Sunday, February 06, 2011

Next time, you shuffle (Dominant Species, Lords of Vegas)

We had a longer than usual game night this week. Toronto braced itself for a huge snowstorm and everything was closed. All the schools, etc. Turns out that it wasn't much of a storm. Still, it led to me being off early, Kozure being off early and Shemp's wife not working hence Shemp being available early. Unfortunately, Bharmer couldn't join us due to illness and he'll be unavailable for quite some time so it's three player sessions for us!

Dominant Species

We decided to take advantage of the longer than usual session and play Dominant Species again. We still shortened the game by 10 cards, just to make sure it wouldn't go all night. I played the birds, Shemp played the arachnids and Kozure played the reptiles. We actually played 3/4 of the game with a major rules error (scoring points based on dominance instead of numbers of animals) but came to the conclusion that results wouldn't have differed greatly anyway. Kozure was looking for a win after a losing streak with this game (not all at WAGS) and early on it looked like his wish would come to be. I felt like I was making blunder after blunder (maybe everyone felt the same?), but luckily I was still holding my own. Let's face it, there are so many choices that it's probably inevitable that really good moves go unnoticed until it's too late. Kozure did crush us, and his last turn near complete domination of the island only distanced him further. His wish was granted!

Although I think the full game would be too long, removing 10 cards felt like too many. Probably next time we'll take out 5.

My feelings towards the game haven't changed. It's like a super charged El Grande. Fun, quite engrossing, but longer/ more complicated isn't in and of itself better. One advantage it has it that it plays quite well with 3 and 4 players. For 5 players, I think I would pick El Grande every time, however.

One other thing that I hadn't considered the first time: As the game progresses, the scoring increments for certain types of actions get larger, particularly the tundra scoring. In the games we've had the tundra scoring on the last turn has seemed really large but still probably balanced. I just realized that if we played to the end of the full game these swings would get that much larger! That might seem game breaking. We'll see.

Lords of Vegas

We played this session with a variant where the deck is split in thirds instead of fourths when seeding the game end card. This was meant to eliminate the problem we had last game where we ran out of dice. Unfortunately, I shuffled the property cards REALLY poorly and the colours stayed clumped. This led to a very weird game where the player who just happened to bet on the right horse did well and the others did not. I was the beneficiary of the luck, and won by a significant margin. One of the colours was entirely under the game end card, so it provided no points to Shemp and Kozure who had seen none were out and figured it was inevitable that they would come.

Shemp continues to display his negotiating skills. There is a lot of room for trading and deal-making in this game and Shemp came up with a few interesting angles again this game (convincing another player to build a section of casino for him so that he gets cash payouts but is no threat to being casino boss, for ex). I had a lucrative casino growing where Shemp owned half of the 6 dice. His constant threat to re-roll the dice defined much of the game for me. I ultimately agreed to a massively one-sided deal where he promised to not re-roll the dice in my casino if I gave him just about every unbuilt property I had. It was risky, but the endgame came before Shemp could capitalize on all the new money. I won.

I still think this is a great game, I just hope someone else shuffles the property deck next time!

1 comment:

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