In my book you can roughly divide board game players into two different types.
I like to compare us to runners, where you have the typical sprinter type, and the hardy long-distance specialists.
In board game terminology, the sprinters (like myself) enjoy shorter games (1-2h) with fast and furious game mechanics – where mistakes are instantly penalized by defeat.
There is a lot of boardgames out there, that suit this specific type of player – but for some reason we are often argued by the “other side” as being less skilled board gamers…
“It´s just plain luck, half the time”, is the typical statement.
The “other side” is the long-distance players, who enjoy the slowly developing marathon games (3-4h+) where you will need to plan seriously ahead and then roll out your strategy through hours of play – before ultimately claiming your victory. For these guys a board game, with less than 3 hours of play-time is considered a kids game.
This kind of game allows so much more detailed and varied gameplay, with loads more options; allowing the game to have incredible depth and complexity.
Even if I understand the argument that one 8h game win is much more valuable than 8 x 1h wins – I dont think one type of player is superior to the other.
You have to grasp a much bigger picture, yes, and understand much deeper mechanics – but it´s more a question of taste than skills, in my oppinion.
The reason why I am not a very good “long-distance” player, is that I hate the mere risk of sitting 3-4 hours in a game you know you have already lost.
I mean honestly; that´s a bit of a drag.
Also, these guys are somewhat connected to the reason board games has a bit of a geeky reputation in the public eye (no offense intended).
For me, a true board game champion can really enjoy and master both types; and I have yet to meet such a player.
– A long-distance sprinter? Now that would be board gaming like a boss.
I used to wake up at night believing my wife was a zombie. This came as a consequence of countless hours of playing the zombie-mode of COD Black Ops. Obviously my obsession with killing zombies had taken new dimensions and I eventually decided to take a break – I figured this was the right thing to do in order to avoid waking up next to a strangled wife one day. I have now been clean for 5 months. However, Last night I supposedly cried out BOARD4LIFE (name of our board game club) in my sleep. Normally I would interpret this as a sign that things are starting to get out of control. But seriously, I am not going cold turkey this time. I choose to see my nightly outbursts as a symbol of high dedication and nothing more. I hope I am not alone on this.
Some say first impressions last, but of course for boardgames this is not always true. Some games will seem great at first, only to lose your interest fast – and some will win you over in time (as you learn the mechanics).
With Lords of Waterdeep I must confess that I have not been this impressed with a game anytime recently. This game is great!
Why is it good?
The game it self is pretty straight-forward (worker placement) – took me about 10 mins to learn.
That itself is a quality, but only if it has enough depth to keep you puzzled on strategy over time – and this will have to be revisited.
Here are some of the key-feats that I liked:
You have the possibility to gain victory points, all the time (literally).
This gives the game great pace, because you have to keep up or get left behind (- and dont get too far ahead either, your opponents will join forces then)
The pacing has you on the tip of your chair, franticly looking for the next way to score points, meanwhile the opponents completing their quests and winning victory points.
Also – there is almost no downtime (this can never be underestimated).
This game has great balance. Even though we played it only a few times, it was close – when someone felt comfortable ahead – they were not, it turned out. The great thing is the secret focus of each player/lord, that scores bonus-points in the end – it is not until then, that the game is truly decided.
- Options/Customized board:
You have a lot of options – many ways to complete each quest, many paths to gain points in the end. As the buildings with unique actions are never the same – the board is never completely the same. Each building is chosen by random (draw) and then only enters if built by someone. This means that the options varies from game to game, and even then you have to look out not to help the building owners too much.
As I would have liked to have more detailed pieces, this was a concern of mine; that the universe would not feel that authentic. This is important for me, that the game has a theme/story that it stays true to.
I still feel that they could have done a better job on the pieces (cubes), but the way the quests are shaped to each type of lord makes up.
You can establish the Shadow Thieves Guild (Quest) as a fighter/mage, but you will not get any extra credit (points) in the end.
If you think that someone else is a rogue however, you could do so just to spoil their chances.
I really cant think of much bad to say, but consider that this is a very early statement.
Maybe things will change as we get more familiar with the game – but for now this is my new favorite.
I have never been a big fan of card games. My expectations for Dominion were therefore quite low, also considering all the great reviews this game had received.
Dominion was supposed to be a warm-up game. A quick 30 minutes before continuing to the highlight of the evening: Shogun. Three hours later we were still at it with heaps of Supply cards left. Either something was wrong or we were extremely slow learners. After reading the rulebook it was clear that we had made three rookie mistakes: 1) We had used all 25 Kingdom cards, 2) all the Supply cards (4p game), 3) and hadn’t figured out that the Copper cards were free. Now the three hours made sense.
Despite the misinterpretation of the rules we could all agree on one thing: this was a great game, possibly replacing Shogun as our new favourite (ratings will be given in the near future).
Like any first gaming session strategic play was more or less absent and replaced by random tactics. Actually I would say we played pretty poorly. All of us, some more than others, were competing in obtaining as many action cards as possible (or so it seemed) meanwhile neglecting to collect Treasure and Victory cards. In retrospect this was really stupid (but fun) since the amount of Victory cards will determine the winner. One of us, Svendsen, played pretty decent and won the game even though I suspect he has spent his previous evenings reading up on strategy moves on the internet (something I always refrain from doing since it is unfair to the other players).
