Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's a Calpulli again? (The End of the Triumvirate, Mexica)

No new games played this week, so the post should be short.

Me, Shemp and Kozure again. Shemp picked The End of the Triumvirate and Mexica.

The End of the Triumvirate

Just to shake things up, we chose colours randomly. Kozure was red (Caesar), I played Blue (Pompei) and Shemp was black (Crassus). The starting positions make Pompei a military force in the beginning, whereas Caesar favors politics (I can only assume Crassus is somewhere in between). I started out by building/ conserving my strength and increasing my competency. Kozure and I were butting heads over control of Rome, while Shemp was remaining mostly unmolested. He stole my advisor, but I was managing to hold my own as a military force on the board. Kozure won the first election. Shemp won the second election, stealing the victory from Kozure by dragging ALL the remaining votes to his side. I was within two provinces of winning, but Shemp was so close to being acclaimed that it was imperative to bring him down. I spied a way to knock him down while simultaneously getting within one turn of winning through "competency" I had so much gold producing provinces on the board I was sure I would win, but Shemp and Kozure stole enough of my provinces that I was 1 gold short. In the end, we were all so close to winning every move was damage control. Due to the built in timer of the election, the game ended as Shemp claimed his second election as consul and won a political victory.

The End of the Triumvirate is quite a curious game. It simultaneously feels very much like a euro, and also very much like a wargame, which puts it in a very small category of games (with Antike, but what else?). The balance is terrific, and the tension of trying to advance your agenda without giving the game to another player through a different victory condition is palpable. Further, the constant timing mechanism of the elections ensures that the game ends eventually (this is an issue with Mare Nostrum, another game I quite like that feels similar). The main downside is that a player's turn has enough steps that downtime is somewhat of an issue. It's a three player game, and turns aren't THAT long anyway, but it's enough of an issue that I was noticing it (and I think that we tend to play reasonably quickly, so it might be worse for others).

Anyway, for a three player wargame it's quite good.


In this session we started out fairly predictably by each going to our own corner and we eventually worked towards the middle. I forced the first scoring with a move that gave me the majority in a region AND got me on the sacred space for the bonus points, which I was very happy with. However, we forgot that the scoring only happens after all the players have had the same number of turns, which in this case would have given Shemp and Kozure a chance to act (and obviously would have improved their score). When Kozure ended it, it looked like I was comfortably ahead throughout the scoring. In counting the last half of the board, however, the score tightened up and it ended very close with me in the lead by 4-5 points. Hard to say if I still would have won if we hadn't made that mistake in the first scoring, however.

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