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The Buffalo Boardgames Meetup Group Message Board › November 9th Games

November 9th Games

Mike S.
camel_gamer
Buffalo, NY
Post #: 611
A fine evening of gaming. I'd like to publicly thank Rodney for teaching me four new games.

I just went back and re-read the reviews that made me interested in trying Conquest of Nerath. As it turns out, both spent a fair amount of time addressing the player count!

Michael Barnes:
Although this game is definitely a recommended title, a caveat is in order regarding the number of players it supports. It’s billed as a two to four player game, but it is clearly intended to be a four player partnership offering with two two-team permanent alliances. In two and three player games, all four factions are still in use but one or both players have to control two sets. There is an option provided for a “free for all” game, but it doesn’t work as well given the map and proscribed starting positions. The two and three player games with set alliances are still fun and completely acceptable, but the design is written for four and it should be played this way.

Matt Thrower:
The key to understanding the unique charms and also the problems with this game is to understand the set-up and the map. Traditionally games of this style have either had some sort of random set-up or have offered vast swathes of “neutral” territory to players to bite off before they come into direct conflict. In Conquest of Nerath every single territory on the map starts not only in the possession of one of the players, but pre-populated with one or more different units to defend it with. That means there’s no build up and no turtling in this game: from the very first move the only way to improve your position to damage someone else’s position. It’s a neat twist and and handily overcomes a lot of the problems traditionally associated with the genre as well as cutting down the play time. But it comes with new issues of it’s own.

Basically the problem with this approach is simple: all of the four nations in the game start on the map, so each must be involved with every game. And that means, essentially, that this is a game that’s only really suitable for four players. Two, with each player controlling two sides, is okay and has some strategic interest, but we all know that that isn’t really where games of this style shine as there’s no metagame or deal-making. Three is drastically unbalanced as it involves one player taking two positions and the other two, playing a nation, each are allied against the other. That means one player gets double that active time at the board of course, and means that he can co-ordinate his plans in his head while the others have to discuss theirs out loud in front of him. Because of those pre-populated positions you can’t have more players than there are nations in the game. Which leaves four, and four only, and that’s a very heavy limitation.

The game attempts to ameliorate this by offering those four players more than one way to play the game. You can play the traditional free-for-all model or you can play allied together, the two good nations against the two wicked ones. And both work well and are worth playing. What makes the alliance version of the game particularly interesting is, again, the way the board has been laid out. It’s a victory point race for the win, but there’s a neat mechanical twist for gathering VP: you get one for conquering an enemy territory but you don’t get any if you “liberate” one of your own - or your allies - previously conquered spaces. And the board layout makes the most of this by giving each nation disconnected outposts to try and defend and by weaving the territories of allied nations in and out of one another so that in alliance games it’s usually a genuine dilemma every turn whether you’re better off trying to grab enemy territory for points, or liberating allied spaces to help strengthen their ability to fight back. And speaking of victory points the game offers a variety of targets to win, resulting in short, medium (both good) and long (overlong, in my opinion) games rather than trying to wipe everyone else off the map, although the game offers an option to do just that if you have endless patience and time to burn. With the alliance options and the varying win conditions Conquest of Nerath feels a bit like a toolkit you can use to build whatever kind of dudes-on-a-map game you want to play, provided you’ve got four players.


Opinions? smile
Andy
user 7490358
Tonawanda, NY
Post #: 286
I took a look at BGG this morning and saw that overwhelmingly Conquest of Nerath is recommended for 4 players. I'm not sure I see it that way, there is way too much down time, and not enough decisions to be made to make up for it. Probably more odd to me, the two teams really couldn't do much with each other. It may be a function of how few turns we had, and thus never got to meet up, but I expected a team game to feel like we were a team, not two players sharing victory points. Unfortunately, it looks to me like a 4 player free-for-all would be worse, and take forever.

I suppose it could be a lot different if you were playing where you needed to focus on defense, but getting to either 20 or 30 points doesn't seem like defending would become a major need. While we only played to 20, I think there's a good chance at least one of the teams would have hit 30 by the end of the third turn.

