Monday, 23 June 2014

Feld of dreams

Sam suggested a two-player game tonight, and I suggested Amerigo. We were both in agreement and so it was that Stefan Feld’s table-hogging opus got its GNN debut tonight.

It is a mix and match of a game. There’s a tower to put cubes in, like Wallenstien, and a sort of rondel, and a bit of Princes of Florence-style building and a few multipliers and end-game bonuses thrown in for good measure.

Despite it looking like a point salad, and ignoring the large amount of space it takes up, it's actually pretty simple. As a two player game, we were covering 3/4ths of Sam’s kitchen table, easily. Maybe with some careful stacking, we could get it down to 2/3rds but, face it, this is a beast.

So we set up the board, worked out the difference between progress tiles and production tiles, and generally learnt the rules as we went along. Sam had the advantage of a vaguely remembered review he’d seen on YouTube, but he shared its findings with me: that specialising was a good thing.

We started out doing very similar things, but soon decided to diverge in our strategies to see how the game progressed.

At the start, Sam took the lead, but mid-game, I had a couple of progress tiles that made building a lot easier and I shot off into a commanding lead. So much so that I decided I didn’t need to sail my ships around any more.

As it was our first go, we did not fully understand the subtleties of the game, such as taking gold instead of an action. The cube tower seemed to work fine, giving enough options to keep the game interesting, but also with the possibility of very few options at all, which may hobble any players plans if they haven’t planned ahead properly.

Almost everything is slightly randomised: the layout of the map, what actions are available, what commodities you can pick up etc. I think we were lucky that, in our first game, the pirates weren’t terribly scary so we could concentrate on other things,

We came to the end of game scoring. At first, I sped off into an even greater lead, even lapping Sam at one point. But he had his bonuses and multipliers still to come. It ended in the closest possible manner:

Andrew 143
Sam 142

What a game! What tension! But even before the scores were in, I was enjoying this game. The random nature of what options may be available, and the different paths a player may take to Victoryville sort of reminded me of Caverna. I’m sure there are untapped strategies to be uncovered, but whatever they are, I’m very happy to set off for Amerigo once more to discover them.

Hats off to Martin for dragging this one back from London via public transport. We salute you!

1 comment:

  1. I echo Andrew's thoughts here. I don't think Martin would enjoy the game as it's not Knizia-ry at all - despite the mechanic melange it still feels more like Castles of Burgundy than anything else to me.

    The 'rondel' is about phases (there are seven) and in each phase cubes get thrown in the tower to determine what the available actions are. That bit reminded me of the dice in CoB or Macao - a randomiser in an otherwise strategic game. Everything else is plannable; up to the point your opponent beats you to the punch, anyway.

    The specialising does pay, but specifically that's about resource production - the reason I almost caught Andrew up at the end was in part to having a bunch of matching production and commodity tiles. It does look like some sort of gaming purgatory when you open the box but it's fun.

    We also included chat with Sally after her return from choir, which I think Sally won. I was definitely third.