Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A Road Paved with Corpses

Last night Ian and I (Sam) bashed through a couple of games of The Road to Canterbury. This 2 or 3 player challenge sees the players as a bunch of ne'er do wells conning pilgrims out of their money, and the most successful con merchant wins the game. You are rewarded for tempting the pilgrims to sin in the first place, for pardoning them, and even for killing them off by adding the seventh sin - an indulgence too far in the eyes of God.

There are three pilgrims around at any given time, joining the players on the road from Greenwich to Canterbury. Each player begins with five sin cards and on your turn you can tempt any one of the company to sin. Because they are pathetically weak, they always succumb, and when they do you can add a cube of your colour to the matching sin on the circle of sin to show how dastardly you are - the point of this is that the first player to tempt pilgrims into the seven different sins gets a bigger reward than the second, and so on.

circle of sin

But obviously, you want to pardon the sins too, as that's where you make your money. So at the end of your turn when you replenish to five cards, you can forego another sin cards in favour of a pardon card. And on a subsequent turn you can pardon any of the pilgrims for their transgressions, as long as your pardon card matches at least one of their sins. How many of the matching sins you pardon denotes how much you make on the deal, as you count up the amount of matching sins, and the parson if appropriate (he spirals around the circle of sin, preaching, and if you forgive the sin he's currently fixated on, that's good) and square the total: that's your cash reward. You also get to put a corruption cube on that pilgrim to show your responsibility for their fall from grace.

pardons, sins, relics

If you play the seventh sin to any one pilgrim then they die. At this point the player with the most corruption cubes gets a reward; placing one of their cubes on the road board and getting a windfall - these get bigger the closer you get to Canterbury. They also take a Last Rites token which they can add to their score at the end, or cash in for an extra turn. As soon as the last pilgrim dies (filling the Canterbury space) the game is over.

Finally there are Relic cards to be had that do all kinds of nonsense but if you pick up a less effective one then it's kinda taking up space in your hand. They can be very powerful though, a fact which is slightly undermined by the appalling puns they contain.

dead pilgrims

We really liked it. There is a lot of room for chicanery here - you can see when your opponent is gearing up for a juicy pardon and beat them to it; either pardoning the sin yourself or even killing the Pilgrim off. There are Death cards hidden in the sin deck to expedite deaths unexpectedly and Last Rite tokens - which we kept forgetting to use, but could see the potential in them - to swing the majority on pilgrim corruption your way or grabbing some quick cash by taking two turns in a row.

There's also a nice balance between spreading out your temptations (for that juicy 20 gold reward on the circle of sin when you complete all seven sins) and focussing on pardons instead, which can get you up to 16 gold when timed judiciously. And majorities on the dead pilgrims can be a deal breaker too - at the end of the game the amount of cubes you have on the road gives you cash, as well as the amount of cubes on the surviving pilgrims - there are always two who make it to Canterbury. So there's a balance between hanging on for a big cash reward pardoning, or just making a bunch of small pardons for a smaller return, but - you hope - a bigger presence in majorities.

Deadly for everyone - Ian won the first game something like 50-40, and in the second familiarity made a huge difference to the scores, as I won something like 140-110.

We moved on to Quantum, and at Ian's suggestion removed a central planet on an already fighty board to add The Void - the expansion where any ships in the void at the start of your turn add a point to your research. Placed dead centre, it was to prove a gladiatorial arena. If the road to Canterbury was bumpy, this was like climbing in the ring with Tyson and getting repeatedly punched in the face. I started on the offensive, but that lasted about as far as my first turn as I spent the next half an hour being blown to shit, over and over again. My constant rolling of fives and sixes didn't help, but it was an awesome performance by Ian, who practically sashayed his way to a 5-2 victory. Even invoking the spirit of Katy with some well-aimed name-calling made no difference.

evil red

So a small measure of comfort was derived from beating Ian all ends up at Elk Fest, after which we rounded off the evening with a game of Diamonsters, which I also won. But I will be smarting from that Quantum result for some time!

not space

1 comment:

  1. The Road to Canterbury was enjoyable, really interested to hear how it played with three. Quantum was brutal. I did consider taking a more peaceful option at one point as we just seemed to be trading blows without really going anywhere, but I'm glad I stuck to my strategy!

    Elkfest was fun, though I seemed to be unable to modulate my flicking, and Diamonsters did work a lot better as a two-player... good evening, cheers Sam.