Saturday, April 24, 2010

Play to yer strengths (Macao, Cutthroat Caverns, Roll Through the Ages)

We were three this week. I was looking forward to introducing Macao to Kozure, and decided I'd like to take Cutthroat Caverns for a spin.


This was our second play at WAGS, though I've also played a third game solo. I am very much enjoying this game, though as Shemp pointed out it really doesn't play to my strengths.

I've compared Macao to Taj Mahal, and I still believe that it's an accurate comparison in many ways, but it's in the differences that I get caught. In Taj Mahal, you are trying to manage the chaos introduced by the cards while balancing the short and long term goals of the game. Macao does much the same thing, but it is both denser (due to more simultaneous options) and more tactical (due to the impossibility of carrying cubes from one round to the next). I don't tend to do well in tactical games. I also tend to fare poorly in games where things need to be converted into other things (which is why a game like Le Havre is tough for me). Macao is very much about quickly ascertaining which of the cards that come up will create the best synergy with your plans. Since you get many cards, and there are various board elements as well, the player who can string together combos will be most successful. I'm not good at this. Not here, not in Dominion, not in Race for the Galaxy. Oh well, I still enjoy the challenge of this type of game and I am very much loving this one right now.

For a while this session I thought I had figured the game out. I was staying on top of my cards, making sure that I was activating cards fast enough to avoid getting penalties at the end. I had a card that allowed me to trade two cubes of one colour for any one other cube... which made activating 4 colour cube cards much easier. I managed to ship all three silk goods with a card that doubled the points. I was making some big purchases for VPs. I was way in the lead.

... but then Shemp started catching up. Then he was on my heels. Then he had baronesses so he leapt out in front. He won in distant first. Kozure did very well for his first game. He came in last, but not far behind me (and he would have done better if he hadn't been stuck with a number of cards on his tableau).

Cutthroat caverns

I picked up this game recently in a math trade, somewhat by accident. I thought this was along the lines of Heroquest... a kind of childish dungeon romp. Turns out, it's not that.

Cutthroat Caverns is more of a take that game than anything. There are nine monsters to defeat, and players must play cards to destroy them in order. The trick is that only the player that actually lands the killing blow gets the VPs. In other words, players are all "working together" to defeat the creature, but simultaneously trying to work it out so that they kill the baddie and get the points. Towards this end, the players get a hand of cards. Many are simple numerical values used to do damage to the creature. Others are effects that do tricky things like make other players miss, lose turns or other effects. To add further variety, there is a large deck of creatures, each with their own special powers, and only nine show up in a given game.

I don't know. As a take that game, I liked it well enough. It goes too long for what it is, but I could definitely see enjoying it if it was cut in half, which would be easy enough. It was funny trying to mess up the others, and we did laugh a fair bit. Shemp didn't seem too enthused, but I think Kozure liked it OK. I might try it again, or I might just save it for another group. We'll see.

For the record, I was winning this one too. Then Kozure stole one of my big kills and won the game. See a trend?

Roll Through the Ages

We had a few minutes left, so we played a game of Roll Through the Ages to finish. I rushed to a quick 5 techs and the others didn't see the end coming. This victory was not stolen from me.


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