Saturday, February 23, 2008

Games Played Lately

I've played a couple of games lately that leave me craving more. Container and Mordred.

Container
Container

Container is one part economics lesson, one part game. Each player has a card which tells them the value of goods on their home island. On your turn, you can produce goods in your factory, buy goods from other player's factories to fill your warehouses, build more factories or warehouses, or move your boat. Your boat allows you to buy from other players' warehouses and to sell goods to other players (via auction) at the central island.

You can't buy from yourself except at the central island - but you don't bid in the auction. You can either accept the highest bid (and take an equivalent amount from the bank as well) or you can pay the highest bid to the bank and keep the goods.

It's very interesting - the first time we played, we all built up as quickly as we could. Within a few turns, all players were out of money and sinking fast.

Lessons learned:
Don't expand right away - it takes too much money out of the game too quickly.
Don't take out loans to support expansion - the interest is a killer.
Refusing the largest bid is rarely a good idea - again, it takes money out of the game (and your pocket), when you could add that much money into circulation.
Shipments to the central island should start small - there's not enough money in the game to make shipments of more than 2 containers worthwhile until later in the game. Start with lots of small shipments.

The second time we played, we didn't take out any loans - we were too afraid. Boatloads of goods were small, and sold for (in hindsight) far too little.

Lessons learned:
Pay more for goods - I'm not suggesting that you bid 3 for something that's only worth 2, but you should bid closer to the actual value of the goods (at least early in the game). It brings money into the game. If you bid high, others will bid high (and will have the money to do so).

The third time we played, it clicked pretty well. I don't know that I necessarily learned any lessons, but I definately enjoyed myself.

It's a solid game, but you may need to play a few practice turns with beginners before starting over so that they understand how easy it is to go bankrupt in this game.

Rules-wise, it's low complexity - but the overall complexity of the game is higher than that, as you need to balance supply and demand (and adjust your pricing accordingly).

I'll recommend this as a good medium-complexity game.

Mordred
Mordred

In Mordred, players take the role of King Arthur's Knights bringing the light of Civilization to the nation of Wales. Every turn, you roll two dice on a chart to determine your income. You can choose which line to roll on, but the more money you make, the more likely you are to gain corruption. You can then spend that money building cities and towns, fortresses and castles. And attacking Mordred.

The more corrupt you become, the more Mordred is able to expand his forces into Wales.

The game ends when either someone hits the end of the corruption track, Mordred's last piece is placed on the board, or a player starts their turn without one of the four types of structures they are capable of building (meaning they're all on the board).

There are two possible outcomes at the end of the game:
1) Mordred wins. If, when the game ends, Mordred's pieces outnumber the players' pieces, he wins. In this case, the player who was least corrupted by Mordred wins the game.
2) Arthur wins. If Mordred doesn't win, then the players convert the items they built into victory points. Highest total wins.

It's interesting - early in the game, it's tempting to roll on the High Corruption, High Money track so that you can build, build, build. However, your building may not outweigh Mordred's expansion in this case. If you roll on the low-risk, low-money chart, however, you won't be able to build in signifcant numbers.

There's no direct attacking of other players in this game - the active player decides the direction in which Mordred expands, and can use Mordred to take down players who don't build defensively.

It's also very hard to get rid of corruption once it is obtained. You have to spend money and roll well while adjacent to Mordred. If you win, that Mordred piece is then removed, which means your available targets has dropped by one.

It's a good game - I don't know that it's great, but I've enjoyed playing and re-playing it, and will recommend it as a quick-playing low-complexity game.

2 comments:

  1. No props for Cuba? What gives?

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  2. I've only played Cuba once, so I haven't had a chance to get a solid feel for it, and I don't have any solid impressions, yet.

    I WILL say that I'd like to play it again (and more) so I can decide how much I like it.

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