Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Towards a more balanced bashing of skulls (Age of Conan)

Age of Conan was selected again this week. The most notable difference between this session and previous ones was a lack of runaway leader, which is good. Must be getting better at it, or something. Or, it could be because this was the first time we played with 4 players.

Since we once again chose factions based on our standard player colours, I once again played red. I've only personally played this once before, and that was a while ago, so I had a hard time getting a grasp on the rules for the first half of the game. Luckily, the game has a relatively long period where players can mostly stay out of each other's way, so I had the luxury of picking up most things as I went along. Conan has a hell of a lot of little rules and subsystems, something I normally find annoying. I'm glad to say that despite the fact that I've had the same feeling of being overwhelmed both times I`ve played, by the end of both games I had internalized the moving parts and it plays smoothly once you get to that stage (in other words, all the mechanisms mesh well, and it doesn't feel like work to remember them all while you are playing).

I find the game to be an interesting balance between a RISK variant and a resource management game. You know the others are out there, you know that you will have to deal with them, but in the meantime you have to conquer provinces (a game unto itself), attempt to achieve objectives each round and keep an eye on the endgame bonuses as well (the Crom tokens for fighting and the treasure/ monsters/ women tokens for Conan). It's ultimately an impressive feat that both parts seem interesting and worthwhile. With this type of game, there is always the danger that the player that turtles wins because the other players hurt themselves by fighting each other. I can't really tell if it's an issue here, because none of us tried it. It could be possible that a player would do well just developing uncontested land and controlling Conan as much as possible. Don't know.

The game ended with Kozure crowning Conan, but unfortunately for him he did not have the majority in monsters he thought he had (I had more). I won the game.

So far, each of our sessions have ended with Conan being crowned. I wonder if that's the norm?

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