Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two Perfect Games for Two Perfect Groups

Thursday evening I roped one of Tal's friends into trying out Dominion. Tal had played once before, and her friend had played Magic once upon a time. They were looking bored, and it looked like the perfect pitch opportunity.

It was. We played with only the basic set, and I won easily. Then I heard from Tal this evening, while talking to her while she was on the phone at the friends house, how much he loved the game. I think there may be an immanent purchase.

Friday evening I had several guests over for dinner. After we ate some of them, the ones that were left were Nadine, Bill, and Shirley from the game group, Ksenia, a visiting Polish student, and Natalie, a visiting German student. I'd roped Ksenia into a few games so far, and Natalie claimed that she always won at The Settlers of Catan. I needed a meaty - but not too long - game for six players. Over Nadine's initial objections, I picked Antike.

First play for Natalie, Shirley, and Ksenia. We played from around 11:15 until 1:30 (I knocked the required number of cities down one from what was suggested, as usual, to a mere six) and it was a fantastic game; even Nadine ended up enjoying the experience. It was our first six-player game, and the first time that the "5 cities" cards ran out, which dramatically changed the strategies.

We played on the Arabian board. I had fleets sailing around Greece. Bill and Shirley bumped around each other around Saudi Arabia, and Nadine played cautiously in the middle out of Israel. Ksenia had the southeast corner in Africa, and Natalie the southwest corner in Asia.

We only needed six points. Nadine race ahead furthest to five points, but then got stuck. I wiped out her fleets and Ksenia took out all but three of her cities. Even after doing that, she still had a good chance of winning the last point, as was gaining a coin every round and had two gold producing cities remaining, which gave her the chance to get the bonus point at the bottom of the Know-How tracks.

Bill built a few temples on the sea, so I wiped out all of his fleets, in the hopes of getting to conquer them. I got one, and gained my fifth point. I was one round away from winning myself before Natalie won; well, actually Ksenia wiped out my second temple, so I couldn't get my third temple right away anymore, which put me back to two rounds from winning (build ships, attack Bill's other temple).

Natalie managed to avoid nearly all confrontations, and she never attacked anyone.

All in all, a fun, fine, and close game. The genius is that it is not the conquest, but the points you need to win. So when you lose things, like cities and ships, you adjust your strategy to another path to victory; you don't lose points.

I highly recommend the game as a better alternative to Risk.
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