Thursday, November 18, 2004


So, last night was an evening of TWO rounds of Domaine, a chaotic game of Tigris and Euphrates, nice wine, chocolate, and of course Easy's spectacular venison stew!

Things were interesting this week, as we had a chance to explore strategies in a couple of games that we had played before, but are far from having mastered. First up was Domaine - this time we got the rules closer to correct than ever before, only messing up the endgame rule that one can't draw from the chancery after the last card is gone from the draw pile. That's fairly minor, considering some of the flagrant errors that we have made in the past on this one.

First time around, we were all fairly aware of what was happening on the board, but it didn't quite prevent me from completing an L^3G, which is Shemp lingo for the Large Late Land Grab, typically the winning maneuver in one of our games of Domaine. Second time around, we were all wise to this, and Ogami pulled off a new winning strategy, employing a central starting location and judicious use of Treaties/Alliances to keep others with more firepower (like yours truly) from encroaching on his region. Other notable strategies this game were Kozure's second place effort (attempting to control one resource laden side of the board), my mostly-failed attempt at using one soldier laden region to roll over other players, and Easy's disasterous attempt to control a resource scarce side of the board.

After these efforts, we moved on to Tigris and Euphrates, for the first time in more than four months. We mostly had a good retention of the rules, but strategies were foggy indeed. Easy easily displayed the most Snucular/Sneakular tactic, by causing conflicts between two other players, disrupting both of their tactics. That kept me, personally, off-balance and reacting most of the game. Luckily, last night off-balance, reacting, and judicious timing of the end game were sufficient to give me a win with 8 victory points. Easy recieved 7, Kozure 6, and Ogami less than that.

Seems to me that we will need to play this one a little more frequently if we hope to get more respectable final scores happening - on the up side, though, we are all fairly evenly matched. Definitely competitive, and definitely fun.

And the dinner? Let's just say that it was definitely the classiest we have had on a WAGS night, and is unlikely to be matched anytime soon - special thanks to Easy for the meat and Mrs. Shemp for the wonderful selection of vino. 'Twas bellisimo!


  1. #1
    I take your assertion that the meal will not be topped anytime soon as a dare. I WILL PROVIDE DINNER AGAIN NEXT TIME.
    Domaine. I made a statement in our second round which got a laugh, but is nonetheless very true... "I'm only winning in terms of points". In this game, your score is kind of incidental... not really a true measure of your position in the game. The L^3G syndrome can give someone a HUGE amount of points, but it's not worth anything unless it wins the game immediately, because points are pretty easy to take away. As Shemp pointed out, my second game was disastrous. Note to self: "Don't put all three kingdoms where there are no mines". However, in addition to that, I can point out exactly when the slim chance I had at winning (due to initial placement) became NO chance at winning... Right at the beginning, in our arms race at the corner, Shemp was able to cash in on an expensive card in the chancery, giving him the funds to put more knights. I couldn't keep up, and therefore lost control. I further buried myself by not adding knights in favour of a desperate strategy to get my very own L^3G. But then Shemp started crushing me (his only valid target due to clever playing by others), and all hope was gone.
    Tigris and Euphrates
    I really enjoy this one. Domaine has a feeling of a runaway freight train in some ways... Everyone is trying to steer, but it is quite likely to crash. The game is set up in such a way that the easiest way to win is by accident, and a good player has to cleverly defeat this natural tendency. By contrast, T&E offers a skilled player a better chance at controlling his/her destiny. There's no doubt that things can be unpredictable and chaotic. Between the luck of drawing tiles, having four players and the devastating effects of combat, it's hard to look too far ahead in the future!
    Anyway, I was happy with my game. The opportunity I saw for causing Kozure and Shemp to fight, opening up a spot for my merchant leader and nabbing the treasure gave me the sense that there are many layers to the game that we are only just beginning to see.(Are there many other games where combat between two players can be instigated by a third?). I might have won the game if I could have put my final few turns to beter use, but overall it's starting to fall into place.
    When did the WAGSTER formerly known as Luch (and Hapi and ??????) become Ogami?

  2. Ogami assumed the name "Ogami" with Site Instruction 0401-A-01, dated 16 November 2004.

  3. I will point out, for the record, that "Ogami" is the family name of Itto Ogami, a.k.a. Kozure Okami, a.k.a. "Lone Wolf and Cub". I submit that Luch, a.k.a. Hapi a.k.a. ????? is committing an unbridled act of nickname infringement, a.k.a. horning in on my screen name.