I mentioned it last night; this game strikes me as somewhat similar to History of the World, where your goal is to take over as much as you can every round without worrying much about the consequences. On the plus side, it plays much quicker than History of the World, so it has that going for it.

The dungeons are interesting and give a different twist to the game. I am interested in seeing what different treasure cards there are.

For as few turns as each person gets to take (I got to play 3 turns, everyone else only 2) the cards may be a bit of a problem. It's possible we just got a weird draw and I shouldn't judge after one play, but I can't say that one play leaves me wanting to jump into another game, and definitely not another 4 player game.
Doug
SuburbnBubbleBoy
East Amherst, NY
Post #: 2,895
Well if that is the case, maybe it's just not my kind of game. The 4 player game we played took 2.5 hours and in that time I took 2 turns. Matter of fact, the only person that got a third turn was Andy. You guys played an entire game of Kingdom Builder between my 1st and 2nd turn. Bear in mind, its not like we were all suffering from analysis paralysis either. I don't feel like anyone took an unreasonable amount of time making decisions on their turn. It just took THAT long to grind thru the mechanics of your turn. Compounding the problem is you really can't use your downtime to plan for you next turn - the conditions on the board are just too fluid. So you spend 20 minutes rolling dice on your turn and moving pieces around, then you sit for the next hour while the three other players take their turns - your only interaction being the occasional die roll if one of your territories is being attacked. I suppose familiarity with the game might speed that up a bit, but not by much. It's not a very deep game, so we weren't spending a ton of time looking up rules. I almost think it would be a game better suited to playing on a computer. That way all the die rolling and calculations could be done behind the scenes and you could spend your time making decisions and not rolling dice.

The other problem I had with the game is the gigantic luck factor. Now I like some luck in my games, but there is a HUGE amount of luck in CoN. My biggest beef is not even with the luck of the combat die rolling, its with the cards. You start the game with two cards drawn, then every turn you draw one card. The cards vary WILDLY in their power and usefulness. In the game we played I only got to take two turns, so that means I drew 4 total cards from my deck of 20ish cards. Now I didn't look thru my entire deck, but of those 4 cards, 3 were completely worthless (or at the very least VERY situational), and one was mildly useful. Contrast that with Andy who was lucky enough to draw 3 or 4 extremely powerful cards. I was put at a huge disadvantage against Andy thru no fault of my own, with little I could do about it. That's just frustrating.

I'd like to hear other opinions on the game. Maybe its just not my kind of game, but I know it has been compared a lot to Nexus Ops. I think Nexus Ops is a great game. I think CoN is an Axis & Allies derivative with tons of theme and even more tons of luck...
Mark A.
Verdelak
East Amherst, NY
Post #: 286
I keep worrying that we did something wrong or missed a major rule, but I have yet to find it. The lesser reviews on the geek all say what we complained about.
I am stunned by the number of 10s that this one gets!
Mark A.
Verdelak
East Amherst, NY
Post #: 287
From a Geek review:

"Suffers from MB Gamemaster Syndrome, where the Short Game is too short, the Medium Game is too long, and whoever devised the Long Game needs to be shot for having so much free time to roll buckets of dice."
Mike S.
camel_gamer
Buffalo, NY
Post #: 612
I'll rate it a 10 if it has a rust monster.

One review is titled: "I have been waiting for this game all my life." LOL
Mark A.
Verdelak
East Amherst, NY
Post #: 288
I didn't see a rust monster I am sad to say.

That reviewer makes me sad :(
Rodney
Candyman
Elma, NY
Post #: 1,623
I tend to like many different kinds of games and I always seem to find something positive in every game I play but, that game just sounds painful with that amount of downtime involved.
Jenna
user 2324423
Grand Island, NY
Post #: 1,058
How was Kingdom Builder?
Rodney
Candyman
Elma, NY
Post #: 1,628
Not what I expected. Simple, quick, abstract, luck driven. More of a family or gateway type of game. It wasn't terrible IMO, but before reading the rules I was expecting more. I do like the modular boards and the variable scoring system. I'll have it with me on Wednesday if you want to try it.
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