Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gaming For The Week 7th - 13th Feb 2010

Jo, Ben and John came over earlier in the week. It has been awhile since my first play of Tribune which left me with certain doubts and I was eager to try it again to ascertain if it warrented a place in my collection.

Verdict? As much as I want to like the game especially since it falls into my preferred category of short but relatively deep games, it simply doesn't strike a chord with me. I don't think the issue is with the perceived abstractness of the game as criticized by some but more that at the heart of Tribune, it is ultimately a 'race' game. Players aim to be the fastest in achieving a set of goals. The option of selecting which goals to pursue is a nice touch but it doesn't change the fact that through most of the game, you are preoccupied with your own moves and plans than that of others. In some way, it reminds me of Race for the Galaxy and its subtle interaction which leaves me dissatisfied. It is ironic that I am complaining of a lack of interaction in a worker placement game but that's how I feel playing it despite it also possessing elements of faction
control. I can see how Tribune appeals to some but clearly for me, it's a case of so close yet so far.

We decided to give Battlestar Galactica a go next and this was another new game I was also deliberating over. The uniqueness of the game experience is certainly commendable but I fear the difficulty of bringing it to the table. Its theme appeals more to guys who do not follow series than their female counterparts. In addition it plays best with 5, thus facing extremely stiff competition from El Grande and the Princes of Florence, which are amongst my favourite games.

We played with 4 and with the sympathizer since I had no idea how to adjust for a shortened game without the sympathizer. I took Baltar, Ben Tigh, Jo Boomer and Jon, s. It turned out that there weren't Cylons before the sleeper phase but we struggled with the crisis cards leading to multiple resources in the red. Ben discovered he was a Cylon all along at the sleeper phase and proceeded to scheme against the humans. He didn't to do much as Galactica was hit by waves upon waves of raiders and despite being a jump away from Earth, the humans met with destruction as multiple civilian ships were lost taking the population indicator down to zero.

I don't know. It is an interesting game for sure and probably the best available on the market but something about co-op games leave me ambivalent, even with the traitor mechanism. It also feels a little too random and my decisions don't seem significant enough in determining my fate in-game. Coupled with the difficulty of tabling it, I suppose this is yet another expendable game. Won't mind playing it, just don't like it enough to keep a copy of my own.

The guys came over again later in the week with the addition of Ivan. They were invaluable in helping me sleeve my new copy of Dominion: Intrigue but we couldn't try it with 5. Instead we went with Age of Empires III since Ben and Ivan in particular were keen. I warned them that the 5 player game was prone to AP, having so far only played with 3-4.

In the end, it took over 2 hours together with rules but just as my previous plays, it didn't 'feel' long. Perhaps I do have other preferred games to play with that sort of time frame available but I must admit that AOEIII has seldom disappointed, keeping me engaged throughout. The rest seemed to enjoy it and there were generally favourable comments all round.

We needed a short game to round off the session only Ra and China seemed to scale well with 5 in about half an hour. We went with Ra in the end and just like with AOEIII, I ran away with the victory largely due to my familiarity with the games.

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  1. I played Tribune this week as well (for something like the 14th time), so I felt compelled to write a bit of a friendly rebuttal to your comments over in my blog.

    I hate that the game doesn't do it for you, though, 'cause it's definitely one of my facorites.

  2. I appreciate your love for the game - in fact, your enthusiastic comments were probably what pushed me over the edge to get a copy of my own in the first place!

    There are many aspects of Tribune that point to it being a game I'll like. However, I suppose the race or 'head down' element as you so eloquently described was the deal-breaker for me. I agree with you that it isn't a flaw by any means but simply a matter of preference.