Monster Twilight Imperium Weekend

Wow! I finished my first play of TI3 this weekend. I did not win by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve had this game for a couple of months and have read through the rules but have not had an opportunity to play until yesterday. I’m a huge fan of other Fantasy Flight games, particularly A Game of Thrones. There are a lot of vocal gamers out there that feel FFG’s designs generally are not thoroughly playtested. It’s possible some of that happens but I feel like Christian Petersen and company do a remarkable job of pulling players into their games with an incredible amount of theme, beautiful artwork and amazing bits. A game can’t stand on these things alone. No, somewhere, deep inside the box, there must be an awfully good game waiting or all the pretty stuff is for not. And I find that’s the case with many of FFG’s games — or at least the one’s I own!

TI3 is a long, I mean really long, game of space exploration, negotiation and conquest. TI3 is something akin to the video games Alpha Centauri, StarCraft or Master of Orion II but in a board game format. I had several friends over just after lunch on Saturday — Jeff McG, Josh H, Nelson G and Dan D. It took about 45 minutes to an hour to finish setting up the game and to explain the rules. The first two turns where very long since everyone had lots of questions about how the game worked and I spent time looking up clarifications in the rules or the FAQ. By the 3rd or 4th round, we had the mechanics down well enough that the game was moving faster. In the end, the game took 9 – 10 hours to play but with the exception of about the last turn and half, I’d say everyone felt like the game didn’t feel like it was taking a long time to play. We were constantly engaged, looking at changing board positions, thinking about what action to take on the next turn, etc. By the 2nd to last turn, it was blatently obvious that Josh would easily win the game unless the rest of us cooperated to keep him from running away with the game. Even so, it was too late. Mainly because we had a difficult time getting our forces set up in a way that would prevent his ability to continue qualifying for objectives. Josh won when the Imperium Rex card was revealed with 9 points. Jeff had 8, Nelson 7 and Dan and I each had 6.

I’ll play again and have another game scheduled for Sunday, the 27th with 3 other friends. Josh is coming back to play with Bob N and Dave F. I’d like to find one or two others so we have a full table but I’ll run the game with only 4. I do think with repeated playings the time will come down considerably. Perhaps not to the advertised 4 hours, but 6 experienced people should be able to consistently finish in 5-6 hours. And for the type of game TI3 is, I’d be happy to play this once a month for 5 or 6 hours.

On Sunday, I taught Tristan how to play Battle Cry. He already knew how to play Memoir ’44 so I spent 10 minutes going over the differences and we started playing the First Bull Run scenario. This is the same scenario Caleb and I played on Monday. I took an early lead but he started to catch me toward the end. My calvary units were very active at the end of the game. I was using them together to take out his units. The final score was 6 to 4 in favor of the Confederates. I enjoy BC and M44 a lot and it’s a nice game to play with everyone in my family. I have a copy of Command and Colors: Ancients on pre-order and will be pleased if GMT is able to complete production and ship the game before Christmas.

In other happenings, all three boys participated in their first Taekwondo tournament at their school on Saturday. This was the annual in school tournament and Jill and I wanted them to participate in a local tournament before we allowed them to travel to a tournament at another school. Our thinking was to see if they enjoyed competing locally so that we didn’t invest a lot of time and money going to a tournament in another state only for one or more of them to decide they really didn’t like the competition. They’ll have another opportunity in January since their school is hosting the next regional competition. In Saturday’s matches, all three ended up in different groups. Caleb placed 3rd in his group for sparring and the forms competition. Tristan placed 2nd in the forms competition for his group and Logan placed 3rd in forms but won the sparring competition in his group. It was fun watching all of them compete and we are happy they were all successful. I found it particularly amazing to watch Logan (a Sr Green) win 3 sparring matches, 2 against kids bigger and more senior (Blue) than he was.

Stormy Tuesday

It has been a strange bit of weather in Indiana of late. Tornadoes in Evansville the first weekend in November and especially strong thunderstorms across the state this evening. We heard reports of tornadoes on the news this evening. All that means we spent some time in the basement watching the weather while we ate dinner and played a set of Mystery Rummy: Jekyll and Hyde this evening.

Tristan was excited on Monday. He started piano lessons and had been impatiently waiting for us to set up a schedule with Chad to begin his lessons ever since we purchased the digital piano less than a month ago. Our neighbor’s daughter taught Tristan a couple of tunes to play until lessons started and Chad was duly impressed with Tristan’s ability to play with both hands having had no instruction yet. For Tristan, I hope the wonder and excitement continues and that he enjoys playing music as much 10 years from now as he does today.

Caleb and I played our first game of Battle Cry Monday night. The scenario was First Bull Run. I played the Confederates and Caleb played the Union. Caleb became stuck in the latter half of the game with no usable cards and spent a turn or two discarding and drawing a new card. I established my troops along the Henry House Hill in the middle of the board. With the added advantage from the hill, I was able to hold off his infantry and win the battle. The final score was 6 to 3, Confederates. Although Battle Cry and Memoir ’44 use the same system, they play considerably different. Infantry can only move 1 hex in Battle Cry but have a range of 4 instead of 3. Artillery range in Battle Cry is reduced by 1 (5 instead of 6) but are more devastating at close range (5 dice vs 3 in Memoir ’44). Cavalry are the closest thing to Armor in Battle Cry. They can move 3 — the same as armor — but can only battle with an adjacent unit whereas Armor have a range of 3 in Memoir ’44. With Infantry making up the bulk of the units in our Battle Cry scenario, the advancement of units across the board was slower. And that’s ok because that style mimics the style of warfare of that era better than if the units had movement and range similar to the units in Memoir ’44. We will play a lot of Battle Cry in addition to Memoir ’44.