Friday, 4 January 2013

GamesReports: 23/29/30-Dec-12 Merchants & Marauders, Star Wars LCG and Shadows Over Camelot

I know it's January already, but we still have a few festive sessions to add before we get stuck into our gaming for 2013.

23rd of December Session - Merchants & Marauders
Michael (owner of The Black Knight) bought this one recently and kindly offered to walk us through a game in our last KoffeeKlub evening before Christmas. Merchants & Marauders gives you the chance to pirate and/or trade your way to victory by racking up ten "glory" points before your fellow captains do.

You achieve glory becoming an awesome trader, by plundering the merchantmen of the high-seas and by completing rumour missions. Throw the French, British, Dutch and Spanish navies as well as some other pirates into the mix and thing begin to get much more interesting, as moving from one port to another isn't often as straight-forward as it seems. 

Merchants & Marauders is fun and definitely the best game of it's type that I've played. Whether or not it stays the course after multiple plays remains to be seen. Certainly worth a try though. 

Player vs. Player Sinking
In our game DaveB came through to pip me at the post with a vast hidden treasure!

+It's a pirate game and you can switch between piracy and trading throughout.
+Artwork and pieces are good.
+fun to play with enough strategy for another few plays.

-Only 4-players
-May lack enough depth for many plays.

29th of December Session - Star Wars LCG
In a surprise (I didn't expect to be able to make it) additional Saturday session, I played a couple of games of the new Star Wars living card game from Fantasy Flight Games against TrevorH.

I have mixed experiences with the living card games released to date and whilst I like the idea of buying specific card sets rather than collecting random boosters, the actual game play in most of the LCGs I've tried hasn't quite hit the mark. Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game and Warhammer Invasion spring to mind.

So is the Star Wars LCG any stronger? well I've only had a couple of plays as I mentioned earlier, so this is very much a first impression. Thematically the cards and artwork are good, but they are abstracted out a little as the mechanics of the game are played through. For example you can find a rebel unit such as Luke Skywalker in conflict with a Star Destroyer attempting to take a rebel objective, so you really need to abstract out that this is of course not a direct fight, but instead a higher level struggle. To be honest I didn't have a problem with this, but some players may do.

I worry more about choosing not to engage the enemy and to instead conserve your resources for the attack you will make in your own turn. This seems wrong to me and the penalty for doing this can be quite light. A few more plays are needed though to consider it properly.

All that being said I enjoyed the couple of games very much and look forward to playing again soon.

+Great artwork and feel to the game.
+Good deck options for Rebel / Empire players.
+Fun to play and games don't last too long.

-Abstracted combat may put some people off.
-Possible issues pushing player to opt-out of some engagements with the enemy.
30th December Session - Shadows Over Camelot
Shadows Over Camelot, from Days Of Wonder, is a co-operative hidden traitor game similar in many ways to Battlestar Galactica. It's game-play though is much more straight-forward and it relies heavily on player interaction to drive the round-table experience.

The players are knights of the round-table and take on various quests to protect Camelot from the many threats the game throws up. Whether you choose to try to find the Grail, fight the Black Knight, quest for Excalibur or fend off the Saxon/Pict attacks, each success or failure will add either black (bad) or white (good) swords around the round-table. Score more than 6 (of 12) white swords and the loyal knights win the game.  A hidden traitor may secretly plot against this and try to bring Camelot down through careful card play and failed quests.

In truth the game-play is fairly simple and probably not enough to hold our attention beyond a few attempts. Fun, without a strong level of strategic play.

ChrisG was the traitor, but died in his attempts to kill off some other more noble knights. Even in his absence we still couldn't win and eventually succumbed to the siege engines at Camelot's door.

+Very atmospheric, with thematic quests.
+Can handle six plus players.
+Excellent components and artwork.

-Light on strategy.
-Needs a level of role-play to get the most out of the game.
-Limited re-playability.

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