Jan 5, 2015

New Year (2015) Gaming - Stone Age, Dominion and Suburbia

The beginning of the new year brought a mini-holiday for me and led to some much appreciated opportunities to play some of my newer games.

Stone Age continues to be a favourite in our household, and we were excited to try it 4-player with another couple who had invited us over for an evening of games.  Neither of them was familiar with Stone Age, or even worker placement games in general.  Part of what had attracted me to Stone Age was reviews I had read that recommended it as a good introduction to worker placement games; not overly complicated but still a lot of fun.  The other couple we played with play a fair amount of boardgames, so the combination of game and players seemed to work out well, as they picked up the concept within the first couple of rounds.  I was expecting the 4-player game to be very different than a 2-player game, but I found that it wasn't.  The removal of the restrictions imposed by the 2-player version on limiting placement actually seemed to make it easier to get the resources I was seeking, and seemed to make other players choices have less impact on me (as there was limited ability to "block").  The exception was the end game, where the huts and cards seemed to disappear very quickly.  I was also a little bit disappointed that the first three placements were always agricultural track, tool, extra worker until near the end; that being said I also didn't change it up as it seemed to be the smart play for me too.  Despite all my complaints above I really enjoyed the 4-player game and will continue to want to play both 2 and 4 player games.

I also had a chance in a 2-player game to try out a new strategy; I focused entirely on tools and tool-related cards, and then population when they weren't available.  The hope was that the increase to my rolls from the tools would offset the need to hunt more often.  In this particular game we met both end-game conditions on the same turn, with only 1 hut and 1 card not being bought, resulting in the highest total score yet.  My strategy didn't work so well and I lost badly, so it won't be used again.

Final turn of Stone Age with Tool Strategy
Despite having played Dominion a fair bit, almost all of my games have been 2-player.  We got to play a 4-player game the same evening as the Stone Age game described above.  We played one of the pre-made sets from the base game, and it was heavy on +action and +card.  Playing with four experienced players combined with the kingdom card set led to a very quick game, to the point that I had trouble keeping track of what everyone else was doing.  It was still a lot of fun, but I think I would rather play a little more of a relaxed pace next time (it was late, which may of contributed to the speed we played at).

With Suburbia I have only been playing one strategy so far; maximize income early and then work on reputation.  I think with the next few games I am going to try and diversify my strategies a bit just to see how it works out.  Having a high income means that I can afford pretty much any tile that shows up in the market, forcing my wife to either buy or bury any tiles that are really useful for me.

My "city" where I focused on income
With 2-Players each "stage" (A/B/C) uses less than half of the tiles, leading to games where only one PR firm or Casino is available.  I have found so far that these are really powerful, leading to an automatic buy (or bury when a player can't afford) as soon as it shows up on the board, and a huge leg up if it is bought.  I am thinking to possibly add a house rule to remove these tiles; eliminate some advantage based on the order tiles are revealed, and make it a little more challenging as the scores climb.  I am definitely glad I got this game, and am excited to teach a few other people and try a 3 or 4 player game.
My "city" with no PR Firm or Casino
As we get back to the normal "routines" I hope opportunities to continue to play these games keep presenting themselves.

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