Recap: Kingdom Builder & Infernal Relics First Impressions
Tons of new games this week. Plus old ones. Lets jump right in.
Infernal Relics. Who is that handsome devil on the Vast Following card? This week, I got my copy of Infernal Relics and wasted no time in getting it to the table. Our first foray was against Gloomweaver, the entity from another dimension bent on entering and destroying our world. To defeat him, Expatriette, Unity, Nightmist, the Argent Adept, and Redeemer Fanatic teamed up.
The interesting thing about Gloomweaver is that he starts with zombies, and zombies can do a ton of damage. Plus, every time a cultist is killed, he turns into a zombie. So, right off the bat, the heroes lose health and are fighting an uphill battle. It made for a very tense game as we had to choose between healing or whittling down Gloomweaver.
After two plays (yes, two plays) against Gloomweaver, I think that he is probably best saved for a 3-4 player game. With five, it seems like there are just too many hero turns and it because a little easier to dig themselves out of the initial hole. Of course, his advanced mode is crazy good. So maybe in my next five player game, I’ll know to insist on advance mode for Gloomweaver.
I am incredibly excited to keep testing these out. Apostate, Akash’bhuta, Ambuscade, and the Ennead must all feel my righteous wrath soon.
Kingdom Builder. I had heard good, if qualified, things about Kingdom Builder. Plus, it’s designed by the same guy that brought us Dominion. So I was eager to give it a try. Unfortunately, Kingdom Builder seems to sacrifice theme, gameplay, mechanics, enjoyment, interaction, and every other gaming good on the alter of replayability.
The game has numerous map tiles. Only four are used in any given game and they can be placed randomly. Plus, scoring is different in each game. There are many scoring cards, but only three are used each game. So, building houses in a row might be good in one game, but totally meaningless in the next. That’s all well and good, but the gaemplay was just plain boring.
Each player gets one card. One. Then you have to build a route in that terrain. If that terrain connects to an existing route of yours, you have to build there. Otherwise, you could build in any matching terrain. Ugh. This artificially limited choices, limited strategy, and made the game feel far more random than it otherwise would be. Long term planning was hardly even worth the effort because you may or may not get the cards you need.
Of course, this is only after a first play, but everything seemed so obvious. With my one card, it was fairly clear in every instance what the best play would be. I played with two veterans and only lost by a single point. I think that shows that there really isn’t much to this game. In a sense, it is sort of a “super-filler.” Short and sweet without a lot to think about, but with much greater production values than other filler type games.
If my group really wanted to play again, I could. But I don’t think I’ll ever suggest it and would be happy not to revisit it.
Amun-Re. I ordinarily don’t much cotton to auction games, but Amun-Re is all kinds of fun and exciting. This particular play, though, I fell into an awful trap. I completely dominated epoch one. I had nineteen points that epoch. Crazy! I was far and away the leader, but after that stupid second epoch, I was in a three way tie for second (and fourth place using tie breakers). What happened?
I used cards to a fantastic effect in the first epoch. And I had a few opportunities to really get some extra points. Why not get points? I mean, getting those five points now is just as good as having them later, right? Well, the problem is two fold. Theoretically, being way out in front makes me a target for the second epoch. I don’t think I was especially attacked in this play, so that’s basically a non-issue.
The bigger problem is the money going in to the second epoch. Since the pyramids stay, some lands are now worth more to the bidders. If I spent my hard earned cash building up double pyramids in epoch one, I might get points now, but I’ll also be cash poor. In the second epoch, someone will be able to buy those lands (probably not me since I’m poor) and benefit from the pyramids already there. They get the benefit at a potentially less cost, plus still have more money than me.
The winner of our game had twelve or thirteen points after epoch one (respectable, if not amazing), but went into the next phase with thirty cash compared to my fifteen. I’m pretty sure he won by about six points – meaning he had a relative swing of twelve points in his favor over me. It feels wrong not to grab points when I can, but I must remember that having cash is better than a few points.