Wednesday, 18 June 2014

This is a LoW

Five players. Such a delicate number. Splitting into two and three is an option, but seems a bit mean when there’s a chance to play some five player games properly.

We were myself, Sam (hosting), Gonz, Ian and Matt. Joe and Martin couldn’t make it, with Martin preferring to watch the Brazil – Mexico match. Well, I hope he enjoyed his nil nil draw while we played games of skill and socialising.

We began with Coup as a nice short warm-up game of bluffing. Sam explained the rules to Ian and Matt and then got hit by Explainer’s Curse right away, after he was out almost immediately after two challenges. We slowly whittled players away until it was me and Gonz, and he had seven coins. This meant on my next go I could use a captain to take some money and postpone his coup.

Except I didn’t have a captain. In fact, I was sure that whatever I did to stop him, he would challenge and win. But if I didn’t, then he would trigger a coup and win. He won.

1. Gonz
2. Andrew
3. Matt
4. Ian
5. Sam

After this, we played Avalon, the medieval-themed Resistance. It’s identical, except for one rule: one of the players on the good side is Merlin. Merlin knows who the evil people are, but they don’t know who he is. If they fail in their mission, then the evil people have one chance left: if they can unveil who Merlin was. Merlin, of course, should be subtly guiding his colleagues to the right answer. We played happily, inventing scenarios for each quest (ie, killing a dragon) which quickly became more mundane (mending the castle wall).

Trouble was that I was Merlin, and I’d chugged my first two drinks, which left me a little confused. I saw who the spies were (Gonz and Matt) but during the game, I became so convinced that Ian was acting suspiciously that I wondered if maybe I’d misremembered. I started to cast doubt on Ian, until round four when me, Sam and Ian went on a mission together (a mission that I’d voted against!) and succeeded. After that, the solution was obvious. Plus, thanks to my insistence that Ian was a spy, no one guessed I was Merlin. Perfect.

1. Sam
1. Ian
1. Andrew
2. Gonz
2. Matt

Now for the main event of the evening: Lords of Waterdeep. It was chosen because everyone had played it, and it it works well with any number of players. Maybe Avalon put us in the mood for some questing.

I started quickly, picking up a few easy quests early on, but I was quickly pegged back. Gonz and Sam both started slowly, but Gonz had buildings bringing in a constant income. Sam had... well, not much.

It was a packed board, especially with the Ambassador in play. On one turn, Gonz couldn't use his final meeple in Waterdeep Harbour, since everywhere else was full. There were a few mandatory quests flying around the place. We did consider taking them out, but Gonz insisted they should stay in. In which case, it only seems right that he got the first. But as the game entered it’s final stages, Gonz began completing quests and pushing himself into a distant lead. It was a lot closer in the battle for second, with Ian’s bonus missions getting him the silver.

Gonz 128
Ian 108
Andrew 103
Matt 100
Sam 98

After this, I left. The others considered a short game to finish the evening, but when I saw it was Condottiere, I left. It’s not that I don’t like it but, despite the small box, it is not a small game. I later got an email from Sam telling me that Matt had won with three adjacent territories. Sam had passed in the final round, hoping that Gonz would beat Matt, and then leave Sam in a strong position with the cards left in his hand. But Matt won the battle, and ended the game.

Matt 3
Gonz 2
Sam 1
Ian 0

Gonz 2 1 2 1 1 7
Andrew 3 1 2 2 2 10
Martin 3 2 1 1 3 10
Matt 1 4 2 3 2 12
Ian 4 2 1 4 1 12
Will2 4 23 5 16
Sam 3 5 1 5 3 17
Joe 4 3 4 4 2 17
Anja 2 5 5 5 5 22
Steve 4 5 5 5 5 24


  1. It was a good games night too, although playing a whole round of Coup would have been nice - I was out before the game reached Matt!

    I was all for taking the mandatory quests out as they can feel a bit spiteful - Ian had done nothing to receive one from me - but at that stage of the game I couldn't complete my own quest and it looked like Ian was the only person who was about to score points imminently. Sorry Ian.

    I really like Condottiere; I think it deserves more play even if the board is pretty yucky. There's a balance to be struck - you don't want somebody to get a territory easily early on so you have to get involved, but at some stage you need to also be sure you'll be in a strong position for the next round too. I got that wrong leaving Gonz to fight it out with Matt, but it was enjoyable to watch!

    Thanks chaps. Hope your heads aren't as sore as mine today.

  2. Obviously I just have the one head

  3. I really like Condottiere. I've got the earlier edition which has lovely tarot-sized cards and slightly different rules.

  4. What's different about the rules Martin?

  5. There's no Spring and no Courtesans, and the Bishop works differently. When a Bishop is played, it just ends the current battle immediately without a winner.

  6. Sounds a bit simpler. Though the thing I always have difficulty in remembering is how a round ends. Who has cards, what cards are they, who can exchange cards, who can keep cards… it's all in my head right now but next time I play it I'll need to check again.

  7. I think that's a bit different too - you can't carry over any cards from round to round in my version.