Tuesday, June 13

Border Reivers Session Reports

As I've mentioned before I played a couple of games of Border Reivers this weekend. One very early on Saturday morning with Dunk while quite drunk, the other with Gav and Ciara on Saturday evening.

Since submitting Border Reivers to BGG I've not actually done anything with the BGG page. It's bare. Considering how much content a popular game on the Geek generates in terms of pictures, rules translations, rule variants, FAQs, session reports and reviews the Border Reivers page looks quite sad. There's a reason why I've not done much, I don't want to post images until I've a production copy to use, and none of the playtesters are on the Geek to generate reviews or session reports. However, since my aim is to sell the game, I think the Geek could be a valuable resource from a marketing perspective.

I know that other designers have been slated for using the Geek as free advertising, but I think as long as I contribute other useful content to the Geek (such as reviews and images of other games, moderating other users' submissions and forum comments) and as long as I pay Aldie for all his hard work (through being a supporter), I'm entitled to promote Border Reivers in a similar fashion to the other games listed.

I've got to be careful not to commit a Rule 7 Violation, but as long as I don't spam the hell out of them and I'm not too over-the-top hopefully I'll not upset anyone.

Anyway, to the point.

Friday night, after a game of Ninja Galaxy, Dunk and I settled down for a game of Border Reivers. After several hours in the pub celebrating my birthday I was a little the worse for wear, but fortunately the late start (around 1:45am) and the drink were affecting Dunk equally.

Sadly all I really remember about the game (I told you I'd been drinking) was the Insurrection card. I chose one fairly early on and was gleefully waiting to play it on Dunk when he least expected it. It's one of the cards you have to play before your reinforcement phase (to stop you playing it the turn you pick it up) and for about five or six turns in a row I gave a little 'D'oh' after every reinforcement phase as I realised, yet again, that I'd forgotten to play it. I imagine in a game between normal players the conversation would go a little something like:

  • Aristotle: D'oh! I've forgotten to play a card! Do you mind if I play it now?
  • Boudicca: Chimp!
  • Confucius: Did you pick it up this turn?
  • Aristotle: Nope, a couple of turns ago.
  • Boudicca: Go on then.
  • Confucius: (under breath) Cheat.

But, since I designed the game, and I'm continually victimised for 'remembering' rules halfway through the game, I decided to play it by the book. In the end, Dunk picked an Insurrection and played it on me before I got to do it to him. He eventually won the game by annihilating me.

On Saturday we wnt round to Gav's for games. It was the end of a long day: we'd had a barbeque earlier in the day while watching the pathetic England match, then been to the casino and now we were playing games. To be honest we were all a bit too knackered, and despite me bringing two bags full of games only Carcassonne and Border Reivers got a look in. Gav and Ciara decided to play Border Reivers (mostly Gav) and I joined in. We set up a 3-player board and placed the forests, mountain ranges and mine. Gav was going first so he got to place the mine but was last to choose a start tile. I got a good location, slightly nearer to the mine than the others, and capitalised on it by quickly rushing in. I also moved the bulk of my armies to a choke point between two mountain ranges and fortified it, and fortunately, this was in front of the mine, so I didn't need to tool up there too. Ciara hadn't played before and admitted that she didn't really get the game until near the end, so apart from a brief attack we didn't really get involved much.

Holed up behind my fortification I felt fairly safe, so I tried to save my income. You can win the game by starting your turn with 40 gold, so I chose saving over reinforcements most turns, except a couple of occasions when I really needed something.

Since I had the mine sewn up, and Ciara was also playing defensively, Gav (who had played a couple of times before) took advantage of the quiet game to become Mister Civilisation. He quickly built the maximum three cities and several towns. He upgraded his cities to have markets and was getting income and reinforcements at a staggering rate. I was convinced he was going to beat me via economic means but he continued to spend his income building up an impressive army.

Meanwhile, I was crawling towards the requisite 40 gold. So slowly. Despite the mine, my save-not-spend strategy was limiting my reinforcements and hence my settlements, so my income was less than half of Gav's. Fortunately, Gav noticed too late and when he tried to steal my income in a last ditch attempt to stop me winning I was able to pull back from my fortifications to protect my settlements. Sadly for Gav, it was not to be. Although Dave had snatched a win from Wilka's jaws in exactly the same fashion last time we played, Gav was unable to do the same and I scraped a lucky win that I really didn't deserve.

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