I played two games at the November meeting, both new to me.
First up was Rising Sun, the game that recently took Kickstarter by storm. This game was even more impressive than most, with the owner having painted all the miniatures. It looked gorgeous! The owner and two others had played the game about a half-dozen times before; they were joined by me and another newcomer to the game.
Unfortunately for me, I didn't do very well. I spent most of the game on 0VP, while the runaway leader was up to 40 or so before the endgame scoring! To be fair, I wasn't really trying to push any particular strategy hard, instead taking decisions that seemed fun in the moment. For the first few turns I was deliberately trying out a variety of actions, just to see what happened as I was learning the game.
The game also took a long time to play. The people who'd played it before commented that this game was very slow. Part of that was due to two new players needing things explaining to them, and part of that was a bit of analysis-paralysis (and not just from the newbies!).
What was the game like? Despite it looking so great, I won't be in a rush to play it again. I couldn't see a clear strategy for the game, even by the end. Obviously, there is one as the people who'd played before got a lot more points than the two who hadn't! The core of the game was a bit Diplomacy-like, with players discussing objectives with each other: there was a fair bit of victory-trading between players as they agreed to allocate province captures between each other to maximise points. The Diplomacy similarity was reinforced by the limited movement of pieces across the board.
The battles themselves were decided by allocation of money between different elements of the battle (hostage taking, buying the loyalty of ronin, etc.) with the winner in each category getting control of that category. Again, this lead to a lot of psychology and attempts to both bluff and read opponents. Not my favourite mechanic, but this wasn't unpleasant and needn't take too long. But losing a battle didn't sting too much: you got all the coins spent by the winner, could gain honour for fighting well, and dead troops came back quickly next turn (sometimes in more useful places for the battles to come!).
In summary, a perfectly reasonable game that I'd play again. It's not really my cup of tea, but I can easily see why people would really like it.
Champions of Midgard
After Rising Sun finished, I was dragged into a game of Champions of Midgard. The other three players had played it for the first time already that day, but they were keen to play it again and the timing worked out for me. Off to the land of wild Viking adventure for me!
It's a fun little worker placement game! The worker placement system is simple and not particularly punishing: you can generally find something good to do even if your plan A has been stolen by another player. There's also no particular engine to build up in the game, so there's no need to quickly determine a long-term strategy and stick with it.
You can either mooch around the top half of the board (your homeland), collecting resources and beating up small monsters; or spend a turn or two building up resources to launch an overseas expedition to beat up something rather tougher (for more glory)!
As with Rising Sun, I wasn't ruthlessly pursuing any particular strategy. My special faction ability was "Berserker" so I spent a lot of the game recruiting axemen (vicious but brittle) and throwing them into battle for bonus VP! There were a few cards you could buy to perhaps generate bonus XP, but I didn't get into them.
A fun game that's on the lighter end of worker placement. One I'd be happy to play again.