Sunday, February 12, 2006

First Thoughts on Louis XIV and Web of Power

You know sometimes when people are explaining rules it's just easier to go "uhuh, uhuh" and figure them out as you go along? Well I deny that I was doing that when Andrew explained Web of Power. I just didn't particularly follow the advisor scoring, and missed the rule that to play 2 pieces you needed to play 2 cards, but other than that it was as clear as mud. Luckily, it's not too hard to pick up as you go along - this is the same as did Coloretto, after all. I'm thinking his games aren't quite as simple and confusing as Colovini's (Clans, Cartagena), but he's in the same vein.

Anyway, Kevin's spinner chose me as first player, and I dumped a cloister in Frankreich. In hindsight that maybe wasn't a good idea, maybe I should have looked at the upcoming cards and played somewhere I could follow up on in my next turn. By the time it got back to me there was an opportunity for an advisor in England, so I got one there. It soon became clear that I wasn't going to be building long chains of cloisters, but I could get a few advisors in linking countries, so I focused on that. I might have missed some opportunities for great moves, but I think I played solidly. The intermediate scoring was tight, but at the end I managed to make good points out of my advisors, and got ahead of Andrew and Paul. Sadly Kevin's advisors were even better placed, and he beat us all soundly.

I like this game. It's like Coloretto with a map, in a very loose way. I can't think who I'd play it with other than these guys, but it's pretty cool. I wonder if you can still buy it? Or if you can't, how similar China is. Not that I need to buy it, if I can't play it. But I do like it.

After Web of Power we had a long debate about what to play next. We were constrained by time, and the debate made us more so. We decided on a quick game of Louis XIV (hah!) followed by Ingenious. The trouble was that the rules explanation for Louis XIV took quite a while, as there are all those special powers of the tiles, and then there's what happens in the case of ties. Playing in my naive semi-ignorant fashion, the turns didn't take long, but the guys who knew what they were doing seemed to take longer.
Paul and I got off to miserable starts, only completing one mission each. I got into a pissing war with Kevin on the king space, and got very little reward for a lot of influence, so I decided not to do that again. That meant that Kevin dominated the king space for the entire game. I guess someone could have taken him on, but at what cost to them? Anyway, as well as dominating the king space, he managed to have enough influence in other places (maybe that was his vulnerability?) to win 2 other rewards each turn, and I think he completed 8 missions. I had a really good 3rd round, getting stuff on 7 tiles and completing 2 missions with a crown left over, but in the end I was too far behind to even threaten for the win. Andrew and Kevin both did very well, and Andrew pulled off the win by a couple of points.

There seemed to be a lot of analysis paralysis in this game, from players who are not prone to it. I had my moments too, where I needed to wait till Paul had moved to assess what I could achieve with the cards in my hand so I could choose which one to cash in for influence, but maybe I was just too ignorant to worry :-). We certainly spent a lot of time discussing the fine details of the rules, as we really did need to know, and there are *lots* of rules. I would play again, but something like Tikal is probably a better reward for the time spent. That was one of "the games to play this year", so another one bites the dust.

Oh yeah, Ingenious got abandoned. But I play that all the time, so no biggie.

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