Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Scary Stuff

With Halloween just around the corner (o.k., it was the last corner, not the next one), I thought I’d mention some things that scare board gamers. Please feel free to express your own scary thoughts.

1) The credit card statement.

2) Drinks in close proximity to the game.

3) Cheetos.

4) A burst water pipe.

5) Cats who like to play Puerto Rico with you.

6) Dogs who are faster than you to pick up any dropped pieces.

7) A house full of people who just want to play Monopoly.

8) Playing Duel with an anti-social homicidal maniac.

9) Termites.

10) Dressing your children up as Meeples…when it’s not even Halloween!

Das Ende Des Triumvirats

This is one of the Essen games that has caught my imagination. I haven’t heard a lot about it but the few comments on the Geek and a read through the rules ( ) has convinced me this is worth looking into. I’ll try to explain why without going into too much detail regarding the rules.

Firstly, it’s for 2-3 players, which is becoming increasingly important in my game-buying requirements. Granted, it won’t be the same level of competition with only 2 but it sounds like it would still be a good fight.

Secondly, there are three different winning conditions so there’s options on what strategy you want to pursue. The first winning condition is a Political Victory: if a player is selected as Consul for the 2nd time (you become Consul by influencing the Citizens in the Forum). The second condition is a Military Victory: a player who owns 9 Provinces wins. The last winning condition is a Competence Victory: if you reach the 7th level in both Military and Political competence (which is kept track of on the Competence Track).

Thirdly, there’s plenty of interaction between players by either directly attacking an enemy’s province or by indirectly affecting his standing with the citizens in the Forum.

Fourthly, is the management aspect which I enjoy in games. You must manage your money which is needed to carry out actions, manage your Legions and their weapons, balance your military and political influence, and manage your standing with the citizens.

The last thing, and the one that really caught my attention, is the way in which the battles are handled. There’s a random element but also a chance to better your odds.

At the beginning of the game, each player places 2 of his “weapons” (cubes) in the Battle Bag. In an attack, up to 3 cubes are drawn from the bag (the number draw is equal to the lowest number of legions either player has in that province). For each weapon drawn of a combatant’s color, 1 of his Legion is eliminated, a non-combatant’s color has no effect and is returned to the bag. Weapons used to eliminate Legions are not put back in the bag but are returned to the player. This is the only luck in the game and does not always represent the whole battle. If the defender has his Leader in that province, his Legions fight harder and therefore eliminate 2 of the attacking Legions. The “main battle” now proceeds which is simply to remove an equal amount of Legions from each side until one or both sides have none left. Not too impressive yet, is it? Wait, there’s more.

The defender, if he loses the battle, is compensated with either a weapon added to the bag or an increase in either of his competences on the Competence Track. If he has also lost his Civil Servant (who helps you get supplies of gold and legions), he may put another weapon in the bag. Another way to improve your chances with the Battle Bag is through an Action which lets you add 2 weapons to the bag.

A couple other nice points about conflict is that no player may be attacked if he has only 1 province, and there is no huge build-up of legions because if you have more than 6 in a province at the end of your turn, they’re removed. Use ‘em or lose ‘em.

My impression is that this is a game with a lot going on but with relatively simple rules. For now it seems as though it isn’t going to be seen in the U.S. any time soon, which is a shame. Anyone interested in getting together to order from Lookout Games?
Until next time, don’t forget to give an offering to the Gods.



Anonymous said...

Your scary thoughts were indeed scarrry! I also enjoyed the review.

Sterling Babcock

Coldfoot said...

Good news! I just heard through a friend that the publisher is planning to release this in the U.S. but it may take a few months.

And a thank you to Sterling. It's nice to know people are enjoying my efforts.

Dame Koldfoot said...

Gee, what's so bad about Cheetos? I love the way the orange food dye No. 40 sticks to my fingers and rubs off on everything I touch. The only scary thing about Cheetos is seeing how fast Coldfoot runs to dump a nearly full bag, which our friend brought for his kids, in the garbage.

ekted said...

Thanks for the pointer to "Triumvirat". My rules slush pile is growing again!