Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tuesday 13th December - Byzantium

On the table today was Martin Wallace's Byzantium, his newish release from Essen this year. A game with many nuances and sublties. If you read this blog regularly you will have seen that we played this a few weeks ago, but didn't finish the game, it was more of a learning curve. This time we had a quick run through the rules, with the movement costs for sea travel and attacking cities getting some attention. I was randomly picked as the starting player and the opening moves seem to be claim cities and grab the emperor or caliph first. The place I picked to start last time wasn't
optimum as I ended up being caught in a pincer between two powers and squeezed out.

Well, the position I picked this time didn't turn out to be a lot better. The game is a fairly long affair, it took us about 3 hours and money is quite tight in the early turns. Combat occurred early on when Steve and Richard started on the Persians. Steve had grabbed a couple of 3 stack Byzantine cities and Richard activated the Bulgars to try and eliminate one of these, successfully.

As the game progressed Steve and Richard were battling it out in the front and I was reduced to attacking quite a lot. I actually attacked one of Garry's Byzantine cities 3 times and was repulsed every time. I sort of lost heart after that. Richard was building Mosques and Churches like they were going out of fashion and in the end it proved decisive as the final score shows. Garry was doing reasonably well and Richard thought at one point that he would vie for lead but as it turns out in the end the win was a close thing.

Final Scores
Richard 72, Steve 70, Garry 58, Colin 46

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will see my thoughts on Age of Steam, almost everybody hails this game as a classic. I seem to have a mental block regarding it and I have a sneaking suspicion that Byzantium is going to fall into the same category. I do like most types of games, the exception being dexterity games and games with lots of maths and caculations. Not that I'm that bad at maths but it seems to take the edge off of an enjoyable experience if my head is full of figures and stuff. Not that Byzantium has a lot of maths, I just don't know what it is. I can enjoy immensly a game that I don't do well at if I enjoy playing the game. I could come last but still enjoy the experience of playing the game. Puerto Rico is one of my favourites, one time I may win and another I may do disasterously, but I still enjoy playing. Railroad Tycoon is another example, although a derivative of AoS, I really enjoyed my one game, even though I didn't do particularly well. A lot of the maths had been removed, the ability to take shares as you go to pay for actions makes it a better experience for me. But thats just me.

Anyway have a happy and enjoyable gaming Christmas, the next session for
Billygames is not planned until January 3rd, so until then.........


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Richard Minson said...

Like Colin I am in 2 minds about Byzantium - even though I did manage a win - I didn't come away enthusing about the game. If I think about say Vinci, another Conquest type game, the first time I played that I came away enthusing about it and wanting to play it again - this didn't happen with Byzantium. I guess if someone put it on the table and wanted to play I wouldn't object, but it would not pick it as my choice.

As regards my game win I spent Phase 1 picking up as many cities as I could - and oh yes picking the Bulgars so I could trash one of Steve's cities.

In Phase 2 I consolidated and made an effort get money by getting 12 cash for the exchange of 6 cubes and then began to build churches and mosques. I also endevoured to reduce my expenditure by whittling down the size of my armies either by attacking or defending when I didn't stand a chance of winning (By the end of the game my Byzantium army was down to one cube!). With my expenditure down I had even more money in my treasury for Phase 3.

In Phase 3 I utilised what remained of my armies to defend my slightly depleted cities, exchanged 6 more cubes for 12 cash and spent as much money as I could building even more mosques and temples.

By the end of the game Steve had a lot more city units than me, but It was not quite enough to make up the advantage I had created from building mosques and temples.


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