Sometimes there is an undercurrent so strong that you are helplessly dragged with it. The current weakens providing illusions of opportunities to break the shackles of its control, but it is faltering hope. Though the battering waves may have stopped, all the conjured strength you muster barely makes progress against the tireless current. Any meaningful headway is futile.
This was the feeling I had during the latest SCBGL session. The gang of four (everyone but No-Show who might become… no, more like… probably will become Permanent No-Show because of some recent life altering changes coming his way) played three games: 1 game of Smallworld and 2 games of Dominion. The tension is becoming unbearably thick. The strategies are becoming more aggressive. The outcomes are barely changing. Before addressing the overarching situation of the current standings, the story of Smallworld is worth a few paragraphs.
The latest Smallworld game has no doubt been the most competitive game of the season. Everyone one is aware of the rules, the different strategies, and who is winning the league. Therefore, the game ended with everyone being within 9 points of each other. That alone should demonstrate how tight the game was. One thing I do notice about Smallworld is how unaware you truly are to the scores of others. The game allows you to not disclose how much you are making each round which makes it hard to determine who is winning and how well you are doing to others. This aspect is advantageous for my playing style for I prefer playing under the radar. If my opponents are unaware of me, and how well I’m playing, the better. Let them forget me while they fight with each other.
I had the advantage of going first in this small world and selected the mounted wizards. Out of all the choices, this race wasn’t that appealing, but the problem that I had with the other races were they were better suited as mid-game race. So I thought I go with the first choice for zero gold, take as many spaces on this empty board as possible, collect magic spaces for more gold, and corner myself into a the far corner of the board. It was a solid round of 8 points, plus the 5 from the start of the game. It was nothing outlandish. Not much thought was given to my wizards.
Not MJ took the dragon master elves and went roaring down the edge of the board opposite of my wizards. Turn-skipper took the diplomatic ratmen which came with 13 units. With those ratmen, he took a very interest turn involving trailing Not MJ’s elves. He matched space per space, and then used his diplomatic trait on Not MJ. What this trait does for non-smallworld players is if Turn-skipper doesn’t attack an active race of an opponent, he can say that he is diplomatic with that player. Therefore that player is not allowed to attack the diplomatic player. What this essentially did was force Not MJ to keep going down the board since he couldn’t touch Turn-skipper. Because of Not MJ being naturally aggressive, Turn-skipper neutralized Not MJ for a few turns. It was brilliant. Finally Game Owner selected the were-skeletons and took only a few spaces about my wizards. This caught my attention immediately.
Knowing that the were-skeletons would have a minus-2 bonus this round (that is the were- trait ability. For even rounds they get an add bonus of 2). This basically means he is about to rip apart my wizards because if spaces I own only have 1 token, it would require him to only need 1 token. Now my turn 2 strategy was critical. I finally just accepted the fact I was going to lose spaces. So instead of going for more space, I went after Game Owner and took a single space, and redeployed my units into a space a few spots back, making it harder to take. I had decided that next turn I would go into decline.
Not MJ and Turn-skipper went a few rounds back and forth doing nothing because of the diplomatic trait, and Game owner took as many as he could with his were-skeletons. On my next turn I took the first race available again, the fortified humans, which gave me an additional three points, and went after those were-skeletons and claim some plains and set some fortresses.
Eventually everyone followed suit and declined their races. Everyones selections: Not MJ – Hordes of Kobolds, Turn-skipper – Underground Hobbits, Game Owner – Seafaring Orcs. Game Owner went and attacked the declining elves of Not MJ which made Not MJ become super aggressive and used his hordes to up end the orcs and basically halting Game Owner’s strategy the next few rounds. Then, Turn-skipper continued the hounding of Not MJ using the hobbits ability to start anywhere and the underground to move easily on the board and took two spaces occupied by the Kobolds. So essentially, there was a three-way war on the other end of the board from me. This allowed me to run with the humans for as long as I could before going into decline on round 7.
I took heroic dwarfs as my last race which gave me an impenetrable front with my two hero tokens, and I started on the bottom side of my human spaces because the top side was full of fortresses. I controlled my own corner for the last two rounds because it was too much effort for anyone to try to break through my two fronts.
My quiet and defensive game plan gave me a tie for the win. Both Turn-skipper and I scored 90 points. Not MJ had 86, and Game owner and current league leader finished last with 81 points.
Now for the two games of Dominion, Game owner won both. You read that statement correctly. He won both of the games, one in a very convincing manner, the other in a last ditch effort to in his final turn. The first game of dominion, Game owner was just going for garden cards for victory points, and then ending the game as quickly as possible. The bull-rush approached worked very well. It gave him 13 point victory ahead of the 2nd place winner, me. The final game of the evening was a close game. Game owner came in on his last turn, ripped through his deck accrued all his gold, additional buys, and was able to buy 13 victory points, giving him a 1 point win over Not MJ and a 3 point win over me.
These two victories for Game Owner put him at a 7 point lead in the league. That is over a game difference! And with only four people currently playing in the league, (No-Show might show up next week. His words, not mine.) every player gets points. Therefore it is harder to gain ground on Game Owner.
There happens to another trend among the results too. I am in contention for the win every game since winning Settler of Catan. The Caverna game, I finished third with 89 points which is a respectable result. I won Smallword. Finished 2nd in the first game of Dominion, and was 3 points and a single turn from winning the second game. I went from last in the league to being tied for 2nd. What I need is to pull off some wins and for Game Owner to start falling hard in the remaining weeks.
Now for some sweet cello music.
|Player ID||Player||Games Played||Wins||2nd||3rd||4th||DNP||Win %||Overall||Rank|
There was serious discussion about tournament play. There probably isn’t going to be one the first season.
The league is looking to expand to 9 players and plan on starting sometime in May.
There will be an offseason. This will allow the Rules and Game committees to organize the league, set the games, play test games, and really make the league feel official.