Another week is complete and the plan continues to push forward. If you haven’t already purchased your ticket to Gen Con and went through and picked out what you wanted to play, it’s probably too late for most of the events (registration was May 18). You see, I use Gen Con to play those games that I truly enjoy but due to long time commitments, game age or obscurity I just can’t get them to the gaming table (Battlestations, Roborally and Car Wars to name a few). This was going to be important since I could use Gen Con this year to get some of the titles that I own off of the list, but know my game group probably won’t enjoy. Of course, every single event that I wanted for this reason was already closed. That’s okay – more time in the game library. I had a real blast in there last year!
The first game off the list was Dominion: Intrigue. The additional action cards for this expansion were different enough from the original that the game feels fresh. I tried to win without purchasing a single attack card (there were three of them in the game) and though I did come in second, I was beat by a fairly large margin (about 20 points if I remember). One of the players couldn’t remember playing Dominion before (shock!) so we didn’t include any of the Seaside expansion cards to the mix which is kind of a shame since I believe I have played with that expansion once! Maybe, if I get all of the games finished off the list, I can go back and play a game of Dominion using the Seaside action cards.
The second game off the list this week (it was a slow week – what can I say) was Barbarian Prince. This solo adventure puts the player in the role of Prince Cal Arath trying to regain his throne before 70 days are complete. If you have ever read a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, you have the basis for this game. It is next to impossible to win and more often than not, you will spend most of the games enjoying the entertaining ways you perished than actually getting anywhere in it. So without further adieu, here are my three plays of this game (all three completely true and probably only took about a half hour):
Game 1: I was unable to cross the northern river in the first day, but I managed to find a way across on day two only to be accosted by a mercenary band consisting of a leader and 6 troopers. I managed to kill a trooper and drop the leader before being killed by the remaining attackers.
Game 2: I managed to cross the northern river on the first day to find my way into a forest where I encountered a mercenary band consisting of a leader and 2 troopers. I managed to drop a trooper before being killed by the remaining attackers.
Game 3: Was discovered by a lone guard and killed him while being unable to cross the northern river for a few days. On the fifth day, I was able to make it across the river into a nearby forest where I was ambushed by 7 wolves and was killed in battle with them…
Yep, that’s it – highly heroic! I wish I can say that those are flukes of the game, but most often that is what awaits you when playing. I still did get a laugh so maybe I shouldn’t complain – except the game title should have been called: “The fall of the Barbarian Prince” or some such…
Lastly, a game not on the list, but one that is truly fun to play is Quantum. It’s a great strategy game with some really cool mechanics! Each player is attempting to place cubes on the board at different valued worlds (between 7 and 10). The world’s value is the amount your adjacent ships (6 sided dice) must equal to place a cube on said world. The die’s facing gives the movement, combat value as well as a special ability for each ship (for example a die face of 5 allows you to move diagonally). A player gets three actions on their turn which are as follows: move a ship (and battle if you moved into a space containing an opponent’s ship), place a cube (this actually costs 2 actions), reconfigure – roll the die/ship to a new facing, construct – bring one of your dice back onto the board and research – add one to your research value (when it reaches six, you get to take a card – either a onetime effect or special racial ability). Combat is easy as well. Both players roll a single die and add the value of their ship. If the attacker is equal or lower, the defender is destroyed – otherwise the attacker is repulsed. That’s about 90% of the rules right there. I am really taken aback with this game and I hope you try it out if you get the chance!
A friend of mine was leaving Bloomington after getting his degree from IU and a group of us went out for food after our normal Thursday game night. We got talking about older games and that sparked me into playing Barbarian Prince. Most of those older games have antiquated rules: charts to look up, exceptions to most of the rules and a long play time. Granted most of those early games were war simulations and history buffs wanted everything to be ‘perfect’ so that philosophy was continued in the games of the era. There has definitely been a shift in what gamers want in a game over the years!
Barbarian Prince is one such example of an older game – it is chuck full of tables and charts that have you flipping through the event book to determine what befalls our hero and that can get really tedious. Also, combat is fairly abstracted (attackers skill – defenders skill +2d6 and consult chart) which is probably statistically sound, but will have most players wondering why a 3 and a 5 cause a wound, but a 9 does not. I leave you with this: the rules on getting lost can keep you in the same hex for a while which can be frustrating to say the least (getting lost and unable to find your way in farmlands can happen 16% of the time – granted maybe you spent that day talking to the locals and not actually traveling, but I digress).
I shouldn’t complain on those older games still on my list since I have had ample opportunity to sell, trade or get rid of them – sometimes it nice to go back to your roots I guess…
Until next time – Play a game!