February 7, 2004

Session Report for February 5, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

We had a light turnout tonight, with only six gamers in attendance. I also only got in two games due to the fact that one of them was rather long. That was fine with me, as lately Iíve been more interested in quality not quantity.

 

Wildlife

I think it was Mike who had a hankering to try this one, and Ed and I were happy to oblige, both of us being fans of this area majority game. Rick also joined us for his first struggle to dominate the ancient earth.

Wildlife supports up to six players and the six different species, each with a different mix of strengths, are randomly assigned to players. Unfortunately, if the game is played with less than a full contingency of players, this random assignment can create an unbalanced game, with one or more players enjoying little competition from other players in the early part of the game. Fortunately, someone has provided a fix for this on the BoardgameGeek, designating which species should be used with various numbers of players. We used the four-player recommendation in our game and it worked well.

My crocodiles and Mikeís bears immediately started competing for forest regions while Edís snakes and Rickís eagles squared off with talons and fangs over the desert. Soon though, thanks to evolution, we were all battling each other for dominance in many regions. I immediately grabbed a couple of intelligence tiles and was able to hold on to them both for several rounds, enabling me to do more actions and get more of my crocs on the board, closing off a few early regions. I also grabbed a food tile early on, giving me two points each turn. This was a risky strategy because it put me in the lead for the first half of the game. I might as well have painted targets on my tiles as the result would have been the same. Despite a hefty lead for the early part of the game, I got pounded on and Rick and Ed gradually gained ground. A few famines when I was short of food sent me further back on the track. Near the very end, I struggled to retain but lost several key majorities. Also, Mike and I had gotten in several bidding wars over forest cards put up for auction by Rick and ended up handing him way too much food for them. He was able to cash them in for a lot of victory points on his last turn. Ed really came from behind on the last few turns and the final scoring and rocketed way out in front for the win. Yuck, a planet dominated byÖ..snakes?

This game is really fluid. Players have to be able to quickly adjust their tactics with the board constantly changing and the ability tiles easily changing hands. Holding a hand of ten cards with many jokers in the deck gives one a good chance of being able to do something on his turn, although never as much as one would like. Plus, one is always torn between wanting to do something on the board and wanting to improve their species. The two must be carefully balanced. Throw in an auction mechanism in which one is spending victory points for an extra action, and you have plenty to think about. Actually, the amount to consider makes this a rather difficult game for a new player. There a quite a few things that score on a scoring round, and it is difficult to tell how it is all going to fall out, even for more experienced players.

All in all, I find this one of the more enjoyable area majority games because it feels more tactical to me than most games of this type. It is laden with theme and has one that is a good fit rather than just tacked on. I never feel like I am out of the game if I fall behind on the scoring track either, as Iíve seen plenty of big swings in scores toward the end. It definitely invites hitting on the leader, which doesnít bother me but may put off some players. Iím glad to see it being reprinted in an English edition. Hopefully more people will get an opportunity to check it out.

Results: Ed 121, Rick 111, Susan 95, Mike 42

WildLife with Mike (bear), Rick (eagle), Susan (aligator) and Ed (snake).

Blokus

It was quite an abrupt change to go from such the very themed and rules heavy Wildlife to the very simple and abstract Blokus.

Ed and I were once again the ones familiar with the game and immediately started laying down big pieces in a race for the center. Rick and Mike caught on soon enough, although there was much groaning over missed opportunities. It definitely helps to have played the game before. Ed and I were in a heated contest at the end, but Rick made an evil block and prevented me from taking the victory. It turned out to be a great move for him as he pipped me out of second place.

Blokus is a fun game that goes over well with non-gamers and is visually appealing. The downside is that it works best with exactly four players.

Results: Ed -7, Rick -16, Susan -17, Mike -31

Other games played: Crokinole, Attika, Logistico


Ed and Mike warming up with Ed's new Crokinole board.

Delivering goods in Logistico is causing a few headaches for Mark, Jon, and Doug.

For more pictures from this gaming session and others, see our Gaming Picture Gallery.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at February 7, 2004 4:01 PM


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