On the table today was Martin Wallace's Byzantium, his newish release from Essen this year. A game with many nuances and sublties. If you read this blog regularly you will have seen that we played this a few weeks ago, but didn't finish the game, it was more of a learning curve. This time we had a quick run through the rules, with the movement costs for sea travel and attacking cities getting some attention. I was randomly picked as the starting player and the opening moves seem to be claim cities and grab the emperor or caliph first. The place I picked to start last time wasn't
optimum as I ended up being caught in a pincer between two powers and squeezed out.
Well, the position I picked this time didn't turn out to be a lot better. The game is a fairly long affair, it took us about 3 hours and money is quite tight in the early turns. Combat occurred early on when Steve and Richard started on the Persians. Steve had grabbed a couple of 3 stack Byzantine cities and Richard activated the Bulgars to try and eliminate one of these, successfully.
As the game progressed Steve and Richard were battling it out in the front and I was reduced to attacking quite a lot. I actually attacked one of Garry's Byzantine cities 3 times and was repulsed every time. I sort of lost heart after that. Richard was building Mosques and Churches like they were going out of fashion and in the end it proved decisive as the final score shows. Garry was doing reasonably well and Richard thought at one point that he would vie for lead but as it turns out in the end the win was a close thing.
Richard 72, Steve 70, Garry 58, Colin 46
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will see my thoughts on Age of Steam, almost everybody hails this game as a classic. I seem to have a mental block regarding it and I have a sneaking suspicion that Byzantium is going to fall into the same category. I do like most types of games, the exception being dexterity games and games with lots of maths and caculations. Not that I'm that bad at maths but it seems to take the edge off of an enjoyable experience if my head is full of figures and stuff. Not that Byzantium has a lot of maths, I just don't know what it is. I can enjoy immensly a game that I don't do well at if I enjoy playing the game. I could come last but still enjoy the experience of playing the game. Puerto Rico is one of my favourites, one time I may win and another I may do disasterously, but I still enjoy playing. Railroad Tycoon is another example, although a derivative of AoS, I really enjoyed my one game, even though I didn't do particularly well. A lot of the maths had been removed, the ability to take shares as you go to pay for actions makes it a better experience for me. But thats just me.
Anyway have a happy and enjoyable gaming Christmas, the next session for
Billygames is not planned until January 3rd, so until then.........
Sunday, December 11, 2005
during the game. Anyway as this is a fairly old game I expect most people are familiar with the concept, you form camel trains across the desert trying to connect to waterholes and oasis's and enclose areas to score points. At the end of the game the biggest group in each colour scores 10 points also you get 1 point for each unoccupied hex that you have enclosed with your camels. I managed to enclose a couple of areas and have the biggest yellow group and garnered a surprising win.
Final Scores (waterholes, oasis, biggest group, enclosed hexes)
In the picture you can see Jo's expression after getting, not the 17 card he wanted, but an explosion which ended his little expedition this time.
Steve 33, Jo 29, Garry 25, Richard 5, Colin 14
Steve 43, Jo 15, Garry 8, Richard 14, Colin 20
Steve 14, Jo 0, Garry 15, Richard 27, Colin 18
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Steve 52, Colin 47
Then Richard arrived, it was Richard's choice and he wanted to play something he hadn't played for a long time so he chose Kremlin. But as there was only three players he thought it might not play so well, fortunately he had bought along with him Winchester. This is an old game by David Rostherne of Railway Rivals fame. Basically it's a race game, trying to get your five dobbers round the track avoiding the obstacles and other players on the way. Movement is accomplished by rolling a die which has chess moves on it. So a player rolls the die and then each player moves one of his dobbers according to the rules of chess. If you take another players piece they are not removed from the game you just swap places. There is a scoring chart and as players get their pieces home they go on the chart and score points. There are various bonuses, first piece home, 3 pieces in a row, all pieces home and so on. The mechanic works OK, but I think we all found it a bit dry for our taste. Probably not going to come out again for a long while.
Richard 49, Colin 43, Steve 28
Finally we just had time for a 3 player game of Puerto Rico, always a favourite in our group this turned out to be a very close game indeed. I opted to go for the construction hut and the hospice so that they came out manned. I didn't have many goods the entire game, just able to produce 1 indigo, 1 tobacco and 1 corn at a time. I did have the large market which helped me when I sold my tobacco and this combined with the 4 quarries helped me to get 2 large buildings. Richard was doing very well too and got 3 large buildings. Steve was doing a lot of shipping and did ship over twice as much as Richard or myself. I think my large buildings did give me more VPs than Richards (1vp for every 3 colonists, and 1vp for every violet building). In the end the scores were very close.
Colin 52, Richard 51, Steve 47