August 30, 2004

Session Report for August 19, 2004

by Susan Rozmiarek

With the start of school, soccer season and some other things that are getting a higher priority in my life lately, this weblog has been pretty quiet. Fortunately, as busy as I am, Iíve still found time to play games, just not write about them. However, I thought it was high time to get out a session report so here we go.

First up were a couple of short games, as we waited for everyone to arrive.

Coloretto

I thought I was doing fairly well with decent runs in two colors and only a few negative points. When it was time to tally the scores, I got called away by a phone call. I came back to the table to find that the others had graciously tallied my score for me and I had tied the losers. Hmmm. That seems a bit fishy if you ask me!

Results: Adam 21, Doug 21, Ed 19, Mark 19, Susan 19

Call My Bluff

I really donít care for this game all that much, probably because Iím awful at it. Surprisingly, I was not the first out this time. Ed dominated the whole game, keeping most of his dice throughout. I guess heís learned a few tricks from all those Gulf Game tournaments. They havenít seemed to help me any, though.

Mark, Susan, Doug, Adam and Ed start the night off with a quick game of Coloretto.

Still waiting for the rest of the gang to show up, we move to what turns out to be the first of several dice based games tonight, Call My Bluff.

Heroes Incorporated

You know you have no control when it come to buying games when you look at the selections on a prize table at a convention and canít find anything to pick because you either have it or donít really want it. Fortunately, a possibility is that you end up choosing a game that you didnít know you were interested in, like Heroes Incorporated.

Each player has a team consisting of two superheroes, each with a few special abilities, that move around the board trying to stop crimes to get ďhero points.Ē Each round, the crimes randomly move to a new spot in the city and players use a fixed amount of action points on their turn to move their heroes, play or draw cards, and fight crimes. Beating the number on the location by rolling a die and adding any bonuses stops crimes. Other playersí heroes can muscle in on your action and try to roll higher than you to win the hero points for themselves instead of you. From both cardplay and from stopping certain crimes, you can acquire gadgets that give your heroes more super abilities or increase their strength. There are also cards to hinder your opponents or give you additional hero points. The first team to get 36 hero points wins the game.

We randomly passed out the superheroes. My team consisted of Titan and Huntarr. Titan is pretty sweet, as he gets to start off with a +1 combat token and has the ability to fly, meaning he can move diagonally as well as orthogonally. Huntarr isnít too shabby, either. He is able to fight crime in adjacent blocks instead having to be on that block, as well as having an extra action each round to fight crime.

My team started off fairly well, jumping off to an early lead. My Titan ended up competing with Rickís team on a few key (for him) crimes early on and won. Unfortunately, this called up a strong desire for revenge in Rick and he successfully thwarted my plans whenever he could after that. He was able to power-up his Andron with three +1 combat tokens and seemed invincible at times. I swear our heroes seemed to be following each other the whole game, competing for the same crimes. Meanwhile, Ed made steady progress with his team of Shadowkeeper and Thunderhawk, while Jon struggled with Paragon and Stampede, who seemed to be kind of weak as a team. He got a couple of gadgets, but they didnít seem to help him out enough. The combat tokens seem to be more powerful and he wasnít able to get any.

It ended up being the end of the game where things got to be the most interesting. The game ends as soon as a playerís scoring markers hits 36 points on the scoring track. Ed was about to end the game and win when I played a particularly nasty card on him that took away three of his actions for that turn. Since I wasnít too far behind, I was hoping to steal the victory for myself. Alas, Rick was holding a hand of nasty cards himself, and made it difficult for me to stop any crimes, while he pummeled over the finish line for the win. Accusations of kingmaking were hurled in my direction from a bitter Ed, which I nimbly dodged by pointing out the logic (or illogic) of my play. Nice try though, Ed!

This game falls squarely in the ďbeer & pretzelsĒ category. There are definitely some decisions to be made here and there, especially towards the end, but itís mostly just a fun, little dicefest of a romp. I think it could be improved with a little flavor. For example, I would like to have known a little more about what crimes my superheroes were fighting and who the villains were. Hopefully, upcoming expansions will spice up the blandness. As it is now, I did enjoy the game and Iím glad we picked it up.

