World Champion etc. Slow rules mean basically that the attacker must wait for the defensive flick. I think you should try it, it changes the feeling of the game clearly. I personally like slow game more. It seems to me that when you get better and better, the attacking side gets an advantage with the fast rules. That leads to the 'defensive walls' of 7-8 players near the 'shooting line' and that really detracts the enjoyment, for me atleast.

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Mark Christopher said...

Sounds like a great session of A Game of Thrones. You're absolutely right; it's easy for someone to sneak a win if people aren't paying attention. One thing I tend to do is ask for a "castle count" at the end of each turn, where we count up how close everyone is to winning. This is more so I know that I'm paying attention than anything else. Even then, though, there are sometimes some subtle moves that someone can sneak in for a win, anyway. Mike won his first aGoT game with one of those.

For four players, the 2nd sxpansion is brilliant. Granted I've only played it once, but it was perhaps the best experience I've had of the game. When I come up next week, I'll bring it along.


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