August 5th-6th was a non-Cosmic game night. The regular members present included John, Ron, Marty, Paul, and the long lost Mark and Peter. Also involved was Kam, who is Paul's sugar mommy, veteran of The Diplomacy Game of some weeks previous and tonight's caravan masterrr... mistress, as Paul's car has a faulty thingy. Mark had brought along several games of German and French origin and those nationalities seem to prefer games fun for 3-5 players. The numerological implications are staggering, but the direct impact on game night was merely that Marty abstained from playing, opting instead to eat an uninterrupted dinner and snap a few pictures for us.
For reasons unlikely to become clear again at this time, the game we settled on was one called VINCI, by Descartes -- not, I presume, THAT Descartes. Each player is sort of a dynastic ruler in pre- to middling-historic Europe, rendered in loving broadstroke watercolor.
In this picture, Mark the Rules Meister gives the players a bird's eye lowdown on the rules (whatever that means). Marty's own thriving culture can be seen in the lower right.
The next picture shows the VINCI board at about round two. Kam (Blue) is making her way into the Ukraine and Turkey, Paul (White) has established a foothold on the Iberian Peninsula and Gaul, Peter (the Red) is entrenched in Italy and the Alps, John (Maize) is chillin' in Scandanavia, Ron (the Green man) has sprouted in Austria, and Mark (Black) is marching through Finland (which really has it all, I hear).
Times being what they are, each ruler's tribe or empire is able to flourish for a while, pounding on their enemies, making the most of their skills (or lack thereof). Eventually, however, due to one thing and another and the fact that the king seems to have died, and no one has made any food for a while, and the entire population has been on holiday now for three years, the empire "declines." This is expected and happens fairly regularly during the game, at the whim of the player. A player's score doesn't depend on the land-holding ability of any one of their empires, but on their ability as a whole.
Apart from advantages in geography (for instance, living in the mountains or forests makes your people hard to attack) each tribe is better at different things - but only until it declines, at which time it tries a new tack. Each tribe is good at two things at a time, say Astronomy and Mining. Peter got Mining early which allowed him to get points for holding some highly defensible (and offensible) but usually worthless mountainous areas (the Alps, in this case). Along with Mining came Field General, which could temporarily provide Peter with seven extra bands of thugs for his attacks and meant that even if one were able to kick Peter out of the Mountains, they would receive nothing but swift and bloody retribution for their troubles.
When going into decline a person gets to pick what traits they would like for their next incarnation, from a selection at the top of the board. If you don't like the first in the line you can pass it over, but you have to pay with points from your score to do so. Ron shot close to Peter by accepting a fairly worthless pair of talents and taking the points everyone had paid to avoid that pair.
John adopted his usual posture of making a lot of seemingly harmless moves that suddenly added up to a high score and advantageous position. Paul stood back and let his friends' natural tendencies to leader-bash clear the way for him. Kam's gentle and tentative approach belied the fact that she was not above screwing others out of points when she herself had nothing to lose.
Late night conniving and scheming has begun to take its toll on Kam in the next picture. She has turned to Marty and Ron's stuffed "plaidypus" for solace (and cushioning).
Mark struggled to keep out of last place, probably because we kept pestering him with questions.
Peter began to falter in his precipitous rise to the top during the last quarter of the game (going by points, which run to 100). There was some question until the very end if the winner would be Ron or John (and if Paul would even make it to 100), but John made it to 108 and Ron only to 106 when the final round ended. [I seem to recall it was 104 and 102, but I like your version better.--Editor Ron] This earned John a wind-up, sparking, Cyclops Robot, seen here between sparks.
One other thing about the game that I should mention because it caused a little consternation, especially in Ron, was that Europe didn't start out uninhabited. Little unpainted tokens stood to represent the Neanderthals, hobbits, or other indigenous people and each of us had to plow through [He means "commit bloody murder on".--Ed.] our share of them in order to make room for our petty squabbles. Only one group retained control of their lands: the Celts. We feel that this was by virtue of the fact that their land was only of strategic value to a tribe with the Astronomy skill, and because they drink the blood of their dead. [Also, I hear shillelagh law is all the rage in those parts.--Ed.]
Saturday, 12 August, is scheduled for Cosmic.
Saturday, 12 August 2000, 8:00 PM at Ron and Marty's in Kent.
Remember, game nights at Ron and Marty's are every Saturday at 8:00 PM. Come play for fun and FABULOUS PRIZES! Please bring a snack or drink (cookies, chips, soda, juice, etc.).
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Page last updated 7 August 2000.