Monday, February 16, 2009

"You finally build your Argyle Street and I smash through with my M8!"

Another spate of cancellations left us numbering just 3 yesterday despite Dave's being able to turn up again. So it looks like our 5-player game of Battlestar Galactica is going to have to wait till next week. In the meantime, the 3 of us settled down to a session of 2 ever-familiar Euros.

Dave is new to the adventure gaming table, so it seemed appropriate to introduce him to Ivanhoe. He proved a quick learner, exactly as he had on his first game of Settlers.

Our 1st game went right down to the wire. I won with a 4-card bule laydown after a sneaky Unhorse to red by Tony, which'd cost me both a valuable action card and my Maiden's support. You can imagine I was pleased to recover after that piece of finkage!

Tony's major contribution to game 2 was a moment's numbskullage in which, playing for a yellow he already had, he wasted a Disgrace and Supporters to put me back in a position to take my 3rd token instead of leaving the tournament to Dave, who'd've just picked up his own 1st token. A measure of how well Dave was playing is that he went on to win this game, with an Ivanhoe of the Break Lance action I was hoping would be my own winning play.

Chagrin must've proved something of a tonic to Tony, because he started game 3 with a straight run to 4-0, thus raising the prospect of a decider. This began to look less likely after I'd caught up with a 4-bout run of my own, something I managed despite throwing away my Shield in the very 1st tournament of the game. It was at this point that Dave finally managed to break his duck, so avoiding the humiliation of a whitewash. He managed to pull back a 2nd token, before Tony finally got the purple he needed to win.

A decider it was then!

The game began with Dave stealing my opening purple with an Outmanoeuvre that he'd just nicked from my hand with a Knockdown. Dave and Tony then moved ahead to 3 and 2, respectively. I broke my duck, storming on to 4 in the process. Dave and Tony regained lost ground, leaving us poised with me and Dave on 4 and Tony on 3. I finally won with an Outwit action. :)

Dave 1
Tony 1
Me 2

Settlers of Catan

I had been considering suggesting Nexus Ops for our next game, but Dave having played it before, I gave Settlers of Catan the obligatory nod first. The alacrity with which my suggestion was taken up was unsurprising, although I confess I was a bit surprised that Tony had been particularly angling for a game of Settlers himself.

Here is the position as Tony's 1st city build (orange) sets the seal on his domination of the opening and mid-games, thanks to that pesky longest road. Note that this city gave Tony a road and a spare brick for each 6 on the dice, a strong position with which he was to make me and Dave suffer. Note too that my setup (green) left me with neither grain, nor likely prospect of expansion into a grain region. I was hoping that my ports - 3-1 (to come) and 2-1 lumber - would make up for this.

Tony's 6's promptly started, and he was soon rolling in roads - 3 in 2 turns which put him at 9. Dave and I were fully alert to this threat. We knew that our only chance was to fight Tony for the longest road, and that only Dave could be the challenger. So we threw all our resources into the fight. By the time I'd built another village and a city, leaving the score at 7 to Tony, 5 to me and 3 to Dave, Dave had managed to connect his roads via a big detour round that 11/lumber region (on the right) and the roads contest stood at 11 each.

Under an embargo to hinder his road-building efforts, and facing all-out cooperation as I traded Dave anything and everything he needed for his own, Tony couldn't keep the longest road for ever. Dave finally nicked it at 14-13. Then Tony's 6's delivered again, and he was 1st to the magic 15 roads. Unluckily for Tony, his road was wide open to being cut at that 3/grain region's junction with those 2 adjacent brick regions (top left). Needing only 6 resources for the road and the settlement this entailed, Dave was soon able to render Tony's last 5 roads largely superfluous.

The upshot of all these efforts was that the scores were 6 to me and 5 each to Dave and Tony. There really ought've been a longer endgame from this point, but I lucked-in with development cards, which I'd been buying now and again, mostly in search of my familiar soldiers as insurance against the robber. I bought 3 development cards, and they were all soldiers, which gave me the 3rd cheapest 2VP in the game (9 resources compared with 2 from VP cards - 6 resources; or from 2 settlements - 8 resources). On top of that, ore and lumber were flooding through my ports to great effect throughout the endgame (the ore especially had been crucial to the battle over the longest road), so that I built a city and gained the largest army in the same turn, for a surprise 3-point leap to 9VP.

Dave was still game, reaching 8VP before I finally built a city for the win, 10-8-5. :)

Dave 1
Tony 1
Me 3

Tony really had Dave and I over a barrel in that game. If we hadn't cooperated so thoroughly, there was no way we could've caught up with him. And Dave was unlucky that I got a near-perfect development card draw; I could easily've drawn a couple of cards that'd've cost me those 2VP which turned out to be my victory margin. In any event, you can be sure that Dave took personal satisfaction in having done Tony over in such style, as witness the title he gave to this artice! ;)

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