Van was busy so we started with a game of joust. He took Baratheon while I, Lannister, figuring some familiarity from my last play couldn't do any harm. I found out later that he had started reading the books so looks like he is even more into the Game of Thrones universe than I am. The game was a close affair, ending 15-13 in his favour. I was plotting my victory in the next round when he played an event card to stand Robert Baratheon for a military challenge, nabbing 3 power tokens at a go. 1 for the unopposed challenge and 2 for his Renown key word and special ability.
Despite being his first play, Ivan had familiarized himself well with the rules, and we played more carefully, ensuring we took note of the special text on the various cards. Play flowed relatively smoothly and none of the potential timing difficulties of different effects came up.
Though keen at another go, I requested for a change so that Van would join in. I went with Endeavor after spending time last night to run through the rules. They were relatively easy to explain and we began the game without a hitch. It took a few turns to grasp the nuances of the game but it would definitely qualify as a gateway of sorts in my book. It ended 62 (Van) - 55 (Ivan) - 48 (Me).
I like the simplicity of the rules and relatively short playtime. We probably took about 90 min inclusive of setup and rules. The setup and final scoring were a bit of a hassle but still bearable I suppose. It was clear that the game was one of efficiency and potential poster child of eurogames. It was important to manage your status tracks so as to maximize your glory points and occupy strategic cities in a bid to nab connections, both of which award glory points at the end of the game. I remember 2 point cities in the rules but we seemed to have missed them during the game. Will look out for them next time round. Van commented the game felt rather similar to other games, particularly Age of Empires III which she preferred. I am still on the fence, it seems like it might possibly fill a niche in my collection but I will probably need a few more plays before I'm ready to make a decision.
Ivan had some time left so I looked for a short game to intro him to. I wanted to go for China but Van preferred Ra. Van continuing her dominance took the game with 33 points to my 27 and Ivan's 20. It was a particular quick game with the Ra tiles appearing in a flurry in 2 of the 3 rounds. In fact, in those rounds, none of us managed to utilize our numbered tiles fully. Oh well, at least it kept the game short!