Results: Rick 36, Susan 34, Ed 33, Jon 30


Crimefighters Susan, Rick, Jon and Ed try out Heroes Incorporated.

The Heroes Incorporated board.

Tuchulcha

This is a new game from Mayfair and daVinci Games with a name that I find hard to pronounce and spell. The strange theme actually seemed to make it harder to understand the rules. Players are high priests representing one of four Etruscan divinities. They each control a set of oracles, called haruspexes (represented by pawns). The goal is to move these oracles to the Velthumena altar to perform the scared ritual of foundation. This is done via a purification path from their home temple that goes around about ĺ of the board to the altar. Die rolls determine movement. Players may bump their opponentsí haruspexes off the path by outnumbering them. The bumped pawns are sent into the forests of Tuchulcha, a foe of the Etruscans, and are out of the game. The game ends if a single player has no more active haruspexes, meaning they have either been sent to the forest or have made it into the altar space. The player with the most haruspexes at the altar is the winner. Sound confusing? It gets worse. At certain point in the game, a player can decide to become a follower of Tuchulcha. He gets some new powers and his goal is now to eliminate all the other playersí active haruspexes before they can get to the altar. If he does this, he wins. He is eliminated immediately if, after he has declared his new allegiance, a single haruspex does enter the altar space. But, waitÖ..thereís more! Tuchulcha has a rival, Lasa Vecucia. Another player can choose to become a follower of Lasa Vecucia. He now gets his own special powers and a new goal. His goal is to seal up the four passages, each on a separate corner of the board, that lead to the forests of Tuchulcha. This player wins immediately if he accomplishes this. Egads. If you can make it through the rules with this bizarre theme, youíll realize that this game is merely a variation of the old, familiar game of Parcheesi with some twists.

Given the confusing theme and the similarities to games like Parcheesi and Backgammon, I did not have high hopes for this game, but Iíll try anything once!

For the first part of the game, I had Francesca constantly nipping at my heels and sending my pawns to the forest. I was tempted to turn to the dark side and become the follower of Tuchulcha, but Ed had two pawns dangerously near the altar which could eliminate me immediately should he choose to move one in. So, I decided to bide my time until I had a better chance of success. Unfortunately, my remaining pawns were bumped and sent to the forest, eliminating me from the game before I got my chance.

Yuck. I knew I wouldnít like this game. But, with nothing else to do, I decided to watch and see how it turned out. It was then that some interesting tactics started to emerge. With Ed getting dangerously close to winning by getting his remaining haruspexes to the altar, Francesca decided to become the follower of Tuchulcha. She was able to easily dispatch Edís remaining haruspexes. This placed Peter in an interesting position. He did not have enough remaining haruspexes to outnumber the ones Ed already had at the altar. So, the only chance he had of winning was to become a follower of Lasa Vecuvia and seal off the four passages. The game came down to a tense race between Francesca and Peter, with Francesca trying to catch Peterís haruspexes while he raced around the board sealing the passages. Just before he was able to seal the last one, Francesca caught up to his last haruspex, bumping it to the forest for the win.

Results: Francesca in first place, followed by Peter, Ed and Susan.

Iíll have to admit, there turned out to be more to this game than I got from my initial impression reading the rules. The ending was certainly an exciting one. I donít like the fact that it is an elimination game, but with a playing time of 30-45 minutes, it might at least be acceptable. Plus, there is a bit more to it than Iím taking the time to describe here, such as a few board elements and the special powers of the other roles. Iím going to withhold judgement until Iíve played it a few more times. Further playings may prove it to be a rather fun, light game of tactics. Maybe. For now, Iím remaining neutral. I still think the theme is just downright strange, though.


Francesca, Peter, Susan and Ed give Tuchulcha, a new game from Mayfair/DaVinci Games, a go.

Near the end of the Tuchulcha game.

Other games played: Maharaja, St. Petersburg, and Exxtra


On the other table we find Francesca, Peter, Adam, Doug and Mark building palaces in Maharaja.

Saint Petersburg gets another play with Adam, Jon and Mark.

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

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at August 30, 2004 2:38 PM

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