Thursday, November 13, 2008

Aren't we popular? (Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm, Agricola)

This night's session neatly assembles the two hottest games for 2008; Race for the Galaxy and Agricola. What could make this impossibly hot duo any hotter? We were playing the just released Gathering Storm expansion for RftG!!!

Catch your breath. Pick your jaw up from the floor.

Okay, it's not nearly as exciting as that. Particularly for us, because unless I'm mistaken our collective opinion on both those games are : Good/ very good... but not great. Still, good/ very good adds up to a fine night's entertainment, so who am I to complain?

Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm

I find it intriguing that this expansion comes complete with an expanded storyline to further that of the initial game. Mostly, this is intriguing to me because when I play Race for the Galaxy, I am aware of very little theme. I would have gone so far as to describe the original setting as particularly generic. Still, I'm actually kind of glad that the game's designer uses a storyline to develop the game... it makes me feel like there is a purpose behind the development of the expansions even if I currently am not really "feeling" it.

In reality, it was the the addition of a fifth player and the solitaire "bot" that attracted me. The additional cards are nice, but I haven't played enough to really know the base deck that well so the "newness" of the cards will be lost on me (most of the cards are still pretty new to me). I wasn't even aware of the new goal tokens, so that was a nice surprise!

The game played just fine with 5 players. I was a little afraid that all the phases would get chosen every round, making things a little "samey" throughout. It didn't really happen. It's still the same game, but we did play with the goal tokens so it did feel a little different. The goals introduce two new ways to score points: The first is a series of 3 point goals that reward the player that reaches particular achievements first (the ones we drew this game were: First to play 3 Alien cards into their tableau, First to accumulate 5 victory points, First to play worlds that produce all of the possible goods and First to to play a "6" development). The second is a series of 5 point goals that reward the player with the most of something (the two we drew were: The most developments and the most military). For our first game, anyway, the goals felt pretty good. It added a sense of urgency to accomplish certain things before other players, therefore increasing player interaction, without dramatically changing the feel or flow of the game. Of course, the danger with this sort of thing is that the players who's goals naturally align with goals on the table are unfairly advantaged (for example, the most military is almost surely going to go to the player with New Sparta). Anyway, it's a concern but it didn't feel like a problem in our first game.

Having claimed two of the "first goals" and one of the "most" goals, and finished the game with a 12 card tableau (including one 6) I thought I stood a pretty good chance of winning. Alas, Bharmer not only beat us, he was way ahead!


Bharmer hadn't played this with the cards before, so he asked that we include them. Kozure shuffled up the entire deck of "E" cards and that's what we used (I actually hadn't played with the whole "E" deck myself, so I wound up seeing a number of new cards too).

Since I always seem to go long on animals, I figured I would try to take advantage of a particular occupation I had which allowed me to pay a food for a ploughed field at the start of every round. Problem was that, just like last game, I got carried away and started trying to get way too many of my other cards on the table as well. Although I feel the cards I did play were at least all used, I'm not 100% sure they got me further than NOT playing them. Because I was trying to coordinate the effects of all these cards, I never actually got around to planting anything in my ever growing pastures! I also was particularly poor at accumulating food without the help of the animals and ovens I was used to. I didn't ever resort to begging, but on two occasions I was saved by lucky breaks (other players giving me food for my master forester's wood space). On the final turn, I had to consume the two vegetables I was holding onto to feed the family, and lost 3 points because of it.

I came in second with 30, but Kozure crushed us with 38.

1 comment:

  1. glad to see you are still active. keep it up.