Thursday, December 3, 2009

3rd Dec 2009 Session Report: Greed, Incorporated

One of the blessings of having Marcus as a gaming buddy is that I get to try many of the new releases. First was Vasco da Gama and then it was Factory Manager, all recent releases at Essen. Today, he introduced us to Greed, Incorporated which was my second attempt at a Splotter game after Indonesia.

Greed, Incorporated (Me 43, Marcus 40, Van 19)

I've mixed feelings after playing the game despite eking out a surprising victory. On the positive side, it was surprisingly approachable for a Splotter game and the phases were clear and easy to follow. I had little trouble understanding the game and the mechanics did seem a lot more elegant compared to Indonesia. An added plus was that we finished the game in 150min excluding rules explanation. Apparently, it was noted on BGG that the 3 player game takes longer than with 4-5 players due to the increased number of rounds. While Indonesia seemed the deeper game but its also definitely the longer and less accessible game.

However, the way the game panned out seemed to leave me somewhat dissatisfied. While the game seemed to be built for business negotiations and trading, we only traded once in the game where Van bought a raw material she lacked from Marcus so as to produce her secondary good early in the game. As the game progressed and most of the initial blame games had taken place, we opted to fill the CFO and COO positions with our own markers, ensuring that we would maximize the payout from our companies. I had a good hand of asset cards and managed to accomplished that while attaining the assets required to up the value of my goods. With the limit of 4 assets per company, opting to grab an opponent's asset card as a means to block them doesn't seem viable. As such, I spent my final few rounds engineering opportunities to fire myself from 1-2 positions in my companies to increase my personal wealth while restocking the personnel the following round by selecting my own asset cards. While effective, it didn't seem like the game was meant to be played that way. But with each of us pursuing our production trees, there weren't opportunities for us to trade anyway. Marcus remarked that this would probably be different with more players as it would be tougher to be self-independent. Perhaps, but once I got a hold of 2 companies, I could very much have my way manipulating the 'books' to ensure I surpassed the previous year's income when I needed to.

The other part of the game that left me cold was the auction mechanic to convert personal cash to VPs. Victory is determined by VPs with personal cash serving as only the tie-breaker. Each round, there's an opportunity to purchase a gold or silver status symbol which accords VPs to the player. However, each player can only make one purchase per round and the starting bid of each symbol follows the clinched price of the previous symbol. The VPs also differ by 0-1 VPs from its preceding good. It appears to me that it always makes sense to go all out in the auction as there is little chance of getting a better deal in subsequent rounds with the inflation of prices for limited VP gain. While I can see the timing of when to initiate a blame game becomes more significant in view of this in hope of clinching an auction unopposed, I wonder if the auction mechanic is the best option for this cash to VP conversion process. The final round was somewhat anti-climatic as the gold and silver symbols simply went to the richest and second richest players.

Citadels (Marcus 34, Me 22(3), Van(0))

Marcus needed to leave in 30min so we opted for a quick game of Citadels. 3-player plays quickly and best because each player gets to take 2 characters per round. We also opted to play to 7 buildings instead of the usual 8 to shorten the game. I started strongly, getting to 4 buildings first despite Van building the impressive 8-point University early. However, a series of assassinations by Van crippled my progress, leaving the path to victory clear to Marcus. He was not only first to 7, but also managed a 5 point 8th building, nabbing the colour bonus as well. While I managed to get to 7 that final round, my buildings were nothing to shout about. Van built high value buildings but was unable to build quick enough to pose a significant threat to Marcus.

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