Sunday, October 08, 2006

3 Players. 3 Games. (Quo Vadis? x2, Antike, Carcassonne x2)

It was just Shemp, luch and I this Wednesday. I picked Antike and Quo Vadis? since they were recent acquisitions... though I wasn't at all sure that either would work well at that number.

Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis? is a pure negotiation game from Reiner Knizia... not his usual style of game. Roman politicians are vying for election into the senate, and only sharp negotiation and good positional strategy can get them there.

The board is a rather bland depiction of a series of committees, each between 1 and 5 "seats" large. Players have a series of politicians, which they must place in low committees in the hopes of getting promoted into higher ones... ultimately leading to the senate. Along the path to the higher committees, "laurel" tokens are acquired by politicians. The winner is the player who has the most laurels at once the senate is full, so long as that player has at least one politician in the senate.

The meat of the game lies in getting your politicians promoted. The only way for anyone to move ahead is to be voted up, so either that player must already have a majority in the committee or he/she must convince others to vote in their favour. Laurel tokens can be used as a bribe, promises to vote another player's politician up in a different committee can be made, or any other arrangement that can be conceived of can be proposed. As an additional sweetener, anyone who votes for another player gets a free laurel.

The result is a very quick game of negotiation and positional strategy which I found quite engaging despite the fact that it's quite likely to be much better at 4 or 5 players than it was at 3.

We played two rounds. In the both games, Shemp displayed much better negotiation skills than ours and won. Not only did he manage to gain the upper hand in most of the deals, but he did an excellent job of situating himself in chains of committees which ensured him good pathways to the top (not to mention getting many of those "free laurels" by being at the right place at the right time and lending a vote to another player). The deals never got terribly creative (most involved simple laurel payments or promises of votes), but I'm looking forward to seeing how a full group plays out.


This was our first play of Antike at 3. I've got the second edition, which lowered the winning conditions from 12 to 10 for three players. I'm glad that rule got changed, because getting to 10 seemed about right (it would otherwise grind to a halt as all players armed up for some sort of enormous temple bashing escapade).

We played on the english board, and I started near the center with Luch at the West and Shemp in the South-East. I tried to get boats out and a few temples early on. It always seemed that Luch and Shemp were ahead of me, as both were sending masses of boats and troops out while I seemed to accomplish little. Luch was crowding my areas pretty quickly, and I was forced to abandon my aim to get 2 points in ships early... . After getting my first 7 sea zones, I started focusing on marble and temple building. Shemp's empire was vast and pretty much unchallenged, with a few temples well guarded at the back. It became clear at the end of the game that Luch was going to win on a particular round by building the last temple he needed. I tried to fan out my boats in order to finally get to 14 sea zones and score my last point but didn't succeed. Shemp was nearly resigned to a loss, since he was down 2 points, when he realized he had he was able to knock out two temples I had built previously. He did exactly that and snatched victory from under Luch's nose.

I thought three player Antike was quite good (using the 2nd edition rules). The board is definitely more open, but there was still no time to waste in grabbing the VPs... I felt continuously under the gun to be efficient and grab what I needed as soon as I could. As in our previous sessions, combat didn't play a major role until the very end of the game. Turns go by extremely quickly, and the game continues to fulfill it's promise to deliver a satisfying civilization building experience in approximately 1 1/2 hours.

We finished up the evening with two quick games of Carcasssonne. Base Carc can easily be played in 15 minutes if players draw their tiles ahead of time, and is quite enjoyable this way. Not much to say except that the second game probably had the fewest completed cities that I've ever seen (three?). I won both games, denying Shemp the clean sweep for the evening.

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