Monday, March 31, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 2

I'm slowly catching up on the session summaries for the Burning Empires game we're playing right now. We play again in nine days, I've got a backlog of seven, so in theory I can catch up by the time we play again.

Session 2: 20 Nov 2007

New Characters
  • Pitr: Jael's second-in-command, and Miriam's third husband. Self-important and odious.
  • Avram: Another of Miriam's husbands; a young playboy who knows something about the merchant conspiracy.
  • Jabin: Lord Omri's spy amongst the pirates.

Session Summary

Humans choose Assess the Opposition.

Roy's Interstitial: Jael orders Pitr to assemble a strike team.

Paul's Color (Hagar): Elisha is found unconscious but alive just outside the palace.

Christina's Interstitial: In the Secure Room, Miriam asks Jael for his files on Avram. She also asks him to put pressure on Avram to make him panic. "Give him enough rope to hang himself," she angrily asks. Jael agrees.

Paul's Building (Hagar): Flashback to Ahab and Hagar implanting a listening device in Elisha [Hagar's Resources Ob4 on 7d; Ahab's Field Dressing: Beginner's Luck, 1 Routine]

Roy's Color: Pitr and crew equip a sled for a heavy assault.

Ted's Color: Michael continues to drum up recruits, using a merit-based system, including a Mukhadish squad. (Quote of the night: "Have you accepted Ahmilakh as your lord and savior? Because if you have, you misunderstand our religion.")

Christina's Building: Miriam reviews the files on Avram. The early ones were assembled by Pitr and reveal that he isn't a very nice person. Miriam sees Avram being interrogated by Pitr, scenes from their wedding, Jael and Elisha commenting on Avram's trip to a brothel (which gives us an interesting insight into Kerrn sexuality through a human lens, or vice versa), and Avram's first visit to Miriam's mother at the ancestor cult. [Miriam's Circles: Ob4 on 9d; Miriam establishes Avram as a Relationship character.]

Ted's Interstitial: By the pool, Michael threatens Avram and tells him he wants in on the conspiracy.

Roy's Building: In the showers, Jael confronts Avram and fools him into following him to an interrogation room, where Elisha is strapped to an examination table. Avram confesses he know about the conspiracy, and that it's his mother's idea. [Jael's Security: Ob4 on 7d, Jael's Intimidation: Ob4 on 8d] Jael fails to notice the bug implanted in Elisha. [Jael's Observation: Ob3 on 4d]

Paul's Building (Daniel): Senior Dregus Levi brings his concerns about Michael to the Archcotare. The Archcotare activates a spy in Michael's ranks who secretly hates Daniel [Daniel's Circles: Ob6 on 10d, Enmity Clause].

Ted's Building: Michael's review of his ranks fails to turn up the spy [Michael's Circles: Ob5 on 11d], but he does managed to place a promising young nobleman in a position to infiltrate Jael's Secret Police [Michael's Circles: Ob4 on 6d].

Paul's Building (Omri): The Vaylen Usurper's spy in the Pirate Fleet begins transmiting information to his master. [Circles Reserve: 2 points; Jabin's Signals: Ob2 on 4d (4s) vs. Automated Security: Ob4 on 5d (2s)]

Christina's Color: Miriam can't resist asking Avram how his day was, and then says that she's glad he's with her. Then (by popular demand) they have hot sex. Afterwards Avram ends up at the same minor-young-nobles bar where Michael had been earlier that day, staring into a drink and wondering what the hell had just happened.

End of Manuever

The Vaylen chose Assess the Factions.

Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob6 on 10d (7s); helping dice we forgot to note.
Hagar's Signals: Ob7 on 9d (6s); helping dice we forgot to note.

The Humans successfully Assess the Opposition.

Epilogue: Avram tells Jael about his contact among the conspiracy, whom he met at the brothel. The man he describes is Omri's spy, Jabin.

Vaylen: 26, Humans: 24

Things we learned (fiction)

Daniel's first public appearance as Archcotare was Miriam and Avram's wedding.

