Friday, November 25, 2005

Ideology + Unexploded Cow

The theme this week was "Fanaticism!!!"

The games were "Ideology" and "Unexploded Cow". Food was "anything HOT or EXTREME"

I'll let you all decide how well those work toghether.

First up was Ideology, the game of world domination which went over quite well the last time we played. The cast of characters included "Capitalist Easy", "Imperialist Shemp", "Communist Luch" and "Fascist Kozure".

A few comments, now that we've come back to it:

1)The starting powers and penalties add nice flavour to each player's opinion without making things complicated. I had previously complained that only the communists had real "character". I take that back... the other positions are possibly more subtle but they each seem to work.
2)The phase order, which also initially bothered me (because I felt it could have been simplified) has revealed itself to be very important. The game forces players to commit their scarce resources (the cards in their hands) first to themselves, then to neutral countries, then to opponent's countries (hostile takeovers). It's important because cards are not worth too much if unplayed, so a player must constantly ask him/herself whether it's "safe" to spend cards early when the temptation to expand to new countries is just around the corner, and when the threat of hostile take-over looms at the end of the turn. Had things gone the other way around, players would simply use up what they needed to defend their country and/or expand, and then spend the rest on developing themselves just before the turn ended.

In this session, we all feared the communists for their "iron curtain" ability (essentially, any attempts to influence communist countries are erased at the end of the turn unless the country in question is fully wrested from their control that turn). Poor Luch had a very hard time getting a hold of new territory as we all made a concerted effort to keep him from getting anything. The Fascists pulled out to an early lead through slow and steady internal and external gains. The Imperialists made the most of their ability to easily control small neutral countries and snatched quite a few of them. I, as the capitalists, tried to place my military influence on as many neutral countries as possible (due to my restriction from playing them once the coutries where owned, as they require me to declare war). I did fairly well this way, though I was pulling the rear with the coomunists for much of the game. As the Imperialists threatened to end the game, I surged forward by developping Weapons of Mass Destruction and grabbing two small countries. Alas, the Imperialists also made big gains and despite the efforts of the Fascists and Communists to stop us we ended on a tie. Ties are broken by the player with the most advancements, and that was Shemp.

It was a very fun game!

My only complaint is that the end game is still a little too "kill the leader" for my tastes. There are very few restrictions for attacking a player, and points are public knowledge, so I'm afraid that games could degenerate into "he's almost winning, let's attack him until he's down. Now someone else is almost winning, let's take him down, etc". Our last few turns were spent doing this, but it didn't last long... not sure whether getting better at the gaem would improve or aggravate the issue.

Next up was "Unexploded Cow". It's an amusing and simple game which we've played before, so I won't spend too much time on it. Luch had a good time playing cows just to stampede them into other player's fields (forcing them to pay him the value of the cows). Shemp had a pretty impressive run of cows which were set up to blow his entire field if activated. I focused on getting the high city cards, which I managed to do, but I was so far behind on cash that the endgame bonus was far too little too late. Mad bomber Shemp carried the game with a narrow win over Stampeder Luch (but a huge lead over me, and Kozure too I think)

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