The take-home message from this first session is obviously: read the rulebook thoroughly before playing!
Within the board game community I often overhear outrageous comments about how to play Shogun. It is as if some of these urban myths have become acknowledged as simple truths. I feel it is my duty as a dedicated Shogun enthusiast to deal with these myths once and for all.
– If you rule Awa Boso you will always win the game
First time I heard about this rumour was on a gaming trip to southern Jutland. Apparently some newbie had been teaching this nonsense to people who were new to the game. At that time I did not think more of it since it was obviously not true. Coming back to Copenhagen however I frequently stumbled in to people who implemented this strategy in their game. Obviously the “Awa Boso Strategy” (ABS as it is often referred as) has spread throughout the country now and for some reason people don’t question its source. I would urge people to stop glorifying the Awa Boso Strategy as there is no well documented evidence that this strategy actually works (even though it can be a nice province to have).
– A cosy second place is worth fighting for
I do not know who came up with this ridiculous idea but clearly it is looser talk. There is no glory in being second. Either you rule Japan or you don’t, there is no in-between.
– Listening to old Japanese music while playing will increase some peoples chances of winning
Even though most people would discard this as pure nonsense, I have recently discovered that having the right atmosphere can be quite crucial. I am not saying that listening to Japanese music (preferably old flute music) will make me play better, but I have experienced that I play much worse in its absence. I guess this has to do with something about me playing poorly and taking all the wrong decisions if not in the right mood. I have experienced the same with other games like CoN. In this case the Lord of the Rings soundtrack really does it for me.
– Mind games never work
I just can’t understand why some people won’t acknowledge the power of mind games. I really do believe that mastering mind games is an underappreciated part of board games. It is well documented that you can psyche an individual by repeatedly telling him that he is worthless. The same applies in Shogun. One of the secrets to my success in Shogun is my mind games. I often keep telling my opponents that they are taking the wrong decisions and eventually they will believe it themselves. While undermining their game I will suddenly attack an unexpected province which will often be the winning move. I can certainly understand why people won’t acknowledge mind games given that most people are not mastering this strategy and are therefore a bit jealous. Nonetheless, mind games will always be my main approach to winning a board game.
I am not trying to say that there is only ONE single strategy that works in Shogun, clearly this will depend on circumstances (i.e. position, winters, etc.). However, I do believe that if you follow some guidelines it will significantly increase your chances of winning. Some people will probably disagree on some of the guidelines that I propose below (obviously people that never win in Shogun), but I have certainly found these useful myself throughout the years:
- The victorious Dynamo will often be predominant in 2-3 regions (Building-wise)
– Trying to achieve dominance in only one region is the recipe of failure. Dominating two regions can be sufficient in some cases, depending on how well positioned your adversaries are. Dominating three regions will almost always guarantee your victory, but will at the same time be much more difficult to protect. Everything above three regions is pure suicide. So the trick is to consider whether having most buildings of all types in two regions would suffice or if you have to dominate a third one. Needless to say you never know how many regions you need to dominate when you pick your provinces at the beginning of the game which makes it hard to strategically deploy your samurais. Personally I prefer to deploy my samurais in a way that enables me to dominate three regions if necessary, i.e. close to borders.
- Abandon provinces that are not adjacent to enemy territory and protect your fronts
– This strategy will necessitate that you keep you peasants satisfied, primarily by giving them enough food. So before you conquer a dozen of provinces make sure you will have enough rice for the winter. A revolt can have disastrous consequences if you only have one samurai protecting a province.
- Deploy your samurais in corners and close to borders and keep enemies as far away as possible
– When choosing your starting-provinces you should try to minimize the number of provinces positioned adjacent to enemies. This can be achieved by keeping close to corners. Also try to place your samurais close to the borders; this will give you the opportunity to dominate three regions if necessary.
- Have your strategy planned out from the beginning
– You only have six rounds to achieve victory so it is of utmost importance that you have a plan figured out from the start.
- Always try to secure a couple of provinces that are unreachable to your opponents
– These provinces should be used for buildings, especially the expensive fortresses. I have often been unable to build anything in fear of losing the provinces.
- Always choose your provinces wisely
– When picking province cards you should try to get: 1-2 provinces that provide you with 6-7 gold, 1-2 provinces providing you with 4-5 rice, and 4-5 provinces with 2-3 building spaces. Of course this is not a rigid rule. For example, there is no point in picking a province that is surrounded by three other enemies. However, possessing the mentioned provinces will let you build what you want and at the same time supply you with enough rice for the winter. These provinces should preferably be situated far away from enemy land.
- Keep low profile in the first year
– This strategy does not apply if you can get a strong head start (8-10 point) in the first year. If this is not the case, however, one strategy that I often use is to divert player’s attention by not getting too many points in the first year and at the same time do the groundwork that will enable me to claim victory in the second year.
- Play it safe
– Taking chances in Shogun are rarely rewarded. If attacking an opponent be sure that you have the upper hand.