Friday, January 06, 2006

Celebrate the New Year by crushing your friends

On Sunday I drove down to Cardiff, crossing the bridge in filthy weather to visit Nick for a couple of days of gaming to greet the new year. Dave was already there, and they were both getting over their hangovers when I arrived by sitting in the Robin Hood with a pint. We finally got back to Nick's flat and started a 3-player game of Sword of Rome, which continued well into Monday morning - with breaks for Nick's excellent chillie, a film (The Knight's Tale) and a few rounds of 6 Nimmt! (which I won). I played the Greeks to Dave's Romans and Nick's Etruscan/Samnites. Poor Dave took some big VP losses early on and Nick looked like a winner all through the mid-game. Dave periodically hammered me with the Carthaginians, but never consistently enough to really hurt me, and in the end I grabbed the win by a margin of 2 VPs.

We had a few debates about the quality of this game during play. I think we all agreed that the rules are very badly written and laid out. And the game has more fiddly bits than it really needs - a bit more polishing and simplification would have helped a lot. Unfortunately the errata and living rules have made the situation significantly worse (I blame ConsimWorld and the howling mob of grognards that greets every new game there) and in future I think I would prefer to play with the rules out of the box. Dave also felt grumpy that "his plans never worked" which I think is a less justified complaint - this is after all a card-driven game and as such you need to expect the unexpected.

Having said all this I still think Sword of Rome is an excellent 3-player wargame and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next up was Euphrat & Tigris, which Nick was keen to play as he wants to improve his chances against his girlfriend Dani. Not sure if we helped, as it was a bruising, high-conflict game which I just won by 1 point.

Dave had to go now but Nick and I faced up for another Euphrat & Tigris session, Nick still keen to pick up some tactics. Unfortunately early in the game he lost a big conflict heavily, and never got a chance to recover. I swiftly scooped up all but two of the treasures for a decisive win. I was getting embarrassed by this point - if they hadn't invited me along Nick and Dave would probably have had a nice weekend sharing the victories out evenly, but I came along on a big winning streak and left them both feeling a bit crushed.

Oh well - the guilt is wearing off now, but the warm glow remains. Besides, my winning streaks are pretty rare so I will bask in this one while it lasts......



Chris Farrell said...

Dave also felt grumpy that "his plans never worked"

For me personally, the problem here is the dice. I found that a lot of my personal enjoyment of this game was tied up in how well I rolled; it's too easy to do everything right and still get absolutely reamed. I just found there really wasn't much way to avoid things ultimately coming down to your big stack vs. my big stack and a crap-shoot die roll, which seemed a little unreasonable. Given the effort investment, anyway.

It's funny, because compared to other recent GMT rulebook disasters anyway, I thought the Sword of Rome rulebook was rather good! Too bad the Living Rules has made things worse.

Peter said...

Maybe my tolerance of rules clutter is getting lower. They look OK when you initially read them. We found that actually using the rules during the game was a real pain, especially in the area of political control, consequences of battle etc.

However I don't have much problem with the way a big battle can go horribly wrong in SoR - you don't have to be read much ancient history to be aware that well prepared armies often came to grief against "inferior" opponents.

Chris Farrell said...

you don't have to be read much ancient history to be aware that well prepared armies often came to grief against "inferior" opponents

That point I wouldn't argue, certainly. I think from a historical perspective, the very unpredictable CRT is eminently defensible.

It's just the unpredictable CRT combined with the 6+ hour gametime (for the full game). If my game is going to go awry on a couple throws of the dice, I'd rather it be short.