May I introduce Chris Phillips, blogging for the first time, who has written about his experience with Xia…
Xia! Wah! My fifth game, first time playing 3 players, and first time for Neil and Aaron. A mere 5 to 10 minutes of explanation and we were off. Aaron picked Easy Tiger, Neil took Puddle Jumper (as I think he felt sorry for it) and I took Numerator.
After a few explore actions of my own to show the benefits of finding the exploration tokens, Neil took over lead explorer, along with his role of exploration token placing monkey. His skills in placing random discs on boards needs some fine-tuning as he somehow managed to pick every single "nothing" token instead of the 1,000 credit or 1 Fame Point ones, making much of our high risk actions less than worthwhile. Once the Xia Star tile itself came out (which will always kill you immediately if you enter it), Neil and Aaron shifted largely from exploring by Scanning to Blind Jumping with Aaron only spontaneously exploding once before the tiles were all out.
One large part of the game is to keep multiple plates spinning, and not concentrating on just one thing, which I'm finally getting the hang of. So I'm trying to buy and sell goods cubes en route to completing a mission card, rather than always just starting my turn and thinking "Right... what shall I do now?". Neil and Aaron understandably struggled a little more, making the initial FP totals pretty low: an hour in the score was something like 3, 4, 7 in my favour. Partly this was also from diabolically using both the pair of warp gates and the "broken" Tigris gate that Neil discovered before he had a chance to. So unfair I know. Neil got something resembling revenge as he tried to batter me to oblivion, but luckily for me, his attacks left me with two lowly engine spaces left, and I managed to limp back to a planet to recover just in the nick of time.
I kept this lead going onwards, sneaking a point here or there, whilst my opponents, especially Aaron, managed some very large trades and ended up with some serious cash to spend on upgrades. It was also around this time though that Aaron set his sights on the poor little Merchant ship and blew it to pieces for a considerable bounty. I did later realise that he cheated, using blasters and missiles on the same action, but never mind! Aaron was the only player to nab a Tier 3 ship as time ticked away, and he rushed to try to get an extra turn with his new pride and joy.
At 10pm sharp though, whilst Jon and co started their 23rd gateway game, and Pete decided they were almost 1/4 of the way through Game Of Thrones LCG, we finished as planned, with the final scores being 15 to me, 10 to Aaron and 9 to Neil. It was (hopefully) a great first game for them I think, certainly a far better experience than the 5 point game it took almost as long to play with Pete a few weeks back! (Editor’s note: I played Xia with Chris, Jess and Rich at his house and found the whole experience a bit of a struggle.)
And then we played Dobble! Yay for Dobble! I won both rounds. Yay for me!
Meanwhile, Simon and I started punching out tokens, sorting cards into decks and learning the humungous set of rules that instruct players on A Game of Thrones: the card game. We were joined, shortly afterwards, by Peter M and Sam who thankfully agreed to learn Simon’s game with us. Once we’d got our heads around some of the rules it was time to get stuck into the first round and hope that the game made sense; fortunately the game includes useful reminder cards detailing what happens when and this is all to the good as the game is fairly complex. First players choose one of the Houses: Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark and Lannister would battle it out in our game. Next, decks are formed by shuffling the packs and then dealing out cards. Now we get into the game proper. The aim is to be the first player to gain 15 power tokens; power is earned by defeating your opponents in one of 3 challenges: military, intrigue and power. Military attacks offer the chance of killing your opponent’s characters, intrigue allows the removal of cards from their deck and power allows your to steal one of their hard-earned power tokens.
Each round the first player is nominated and then, starting with the player they choose, a plot card is chosen, 2 cards are drawn from each player’s pack, players earn gold depending on the plot card chosen and what locations have been played previously, challenges are undertaken (each player may mount a maximum of 1 challenge of each type per round), earning more power through dominance, standing up any character cards that were kneeled (in regular speak: used during the last round) and taxation. All clear? No I didn’t think so. It makes a lot more sense when you’re playing it but is still tricky to get the hang of.
Suffice it to say, this is a game that should supposedly take an hour to play and after approximately 2 ¼ 2 players had got to 7 points out of the 15 required to win. We called it a day as it was getting pretty late; Simon and I both had 7 points so in this scenario the first player decides who wins. WHAT KIND OF TIE BREAK IS THAT?! Peter M was merciful (or scared maybe) and told us to toss a coin. I called Heads and lost: the end! We will play it again and will certainly accomplish more rapid victories than this time around.
Co-operative; players did not win
A Game of Thrones: the card game
Peter H 7^
Peter M 5
* = winner
^ = loser :-(
My gamer of the week goes to Emma for an impressive victory in Trains.