Monday, December 12, 2005

Conspiracy. Intrige. Paranoia.

3 games. I think the "theme" is clear. Italian Sausages, clearly a "suspicious" food, provided sustenance.

In attendance: Easy, Kozure, Luch, Shemp, Sonja.

Kozure hadn't yet arrived, so we started with Conspiracy (a 4 player game). We settled into our roles (I was Paris, Shemp was Tokyo, Luch was Washington and Sonja, new to the game, flexed her command of the German language as Berlin).

Brief recap: Conspiracy is a game where each player represents a major power who wants to reclaim a secret briefcase located at the center of the board. 12 spies (each with a terrible pun for a name), occupy the board... but they aren't controlled by particular players. Instead, the players are given $10 000 to "bribe" the spies to do their bidding. Since bribing is secret, no one ever really knows which spy is working for who until someone tries to make a move someone else doesn't want. And since additional bribes can be made throughout the game, loyalties shift.

As is often the case in this game, the likely winner changed several times over the course of the game. There aren't many "steps" between the center of the board and a player's home base (3 being the shortest route, I think), so it's not uncommon for the briefcase to move a single square and have everyone suddenly realize that a particular player is suddenly in a position to win.

My memory is hazy (as always), but I beleive I blew "Peking Tom"'s cover fairly early on... a character several players had invested heavily into. With "Miss Behavin'" nearby I tried a quick snatch and grab of the suitcase towards Paris but was intercepted. Soon after, Shemp looked like a threat as a series of characters under his sway gathered near Tokyo and seemed unstoppable. Through cooperation, we managed to get it out... and into Sonja's territory. She was within one move of winning, but it was not to be.... Luch, who's initial large investment in "Rock Bottom" seemed to be going to waste (since NO ONE was moving him anywhere), was pleasantly surprised to see that character suddenly find himself with the case 2 squares from his base. We had no way of stopping him.

Next up was Intrige. This was our first game with 5 players (Kozure had arrived by now), and the dynamics are quite different with an odd number of players! In a 4 player game, 2 pairs of players usually end up helping each other (using the term loosely!). With 5 players, things aren't quite as even, and "Friendships" (again, used loosely) come and go much faster. Backs were stabbed all around, and I can't think of any particular alliances which lasted more than a turn or two (Though my France saw a lot of Shemp's American employees, and vice versa, until the final few turns). Shemp had the unfortunate luck of being deemed the leader early on and was hopelessly shut out for the 2nd half of the game because of it. Sonja and I managed to accumulate quite a bit of wealth as things went on, but I ended the game with a very tiny lead for the win.

Last up was was Paranoia, Mandatory "Bonus Fun" Card game. I was pleasantly surprised last time as this seemed to be a decent game, for a "Take That" system. I liked that the "missions" focused the card play rather than letting it be a free for all. I liked that each player had objectives which would naturally lead to backstabbing, chaos and "general hilarity". It seemed to work, and we laughed a lot, so I was happy with the purchase (despite some of the obvious shortcomings concerning graphic design and play length issues). Having played it a second time, though, I'm not so sure. For whatever reason,things weren't "clicking". We kept forgetting the fiddly rules about discarding treason counters for exposing/killing traitors. We missplayed the way characters are meant to come back to the game after they get killed. etc, etc. I looked through the ruledbook too many times for a game of this "weight". Also, I had more hands filled with cards I couldn't use than last time. All these things contributed to a hand that wasn't much fun. I hope to try it again, with a cheat sheet at my side, but it's not likely to get many more chances if it goes like that again.

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