Avram may not have realized that he had been a hostage prior to his marriage to Miriam.

Miriam's mother's braintape was made before Miriam was married. ("You'll always be the first to her," Miriam says to Avram.)

When you visit the ancestor cult, you offer a bowl of wine to the medium. After the entranced medium accepts and drinks it, you can speak to the spirit through her.

There's some sort of connection between the pirates and the merchant conspiracy.

Things we learned (meta)

Awarding artha can provide an interpretive lens that makes maneuvers more interesting as stories.

Color scenes can be tricky to do something meaningful in.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Games At Mark's, March Edition

My friend Mark has been hosting some semi-regularly board game gatherings for a while now. Recently, though, he and his fiancee moved into much larger place that's more conducive to these types of gatherings, so he decided they should be a regular event. The first (or second, depending on how you count them) of these every-other-month gatherings was the weekend before last, and while I wasn't there for the whole thing, I did get some good gaming in.

Gwen and I showed up after the first game was already in progress, so we played a pair of two-player games of Taluva, which I'd not played before. It definitely took me a game to get my brain around, but I learned it sufficiently well to win the second game. I liked it two-player, but I don't think I'd like it with more than that. We own it, so I suspect it will come out for some after-dinner play in the near future.

After that we got a quick introduction to Race for the Galaxy, which I'd heard good things about. Its heritage as a possible design for the Puerto Rico card game is evident, though I can see why the design that became San Juan was chosen instead. This is much meatier (which I like) and fixes a few design warts inherited from Puerto Rico (which I also like), but it pushes further toward solitaire-style play, which I'm not a huge fan of. It also didn't help that we were taught the game by two players who had played it a lot and that the glare off the card protectors made it nearly impossible to see the other players' cards. Still, the design is intriguing and it plays fast. I'm not going to pick it up yet, but I'll see about playing it again.

After that we broke out Mike's copy of Arkadia, which Gwen and I hadn't played since the West Coast Meeple Fest. This was my third play, and I'd definitely learned a lot from the first two. The game ended 99-99-98-73, with me in that heartbreaking third-place slot. Gwen and I both agreed that we should probably pick this up, as it's meaty game that we both like (which is moderately rare).

I sat out the next round of games, and we finished up our evening with two plays of Clans. I've liked this game for a quite a while, but I like it even more now that I've learned the correct rules. (This is not an uncommon occurrence for me, with Bang! being the most notable example.) It's quick, it's tactical, and it's got just enough hidden information to keep the game from bogging down and to keep things interesting. I like it more than Gwen does, but it's a filler that we're not likely to trade away any time soon.

Monday, March 03, 2008

No Apologies, More Games

Yes, it's been too long. Yes, I have more Burning Empires write-ups to post. But first, games I've played recently.

Gwen got me Bamboleo for Christmas, and it's my new favorite dexterity game. I still love Jungle Speed, but this one is great. It almost equals the "geek cool" factor of Polarity but with more playable rules.

Wings of War is better with the miniature planes, but the physical details of the game keep me from enjoying it. It's just too easy to knock planes completely off their heading or screw up the movement distances. Roy and I toyed with the idea of a hex-based implementation of the same basic system, but I'm not sure I like the predictability that introduces.

Ticket to Ride: Switzerland is awesome. Specifically, it's all of the good stuff I love about the original game, plus a mechanic that really makes the tunnels from Europe sing, and it's specifically designed for two or three players. Gwen and I have been playing the heck out of it recently.

I was reminded yesterday of why El Grande is one of my favorite games. After the first scoring round, I was way back in fourth place (out of four). Against three of the most analytical players I know, I pulled myself back to within a few points of the winner. Yes, there's a lot of analysis you can do on the game. Yes, there's the potential for a lot of chaos. But the game seems (at least to me) to reward players who pay attention, who don't completely overlook their opponent's strategy, and who capitalize on unexpected opportunities. And it seems that there's always an opportunity for a comeback.

That's it for now. More later.