Tuesday, June 2, 2009

29th May 2009 Session Report: The One Where We Battled For Influence In Ancient China

Marcus came over in the evening and brought a new game to introduce to us. I hadn't heard of Confucius before but in view of my increasingly streamlined collection, I was keen to try something new.

This worker placement game (yup, one more on the bandwagon) involved acquiring VPs from 3 main arenas based on diverse yet familiar mechanics. There was an option for exploration which offered early adopters more VPs than others in addition to a Emperor card which allows special concessions. There was a land occupation option which works somewhat like Blue Moon City where players cooperate to conquer foreign lands and share the points derived. This hardly came into play for our 3 player game as there were other opportunities for scoring and none of us really saw the benefit of helping each other. Lastly, there was an area majority option where we battled for influence in 3 different government ministries. 

There was a host of other minor mechanics which made the game somewhat fiddly. Another mechanic borrowed from Blue Moon City was that commodity cards denoted both a monetary value as well as licenses required for acquiring ships for exploration or soldiers for land occupation. And as you might guess, these 2 values are inversely proportionate (ie. 1 gold-3 licenses, 3 gold - 1 licenses). The most interesting mechanic involved gift-giving to your opponents which made them indebted to you in a variety of ways, particular in the competition for influence in the ministries. 

While an eye-opener, I found the connection between the various aspects and mechanics of the game somewhat forced and it felt almost as if the designer simply borrowed a couple of existing mechanics and bundled them together. To be fair, we played with 3 in a game which doesn't scale well and I can see how the neglected VP options would be more relevant in a game with 4 or 5.
Or maybe it could just be sour grapes, I ended up dead last with 13 VPs which Marcus and Van had 23 and 19 respectively.

We ended the night with a go at Glory to Rome. As it was getting late, Marcus declared he was going for a fast game taking a Craftsman client on his first turn, leaving behind a Merchant client for me. He promptly took a second and went on a building spree. Van while somewhat slower in acquiring building VPs, managed to stash a marble in her vault in addition to a couple of stockpile points from her Wall. I on the other had good buildings which I couldn't get in play in time as Marcus ended the game with a Catacomb. Marcus and Van were tied with 13 VPs and 3 cards in hand, while I took up the rear with a mere 8 VPs.

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