Saturday, July 09, 2011

No more new! (Nightfall x2, Tribune)

The recent math trade and birthday gift certificate have led to a particularly large influx of new games recently. 100s of games into Wags, the group appears to be reaching their limit with new games, so a point was made to replay a few games we had recently learned (I'll admit to really enjoying learning new games and seeing how they tick. I still have two unplayed games in my collection, Junta: Vive El Presidente! and Power Struggle, but i'm waiting for a night with 4 players at least to try them out).


Nightfall hadn't really clicked with me last time we played, but tonight it really did. Shemp and Kozure are less enthusiastic, but seem to like it well enough. For Shemp, the fact that no effort was made to accommodate colorblind people such as himself makes the game harder to enjoy off the bat. Kozure mentioned that he felt that Dominion was still the smoother, more elegant game. I agree with that, but there are things that Nightfall does much better than Dominion in my opinion:

1) Dominon plays smoothly because it's mostly multiplayer solitaire. The interaction that exists in Dominion i'm not a big fan of, because the effects tend to be irritants rather than actual interaction.
2) I like some of the mechanical design choices, such as making parts of the pool of cards private to each player (increasing the variety between games further) and the victory condition of having the least wounds (solving the ganging up on the weakest problem common to this type of game). It's also clever how the game always starts with a generic starter deck which allow a decent buid-up of defense, boosts influence, etc to get the game going right away.
3) the chaining mechanic, although extremely weak thematically, is original and I enjoy building my deck around possible combinations of cards. In dominion, you have to look at the available pool of cards and decide what combination will allow you to get to hands containing 8 gold as quickly as possible. In Nightfall, like in Thunderstone, there is a wider variety of approaches and part of how you choose your cards has to involve anticipating how certain cards will chain into others, and whether their effects will be complimentary.

All in all, it's a game I quite enjoyed. It's true that there is something to the sequence of operations that feels inelegant or anti-intuitive... Three games later we still seem to struggle to not forget phases, or doing some of them in the wrong order. It's not hard, just a little clunky.

I won both games. In the first, I focussed on combinations that led to large amounts of direct player damage. The game ended rather quickly as I was accumulating a number of 3 direct damage cards and we were whipping through the wound stack. The game ended so quickly that we decided to try again. This time, I focussed on selecting cards that eliminated wounds from my deck. Tis worked quite well, but the highlight of the game for me was playing a card which allowed me to choose the target of an opponent's effect and sending 3 wounds Kozure's way as a result. With final scores being 10 vs 9 vs 8, that move won me the game!


In our second play, Tribune continued to impress as a Smooth, elegant euro that manages a nice mix of strategy without brain freeze. I lost any chances I might have had to win on the final turn when I failed to bid for the chariot to protect my vestal virgins from takeover. I needed them to get the tribune, and by losing them my temporary favor of the gods went away as well. Shemp was the happy winner when all was said and done. So far, this is turning out to be a winner.

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