Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boardgame all-dayer

The recent theme of board games was strong again in the club for me and this last Sunday I also took along my Pirates cards, occupying as they do a middle ground between a conventional wargame and a boardgame. We rattled through a couple of games in under a hour each, fairly standard fare, but it introduced two guys to the system, and as is so often the case, caused a number of people to wander up and declare they had a pile of these in a box under the bed somewhere at home.

Of course I failed to win either game, in the first two-hander I was sunk in close action whilst trying to make off with the enemy's ships. In the second game three of us fought over the islands.

Again, the author wisely hides himself behind the lens
On reflection, this is possibly the weakest way to play the game, as it conveniently divides up the basic layout to 'one home island and one wild island' each. The treasure placement means most of the time the island nearest a player will have their best treasures and the opponents worst treasures. Players will ferry their treasure home unassailed, and the game will turn on the luck of who had the best hand of second-choice treasures dealt to them.
In this game fast ships will always win, and indeed the ability of one player to nick a couple of bits of treasure off my island won it; although knowing I was going to lose, I made merry hell with a massive five-sailed ship, blasting everything out the water foolish enough to get in my way.
Next time I think we'll go for a 'fleet action' and start with the treasure on our vessels instead.
After this we played Condottiere, essentially a card game with a board for recording the results of hands. The idea is each player represents an Italian prince and uses his hand to try and gain control of territories. It's a game of bluff in essence, and I did appallingly at it, not coming close to winning either time. We squeezed in a game of Dominion next, before moving on to Battlelore.
Battlelore is essentially a hex based wargame, with simple unit representation and a command and control system based on the use of cards to activate units in one or more of the three sectors of the battlefield.

It's the sort of game that will certainly appeal to people who like the idea of wargaming, but not the investment in time involved in painting figures, making terrain and so forth. I found it a little simplistic, but competent enough, and the little figures (approximately 18mm scale, or 'true' 20mm - 1/87th) are nicely made and begging for a paint job. The rules covered both historical and fantasy games, and provided figures for both - Humans, Goblins and Dwarves; which I could only approve of, though if you are not well versed on your medieval history already, you are only likely to recognise one battle.

As it was we 'proved' that the English couldn't win Agincourt; twice!, before 'refighting' a thirteenth century battle from of succession in Brittany. The historicity of the result will remain in doubt, though clearly in the Agincourt scenario, the designers had opted for game balance over reenactment.

All in all another entertaining waste of a day!

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