Thursday, August 30, 2007

Terakh, Tikal and Tan San Juan

Or, "How Bharmer Kicked our Behinds Repeatedly"

First up was Terakh, the light strategy game with a fantasy/magic theme. I enjoy this game for its combination of chess-like strategy with a few wargame-y aspects like attack and defence modifiers, asymmetrical player powers and to-hit rolls. The designers have done a good job of finding the right balance between simplicity and theme for a game of this size and intended investment of time.

I came out swinging and dealt some pretty good hits quite early, eventually knocking both Ouch and Bharmer down to 2 and 1 points respectively (with a little help from Ouch), remaining at 3 points myself. Bharmer was in a tight spot, sandwiched between the two of us (an unfortunate but common occurrence when you're the third player to place in a three player game) and was attacked from both sides. I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself, but then Bharmer laid both Jason and I low with two successive Plague (?) cards, which reduce all Elders by one point unless they are already at one point or on a purple tria. Then the Terakh Crisis hit, which promptly killed Ouch and I, leaving Bharmer standing. So, after about 50 minutes of play, the game winner was decided by a dice roll. Normally, not my ideal ending, but a fun game and all the more impressive to see Bharmer win after being knocked down so thoroughly earlier in the game.

Tikal followed. For the first time in about a half-dozen or more plays, I think we actually managed to remember to place a new hex tile at the beginning of each player's turn, rather than forgetting and placing it afterwards, or not placing one at all, or remembering a turn or two later. This simple rules error has been the bane of our Tikal-playing careers, for some reason, we never got into the solid habit of remembering to do it at the right time.

So, this time we really cracked down on each other, heaping scorn on people who forgot.

Despite this revolutionary advance in gameplay, Bharmer pulled away early on and remained in the lead for the rest of the game. He grabbed at least two three-sets and three (or more) two-sets of treasure by the end (something like that, I can't remember), having scored between 12 and 21 points on treasure alone almost every scoring round but the first. I fell behind initially but eventually regained a little ground with treasure and careful positioning, though in the end it wasn't enough. Bharmer scored somewhere in the 110-115 range, I scored in the 85-90 range, and I think Ouch was 70-75 range. My personal mistakes here were failing to block Bharmer as often as I was able to block Ouch, and not getting in position to take treasures first before Bharmer. Our Tikal games are typically closer than this, so this substantial victory by Bharmer was pretty embarassing for both Ouch and I. Bharmer was helped substantially by placing almost every treasure site save one (as I recall), so luck of the draw did enter into it, but not to detract from his victory; he did play quite well.

At this point, Ouch had to leave, claiming the need to retire early.

With only about half an hour left in the evening, we turned to the only short two player we had on hand, San Juan.

What a shambles. Bharmer thoroughly trounced me, scoring something like 48 to my measly 21. I was completely outclassed in every category, failing to build even a single 6 building.

In my defence, I never actually drew a six-building to begin with, but I still played horribly. I missed several opportunities to build silver mines due to bad planning, and invested too many cards in the chapel before I had cards to spare. I was beaten by Bharmer's good play and my own poor judgement and timing.

I build a coffee roaster early, but my second build, a black market, and third build, the archive, were poorly chosen. I added stupidity to mismanagement by building a chapel fourth. I did have some poor draws, but this was a hole of my own digging. I had built all of seven (eight?) buildings when Bharmer plunked down his twelfth. Bharmer did well with the production building + guild hall combo, and also managed some other 6-point building bonuses, including a bunch from his palace.

I limped to the finish line, my only uncertainty about the victor being whether he doubled or tripled my score in the end.

This remains a decent game, and very elegant in its size, playing time and complexity. I remain somewhat leary of the problem like mine; once you fall behind you are almost certainly doomed against any player of competence - and it is not terribly difficult to fall behind due to bad early draws. Still, I deserved to lose that one.

And that, my fellow WAGSters, is why I vote that Bharmer not be allowed to play any more.

Just kidding. Mostly. Well... sorta.

Die Bharmer, die!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:09 PM

    Die Bharmer!

    the much anticipated sequel to Die Macher