Monday, September 14, 2009

Games with "tik" in the title (Tikal, Antike)

It was Kozure, Luch and I this week, joined by a surprise visitor, David.

It was my choice, and I chose a few older favorites that played well with three (though, luckily they also play well with four!)


We played this long time favorite for the first time in a while. I love the game, and I'd say that it's probably one of my favorite games to introduce to people when I want to show them what these games are like. Simple rules, straightforward but interesting decisions, beautiful board and components, it's all there. The only problem is the downtime when played by new/ hesitant players, which is why I prefer it with 2-3 players. Luckily, the four players in question did their best to keep things moving.

As an aside, the recent acquisition of Mexica has been interesting because it offers a similar package but with shorter playtime and less AP. Having played it a few times, I'd say that it's also quite compelling but even though it's slightly shorter or easier, I wouldn't say the difference is significant. Further, the components are fine but not nearly as appealing to me. For now, both can exist side by side in my collection.

It was a pretty close game. David managed to keep up admirably considering we all had more experience with the game than he did. Kozure managed to sneakily make my life quite difficult by adding pawns on a couple of temples I was counting on keeping to myself late in the game. On his second last move, he stole a 9 temple I had been building for a while and it was impossible to get it back. To be fair, I had just claimed a temple under his nose a few turns earlier. Ahhh, these types of plays are why I love the game.

Kozure won by a nose, but everyone was close. Well played.


Antike is yet another game I claim to like a lot, but then don't play. I guess I should say instead that I appreciate the design quite a lot, but I constantly have this feeling that I'll play a game and THAT TIME I'll have a bad experience like the ones I read about on BGG (where people just build up their forces eternally and exist in perpetual stalemate for hours until people get bored and quit). It's never happened to us, and I've never seen signs of the possibility, but the doubt remains. I suppose it could happen, but in practice when we play there seems to be a compelling force which causes us to avoid this situation game after game. I'm not sure what to make of it, except to say that it must boil down to some sort of group-think.

I started out with just a few land units, expanding the empire and focusing on gold. I had successfully won in the past by focussing on tech. David was building a lot of temples (a strategy I've never tried), Kozure was building quite an army and Luch was expanding very rapidly. I failed at an attempt to destroy one of David's temples because I miscalculated a little bit. Advertising my intentions in this way unsurprisingly came back to bite me... but I was still doing ok. I was one point from winning but I couldn't find an avenue for that last point. My army was too small, my borders were threatened by Kozure and David, and Luch was quickly heading to victory. We weren't able to stop him, and he won by getting his last point by completing all the technologies.

I still admire the game, and I enjoyed the session quite a lot. In my opinion, every player would need to decide that an arms race was required in order to lead to an interminable game. If even a single player opts out, others are forced to react and keep up. Anyway, if I had to criticize the game it would be more because much of the theme is left on the cutting room floor when streamlining a game to this degree. It's chess meets Risk, not civ-lite.

No comments:

Post a Comment