    I submit to your honours that I have been using the nickname "Kozure" since 1999, whereas the accused settled upon the near synonymous nickname "Ogami" last week. Both "Kozure" and "Ogami" are recognizeable by any fan of Japanese Samurai manga as pseudonym and the real name respectively of the title character in the long-running, dark-themed vengeance drama, "Lone Wolf and Cub".

    By selecting "Ogami", the accused has done something akin to selecting "Logan" as a nickname when someone in the same group was already using "Wolverine" or, to a lesser degree, "Ziggy Stardust" when someone was already using "Major Tom".

    I therefore request, your honours, that the WAGS judicial branch compel Luch to change his name to something else less derivative, or else be submitted to constant labelling as "style-biter", or at least be given frequent noogie-ing.

  4. #1
    I will NOT give Ogami a noogie

    I WILL rename Ogami to "Spamtastic" for no particular reason, other than to appease Kozure. Also, because since Spamtastic doesn't read the blog, I thought it would be funny to refer to him this way behind his back.

  5. OK, back on topic...

    Domaine reminds me a lot of four different people trying to play Qix - you remember that silly arcade game, where you try to carve out little hatched sections of the screen by drawing orthographic lines while the wierd vector monster tries to zap you?

    (If you don't remember Qix, don't bother reading the next paragraph)

    Well, there's no vector monster, or little sparky-things which come to get you if you screw up and try to backtrack, but the basic principle remains the same: One person can grab a lot of territory with some crafty little grabs if you're not paying attention. The problem with the idea of four person "Qix" is that there are so many people grabbing little chunks of territory, that it's hard to be able to notice who is about to grab a huge chunk'o'land. The complexity of the iterations are pretty difficult to track as a larger spatial problem. This is why the complexity of Domaine strategy can seem at times random. It's not really random, but someone can stumble into winning by recognizing a missed opportunity, or capitalizing on a golden one, which can seem undeserved.

    As for basic strategy, I'll tip my hand (again) and reveal some basic principals I've noticed.


    It's pretty simple - if you don't get mines, you can't win. At least two of your domains should have "caged" a mine early on. Ideally, the castle placement should put you in a position where you can A) fence in a domain quickly B) have the ability to place up to three knights without paying extra for forests and C) be close enough to a mine to be able to enclose it quickly. An obvious added bonus to these criteria is the D) corner position, which cuts off possible encirclement on two sides.


    There is a significant advantage to having two or more domaines in close proximty, because if you having neighbouring friendly domains, you don't have to worry about adjacent domains grabbing your point squares. However, having three or more domaines in close proximity (as opposed to just two) limits your strategic options on two counts - 1) You are limited in how you are able to take land away from opponents. 2) You are cut off from almost any opportunity for the L^3G (late large land grab) strike. I am finding therefore that it is safest (though not yet proven to be winningest) to have two kingdoms in close proximity, with a "satellite" domain for later uses.


    Since the maximum amount of supplemental income each turn is four (one from each different type of mine), there is a diminishing reward for grabbing a lot of mines at the expense of points. However, as supplemental income can make or break strategy, getting two mines early is fairly critical to success. A third mine is further insurance, but a fourth is luxury. The five extra points from a monopoly can be a win-maker, but so far from my observations, the effort required to secure a monopoly would take too much away from other efforts to be profitable. The monopoly grab, then, should really only be pursued as a "target of opportunity" - hit it if it's easy to hit, but otherwise, don't focus on it.


    There seems to be in general two philosopies to grabbing land. The "tentacle" - long, single square tendrils reaching out to grab point squares or mines - is quicker but more vulnerable. The "block", rectangular/regular-shaped regions, are more time consuming but less vulnerable to being "snipped" which is a common tactic against the tendril expansion method. I have yet to figure out which of these two tactics is best, but a focus on tentacles, with occasional block-bastions seems to be the way to go.


    As with any German game, fighting with another player by back and forth land grabs and "knight arms races" costs both of you points. If you are currently in third or fourth place, you should avoid such conflicts at all costs, as it will simply hand the victory to one of the top two players. Ideally, use Alliance cards to "fix" a border if such conflicts threaten to become ongoing. Failing that, rethink your strategy - it might be more profitable in the long run to back down from a border war in one area so that you can expend your money more meaningfully elsewhere.


    Alliance cards and the use of knights depends a lot on groupthink in your gaming group. Surprisingly, there is more conflict in this game than we tend to see in others but we have yet to find the careful equilibrium of when to push back, and when to cut losses and run. As with some of our early games of ideology, some areas can become points of conflict for the wrong reasons and then be fought over for spite's sake. Our latest game illustrated the effectiveness of well timed Alliance card play to prevent such "spite-wars".

  6. Anonymous7:43 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.